The Guardian’s Tom Lutz and Barney Ronay have duly noted Manchester City’s attempts obtain a work permit for Iraqi midfielder Nashat Akram (above), and take a somewhat dim view of a politician lobbying on the club’s behalf.

Now, some people say Tony Blair didn’t have a plan after he conqu … liberated Iraq but he did and it goes a little something like this:

1. Conqu … liberate Iraq.
2. Leave 38 soldiers with no equipment in charge of country riddled with religious and ethnic tension.
3. Give soldiers berets instead of helmets to show locals how friendly they are.
4. Um…
5. Ask God to sort it out, if he has time.
6. If God is busy, dress Danielle Lloyd as a racy Santa and send her out to cheer up soldiers when locals get picky about lack of electricity, water, security, medical facilities, Sunday repeats of Heartbeat etc.
7. Um…

But at long last, it looks like the British government is trying to solve the whole mess through football. Not, as you might be hoping, by sending Soccer Dog as a negotiator in a tri-partite meeting between Sunnis, Shias and Kurds, but by getting Human Rights FC to sign Nashat Akram. Unfortunately, Akram’s work permit has been refused and cuddly Labour MP Keith Vaz – who voted for military action in Iraq, by the way – ain’t happy. “I shall be calling on the home secretary to review this decision,” he harrumphed, waving some important-looking papers about. “Here we have someone who wants to come and work legitimately, a role model for his country, whose presence here can heal divisions in Iraq.”

Now the Fiver is all for Akram coming to Britain, but wouldn’t it be better if the country didn’t have to rely on a deal backed by money from Thaksin Shinawatra – a man accused of human rights abuses by all kinds of NGOs – to salve its conscience? Soccer Dog hasn’t worked for a while, come to think of it.