The Rangers support – Unfit for purpose ?

 

It is perhaps a Godsend that the behaviour of our online Rangers communities do not appear to impact or reflect on the ability of the Rangers support to “Follow Follow”. Thankfully the support which embarrassed, and continues to embarrass Scottish football with it’s attendance figures, which caught the imagination of the world with it’s steadfast devotion to a football club, appears to remain unaffected by the schisms within her online communities.

 

Whilst it undoubtedly raises a question of the significance of our online communities and how reflective they are of our support in general, I’m afraid the exploration of this subject must wait for another day as there are more pressing issues to concern ourselves with.

 

The emergence of the Sons of Struth campaigners gave rise to the question asked in the title thread. Through no fault of their own (in fact they deserve immense credit for how they have, with diplomatic aplomb, handled the minefield which is the fractured, divided and partisan inspired Rangers online community) their emergence has proved to be a “proving ground” for everything which is wrong with our online communities.

 

On the various websites which carried their threads, as well as on social media, sadly the usual battles, accusations and counter accusations came to the fore. It’s perhaps pertinent at this point we highlight the 3 main objectives of the Sons of Struth campaigners :-

 

  1. Keep the stadium in the club’s name to avoid Coventry situation
  2. Have clear accounts which prove the proper running of the club
  3. Have a board that keep the club off the front pages and who themselves are beyond reproach

 

If there is a bear anywhere in the world, never mind within the online Rangers community, who does not aspire to the 3 aforementioned objectives for our our club – them I am yet to meet them.

 

Sadly, despite the universal agreement with the above objectives, our online communities find the energy and time to fall out with each other – is it any small wonder our club is in the mess it is today, being raped and savaged by so called “businessmen” and the media ? We appear to be too concerned fighting amongst ourselves than fighting the battles we really need to be engaging in. Can the real enemies of our club really wait until tomorrow whilst we fight amongst ourselves

today ?

 

It manifests itself in whole Rangers communities being stereotyped into one particular box, often “evidenced” by a single post by an individual which, as if by magic, suddenly represents the views of hundreds, often thousands of other posters who may not even agree with the original cited post.

 

Personal animosity, historical feuds, bitternesses and hatred have all been done to death. Even the Rangers bloggers appear to have acquiesced to the hate fest, giving rise to what some have referred to as “The Blogger Wars”. At a time when hate filled individuals and even some of the mainstream media are determined to kill off our club – you would think our energies would be more productively spent tackling the enemies of our club.

 

Perhaps what is particularly sad in all this is that the Rangers online communities also represent what is best in our support. 90 minutes on a Saturday is not enough for us – quite simply we eat, sleep and breathe Rangers FC. That kind of devotion represents considerable and mammoth energy with potential – the potential to effect change for the better. It is however completely neutralised when it is spent focussing inwardly on the things which divide us rather than the issues which unite us.

If this online Rangers community is to fulfil its true destiny then it must change, because at the moment the schisms, historical feuds and bitternesses are holding us back from unleashing that potential on the real enemies of our club.

 

If the Sons of Struth campaigners achieve nothing else (and I sincerely hope that’s not the case) then educating the Rangers online community that there is real need for change, will be a considerable achievement in itself.

 

 

BBC Scotland – A Corporation on Trial

For some, myself included, the announcement by BBC Scotland that they were going to undertake a formal investigation into the circumstances leading to the current furore with their reporter Jim Spence, came as something of a surprise. I use the word surprise because in committing themselves to such a course of action, BBC Scotland are very much putting themselves on trial.

I wonder if myself or any of the thousands of other Rangers fans who several months ago on BBC Sportsound heard the aforementioned Jim Spence declare “I don’t care what the Rangers fans say – this is a new club” will be cited as witnesses in this investigation ? Of course there is no need – it’s all there in the BBC Scotland archives.

Funnily enough on this point I agree with part of what Spence says. It doesn’t really matter what the Rangers support say about this matter – we have neither the authority or legal expertise to pass conclusive and objective opinion. Neither does Jim Spence for that matter – his job is to report the conclusions of those who do possess such authority and expertise. The fact he has failed to do so represents  considerable professional failings on his part (which are compounded considerably by the fact his own employers have previously reported on Lord Nimmo Smith’s legal conclusions and the SFA’s decision to transfer licence)

But before a very vigilant Rangers support BBC Scotland’s investigative process and its conclusions will be subject to the closest of scrutiny. The corporations standing not only with our support, but the club itself, is at an all time low, and I would hazard a guess that the widespread animosity shown by BBC Scotland in the last few years towards Rangers has been a contributory factor in the lack of confidence Scots have in the corporation. I’m not for a minute suggesting there is sympathy for us by non-Rangers Scots, just that a club with a support the size Rangers have means that any survey of Scots society would result in a fair number who cast a favourable eye towards Ibrox being surveyed.

But its more that BBC Scotland’s popularity which is on trial. It’s journalistic integrity is in the dock, the very heart and soul of the press and media is going to be subjected to the closest of forensic examination. For a regional corporation already lagging behind its peers in terms of public confidence this could well be a watershed.

And it should come as no surprise that it will be far more than just the Rangers support maintaining a watching brief on events. For the BBC Trust who have already had cause to intercede in this battle between the Rangers support and BBC Scotland there will be both a sense of foreboding  and déjà vu. For barely a year has passed since the BBC were savaged for their failures in light of the Jimmy Savile scandal. Both their investigative processes and their ability to challenge the behaviour of one of their employees has caused the corporation massive damage. Some suggest perhaps fatal damage. The true extent cannot be gauged however until politicians sit down to discuss whether the corporation should be awarded the right to demand a licence and the subsequent public reaction to this. The problem for the BBC is that politicians have a tendency to do what is popular with voters rather than what is necessarily the right thing to do.

And whilst the Leveson enquiry dealt with the behaviour of the written press it nevertheless has resulted in considerable change across the entire spectrum of the press and media irrespective of whether it is the written or spoken word.

And what of the individual who was the catalyst to all this ? Is he displaying remorse or regret for the position he has forced his employers into ? Regretfully not instead he is busy playing to the gallery of “usual suspects – that intrepid band of Rangers hating individuals who just happen for convenience sake to carry an NUJ card – and have been too happy to squeal about “abuse of journalists” and “freedom of speech”.(It is entirely co-incidental of course that this group only make an appearance when a journalist is challenged about anti-Rangers rhetoric)

But let’s stick with the word abuse here because it is pivotal to this whole debate. It appears the fact that the truth has been abused seems, sadly, to be of little consequence to many.

But for those of us who wish to protect and maintain the ethos of a BBC whose accuracy and impartiality once earned world renown, perhaps the gravest abuse in all of this is a maverick journalist using the BBC as a platform to espouse not only his disdain for a football club – but expressing that disdain in a manner which is both inaccurate and misleading.

 

Bigotry in corduroy ?

Scotland it would appear has a new form of immunity allowing persons to express an opinion with apparent impunity. All that is required is to precede whatever you have to say with the phrase “Some would say”. The phrases’ creator – BBC Scotland’s Jim Spence – has overlooked one small detail however – his previous comments on the subject.

 

A quick search through the BBC archives reveal that Jim Spence has previously alluded to Rangers having died or being no more. Therefore not only is he erroneous in with his use of this “get out clause” – he is also disingenuous. Perhaps the BBC Scotland investigation into this furore will consider this fact in it’s conclusions. If it fails to, then their investigation will be deemed little more that a whitewash.

 

In some ways it should come as no surprise to us that there is a movement to pronounce life extinct over Ibrox way. I say that, having recently re-visited American Psychologist Gordon Allport’s Scale of Prejudice, where the conduct of these proponents that Rangers are dead display all the characteristics required of the prejudiced bigot. Allport’s scale determines the following 5 stages :-

  1. Anti-locution – this would include jokes, negative stereotypes as well as hate speech
  2. Avoidance – the target is treated in such a way as to be effectively isolated
  3. Discrimination – Denial of opportunity, restriction of rights etc.
  4. Physical Attack – self explanatory.
  5. Extermination – the majority group seek extermination or removal of the minority group.

Whilst often applied in situations which involves genocide, Allport’s Scale is also used in modern day Britain as an industry standard in determining prejudice within the workplace. In such a setting the extermination stage manifests itself with the victim either leaving or being forced to leave the work place.

 

For a Rangers support often referred to as “Huns”, likened to a “bunch of bigoted troglodytes, almost to a man”, and whose club were denied the fundamental principal of innocence until proven guilty, along with numerous other instances of unfair and unjust treatment, it should come as no surprise to us as we tick through the various stages that we would eventually end up at extermination.

 

Of course that hatred and prejudice manifests itself daily on social media networks where Rangers supporters are no longer “Huns” or “Orange Bastards” instead they are “Zombies” or “Sevconians”.

 

However this appears to be little more than a “wish-list” mentality, which requires “believers” to ignore considerable evidence, rulings and judgements to the contrary.

 

I wont recount Lord Nimmo Smith’s commentary regarding Rangers continuing as a footballing entity – it has been cited in many a previous discourse on this subject – suffice to say one of the most respected legal brains has passed his judgement on the matter. So too of course have the SFA, The European Clubs Association, UEFA and, perhaps as an indication of how desperate some are to confirm the death of Rangers, even the Advertising Standards Authority.

 

Those proponents of “Zombies” and “Sevconians” appear more than happy to ignore the evidence in order that their wishes can be realised, in fact they give new meaning to the term “Ignorance is bliss”. Who said blind hatred was a bad thing ?

 

But what of the Jim Spence’s and Graham Spiers of this world, who, whilst not using the terms “zombies” or “sevconians”, continually repeat the mantra, that Rangers have died ? What separates them from the knuckle dragging element motivated by hatred bigotry and prejudice, who scream about “zombies” and “sevconians” ?

The answer is – very little.

For in arriving at such a conclusion they too have exercised the necessary exclusion of facts and chosen to ignore the authority and expertise of those previously cited. What is particularly interesting with both Spiers and Spence is that in making such assertions they refuse continually to mention or comment on Lord Nimmo Smith’s ruling, the SFA Transfer of licence or the European Club’s Association determination on Rangers.

 

The real question for me is why they are doing this. Why are allegedly objective and impartial journalists choosing to ignore the considerable body of evidence available and arrive at conclusions which are at odds with that evidence ? Or do our journalists now have a right to deliberately mislead and misinform the public ?

 

It is perhaps ironic that last week, Alex Thomson of Channel 4 News, who has a colourful history with the Rangers support released the following tweet :-

 

“it’s a pointless debate – you cannot “kill” an FC like Rangers. Isn’t this obvious? And an FC is more than a PLC end of.”

 

So over to you Messrs Spiers and Spence, the floor as they say is yours – explain to this Rangers support why you have arrived at the conclusion that Rangers are dead. It shouldn’t be that hard for you – you have after all repeated it often enough. Tell us why Lord Nimmo Smith is wrong in his legal conclusions, why the SFA were misguided to transfer the licence and why the ECA have determined the situation incorrectly.

 

Because at the moment their appears to be little to separate you from those whose motivations are based on prejudice, blind hatred and bigotry.

Chasing The Dragon – Update

Dear Mr Fitzpatrick,

Thank you for your letter of 11.09.2013, which enclosed a copy of a response you have received from David Gauke MP regarding the Rangers Tax Case.  Whilst I am extremely disappointed with the content of that letter, I am however glad that you personally have now experienced the type of evasion and prevarication which gave rise to me contacting you in the first place, and which myself and many thousands of Rangers supporters, many shareholders with a vested financial interest, have also experienced.

Before I proceed further however, I must take this opportunity to thank you personally for your efforts in this matter. Whilst Mr Gauke’s response leaves a lot to be desired at least you managed to elucidate a response. I honestly do wonder however, if Mr Gauke and HMRC think we in Scotland “zip up at the back of the heid” for want of a better expression.  ( I’m sorely tempted to send Mr Gauke my curriculum vitae and direct him to the part under training which states “Advanced Detective Training Scottish Police College”

Perhaps dealing with Mr Gauke’s response is the most fruitful way to proceed :-

2nd Paragraph

“As I’m sure you will understand I am unable to comment on the tax affairs of individual companies as doing so would be a breach of taxpayer confidentiality”

We most certainly do understand – in fact it’s breaches of such confidentiality which give rise to our concerns and questions, which I note Mr Gauke, like HMRC before him, has chosen to avoid answering.

Mr Fitzpatrick if you look at the previous correspondence I sent you, you will note that my questions centred around the conduct of HMRC and Westminster MP’s with responsibility thereto, following the breaches of confidentiality in the Rangers Tax Case. The questions I have been asking HMRC and those Ministers are summarised as follows :-

1. When the leaks in the Rangers Tax Case entered the public domain did HMRC conduct an internal audit or investigation to determine the source of these leaks ?

2. What was the conclusion of such investigation ?

3. Did HMRC cross reference the content of such leaks in the catalogue of evidence they had seized for the Rangers Tax Case to determine if there was a match ?

4. Are there protocols and procedures within HMRC for breaches of confidentiality and if so were they adhered to in the Rangers Tax Case ? Furthermore did Westminster MP’s with ministerial responsibility for HMRC, personally check that the protocols and investigations had been carried out by HMRC when the the Rangers Tax Case Leaks appeared in the public domain ?

5. Did HMRC contact the Police to report these apparent breaches of confidentiality which constituted a grave crime in Scotland ? If not why not ?

3rd Paragraph

“I understand a case management hearing before the Upper Tax tribunal was set for 19 July 2013 after which HMRC expects to learn more about when the appeal is likely to be heard”

This deals with the ongoing legal process and has no bearing whatsover on the questions I have asked, or HMRC’s failure to respond.

4th Paragraph

“As HMRC has previously advised it cannot comment on the affairs of any business or individual due to it’s legal obligations of confidentiality”

More or less a repeat of the 2nd Paragraph. However it’s interesting that the phrase “legal obligations” is mentioned. The jist of my enquiries as can be seen from the questions asked are not to probe confidential information relative to the Rangers Tax Case but to determine if the investigatory body has fulfilled its legal obligations in view of a breach of that confidentiality.

5th Paragraph

“However I can confirm that these matters are being investigated by Police Service of Scotland in conjunction with HMRC and the PF West of Scotland”

I must admit this paragraph made me laugh. They are only subject to such criminal investigation because Sir David Murray and myself lodged criminal complaints in respect of these leaks post Tax Tribunal Verdict. The real question is why didn’t HMRC initiate such a complaint sooner ?

It is quite clear that HMRC, and given the content of Mr Gauke’s letter I suspect a number of MP’s are hiding  behind this “breach of confidentiality” to avoid answering very awkward questions. It is a master class in prevarication and evasion.

It is blatantly apparent from the way I have presented the questions that they are an examination of the conduct of the Investigatory Body (HMRC) in the Rangers Tax Case following confidential information being leaked to a number of outlets, not any desire to seek information which would obviously be confidential concerning Rangers Tax Case.

Finally I would refer to Section 98 of Lord Nimmo Smith’s report into the SPL Investigation into Rangers where he concludes :-

[98] Meanwhile, BBC Scotland came, by unknown means, into possession of what they described as “dozens of secret emails, letters and documents”, which we understand were the productions before the Tax Tribunal. These formed the basis of a programme entitled “Rangers – The Men Who Sold the Jerseys”, which was broadcast on 23 May 2012. BBC Scotland also published copious material on its website. The published material included a table containing the names of Rangers players, coaches and staff who were beneficiaries of the MGMRT, and how much they received through that trust. It also listed the names of people where the BBC had seen evidence that they received side-letters. This event appears to have been the trigger for more activity in response to the SPL’s request.

 

Mr Fitzpatrick we have a situation here now where a one of the most legal and respected legal brains in Scotland is alluding to the very evidence in the Rangers Tax Case being stolen and passed to BBC Scotland and the Investigatory Body (HMRC) responsible for the seizing and care of such productions refuse to comment.

 

I’m sure you would agree this situation is totally unacceptable.  In fact there is a sinister element of deliberate avoidance emerging. In no way does it breach confidentiality to examine the conduct, and ask questions of an investigatory agency in what has been the highest profile tax case ever in Scotland, and where the evidence has been appropriated and passed on allowing considerable breaches of confidentiality.

 

As you can perhaps determine from the tone and content of this letter I  feel the response from Mr Gauke to both you and I is totally unsatisfactory. I would be interested to hear your thoughts on proceeding with this.

 

Do you think further correspondence would be fruitful or do you think the concerns raised in this letter and our collective experiences are worthy of further debate within Holyrood itself ?

 

I look forward to hearing from you.

 

 

Yours Sincerely

 

 

 

The Real Enemy Within

Statement on Rangers website: “If RFC fans want the truth they will find it only on the Club’s official platforms.” < Respectfully disagree.
(Peter Adam Smith – Twitter 17.08.2013)

The above tweet by STV journalist Peter Adam Smith reflected both caution and frustration with the current situation at Ibrox regarding the press and media. I doubt very much a Rangers support still very much in recovery post Craig Whyte will ever take official statements emanating from Ibrox as “gospel”. It was a lesson which was learned the hard way and such an erosion of confidence is just one of the many legacies where Whyte’s tenure has left its indelible and ugly mark.

I have considerable sympathy for journalists such as Peter Smith and Richard Wilson at the Glasgow Herald, honest hard working journalists whose job is made a whole lot more difficult in view of the press shutters at Ibrox being firmly shut. The term “Iron Curtain” springs to mind. It goes without saying this is not a healthy situation for either the press and media but more importantly, nor for the Rangers support. But rather than limit their criticism at Rangers alone, perhaps those journalists, victims of collateral damage, would benefit from looking inwardly for a moment at the cause rather the manifestation of that Iron Curtain.

The recent hard-line statements from within Ibrox directed towards the press and media have been the subject of considerable discussion within the journalistic fraternity, particularly those who use twitter. Many are quick to mock suggestions of an anti-Rangers agenda or bias amongst our press and media – it is after all a fairly sensational claim. But their speed of dismissal of such notions slows down considerably when certain examples are put before them. (Im still waiting for an answer from STV journalist Neil Sargent over a number of points I raised with him via twitter)

As Rangers fans we take criticism of our club personally. When that criticism is based on lies or misrepresentation then that hurt anger is significantly compounded. Our media would do well to realise they are dealing with a support who have been conditioned to very negative and false representation with regard to our club even pre Craig Whyte. The Ibrox grass being cut to represent a sash, and Eggs Benedict being removed from the Auchenhowie menu are just a couple of examples which role of the top of the head. Perhaps its ironic that the newspaper which carried these stories is no longer in existence – due to the immoral and criminal conduct of some of its journalists.

And our support, almost to a man allegedly, were just a bunch of bigoted troglodytes according to Mr Graham Spiers. The same Graham Spiers who resorted to lying on national television rather than have the strength of character or integrity to admit, when challenged by Chris Graham, that what he had written was wholly and fundamentally wrong and inaccurate.

It seemed Rangers bashing was one of the few growth industries in Scotland.

Is their any basis whatsoever for Rangers supporters mistrust of the press and media or is it , as some would have up believe, just a figment of blue tinted paranoia ?

I will start with BBC Scotland mainly because during the preparation of this article an example of the type of journalism which this article hopes to challenge manifested itself. Jim Spence on BBC Sportsound, just this week, commented on the alleged mortal state of our club. This prompted the normal flood of complaints from Rangers supporters with the usual denials from within Pacific Quay. Casual observers, given what has transpired over the last couple of years would probably class this as “situation normal”

BBC Scotland themselves reported on Lord Nimmo Smith’s ruling that Rangers under Charles Green post administration were accountable for the actions of the pre administration Rangers as there was continuity of the football entity if not the business side. Jim Spence of course is not alone at BBC Scotland in conveniently ignoring what either Lord Nimmo Smith, the European Club Association, the SFA (or perhaps as an indication of how ridiculous this has become – the Advertising Standards Agency) – all had to say about the continuity of the football entity which is Rangers.

The fact that the BBC Trust had to adjudicate on this matter indicates how widespread disdain for Rangers football club is within BBC Scotland. A complaint regarding the manner and descriptive terms used by BBC Scotland to describe Rangers had to be escalated through all management levels at BBC Scotland until eventually it was referred to the BBC Trust with the Trust finding in favour of the complainants , much to the ire of many within BBC Scotland. And which even resulted in their business and economy editor, Douglas Fraser, having a pop at Rangers via Twitter.

One has to wonder how long individuals like Spence will be allowed to use the platform of the BBC to peddle their mis-information and lies regarding the club ?

Furthermore the circumstances surrounding the making of the BBC Scotland documentary – The Men Who Sold The Jersey’s – is worthy of comment (albeit limited due to the criminal investigation relative to this) BBC Scotland received evidence which was stolen from the Rangers Tax Case, not leaks, not some minor e-mails, but as Lord Nimmo Smith described them “productions” from the Rangers Tax Tribunal. Rather than return this evidence as one might expect from a responsible organisation in receipt of stolen property, BBC Scotland decided to retain this appropriated property and used it as the basis to for their sensational documentary, the balance and fairness of which was certainly questionable. As Lord Nimmo Smith describing the documentary commented :-

This event appears to have been the trigger for more activity in response to the SPL’s request.

A public funded media organisation felt it was appropriate to engage in criminal conduct (Reset) in order to engage in a bit of Rangers bashing. Forget any excuse about “whistle blowing” – these facts were already in the public domain and subject to legal proceedings thus usurping any claim that it was whistle blowing.

But this Rangers bashing is not limited to BBC Scotland either unfortunately. The Daily Record, a recent target of fairly hard line statements within Ibrox only have themselves to blame.

On the 24th May, 2013 the Record ran the following story.

http://www.dailyreco…rangers-1908009

Perhaps journalistic standards have dropped in recent years but would it not have been wise for the Record to check the dates in question ? Had they done so they would have learned that Rangers never had EBT’s during the time alluded to by the “victim”. Furthermore, in case the Record missed it, (though… “Its a fucking Government conspiracy” comments, allegedly by their staff, appear to suggest otherwise) Rangers were found not guilty at the Tax Tribunal.

Furthermore it was no secret that the Record Editor. Alan Rennie, was keen to recruit the persons behind The Rangers Tax Case Blog, for a regular column within the newspaper. In fact he openly pleased with them via Twitter to get in touch. Perhaps their spiteful, malicious and vindictive conduct towards our club jumped out at Mr Rennie from their CV. Quite simply Mr Rennie should be utterly ashamed of himself.

But the unashamed appears to know no bounds when it comes to the Scottish media. Perhaps some of you will be surprised by my next example, particularly given some of the lies this individual has concocted about our club and support in the past. But for me the following article from Graham Spiers is the epitome of Rangers bashing.

http://www.heraldsco…-bbc.1371631860

It breaks all the rules of debate, it breaks all the rules of evidence. (Well the ones BBC Scotland haven’t received and retained) Note the author’s use of examples from snapshots of time, following emotionally charged meetings or events. Perhaps worthy of greater note are the comments which Mr Spiers fails to cite in his article – Those of Lord Nimmo Smith, The SFA, The European Clubs Association to name but a few – in short a complete absence of comment from those who have either the authority or qualification to adjudicate officially on the matter. Sub standard, lazy and poor journalism ? Probably. But given the author it would be fair to include the ingredient of malicious mischief making into the pot.

I haven’t proven beyond reasonable doubt a concerted conspiracy within the press and media in Scotland towards Rangers – but I do think I have demonstrated why there is something of an Iron Curtain around Ibrox towards the press and media.
As I said in the opening this is not a good thing for wither the press or the Rangers support. But it’s not from within Ibrox that the change must come, but rather with the cause rather than the manifestation.

Malicious, inaccurate, lazy and sub standard journalism are the real enemies of the truth – not those within Ibrox who pull down Iron Curtains – that’s just the medicine for the malaise.

But until the gentlemen of the press learn how to self-regulate (and apparently Lord Leveson does not think them capable) then Iron Curtains are sure to descend.

But how do they self-regulate ? Well for a start perhaps journalists could spend their twitter time criticising those who cause Iron Curtains to descend, due to malicious, poor. sub standard and inaccurate articles.

Over to you Peter.