soccer

Wilful Ignorance or Unskilful Inference?

In an article about Welsh footballing greats, the BBC’s Kevin Leonard either doesn’t know, or clumsily tries to gloss over something.

When Team GB kicks off its Olympic men’s football campaign against Senegal on Thursday, it will feature five Welsh players, including captain Ryan Giggs, in a squad of 18.

It would have been six – but for one of Europe’s biggest football talents, Gareth Bale, aggravating a back injury.

Scotland and Northern Ireland have none.

The article at no point mentions that the associations of Scotland and Northern Ireland chose not to compete as part of Team GB (sic). Originally Wales also decided not to compete.
As the story progressed it was decided that there was no legal way of stopping players from the various home nations from playing if they so wanted. That said however, players were strongly discouraged by their associations from taking part.

I strongly suspect that even if not for football reasons, if the chance had been there then political pressure would have been put on the team manager to pick a Scot for purely political reasons, particularly with everything else that is going on at the moment.

The point, which the article misses out, either wilfully or through negligence, is that the opportunity probably wasn’t there due to the pressures applied elsewhere, for good or bad.

I’m going with good.

COLLECTIVE PUNISHMENT

The idea that sport is “war minus the shooting” has been written about too much but the Italy V Serbia match that was abandoned in midweek throws up an interesting question.

In case you don’t know what happened a group of Serbian right-wing bigoted thugs rioted outside the ground and inside. They also proceeded to throw flares and fireworks onto the pitch and nearly hit the Italian goalkeeper a couple of times. One report even suggested they managed to get in the ground with boltcutters in order to cut their way through the segregation fences.

The match was eventually abandoned after 7 minutes in the interests of safety.

In the aftermath UEFA, the controlling body of European football, decided to award the victory to Italy with a 3-0 scoreline. This punishment has been applied before although not uniformly.

This relates to “war minus the shooting” because collective punishment is  something that often happens in wartime. Someone does something wrong according to whichever government or army is controlling the area and everyone is punished for that one person’s mistake. This is effectively what has happened to the Serbian players and the non-rightwing thug supporters of the Serbian team.

I don’t often defend footballers as they are often spoilt, overpaid brats but the principle is nonetheless the same. Why do we accept this kind of “justice” in sporting terms when it is clearly unacceptable in society as a whole?

The Football Association of Serbia are appealing against the decision they are appealing on the grounds that the Italian police failed to control the Serbian fans that were making trouble. They say that they supplied information about the people in advance and that the incompetence of the Italian police is something that they should not be punished for. They don’t make any mention of collective punishment being unfair.

THE POOR CHAP

Sorry to be desperately off topic what with Copenhagen etc but I have just read about the manager of Manchester City  being sacked.

What a tragedy.

I was particularly emoted by the solidarity from one of his fellow managers who had this to say…

“I don’t think anyone is surprised by these things anymore. It is ridiculous. You are not going to encourage any young person to try and take this up. What is the point?”

In isolation I would agree with that quote if he was talking about something completely different – namely most of the jobs normal people have to do that they hate but must do in order to survive.

But what we have probably just witnessed is another massive pay-off for nothing.

I also expect several stories about how the sacked manager’s “gritty” attitude wasn’t what was called for in the modern age.

It is all beyond irony the way these stories play out.

ALAN GREEN IS AN IDIOT

One of the reasons the Scots and the others get a little riled with the English from time to time is their sports commentators and journalists.

Don’t get me wrong, the Scottish variety are not any better. In fact, Scottish sports journalists often like to use the term ‘fans with typewriters’ to describe themselves. However, most Scottish sports fans prefer to see them as ‘fannies with typewriters’.

Anyway, a couple of examples of the sort of thing I am talking about can be found here. This is from the article….

“They want to qualify for the World Cup. I told them it cannot happen but things are moving at such a pace in their country they believe everything is possible.”

It is almost beyond belief to reveal which of England’s World Cup qualifying opponents this statement refers to.

No, not Croatia. Not even Ukraine but Kazakhstan. The team ranked 131st in the world, that is a place above Singapore but below Hong Kong.

The facts here are not in dispute. Kazakhstan are a long way from having a team that could be expected to qualify for the world cup. It is the tone of it.

He seems to have forgotten that Croatia recently beat England twice in a competition that they qualified for and England did not. As for the Ukraine, I read an article by an English sports writer in which the general tone was that ‘little countries’ like Ukraine [yes he did say ‘little countries’ – that is Ukraine, population 46.5 million and land area more than double that of the Disunited Kingdom].

Another thing is the attitude to Maradona. Regarded as a footballing genius albeit a flawed one in other parts of the world he is regarded as satan himself in most of England because he scored a goal with his hand.

This outrage is repeated time and again when foreign players cheat in English football. All the ‘cheating bloody foreigners’ stuff comes out and when an English player does exactly the same thing he is ‘showing his experience’ and not cheating.

I DON’T SUPPORT ENGLAND

The next major football tournament, Euro 2008, starts next month and given that neither Scotland nor England has qualified it is a chance to talk about something a bit more rationally than it is usually discussed.

England qualified for the last tournament (World cup 2006) and Scotland didn’t. When it started and Andy Murray the Scottish tennis player said he wouldn’t be supporting England there was a massive fuss in the English tabloids – and he reportedly received hate mail about the Dunblane massacre (that is where he is from). Murray had previously been reported as walking on the court when being introduced as ‘Andy Murray from England’ whereupon he corrected the umpire and walked off again and returned when reintroduced as ‘Andy Murray from Scotland’.

Murray eventually made a joke about his statement about not supporting England but I suspect this may have something to do with where he gets some of his funding.

When it happens that England qualify and Scotland don’t, the BBC in particular tend to start publishing opinion polls saying that X% of Scots are supporting England. Where they find these people I have no idea. I challenge anyone reading this to go into a pub full of Scottish people when there is an England game on the TV (doesn’t really matter what sport) and see who people are supporting.

You will find that the vast majority, like myself, would not only not be supporting England but will be actively supporting Englands opponents, probably going as far as to sing the national anthem of the other team (in a ‘da da da da’ style obviously).

The BBC, ably assisted by the tabloids, tend to paint the people doing this as ungrateful degenerates hellbent on causing unnecessary discord.

There is an obvious response to it all, which is simply..

It’s my support and I shall apportion it however I see fit.

But here are the things they usually say…

1) We’re all British.

2) The English support Scotland when they play.

3) Scotland don’t have a hope of ever winning the entire tournament.

4) If you don’t support England it means you are a racist.

Replies…

1. Geographically yes, but culturally we are not and politically we don’t all want to be…a large percentage of Scots want out.

2. We didn’t ask them to.

3. That is not the point and it is just the sort of arrogant attitude that makes me want them to lose – badly.

4. Behave.

With regard to point 2, this is often said but I have been in pubs in England and watched England and Scotland games (though not a Scotland V England game) and what I found was extremely far from universal support for Scotland.

With regard to point 4, are Dutch racist for not supporting the Germans? Are the Belgians racist for not supporting the French? Are the Koreans racist for not supporting the Japanese? Are the Ukrainians racist for not supporting the Russians? And so on and so on and so on. Can you find many examples of countries that actively support their neighbours?

There are some interesting other little stories I heard about all of this.

There was an English-owned sports store in Inverness that was told to play the England world cup CD in the run-up to the tournament. Due to the staff receiving verbal abuse daily from customers who didn’t want to listen to it the manager stopped playing it. She was then sacked for doing this.

A journalist put on an England strip when the tournament was on and walked around town in Scotland to see what would happen to him. Aside from a few shouts of ‘english bastard’ from some people going by in cars the funny part was a 70-odd year old man shuffled by him and said the same thing!

To finish, I just want to say it is obvious what the people are thinking. If Argentina beat England you suddenly see loads of Argentina shirts around the streets, if Portugal beat them then you see Portugal everywhere. I read a fantastic thing that sales of Argentinian wine in Scotland briefly doubled when Argentina beat England.

Scotland has been greatly oppressed by England through history – does one ask a slave to support his ‘owner’?

SPORTSMEN – GUTLESS, GREEDY OR STUPID

This is a repost but I think it is topical… A few days ago I posted about actors who uncritically appear in blatant propaganda pieces but don’t say anything. Another group that are involved in this sort of thing are sportsmen. I remember Michael Jordan getting asked about sweatshops in Indonesia where people were making shoes for ridiculously poor wages. Jordan himself was rumoured to be getting paid more than all the people making the shoes put together and he didn’t have a lot to say about it. He was quoted in the NYT as saying…

“I don’t know the complete situation. Why should I? I’m trying to do my job. Hopefully, Nike will do the right thing.”

Nothing much has changed since then of course. Individual factories have seen some improvements and glossy codes of ethics have been made but the sweatshop syste remains intact. Democracy Now did a good section on it yesterday… Unfortunately the team I support also have a deal with Nike, which I am none too happy about. I have not bought a single product of theirs for a long long time for 2 reasons. The first is ethics and the second is that their products are shite anyway. The question is though, are the sportsmen who get these huge marketing deals to gutless to say anything, too greedy to care, or too stupid to realise what is going on? I don’t see that there are any other options. Whatever happened to this sort of thing…

or this..

“Wars of nations are fought to change maps. But wars of poverty are fought to map change.”

Muhammad Ali

FOOTBALL AND ALLEGED MURDERERS

(If this is not to your taste there is another post below it today and there will be another after it..)

In the hundreds of posts on this site I think I have mentioned football (soccer) two or three times. I do watch and enjoy it but I prefer not to write about it as a general rule as there is far too much written about it anyway.

That said, there is a link between sport and politics which cannot be ignored. The transfer of energies that may be otherwise used politically into supporting one team or another is a useful thing for leaders. It keeps people transfixed on something that is essentially politically harmless (to the leaders and owners of the country), despite the occasional riot.

Recently however, the two things have came into close contact in a different way. Former Italian leader has owned AC Milan for some time, Manchester City has been bought recently by the former Thai PM Thaksin Sinawatra who many people believe has some serious questions to answer about his time in office – and that is putting it mildly. I know at least one Manchester City fan who is torn between supporting his team – who are finally showing the form their fans have been longing for – and supporting a team owned by an alleged human rights abuser. More recently there has been the Usmanov business.

Unfortunately for me, my team has decided to join in on the act.

Dr John Reid, the former British Home Secretary (previously Defence Minister) was appointed Chairman of Celtic FC in what for me, was a very sad day. Below I put highlights of an article from the popular fans website Etims on the subject…

I have to admit it, although I’ve followed Celtic all my life there are times when the behaviour of those running the club leaves me wallowing in a pit of despair. A couple of months ago when I logged into my email and sat and read rumours of the chairman post being offered to outgoing Cabinet minister, John Reid, I was rather incredulous. In fact I laughed it off believing, falsely as it turned out, that not even the cabal of free-market fundamentalists running the club could be so utterly suicidal. Well, just goes to show what I know.

Let’s get one thing clear from the beginning, we’re talking about offering the chairmanship to an incompetent politician, a hideous opportunist, a war criminal, someone not a stranger to the wrong side of the law, an alleged sex pest and a man who would stop at nothing to court the right-wing press – even to the depth of aping the language and policies of the BNP. The defenders of the approach to Reid have universally cited the fact that Reid held high office in the Blair government, as if that is an indication of ability. Let’s place such a career progression in context; Blair did not promote due to ability, he promoted on the basis of subservience or as he called it “being on message”.

Just as Blair saddled the country with the most hopelessly out-of-depth foreign secretary in the nation’s political history, so too did he continually hand John Reid ministerial responsibility on the basis that he would do exactly as his master commanded. Reid after all wasn’t shy about admitting this: “when Tony Blair asks me to do something I do it” . Remember, parents scold their kids over attitudes like this; if Jimmy told you to jump off a bridge would you do it? Presumably the young John would have answered from his hospital bed, “yes”.

Reid in fact is one of those Labour politicians that Scotland churns out with a monotonous regularity, shameless opportunists bereft of principle who simply view politics as a means of financial enrichment rather than an opportunity to serve their constituents. Commentators sometimes make something of Reid’s involvement with Communism while at Stirling University, like so much else in Reid’s career the stench of political opportunism hangs over this brief flirtation. Jim White the secretary of the Young Communist League at Stirling University at the time said this of Reid: “He told us he was a Leninist and Stalinist. Although I was suspicious about his transition, we couldn’t tell if he was acting. We let him join.” Reid in fact needed the support of the communists and the Labour students to run for, and win, the student union presidential elections and thus launch his political career. There’s damn little sign of any communist or even socialist leanings after this event, with Reid jumping onto the Kinnock bandwagon during the struggle for power in the Labour Party during the 80s.

Reid’s pre-cabinet career was noted for its involvement with the bottle rather than any historic speeches from the benches. It was in fact an ultimatum from the then Labour leader John Smith in 1994 that lead to the break between Reid and his beloved bevvy. Now there’s no problem with drinking, some of the greatest intellects have been hard drinkers – Reid though isn’t one of the greatest intellects despite his affectations to the contrary. The hangover from this period also allegedly put paid to any hopes Reid had of running for the Labour leadership following the resignation of Dubya’s Mini-Me. As the Daily Mail gleefully reported:

“John Reid’s surprise decision last week to scrap his plans to challenge Gordon Brown prompted a welter of speculation in Westminster. Just days before, as bruiser Mr Reid was positioning himself to take on the Chancellor, his enemies in the Labour Party were queuing up to reveal why they considered him a liability. Their accounts centred on drink-fuelled indecent proposals he allegedly made to one of Mr Brown’s closest allies, Treasury Minister Dawn Primarolo.” The Mail alleges that Reid sexually harassed Primarolo over a number of years; “‘John came lurching up and said to Dawn ‘I want to have sex with you, I want to f*** you, you want it as well.’ Ms Primarolo’s friend and neighbouring Bristol Labour MP Jean Corston intervened and, according to a source, told Mr Reid: ‘You are a disgusting creature. Get away from her,’ adding: ‘That’s it, I’m going to report him.’ Ms Corston, who is now a Baroness, told colleagues she raised the matter with John Smith, commenting: ‘It won’t be happening again.'” The final straw apparently came when Reid staggered onto the floor to vote and was stopped by an attendant, a flung punch and it was goodbye Glenfiddach.

Reid subsequently ditched the bottle, cleaned up his act and made it into the Cabinet for the first time in 1999, when he was appointed Scottish Secretary. Reid’s brief involvement in that post is mainly noted only for the description given to him by the Scottish First Minister at the time, Henry McLeish. Obviously not overly impressed by Reid’s manners, McLeish famously labelled the kid-on Doctor a “patronising bastard”. The “patronising bastard” you’ll note makes full use of the Doctor identifying appellation at every opportunity, something usually only done by those with actual medical doctorates or professional academics. Reid’s PhD is actually in Economic Science, having been gained through a thesis on the slave trade from a Marxist perspective, and he’s no professional academic. Yet when Reid was appointed Health Secretary in 2003, no opportunity was lost in the effort to hoodwink the public that someone with a background in medicine had surprisingly been appointed to this office. A typical Reid and New Labour sleight of hand that while was not in itself dishonest, as no actual claim was made, never the less followed standard procedure of using spin to manufacture a false reality.

As Health Secretary Reid was a stunning failure, quickly alienating NHS managers by his autocratic style and failure to consult on policy. The only other noticeable feature of his time at Health was a determined effort to scupper any smoking ban in public places. When not creatively interpreting opinion poll evidence (as if New Labour ever bothered about the public’s opinion) and wringing his hands over too much government interference (stop laughing at the back), Reid was amazingly trying to make smoking a class issue. Standing up for the rights of the proletariat to embrace poor health, Reid declared: “People from those lower socio-economic categories have very few pleasures in life and one of them they regard as smoking.”

If Reid wasn’t desperately trying to appease the tobacco lobby, then God knows what he was thinking. In the event his actions resulted in an unworkable mess of a policy, with the intent to exempt from any smoking ban private clubs and pubs that did not serve food. Reid’s determination to force through this policy resulted in considerable New Labour infighting with Parliament ultimately being given a free vote on the issue, and MPs opted for a total ban – no doubt an act of vicious class spite from the bourgeois.

Reid’s political career really took off in the build up to the war in Iraq. When Robin Cook resigned as Leader of the House of Commons immediately prior to the invasion, it was Reid who was drafted in by Blair to ensure that the illegal war and flounting of International Law was successfully promoted on the New Labour benches. Reid didn’t really get into his stride though until 2005 when he received his desired portfolio, Defence, which fitted nicely with the ‘hard man’ image he had carefully nurtured. Not only that, as an added bonus it allowed him all those marvellous steely-eyed poses in tanks and helicopters. Again you’ll be hard pressed to find one single success in Reid’s time at Whitehall, which spanned roughly one year.

Certainly not a success was Reid’s bizarre declaration that British troops would occupy and then leave southern Afghanistan without a shot being fired. It is worth noting that Reid while defence secretary actually demanded a redrafting of the Geneva Convention and sweeping changes to international law to legalise “extraordinary rendition” (kidnapping for torture to you and me), the deprivation of any rights to those deemed threats, and of course that New Labour/Neocon favourite, ‘pre-emptive’ aggression (being allowed to attack other states, which is actually illegal due to that pesky International Law).

Such was Reid’s attitude to the rights of suspects, international law and common decency that shortly before a video was released showing British troops viciously beating Iraqi civilians, he said to the BBC Radio 4 programme, Today: “Now, let me make one final comment on that [toleration and the Muslim furore over the publishing of cartoons mocking Mohammed ], which is specific to British troops as it happens. Similarly, we cannot continually have an assymetric, uneven battlefield for our troops where we are facing an enemy unconstrained by any legality, any morality, any international convention and at the same time subject our troops to a level of scrutiny, accountability, media intrusion, questioning and every conceivable opportunity to criticise. So I say, in that kind of world, where we’re facing that kind of enemy, let us be very slow to condemn our troops, our forces, and very quick to support them and understand them.” Ok let’s not condemn the beating of defenceless civilians, let’s instead understand thuggery. 13.jpg

It should be noted at this point that Reid was only getting into his stride, failing to realise in the meantime that New Labour had ignored the very international laws he was demanding to be redrawn as they were hampering the New Labour/Neocon nightmare. Every dog has their bad day though, and with Blair’s government increasingly coming off the tracks, Reid was dragged kicking and screaming from his beloved camoflaged combat jacket and marched instead to the burning ruin of the Home Office. If we all thought we’d seen a streak of megalomania in Reid before its full flowering erupted after May 2006. Reid’s time at the Home Office is a horrible mess of screaming matches with the Judicary, slumming into the gutter of racist outpourings against immigrants and asylum seekers in an effort to court right-wing press popularity, and an unprecedented assault on civil liberties in the guise of “protective” legislation in which Reid displayed a dangerous disregard for facts.

As Home Secretary one of Reid’s first acts was to start pushing for the deportation of Iraqi asylum seekers back to their homeland. Despite obvious concerns for the safety of these individuals, Reid began forced repatriation while warning the off the judiciary : “To ensure the viability of this operation and in line with enforcement operational instructions, the Home Office may decide not to defer removal in the face of a last-minute threat or application to seek judicial review.” You’ll note that so safe was the land these unfortunates were returned to, that the charter flights carrying them landed in Cyprus, before a second aircraft took them to Irbil in Kurdish controlled Iraq. The Kurdish government of that region has a notorious human rights record.

For such a self-publicising law & order totalitarian John Reid was remarkably blasé about the letter of the law when it came down to his own conduct, and of course the conduct of the New Labour government. When laws that had been rushed through in the usual orgy of unedifying opportunism fell foul of the courts, Reid’s attitude was far from contrite. Instead the standard dogmatic confrontational temper tantrum erupted with Reid vowing to push through further ill-thought out legislation in an attempt to shore up the previous botched job.

In August 2006, Reid found himself on the wrong side of the law on two separate occasions within a mere three days. In the first the Court of Appeal ruled that control orders imposed on terrorist suspects breached their human rights, in the second the court ruled that Reid could not impose swinging restrictions on nine individuals who had used the hijacking of an Afghan airliner to flee the Taleban regime and claim asylum in the UK. The M’Luds declared that there was a piffling little trivial manner that got in the way, namely that Reid did not possess the required powers as they hadn’t been granted by Parliament. In New Labour’s wonderful world of selective law application the Government obviously felt that a trivial matter such as legal authority could be bypassed by a Daily Mail interview.

On the subject of the control orders, condemned by the courts as unlawful, Reid showed his respect for the law by throwing his bottom lip on the floor and announcing he would “reluctantly” amend the orders so as to comply with the Court of Appeal’s judgment.

Reid’s curious attitude towards the law when it applied to himself was also mirrored in his bizarre interpretation of civil rights and just who they applied to. In a comment worthy of George Orwell, Reid declared that we had to surrender our civil liberties in order to enjoy them: “Sometimes we may have to modify some our own freedoms in the short term in order to prevent their misuse by those who oppose our fundamental values and would destroy all of our freedoms.” The problem with this is that “short order” is dictated by those who desire the powers in the first place. New Labour, and British Governments in general, are notoriously adverse to giving up any powers they have gained, no matter how undeservedly. Reid and New Labour demanded the right to remove hard won civil liberties with the only very dubious offer to restore these at some undefined time in the future. Trust us? Remember the anti-terrorism legislation introduced in the wake of 9/11? We were told that draconian though these powers were, they would never be abused. Just this week the Government gave police the go ahead to arrest environmental protestors at Heathrow using said powers. Trust us? No thanks, never again.

To achieve his goals, Reid wasn’t above resorting to deception in order to sway public opinion behind increasingly draconian legislation. When Reid announced on TV that he “believed” that Al Qaeda had in fact attacked the UK prior to the invasion of Iraq, he as usual offered to no evidence or justification or even relevant details, secure in the knowledge that the right-wing press did not require such trivialities. Such was one of Reid’s favourite ploys. Another ploy was to seek to confuse, and blur the differentiation between suspect and criminal in the public’s mind. When Reid stated: “And let’s be clear. It cannot be right that the rights of an individual suspected terrorist be placed above the rights, life and limb of the British people. It’s wrong. Full stop. No ifs. No buts. It’s just plain wrong.” You’ll note the deliberate separation between “suspect terrorist” and “the British people”, as if terror suspects somehow cannot be British and therefore cannot expect the same rights. By trying to force in this separation, the public are condition to look on terror suspects, and therefore “anti-terrorism” legislation as somehow detached from the normal British judicial process, thus enabling an easier sell to a public which doesn’t believe the laws will have any effect on them.

If all the above wasn’t bad enough the full measure of Reid’s poverty of soul comes when he opens his mouth on the subject of immigrants and asylum seekers. On the BBC’s Breakfast Show an animated Reid stated: “It is unfair that foreigners come to this country and steal our benefits, steal our services like the NHS and undermine the minimum wage by working.” You would be forgiven for assuming that this was the outpourings of some disgusting BNP rock-crawler but it isn’t, it was a New Labour Home Secretary. Reid was also obsessed with appeasing the right-wing press on asylum seekers, forever attempting to reach new heights of what he believed was a strong-man image: “We are now throwing out more asylum seekers – failed asylum seekers – than ever before.”. The dubiousness of some of those repatriations Reid fails to mention of course, including those which resulted in unfortunate circumstances for those returned to state’s with horrendous human rights records. Why bother with that then there are right-wing tabloids to appease? It really was on immigration Reid warmed to this role as the Hero Of Little England and the darling of the right-wing press by adopting their language in yet another classic New Labour act of pandering to tabloid editorials.

Whether the government of Tony Blair was genuinely racist is open to question, more likely the manifestation of this disgraceful playing of the immigration card was a ham-fisted attempt to steal support away from the BNP, in other words political opportunism. True to form it was a incredible own goal, allowing the BNP to claim official legitimacy and a further alienation of Labour’s traditional core support – those that were actually left. A typical example of Reid’s swaggering aggressiveness came in the after math of the protests at the notorious Harmondsworth detention centre. Those rioting were not engaged in any legitimate protest declared Reid, they were in fact engaged in an “attempt to sabotage the enforcement of our immigration law.” The protests had in fact erupted spontaneously following the Harmondsworth management’s decision to prevent inmates watching TV news detailing a damning report on Harmondsworth by Chief Inspector of Prisons Anne Owers.

As we have seen political opportunism is rather a noted feature of Reid’s political career, it’s no surprise therefore to find out that Reid is also a member of Labour Friends of Israel. The LFI according to Spinwatch “has become a powerful lobbyist for Zionist and Israeli interests in the UK”. One might wonder whether it is appropriate for cabinet ministers, and indeed the nation’s Prime Minister, belonging to a lobby organisation for a foreign government. The ‘oddity’ is explained though according to the same organisation: “It is considered one of the most prestigious groupings in the party and is seen as a stepping stone to ministerial ranks by Labour MPs.”

So that’s the career of John Reid, the would be Celtic chairman. In fact looking back at Reid’s career the question arises as to how someone with such limited ability progressed so far in the first place, the answer as already stated is that Reid was fortunate to find himself in a political climate where mindless loyalty counted far more than actual ability. Without doubt Reid’s short ministerial career is a litany of disasters, failures, discord and right-wing zealotry, and had it not been for the particular nature of the Blair government its more than likely all Reid would be remembered for is some shifting around in junior ministerial roles. So why on Earth was Reid offered the role of Celtic chairman? Why would someone with such appalling baggage be selected to run the club..well ok not run, we all know who runs the club, but someone who would be the official face of the club?

Well according to Katherine Griffiths, City Correspondent of the Daily Telegraph”, Reid was offered the post simply to further Dermot Desmon’s own business interests: “The appointment of Mr Reid, 60, has been pushed for by Dermot Desmond, the Irish entrepreneur who is the largest shareholder in the club. Mr Reid might also become involved in the airport security company, Daon, which is backed by Mr Desmond. Sources said the financier is keen to get access to Mr Reid’s formidable contacts book, which includes people such as America’s head of Homeland Security, Michael Chertoff.” Griffiths then goes on to use the usual nameless sources: “Meanwhile, sources said Mr Reid’s potential involvement with Mr Desmond’s other interests might make him unpopular with Celtic’s fans. ‘Being chairman of Celtic is of great importance in Scotland. If it seems Reid is getting it so he will help Desmond sell his airport security company’s services around the world, it will not be popular,’ one source said.”

Doan if you didn’t know is involved in developing biometrics technology to identify people through physical features such as eyes, facial scans and fingerprints – in other words the same technologies the government is hoping to use in the proposed, and highly controversial ID Cards and other security projects. One would argue that a politician who has responsibility for such a policy, suddenly upping sticks and receiving money from a company that could benefit from his previous decisions, could be classed as out and out corruption.

If the actions of the club surprised me, I have to admit to even more surprise at the attitude shown to the news by a fair number of supporters; at best utter indifference, at worse complete agreement. More than one deranged individual responded to my negativity with a helpful reminder that Reid had held high office and must therefore be pretty clued up. It was difficult at these moments not to wander off to the nearest wall and then start cracking my head off it. I would have to say though that this opinion was by far a small minority, most simply didn’t care. They didn’t care that such an individual was going to worm his disgraceful carcass onto the chairman’s seat, and while it’s true that some deplorable characters have nestled there in the past, nothing compares to John Reid.

Sadly enough this crushing indifference isn’t unique to news regarding the chairman post, the same can be evidenced from many on a whole range of topics. It doesn’t matter who the chairman is, it doesn’t matter how we play as long as we win, it doesn’t matter who plays for us, as long as the trophies keep staggering in then.. who cares? It certainly has put the lie to some romantic myths we’ve built up around the club, probably some lyrical rewriting is required on the Willie Maley Song, blurring just what differentiates us from our warped cousins on the south side of the city. If Dermot Desmond was using the leak in early July to test the reaction of the support to what should be a hugely controversial appointment, he will have been no doubt encouraged and that is unfortunate for so many different reasons.

John Reid simply should be allowed nowhere near any official role, the very concept is far too outrageous to contemplate. If he has been approached by Desmond with an eye to furthering his own business interests then that casts a very dark cloud over the club and should have the alarm bells ringing. Whether the Daily Telegraph managed to beat its own impressive track record and actually hit on something factual may never be known for sure, especially if nothing more comes of the offer to Reid. What is factual though, what is beyond doubt, is that those running the club truly believed that someone like John Reid was the best person to act as the official face of Celtic, and that is worrying enough in itself.

If you made it this far then you might be interested in these two from the same site as well…

A Black Dolt on the History of our club

John Reid – A Chairman Not fit for purpose

A STORY

God, this is my 5th post today but the story is worth telling..

Scotland used to play England once a year at football (soccer) in an international (ahem) friendly. In 1989, when I was only 12, there were a lot of things going on. The drive for Scottish independence was in an up phase (as it is now – for the record, as a political scientist I am certain we have another downturn to come and then at the crest of the next wave in about 20 years or so we’ll have it – thats a rational analysis, heart says sooner).

Thatcher was never popular in Scotland and she made an inflammatory gesture at a non-national team competition the a year earlier – she turned up.

This led to 80,000 scots (bipartisan in terms of the two teams) showing her large novelty red cards and singing ‘maggie maggie, get to fuck [fuck off]’ and ‘dennis thatchers wifes a whore’ for the whole game. She never did come back as far as I know.

Only a very very few people in Scotland ever liked her and we still try to badger them but the vitriol was partly so bad because she was introducing an unpopular poll tax and using scotland as the guinea pig to see if it would work in England. in other words we werent happy.

At the same time in England, the depression she caused had led not to a drive for english independence but a drive toward rightwing neo nazism.

These two things were to clash that day. Scotland and England have never played an (ahem) friendly since.

I was on the bus on the way to the game. There were a couple of thousand english in town. Rumours were running about incidents in the train stations, the bus stations and various pubs. The traffic was busy with everyone trying to get to the stadium.

Then we see 4 english guys, unprovoked, jump on to the bus we were on and drag someone out the bus we were on and proceed to beat the shit out of him.

Some scots guys in the pub across the street saw this and dived out. Those english guys got a hiding (scottish word for a kicking) and were dragged off somewhere I know not where.

12 years old I was. I had seen some stuff like this before at games but not this bad. Before it had always been about a hundred folks at most and the police had it relatively under control. It was partly because of this game that new police tactics were developed and that this sort of thing just doesnt happen at football anymore.

I looked up the street and this scene was happening everywhere. The police could not keep the thing under control at all. There were at least a thousand people involved.

The english neo-nazis had come up to cause trouble that day and on the appropriately named ‘battlefield road’ that day they had bitten off more than they could chew. Ordinary scots folk were setting about them because of the unprovoked attacks on random scottish people.

At 12 (ok, 11 and a half) it scared the shit out of me. By 13 when it happened on the smaller scale in different games I used to sit as close as I could to watch it all unfurl.

They now try to avoid letting scotland and england play.