My mind can sometimes wander off the beaten path when I write so bear with me today…
In Brian P Murphy’s interesting and informative book ‘The Origins and Organisation of British Propaganda in Ireland 1920’ he exposes the dark goings on at the heart of the British effort to defeat the IRA led insurgency. The use of lies, torture, disinformation and a host of other ‘black-ops’ techniques will surprise few students of Irish-British history. What is surprising though is how a compliant press and many mainstream historians are still allowing views contaminated and warped by propaganda to pass as serious history. Murphy puts this down to many having ‘ideological filters’ and leanings towards the British objectives. They could never admit that the objectives of the rising, the foundation of an Irish Republic, were supported by 75% of the population as shown in the 1918 election results. It had to be portrayed as assassins and unreasonable bigots bent on some huge criminal enterprise. A similar approach was used in the more recent conflict in the north when the Army’s ‘Psy-ops’ unit beavered away to discredit, blacken and undermine those they saw as the enemy. The public were led to believe that their sons were merely keeping two warring tribes apart and not, as was the case, actively taking sides. Gerry Adams commented that photographs of bruised, beaten and humiliated prisoners in Iraq made to pose with smiling soldiers brought back painful memories of his treatment in the early 1970s. None of this reached the press of the time though and they continued to push the party line. Such is the way of propaganda. Today, a new player has entered the game and it makes propaganda a more challenging and confusing art to succeed at. It is of course the internet.
From Wikileaks to Charlotte fakes the game has changed. If knowledge is power them the democratising aspect of the internet has spread a little of that power to the masses kept in the dark and treated like children by the governing elites. The mask slips now and then and we are given a glimpse of how the machine actually works. Vested interests, secret meetings, hidden agreements are the order of the day. It reads like a cold war novel but it’s actually the tale of Scottish Football over the last few years and many are heartily sick of it. The establishment club, Titanic like, had steamed towards the iceberg of debt and been fatally holed. Even as it sunk and the players jumped ship, the propaganda war began. ‘Too big to fail’ we were told. ‘Death of Scottish football’ they said. ‘Armageddon and civil unrest’ they screamed. Of course, all of this was patent nonsense peddled by the laptop loyal. A good example of how it all works was demonstrated in a leaked email from Ibrox PR department which stated; ‘Spoke to Daryl, he’ll fight Rangers corner on SSB tonight.’ Is that how our radio sports shows work, people doing a PR job disguised as impartial journalists? Then, when the dinosaur of Edmiston Drive finally died, we were treated to the tawdry attempts to shoe horn the new club into the SPL. However, when the peasants from Aberdeen to Annan rightly revolted at that unfair prospect the sporting authorities went for a first division slot. Again the Spartacists’ rose up, using the power of the new technologies to coordinate their arguments for decency, fairness and sporting integrity. Again the powers that be wilted before admitting the new club to the fourth tier of Scottish football. Can you imagine the scenario if the calamity which destroyed Rangers had happened to Celtic? I can.
We have seen since then the lie that the club didn’t actually die peddled almost daily in the media. We have seen the incredible decision of the Nimmo-Smith Report find that millions of pounds paid to players of the old club in undisclosed EBT’s did not give them an unfair sporting advantage. Of course the good Judge is a man of integrity who can only make adjudications on the evidence provided to him. They key witness here being the SFA contracts manager who astonishingly told him there were no improperly registered players representing Rangers in the EBT years. Fining the dead club for the breach of the rules was a bit like fining the Romans for destroying Carthage. That no titles were expunged from the record remains a stain on Scottish Sporting integrity.
We now see the unedifying sight of the new club clawing its way up the leagues and its support feasting on empty victories against part timers and tales of how they were poorly treated by the rest of Scottish football. The collapse of the old club in debt ridden shame was, apparently, all caused by those who hate Rangers. This revisionism has filled the less intelligent sector of their fan base with a twisted and vengeful self-righteousness which will no doubt lead to problems when they once again appear in the top flight like a drunken gate-crasher at a wedding. For the time being we watch them wander around the lower leagues like a heavyweight boxer in a Primary school playground boasting he’s the best fighter in the school. They have learned nothing from their disgrace, if anything they are more arrogant than before.
What then has been Celtic’s role in all of this? I read with interest a letter to Peter Lawwell from a lifelong Celtic fan, Alzipratu, who returned the Celtic scarf he has worn to games since the 1970s. Alzipratu argued that Celtic had been far too inactive over the whole Rangers debacle and that the corruption of Scottish football by the governing bodies and its tacit support from sections of a compliant media meant he could no longer pay to watch our national game. It was a powerful restating of opinions many in Scottish football hold about the tawdry going on over the past 2 years. We’ve watched with growing unease the re-writing of history to suit the agenda that Rangers never died. Alizipratu says sadly at the end of his eloquent letter…
‘As of today, I give up on Celtic because I will not participate in this sham. I have better things to spend my time, emotions and money on. I will not purchase any merchandise. I will not renew my season ticket. I will not attend any games. I will not encourage my children to watch or support Celtic. It breaks my heart but the bond is broken.’
Whether you agree with his decision to quit the ‘sham’ of Scottish football or not, it is worth reading his letter in full and seeing his utter disdain for what has gone on in our national sport in the last few years. He is not alone in his disgust at the way the whole Rangers debacle has been handled. For many it confirmed their view that our national game is riven with bias and even corruption. Celtic fans are called paranoid when they raise issues such as poor refereeing or the George Cadete affair, when it took the SFA 6 weeks to send a fax. This time there is a consensus among most fans in Scottish football that the whole Rangers fiasco was dreadfully handled by the authorities and made our game a laughing stock. I won’t be abandoning football because Celtic means more to me than the whole rotten gang running our game. However, I foresee troubled times ahead for the game and the blame for that lies squarely with the apologists who bent over backwards to accommodate the new club.