Saturday, 17 February 2018

Ecky Thump - That Interview for the Scotland Manager's job in full

Ecky Thump - That Interview for the Scotland Manager's job in full

SFA – So, Mr McLeish, how do you hope to transform the fortunes of Scotland?
AM – Well, the first thing is to make sure that the current Rangers squad is fit for purpose.
SFA – You mean current Scotland Squad?
AM – Oh, Aye, Aye. BTW I have my eyes on a few players that we should include in the next squad. (PASSES LIST TO SFA INTERVIEW PANEL. THEY LOOK AT IT, EXCHANGING AWKWARD GLANCES)
SFA – But, Eck, none of these players are Scottish.
AM -  Aye, but, (WINKS). A few EBTs will soon sort that.
SFA – Eck. This is the national team, mind.
AM – What? England? Fantastic! Noo, quick! Too the helicopter.  

Sunday, 10 December 2017

Concomitant-Gate

It would be reasonable to think that Jabba was not solely responsible for the Rangers* Statement, the one saying, “See that girl I stalked for weeks and then asked out? I only realised she was ugly after she said ‘no’.”

When you think about it, had Jabba fired the Statement off in a fit of pique without consulting senior Rangers* board members he might have risked being fired.  In fact, one wonders if Jabba actually helped tone it down, being a man who knows the (admittedly expansive) limits of credibility and shamelessness within his own swamp. 

In fact, that the Statement was met with almost universal incredulity in the normally Sevco-reliable Scottish sports media may suggest Jabba telling his boys not to give it much traction, perhaps intending this as a lesson to whoever it was at Rangers* who stepped on his toes by effectively doing his job for him. No one likes their bosses doing their job for them. Best it goes wrong and they learn the hard way to leave it to the experts in incredulity and shamelessness.   

Whether he did or didn’t tone it down, it is doubtful he could have created and released the statement under the Rangers* logo, and officially, without it being cleared at the very top. And yet, murmurings are that most senior Rangers* people are embarrassed by it. Now, who does that leave?

Certainly, the statement was glib and shameless. 

Tuesday, 26 September 2017

Reaction Show Racism The Red Card Received

Regarding the reaction Show Racism The Red Card received to Phil Mac Giolla Bhain being photographed with SRTRC.

As publisher of the book, Minority Reporter, by Phil Mac Giolla Bhain, which inspired Show Racism The Red Card to invite him to associate himself with them, I'm compelled to respond to their statement today. 

Although an atheist I was brought up in a Protestant, Rangers-supporting, British Forces family background. The notion that I could ever be, or could ever support anyone who is, anti-Protestant is ridiculous. I am as offended by anti-Protestantism and anti-Britishness as I am by anti-Irishness and anti-Catholism. It is worth noting that the heroic protagonists in Phil’s two recent stage plays were both brought up Rangers supporters. I’ve known Phil for over five years and there isn’t a sectarian bone in his body. Had there been there would have been no association with me.

The vile reaction SRTRC received to its public association with Phil is familiar. It is the same as the reaction The Sun received when they announced serialisation of Phil’s book. Police were obliged to visit the journalist who wrote the puff piece to advise him on the safety of him and his family. Phil regularly gets such threats. The editor of Phil’s book, Angela Haggerty, received the same abuse, to the point that an internet radio show host was jailed for inciting anti-Irish and sectarian hatred against her. This same grouping demanded Angela get sacked from The Sunday Herald when they employed her as a columnist. They succeeded, albeit temporarily.

Many of those providing this reaction appear to be organised, primed to swing into action every time Phil or Angela make traction. Their crime? Being Irish or being of Irish descent and not only refusing to sit at the back of the bus but, in fact, demanding vocally that they should be at the front of the bus. You might be familiar with the term “an uppity n*****r”? That is the objection of most those complaining.

My advice to SRTRC is ask all those objecting to Phil being associated with SRTRC what they have done for SRTRC lately. Have they shown the same determined reaction to people singing about being up to their knees in Fenian blood in The Billy Boy Song, or those singing that the Irish should go home? Because, if the objectors have not been as vocal in their objection to those examples of racism as they have been to perceived offence in Phil’s writing, then you have to ask, if objectivity is truly the priority here, why not? Have these “concerned members of the public” publicly and without fear or favour condemned fans of their club for singing these songs or any other form of racist and sectarian abuse? If not, then SRTRC has to ask them directly why not?  

Every week thousands of people sing these appalling racist and sectarian songs. Where are the “concerned members of the public”  then? More often than not, standing beside someone doing the singing perhaps? Or worse, singing themselves? Can you imagine the reaction in England if thousands sang about being up to their knees in Black people’s blood what society’s reaction would be? Or what the media reaction would be? Would it be ignored the way it is ignored in Scotland? Well, it might be, if Anti-Racist organisations caved in to people who objected to those opposing racism.

If Anti-Racist organisations instantly change their course due to the adverse reaction of “concerned members of the public”, who have a questionable track record of opposing racism or of selectively opposing what they see as racism, then those genuinely affected by racism may well cease to view such Anti-Racism organisations as effective - or even worthwhile.  

Secondly, the manner of SRTRC change of course here (via its statement) was not glorious. SRTRC released a shocking statement heavily referencing Phil but without previously making him aware of the content of this statement, far less seeking to invite any kind of input or right of reply pre-publication. SRTRC hung Phil out to dry. His crime? To positively reply to SRTRC request for an interview. This suggests that SRTRC had no interest in protecting the reputation or the safety of an anti-racist campaigner whom, at their own instigation and initiative, they invited to their project. Having instigated this episode SRTRC had a duty of care to its subject.

Of course not all the objectors were racists, but the racists among them are now empowered. All they had to do was turn up with their torches. The empowerment resulting from SRTRC publicly and hastily disassociating itself from Phil was not factored in by SRTRC, which disappoints because one would think an Anti-Racist organisation would sensitively consider all the implications of its actions.

SRTRC stated they wanted to be objective and avoid “label” usage. An admirable aim. But at what stage then do we call racists racist? Is the word banned? SRTRC would have to change its name were that the case. Having worked substantially in Northern Ireland many months of the year for 20 years I understand perfectly the counter productiveness of inappropriate label usage. I understand how peeling off peripheral support for the hard core of racists is inhibited by insulting that periphery. Rather than peeling them off it instead binds them closer together.  I get that. And the hard core of racists, whom some call the klan, work very, very hard to conflate that peripheral and casual, passive support with themselves. So that, when someone identifies (“labels”) the hard core as racist, they twist that to say “look! they are calling us all racist”, which is untrue. But, by insidiously co-opting the support into the racist core lump, they protect themselves, disguise themselves as “concerned members of the public”, and manage to hide their own racist views from immediate view.  

As a publisher we'll continue to support organisations such as SRTRC, but not uncritically. Now many genuinely concerned members of the public, i.e., those who actually oppose all racism every day as opposed to some who’s very inconsistency on the issue should have instructed SRTRC, will see this change of course by SRTRC as climbing down, or worse, as caving in. That is potentially more damaging than offending those who are at best inconsistent in condemning racism.


Friday, 8 September 2017

Five Years Of Downfall Denial

https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B00D507BK4/ref=dp-kindle-redirect?_encoding=UTF8&btkr=1

Its five years today since Downfall - How Rangers FC Self-Destructed was published. Written by Phil McGiolla Bhain, a freelance journalist who’d led the press pack on the Rangers story, the book was subjected to a campaign of abuse. Of course, this had the effect of increasing sales, one of these beautiful karmic responses that the universe delights in handing out.

The campaign against the book included phoning head offices of major book shop chains to complain about the book being stocked – and then denying it. One head office buyer, after having placed pre-publication orders, called me to ask if it was going to be worth the hassle as they’d had complaints. Thankfully the buyer agreed that it was worth it.

Another retail manager told of visitors to his chain’s stores berating staff for having the cheek to stock the book. Some visitors went as far as to move the book from its Number One spot in stores, hiding it near cookery. Others, presumably in a fit of pique, scrunched books up to make them unsellable.
Of course, these instances were all denied as having happened. It’s one thing to do these things, but at least have the courage of your convictions. Don’t then deny it happened.

The Sun newspaper, who I’d approached on serialisation on another book (Ciaran McAirt’s The McGurk’s Bar Bombing) rebuffed that effort and instead stated that they wanted to serialise another book we’d published the same month, Phil Mac Giolla Bhain’s Downfall book. The deal was done and a very fair and decent piece on Phil and his book appeared. However, it’s appearance produced an astonishing reaction. I was new to Twitter and was following reaction on various feeds. The first I learned that The Sun was scrapping the serialisation half way through its agreed run was on Twitter when a Sun employee stated that this was the case.

Another Sun employee told me privately that the switchboard “melted” when the reaction from some Rangers fans came in. Weirdly, months later when I discussed this with a Sun employee, I was told “there was no big reaction”. No reaction? Really? What about that switchboard “melting?” It was “exaggerated”. Why the change of facts here? Again, have the courage of your convictions. Don’t deny it happened.

Some gifted People took the trouble to review the book – before it was even finished being written. Now, that was conscientious. You have to wonder why such prescience on their part precluded them from foreseeing the demise of their club.

One chap who did foresee that demise, and who indeed warned all and sundry publicly in his contemporaneous blog, wasn’t much thanked - or even believed. Thankfully he (Phil) was believed by many when he wrote Downfall – How Rangers FC Self-Destructed.  So much so that the book reached Number 8 in Amazon UK’s overall book chart, despite concern for me among some Rangers fans who claimed I had thousands, piled high, unsold in my garage. Not only did I not have any in my garage, I didn’t even have a garage.

I then received calls from a seemingly nice chap in Belfast who claimed he was working as a buyer for Bargain Books in that neat little town. I played along, as the caller was obviously unaware that I had worked very closely with Bargain Books in Belfast since 1996, publishing several books with them under their Lagan Books imprint and supplying their stores with literally thousands of books, both full price books and bargain books, for years. I knew the owners very well. Indeed, they were personal friends of the finest and most loyal kind. I knew who the key store managers were. This gentleman caller, friendly as he was, had clearly nothing to do with Bargain Books Belfast. He seemed to think I’d want to sell the book at a dirt cheap price. What was this charming chap’s game? He seemed determined to even have me say the words “I’ll supply Bargain Books with Downfall” for some reason. It all made sense later when it was apparent he was taping the calls. The project, such as it was, was to discredit the book by suggesting it was such a terrible, unwanted item that weeks after publication I was eager to offload it at a loss. Impersonation, taping calls, quite a lot of trouble to go…

Despite being a Scottish Bestseller in many key Scottish book outlets from Waterstones to WHS and others the Scottish media took their lead from The Sun and collectively shat their pants. Only one SMSM chap reviewed the book. The rest either decided that the only book on the greatest sporting scandal in Scottish sports history wasn’t worthy of a second glance or they didn’t think it was
 “worth the hassle”. In case you think “shat its pants” is hyperbole, ask yourself how you’d describe a media which one day had uniform headlines across the board along the lines of “Rangers, 1872-2012, RIP”, and then airbrushes all reference to those headlines from their current narrative. No attempt at any expansion, any “we were wrong” - just a desperate wish for all their readers to lobotomise themselves to the point they don’t remember such headlines or where they wonder if they dreamed them.

That hassle was documented in Alex Thompson’s piece for Channel 4 where several Scottish commentators related the grief they got for commenting in any negative way on the club that was Rangers. The editor of the book, Sunday Herald columnist, Angela Haggerty, received disgraceful sectarian abuse. You know the kind? That’s right, the kind we have to keep reminding certain commentators that is NOT “banter”, and is NOT “funny”. Replace the work “Taig” with the word “black” just in case you had any doubt about just how offensive, not to say illegal, such “banter” is. So illegal in fact that one perpetrator, who hosted an internet radio show spewing out threatening bigotry, was tried and convicted in a Scottish court of sectarian hatred and was sentenced to 6 months in jail.

Sadly, it was not just many in SMSM who were keen to dismiss the sectarianism that some involved in the book were subjected to. Despite the complaint being made about the radio show, and it’s shocking vitriolic bigotry jeopardising the safety of our book’s editor, it wasn’t until Alex Thompson‘s Channel 4 piece on what Angela endured that the police seemed to take the complaint seriously. The world outside Glasgow was on now the case, apparently. Glasgow had to wake up to the fact that what many thought was “banter” that had been “asked for” was actually a crime.

Since publication of Downfall five years ago, the very Downfall itself has been erased from the history, as related by SMSM at least. Reference to Rangers now being bereft of life is censored on both main Radio football shows. No debate even allowed. It’s like Soviet-style collective hysteria, as if the mention of a fact will bring civilisation crashing down. Sure, they obliquely refer to the “relegation” of “Rangers” to the fourth division. But the Downfall, the Self-Destruction, is denied with more fervour year on year. Doubtless some scribe will claim to have covered The Downfall, but unless they mean Downfall in the Python-esque it has ceased to be sense as opposed to the pining for the fjords sense, then they have missed the point. That’s a set-back, not a Downfall. Thankfully, at least one book exists on the subject to keep us right.

https://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B00D507BK4/ref=dp-kindle-redirect?_encoding=UTF8&btkr=1


Monday, 14 August 2017

Urgent Letter To Her Majesty from Club 2012

We wish to bring to the attention of Her Majesty the issue of Neil Lennon abusing Rangers fans at Ibrox on Saturday. We consider his reaction to good-natured sectarian abuse and friendly death threats to be extreme. After all, are we really to believe that our own wee part of Her Majesty’s kingdom is longer safe for bigots?

There was a time not so long ago, last week in fact, when Fenians were there to be verbally abused and indeed on occasions assaulted, without any comeback on the fine upstanding bigots dishing it out. But, now, in a land where the SNP’s brand of political correctness runs amok, it is no longer safe for harmless bigots to force their sectarian bile down the throats of Fenians because, as we saw at Ibrox on Saturday, some Fenians are taking the law into their own hands and causing our own loyal fans immense suffering by, and I kid you not, cupping their hands around their ears in an obscene gesture of pure hatred, with no concern that there were children in the stadium. 

Before we know it, we’ll have copycat crimes, with other Fenians feeling they can cup their hands at our supporters who are, after all, only exercising their birth right to remind Fenians that their right to life is not a right at all, but rather, a gift from their betters.

Fair play to our management for trying to bring this matter to the attention of Police Scotland at the ground but, as you must have guessed, every policeman, every referee, every journalist, every lollipop lady, are all now Fenians.

Now a terrifying precedent has been set. Lennon’s example, with its implication that the insults and abuse, painstakingly refined by generations of our forefathers, are no longer reducing Fenians to quivering wrecks. In fact, Lennon’s gesture indicated that he really didn’t care how vile our insults were, regardless of the care and preparation that had gone into them. It’s like we’ve woken up in the hell of a post-sectarian apocalypse.

This renders screaming sheer hatred at Fenians for 90 minutes pretty worthless as an exercise. And that, Your Majesty, is an outcome we cannot countenance. It’s not like we have lives worth a shit unless we can make Fenians feel inferior. Soon, and again I do not say this in jest, they’ll be expecting to be treated as equals. And our poor comrades who even now are selflessly preparing death threats - and bullets and bombs through the mail - are bereft. What if this campaign of intimidation simply no longer works? And, Your Majesty, if it does indeed come to this, and you ever wonder why our whole empire of beliefs crumbled into dust, you’ll remember that terrifying day when a Fenian was allowed to cup his ears at our insults.

Signed
Your Loyal Subjects 
Club 2012
The Rat and Gutter Bar
1690 Boyne Road
The Past





Wednesday, 31 May 2017

Criticism Is Not Abuse

Did you follow the Emma Barnett controversy yesterday? At 10.52am she tweeted, after her interview with Corbyn on Woman’s Hour on BBC Radio, “So the abuse from Jeremy Corbyn supporters begins.”

My first thought was how stupid can anyone purporting to be a Corbyn supporter, a group more under scrutiny than any other, be to abuse anyone, especially a journo doing her job, which is to take public figures to task. And, as long as all are taken to task to the same degree, all is good.

I scrolled down Emma’s timeline to see what abuse was there, half expecting to see some pathetic, misogynistic rudeness and abuse. But there was none. There was some criticism, sure, and some of that criticism was very partial in favour of Corbyn. Not incredibly helpful. But not in a million years “abuse”. Sure, some of the criticism was robust, even severe, as was some of Emma’s questioning of Corbyn. But surely that is all par for the course, unless some are suggesting its okay to dish it out but not to take it?

I went through the timeline again to make sure I hadn’t missed something that may have even been misunderstood as “abuse”. But, again, I couldn’t find anything. In fact, the only abuse I found was from one of Emma’s supporters telling Corbyn supporters to “fuck off”. The timeline is still there and if someone shows me I’ve missed something outright abusive then I’ll apologise unreservedly because I think abuse of journos is obscene. But, I believe holding the media to account in a democracy is essential, especially media we pay for, i.e., the BBC.

So, why did Emma claim to have been a victim of abuse when all that was visible on her timeline was criticism? Oversensitivity? Human error? Or something else?

As if on cue, at 12.10pm, nearly 80 minutes after Emma had claimed to have received abusive texts (though none were on her timeline) @Labour_Insider tweeted to be the effect that Emma was alleged to be a Zionist. Whether she is or isn’t is irrelevant. It was undoubtedly a misjudged tweet. By asking Emma if “the allegation is true” @Labour_Insider framed the question pejoratively. Being a Zionist is not an offence. So the question was loaded by using the word “allegation”.  There’s no point in discussing the sheer political carelessness of the tweet because that is not the issue. The issue is about online abuse. Sadly we know that journalists do receive abuse and for many complex reasons female journalists often receive especially gender-orientated abuse. As this happened to a female editor we worked with (who is also a journalist) some years ago it’s a subject I take extremely seriously regardless of political opinions. But criticism of journalists, some well paid for opinions, others well paid to be impartial, must be expected, indeed, in a democracy, essential.

The @Labour_Insider tweet was, in the context of legitimate concerns regarding anti-Semitism, insensitive and careless as it could encourage real anti-Semitic abuse and could put Emma in the frontline of that abuse. Not being Jewish myself I’d defer to people of that proud faith who are better qualified than I to judge if asking someone if they are Zionist is anti-Semitic. But even if we assume for the moment that it is, then it still does not explain why Emma claimed, at 10.52am, to have received abusive tweets despite none being on her timeline. I did ask Emma twice if she could show us the tweets because regardless of political differences it would be useful for Labour people to see the abusive tweets and call out the perpetrators. But no reply as yet, which is understandable as a busy working journalist has better things to do perhaps than answer every one of the hundreds of tweets they receive in a day during an election campaign.

Someone more indulgent of conspiracy theories than I suggested to me, I hope humorously, that perhaps Emma claimed to be the victim of abusive tweets from Corbyn supporters in the hope of inspiring some so as to help buttress the “Abusive Corbyn Supporters” narrative and to make that the headline in order to keep the Corbyn Surge off the front pages. Certainly, The Times led with “Corbyn in Anti-Semitic row” type headline. Although to be fair the poll showing May might lose her majority was above it on the page. Nevertheless, the issue made the front page. And we do live in an age when most senior journos are, coincidentally I'm sure, self professed Tories. Hence, we should be more alive to the possibility of even inconsciously unfair reporting.

My own view is that was not part of any Emma cunning plan. It has more to do with the disconnect that’s evolved between the public and - not politicians – but the London-based journalistic class. Most senior London-based journalists have about as much idea of the public’s growing frustration with cuts, never-ending wars, lack of homes etc as politicians do, which isn’t saying much. So, when some of the public express disdain, frustration and criticism of how they do their job, some senior London-based journalists cry “abuse”. They are wrong, just as Emma appears to have been wrong. Those of us with a keen interest in media and adherence to impartiality and fair reporting  surely have the right to criticise just as robustly as Emma and others criticise Corbyn, 




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.
DIRECTOR ONE – Aye.
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?
THE DIRECTORS, IN UNISON  - NOT WARBUTTONS!
(THE DIRECTORS LAUGH)
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 onthemake@sevco.co.uk 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.