Monday, 20 February 2017

That Interview for The The Rangers Manager’s Job In Full.

The CANDIDATE is welcomed into the room by RANGERS DIRECTORS - and a Computer screen.

RANGERS DIRECTOR ONE – Thanks for turning up at short notice. Sit down, pal.
CANDIDATE – Who are you guys?
DIRECTOR ONE – Us? We are the people. Our management team have just resigned.
CANDIDATE – Wow, what did they say?
(THE DIRECTORS exchange glances)
DIRECTOR ONE – Well, nothing.
(THE DIRECTORS laugh among themselves)
DIRECTOR ONE – See, they don’t know they’ve resigned yet.
(Laughter is heard from the computer screen)
CANDIDATE – But don’t you have a letter of resignation.
CANDIDATE – What did it say?
DIRECTOR ONE – Dunno. We’re still writing it.
DISEMBODIED VOICE – Never mind about them. They’ll be history, I mean are history. So, are you up for the job?
CANDIDATE – Of course.
DIEMBODIED VOICE FROM THE COMPUTER – What’s your qualifications?
CANDIDATE – For the avoidance of doubt I don’t do walking away from the Dunkirk spirit, being a real Rangers man and I want to manage the stadium that John Brown played for and I think The Billy Boys is a great song and I’m up to my knees in EBTs. (CANDIDATE nudges and winks). And when you meet me in person I can shake your hand. (CANDIDATE nudges and winks some more).
DISEMBODIED VOICE - That might not happen anytime soon. Much as I am loyal to Her Majesty, it may be some time before I can enter her jurisdiction again. So I might be a bit ethereal for the time being, a bit like our club. (DISEMBODIED VOICE laughs).
CANDIDATE – I’m just glad to have the opportunity because I thought you might have asked Ally McCoist to come back.
DIRECTOR ONE –Not until he can show us that he’s put his gardening leave to proper loyal use.
CANDIDATE – How do you mean?
DIRECTOR ONE – Until he can get grass to grow blue instead of green he’s no welcome.
DISEMBODIED VOICE -  But, seeing as we can’t afford to water our pitch, our grass will soon be turning dustbowl orange, which is some compensation, I suppose.
(DIRECTORS nod in agreement)
CANDIDATE – I’m not greedy, but what’s the dough?
DIRECTOR ONE – Did you not see the ad we put out? Here it is: 

DO you want to serve in the Sevco Management team, as a conduit for fans frustration with the board, on match days?
If you’re excommunicated and/or have a staunch commitment to Dunkirk we want to hear from you.
We are looking for a Volunteer (ideally on ceasefire) to assist the club around the dressing room and act as a match day conduit for supporters anger and frustration, pro-actively assuming blame for any issues that our fans may face.
Successful candidate will be a Sevco supporter and so will be able to drink like those that they’ll be helping. Volunteer will have a Halloween personality and be genuinely able to help supporters remain blind from what the board is really up to. He’ll be passionately excommunicated – and love to talk shite.
The target is 55.
If your IQ is over 18 and think you’ve got whatever it takes email explaining why you would make the perfect foil for the club.
CANDIDATE – I thought that that ad was just for Stewards?  Surely there’s at least some pay?'
THE DIRECTORS – Thank you, Mr Souness. Better luck next time.

Tuesday, 10 January 2017

The Miami Showband Massacre - A Survivor's search For Truth 2017

Published by Frontline Noir.    Buy the book here

The Miami Showband Massacre was a 1975 atrocity during The Troubles in Ireland. Five musicians in band made up of both Catholic and Protestants were shot to death in cold blood when a bomb that British soldiers were planting in their van (at a British Army checkpoint – not a bogus checkpoint as some have reported) prematurely exploded, killing two of the bombers in the process.

What has become apparent is that official British policy of Collusion with Loyalist terrorists not only allowed this terrorist act to be carried out but actually instigated it too.

A few years ago, that statement would have been considered by many in UK like an Irish Republican press release. However, thanks to the tireless efforts of serious campaigners for truth in both Britain and Ireland, the fact that British official policy on Ireland during The Troubles had Collusion as one of its pillars is now universally accepted.

The group responsible for carrying out the Miami Showband Massacre, the Glenanne Gang, a grouping of UVF paramilitaries, serving policemen and soldiers, were not only known to British Intelligence but in fact utilised by them to carry out atrocities considered too atrocious to be carried out by the British Army proper. Other terrorist operations carried out by this gang include The Dublin and Monaghan Bombings which resulted in the single most deadly day in the most recent Troubles (1968 – 2005) when 33 men women and children were slaughtered by that state-sponsored gang. There were other operations too and one of the leaders of the Glenanne Gang was UVF leader Robin Jackson, known as The Jackal, and who was responsible for over 100 murders.

There are different degrees of Collusion. One is the “Rotten Apples” theory. This contends that the state is fundamentally moral and good but a few hotheads, sometimes understandably (according to the theory) take the law into their own hands. For years this was as far as the state would admit culpability in crimes committed by its agents whether they be policemen or soldiers. This nonsense was the State’s “get out” clause.  How could a law-abiding state such as Britain contain these bad apples? And most people, not directly affected by the terror unleashed by the State, bought it.

The lack of will among many in the media and the State to investigate (although there were many notable exceptions) helped sustain the lie of the “Rotten Apple” theory for decades. This increased the pain of victims’ surviving relatives by adding the salt of alienation to their wounds. Losing a relative to murder is terrible enough but to have the state deliberately inhibit your quest for justice means moving on is not an option. Then to have the state make you feel like you are some insane conspiracy theorist because you dare to seek the truth over your loved one’s murder puts pain on pain. The state of course knows this full well and would be happy if you simply conceded that it is too great a battle and gave up.

However, the state did not factor in the indefatigability of the relatives and survivors of many of the atrocities its agents carried out. The McGurk’s Bar Bombing Relatives legendary quest for justice is matched by those of Bloody Sunday, The Springhill Massacre, The Dublin and Monaghan Bombings, Reavey and O'Dowd killings, Loughinisland and many more. With so many major terrorist events taking place patterns formed in the eyes of any objective investigator. The lack of will by the State to investigate the crime properly, in many cases actually destroying and tampering with evidence, was just one of the common features. It took a long time but thanks to efforts of those above and others, the Rotten Apple theory has ceased to be credible and anyone citing it in defence of the state is simply discounted as lacking any credibility.

Another degree of Collusion is illustrated by instances of British Army personnel actively supporting the acts of terrorism by covering the investigative trail in order to protect agents in organisations.  Not every terrorist act committed by Loyalists was directed by British Intelligence. Often the British would not need to suggest any direction. Bearing in mind the state and the Loyalists had the same objective (defeating the IRA, ensuring the division of Ireland was maintained, and ensuring southern Ireland ceased to be - in their view - a safe haven for Republicans) all the State had to do often was ensure no impediments existed when Loyalist paramilitaries went about their business – and to clear up after them.

But the worst degree of Collusion is where the terrorist acts were actually conceived by intelligence agencies and then effectively sub-contracted to the relevant Counter Gang (British Brigadier Frank Kitson’s memorable description and part of the title of the book he wrote on the subject). In “Ulster”, the relevant Counter Gangs were the UDA (amazingly, legal until 1992) and the UVF (and later the LVF). These attacks were designed to have such an impact so as to further British policy in Ireland.

While some involved in these Loyalist organisations would contend they were directed by anyone, the body of evidence pointing towards their activities being at least guided by British Intelligence reached a critical mass some time ago with evidence uncovered by relatives groups and provided by whistle-blowers too.

However, The Miami Showband Massacre has all the hallmarks of the highest degree of Collusion. The perpetrators were known to operate from Glenanne Farm, owned by one of its members, James Mitchell (a reserve policeman). The land had been known by British Military Intelligence as a hub of Loyalist arms dumping and bomb making at least since 1972 when it appeared in internal documents identified as such.

The terrorists plan was to place the bomb and time it to explode as the van travelling through the south of Ireland, thus implicating the Showband members as republican terrorists. This, in turn, was supposed to ensure the Irish government felt under pressure to increase border security. For those who suppose this is too far-fetched, it was not the first time British Intelligence had used the gang to further its political aims. Bombs had gone off in Dublin in 1972 just as a debate in the Irish Parliament (The Dáil) regarding security legislation was taking place. On hearing the bombs explode, The Dáil passed the legalisation.

Some of the operatives involved in these terrorist activities were convicted, many were not. The State hoped that sending a few expendables to prison would satisfy the need for justice.  But, as the campaign that one of the survivors of the Miami Showband Massacre is involved in believes, it is not just the immediate perpetrators who need to be held to account; those who instigated, facilitated and covered up those crimes must be held to account.

That is why the UK Ministry Of Defence, the ministry ultimately responsible for implementing the policy of Collusion, must join these killers in the dock. To that end, the campaign for truth and justice for the Miami Showband continues this month in the UK courts. 

Further Reading

Thursday, 22 December 2016

Stormy Weather

Imagine a weather forecaster called Phil foretold of stormy, windy weather ahead. . You'd have social media philled (sic) with some asking what could a Fenian from Donegal ever know about the weather, while producing their own convoluted analysis of the weather chart explaining how the dark clouds on display were just rays of sunshine photoshopped by Phil to look like clouds. Jabba would hold a press conference where he'd be seen chiding his stenographic offspring running around all unruly in their Warbutton-esque short trousers, instructing them to write that every brick holding up Ibrox has been assaulted by invisible Hibs players undetected by live CCTV. 

Monday, 7 November 2016

Poppy Fascists’ Pyrrhic Victory

Growing up as a good boy scout with family members in the army and with two grandparents as WW11 veterans, (one in the Royal Navy, one with the French Resistance) the Poppy was a solemn and unifying symbol. Even my Pollokshaws grandmother - who never objected to being called a communist - respected the poppy as she’d lived through WW11 while her husband was at sea. She called herself one of the lucky ones as her husband returned. Many of his closest comrades, friends and brothers are still lying in the sea bed.

The poppy was a unifying symbol because there was nothing unique about the experience related above. In fact, it was fairly typical of British childhoods of the 1970s.  As youngsters we were unaware of the behaviour of many of “our” troops in Ireland, or other places they should never have been.

But what has changed is the atmosphere of the Poppy and of Remembrance. It is no longer a common longing for the horrors of war never to be repeated. This once unifying symbol that belonged to us all, bringing differing political views and classes together, has been press-ganged into the service of the British imperial Establishment. Ironically, by attempting to insist that we all feel the same, and indeed, be the same, those forcing the Poppy down the throats of everyone have not achieved the hegemony they sought to impose. Rather, they have succeeded in dividing society and have done so by using the stem of the Poppy to prise us apart. They have succeeded in weaponising the wooden cross above the graves of soldiers into a stake through the heart of our communities. The sacrilege is complete.

On the street today, wearing my poppy as I have done for decades, I felt conscious that I was wearing a symbol that could be misinterpreted as support for mass murder and slaughter in Iraq, Afghanistan, Libya, Yemen, Syria. And, of course, Ireland.

I’m sickened by commentators like Sky’s Kay Burley and others who point out someone who is not wearing the Poppy. It’s like the stupid people handing out white feathers during WW1. I thought we were passed that. In fact, I know we were passed that. But the Establishment has succeeded in rowing us all back to 1914. Once again, we are all just cannon fodder of one sort or another. We’re in the front line against both real and imaginary foes; austerity, militarism, racism and of every type of religious and ethnic phobia that our establishment conjures up.

While as a socialist I’ve been aware of these contradictions since the late 1970s, I’ve always applied the balance rule. My hatred for all imperialism and war was balanced against my love for family members who I know behaved with honour. However, the sheer scale of the Poppy Fascism we’re now subjected to by a cynical Establishment and its slavish media has made me realise that now, in 2016, for the first time in my mind, that balanced has tipped.

So, congratulations to all you Poppy Fascists. This is my last year wearing the Poppy. And I can only imagine how many more thousands of Poppies are being taken off lapels due to your attempts to wear them like medals you're awarding yourselves for wars I doubt you ever fought in. Rather than respect what brave and often terrified people thought they were dying for – freedom of choice for us all – you’ve decided to take sides with the fascist enemy.

Tuesday, 20 September 2016

The Fantasy Theme Park of Fitba Reporting

Remarkable how the Invisible Journalist, Phil Mac Giolla Bhain, is so little acknowledged by Scottish sports Media, despite his web site attracting over a million verified hits per month, making him more read, one imagines, than many sports pages.  In fact, the only time he is acknowledged, ironically, is when a SMSM-type publishes an “exclusive” story in the sports pages that was in fact broken on Phil’s site, usually a few days, if not weeks, before. Backhanded compliments are better than no compliments I suppose.

Phil is rendered Invisible (except when his stories are being . . . err . . . re-presented) because he punctured a hole in the fantasy that insists the Emperor (or, the Empire club, 1872 – 2012) really still does have some clothes (except branded jerseys of course). See, it doesn’t do for anyone to upset the applecart, or in this case, the lamb gravy train. It doesn’t do to point out that the Emperor has no clothes when almost all Scottish sports reporters are interested in doing is dressing him up. The amount of imagination that goes into creating these elaborate garments is indeed impressive. And if your living depended on dressing up a corpse in order to fool people into thinking it was still alive perhaps the temptation to ignore the stench of death would be overwhelming.

Then again, you could do what you were trained to do when you were a learning about journalism. Hold power to account and be aware that power seeks to reduce you to a mere conduit of itself rather than someone who challenges utterances that range (in the case of The Rangers Story) from the doubtful to the bizarre. And if power threatens you with “lack of access”, ask yourself, “access to what?” Bullshit? You can get that anywhere.

I understand that reporters need a readership. And if that readership doesn’t want to read the truth, then of course that represents a challenge. But, if you are a person of character, rather than a cynical exploiter of readers prejudices, then you rise to that challenge. If you are a person of character, rather than a reporter who’s own prejudice (latent or not) is in tune with the sounds emanating from the subject of the story, then you hold the subject to account.

If you have the heart for it, you might find that far from losing a readership uninterested in the truth, you might just find those among your readership interested in the truth follow you. You might find that you create an extension to your readership as it becomes joined by people who never read you before but, knowing that you are causing a stir by reporting controversial stories fearlessly, want to find out what you are saying to it all.

Sure, those without character who chose to remain as part of the fantasy theme park that Scottish football reporting is fast becoming, may look at you with resentment and indeed, call you a crank. But, when they are reduced to first ignoring you, then insulting you, then you will know you are doing the right thing. And always remember, it could be worse. These characterless, almost zombie types, could like you. Then, you’d really know you were useless. Keep challenging. It drives them cranky off the radar.

So, if you are a young journalist wondering how to investigate, to challenge, to brave out the insults of a peer group beholden to power, then I suggest you read Phil Mac Giolla Bhain and indeed vote for him in the Football Blogger here

Wednesday, 17 August 2016

Not A Trot

I’m not a Trot, a Nazi Stormtrooper, an entryist or part of any rabble. I am not simple, naïve or stupid.

I’m just a human being who gets upset when I think about the 100,000s of women and children  murdered in our name in illegal war in Iraq. It was not 13 years ago for these people because they are just as human as you and me and their loved ones feel life-changing and eternal grief as much as you or me. But, unlike you and me, they cannot forget the trauma or the never-ending sense of loss just by flicking the channel button. I get upset when I see the shiny, gleaming-faced, enriched perpetrators of these crimes waltz the earth hailed as heroes leaving a trail of blood that it is considered too rude to mention.  

I continue to get upset when we are encouraged to forget about the horror of that war like it was just a bad dream, or didnt really happen, or at least didnt really happen to anyone who mattered. I remain upset when we are told that bombing anywhere will solve anything when mountains of evidence show that it solves nothing anywhere. It further upsets me that, when I mention this, I am considered an “extremist” while those screaming to drop bombs beside terrified women and children are considered “moderate”.

I’m just a person who thinks that free education is an essential right of all citizens and that if we have money for wildly expensive and ultimately useless nuclear bombs then we have the money to pay teachers, to built and maintain schools as fully-functioning shrines to the principles of universal learning.

I’m just a believer in the dignity  - and the relief - offered by cradle to grave care for every citizen regardless of means to pay and someone who believes that this is what can truly be called “civilisation”.

I’m just someone who thinks that the world is run by powerful cliques who are intent on reversing a century of social progress and mobility and who seek to diminish anyone who challenges their intentions, and intent on dividing us, the people, at all costs.

I’m just somebody who is uncomfortable that our media has become so comfortable with those in power that they have forgotten that their role was to, on our behalf, challenge the powerful and to treat all parties and individuals equally in the interest of objectivity, rather than to echo the baying and the snarling of the powerful elite they appear to serve rather than question.

I just want the freedom to challenge, to question, to change, to progress, to protect, to offer help, peace, love and understanding to all.

I’m just someone who believes 99% of the population want the same, and that it is our duty to remain united and to challenge the 1% who would deny us hope, peace and justice.

Saturday, 30 July 2016

Blairism On The Rocks

So, was the Blairites’ whole Chicken Coup thing meant to achieve this scale of disaster, or were they really just stupid?

Labour Party “moderates” (dogmatic Blairites to you and me) are already preparing for their defeat in the leadership election they triggered. They’ve leaked to that friend of the working man, The Daily Telegraph, that they plan to construct parallel structures within the party to create an alternative to The Labour Party that elected Corbyn as leader. This new structure would then challenge through the courts for the right to be called the only Labour Party and also lobby the Speaker in Parliament to become the Official Opposition. They say it is preferable to “a party split”. Quite how splitting the party so definitively will avoid a split in the party is anyone guess.

They are not above delusion, but surely these educated people didn’t ever really think that Owen Smith would win the leadership election against Corbyn? It’s tempting not to totally discount the create chaos to create order theory given the sheer volume of Blairite duplicitousness that has already been laid bare for all to see:

The pantomime of Angela Eagle’s “candidature”,
The pretence that Owen Smith's candidature supposedly was only being considered from June when even John Mann stated he was asked to back Smith for leader back in January,
The statements of John McTernan and others (saying even before Corbyn won his first election that “if Corbyn wins the vote then he should be removed immediately”) contradicting the notion that opposition to Corbyn only started pre-May local elections or post Brexit vote, depending on which Blairite you’re speaking to.

So, regardless of the vote for leadership, which now looks like a superfluous exercise, these Blairites will retreat into a darkness of their own making from where to snipe at the Labour Party as we know it. Ostensibly this creation of a parallel party within a party is to “save Labour”. No one aside from the most swivel-eyed Blairite could argue that planning action that will administer 1000 cuts will result in anything other than death. They will be like the Japanese soldier still fighting a lost war for decades after defeat was confirmed. Quite how this strategy can ever result in any kind of sustained assault on the Tories they don’t seem keen to explain.

This recklessness with the fate of The Labour Party is not totally unplanned. The dogma of Blairism is power at all costs. Not power for the people, not even power for The Labour Party, but power for the Blairites. For them, its power or death. Existing without power they’d be like parasites without a host. If Corbyn loses the next GE, then they are powerless. If Corbyn wins the next GE, they are politically redundant, their thesis of how to gain power disproved. Which is why, despite a clear view of the rocks ahead in the course they have charted, they are motoring on regardless. What use is The Labour Party to them unless they own it?

So, it is really just personal gain or at least self-preservation that motivates this powering towards the rocks? As always with politicians there is some truth in that. But also common among politicians is their zealous belief that only they can save not just The Party, but also mankind. Only they have truly grasped the realities of the world. Blairite messianic zeal runs through them to the point of real delusion among some. This is why they have no shame is being quoted when they remark “who cares about the grassroots” (John McTernan) or “The Labour Party should be run by the 1%” (Tristram Hunt) or other pre-democracy feudalistic comments. This is an elite after all.

In addition to their own self-importance, they feel only they have been anointed by The Empire to run a loyal opposition in parliament or, preferably, a compliant government in service of The Empire. Not the British Empire, on which the sun set long ago. But the latest Empire, the American Empire.

And if anyone says, “we don’t have empires any more” ask them what they think historians will call the most powerful nation on earth during the late 20th and early 21st centuries. We don’t hear the word “empire” now because it’s an unfashionable phrase and it gives the game away. Now we have the Coalition, or NATO, or whatever terms best serves any given war.

Blair believed that the Empire was ultimately benign and that, as he had a Special Relationship with it, his role was not to challenge it on wars but rather to use his specialness to encourage its inherent benigness for the greater good and for British Interests (this is still Blair’s thinking when he advises various despots around the globe – expose their better natures to a dose of wonderful Tonyness and they will do less harm than they otherwise might). Sure, it might mean involvement in the odd illegal war and the deaths of 100,000s of women and children, but hey, it was going to happen anyway, and perhaps it happened “better” with that liberal sprinkling of Tonyness, specialiness, and benigness everywhere. Some of these words of course don’t exist but they are still more real than the naïve, messianic fantasies of Bairites.

So what does geopolitics have to do with the Blairites challenge to Corbyn? Everything really. Think of the close links between Blairites and the Clintons, or Blairites and the Bush family. Think of the close cultural and exchange ties between the movers and shakers of both establishments. How many of the Blairite Progress party within a party luminaries have close affinity and links with the US power establishment?

You see, the Blairites feel they are the anointed ones, as if in ancient times anointed by Rome to administer the outer reaches of empire for the benefit of civilisation. Any personal benefits would be incidental, of course. But mostly it’s not the personal benefits that inspire Blairites. As with all zealots, it’s much worse than that. It’s the opportunity to rule that inspires them. Only they have the knowledge, the experience, the belief, the willpower, the intelligence, the education, the grasp of hard realities. That is why they were anointed by the empire, which in itself only compounds their sense of entitlement.

But the ordinary people of the Labour Party, those considered “grassroots” that no one “cares about” and part of that pesky 99%, got in the way and voted in Corbyn. How do you think that made the Blairites look to the world? Not in control. If they weren’t careful, someone else might become the anointed ones. Power co-opts power. It discards the no longer powerful. There’s no mercy.

With that in mind, and now that the Blair Mutiny has failed, Blairism has nothing to lose by trying to steer The Labour Party onto the rocks. By wrecking it they will have the opportunity to rebuild it in their own image. Jumping ship would be to leave the vessel capable of delivering everything that offends their dogma and faith. God forbid that “the rabble” take charge and chart a new direction that challenges every belief Blairism every held dear. Telling people that no one will vote for an anti-austerity, anti-war, anti-trident, anti-tuition fees party doesn’t wash any more, not since the SNP with its “unelectable policies” wiped Blairism from the face of the earth as far as Scotland was concerned.

The only real source of power within the party these wreckers have left are the 172 MPs. Correction, they have less than 172 MPs now that many of them have seen their gambit for what it was. Of that 172, various estimates have approx. 50 of them “thinking again”. With the mutiny a failure, the Blairite patronage is non-existent. With their CLPs asking them what the hell they were doing, many are chastened. With only bullying and threatening methods left in their armoury the Blairites are becoming heartily resented by many of those 172 MPS. Many agreed Corbyn was not a perfect leader. Some believed that he might even lead them to defeat. But some of these MPs have calculated now that the biggest danger affecting Labour in the polls is not Corbyn but the continuing Blairite assault. Although repelled, it still manages to look ugly. Even pathetic. The laughable attempt by Seema Malhotra to accuse Corbyn’s team of dirty tricks re Breakingate (coming so soon after Smashed-Windowgate and others) only succeeded in highlighting that even the viewing and reading public have got Smear-Fatigue. Greater minds than these two MPs of course are behind the constant search for more of these “half-chances”, as football commentators might call them.

So, just when we thought Ballotgate was the last hurdle for democracy to face, now we have Parallel-Structuresgate, demonstrating that this debacle has never been about democracy, defeating the Tories, or even offering credible opposition to them. It’s always been about ensuring no Labour Party apart from a Blairite, establishment-compliant Labour Party shall exist. They have learned nothing from the Iraq War, from their electoral obliteration in Scotland, from Chilcot, from Greece, from Spain. They are not the face of Labour for the future if Labour wants to win elections, a la the SNP. They are not even a poor man’s elite. They are history.