The establishment circles the wagons...

Published on Thursday 16th February, 2012 by Celtic Trust

140 years of 'history and tradition' or fiscal honesty and sporting integrity - take your pick.

I was sitting having a cup of tea after my dinner this evening, reading my preferred Glasgow evening paper (I think there might only be one!), when I read of a Scottish firm which had recently gone into administration.  The piece was only a small one (two columns on page 7) but it talked about the role of the administrators and it talked about the fear of the workforce and the number of jobs that would be lost.  The jobs numbered 487 and, whatever the reason was for the demise of the firm, you had to feel sorry for every one of those nearly 500 people who, through no fault of their own, are facing the threat of unemployment in this harsh economic climate.  However, in the case of the firm in question, the chain store Peacocks, which has 40 stores across Scotland, there did not seem to be a queue of MSPs waiting to voice their support for the workers and call for all measures to be taken to save the company and secure their jobs.  There was no appearance on television of our First Minister telling the world that Scotland ‘needs’ Peacocks; that the creditors of Peacocks need to come to a sensible solution to keep the firm in business.  No, there was none of that, and yet the job losses involved here are nearly double that of Rangers FC, another large Scottish firm recently forced into administration.  Funny that…

Yes, dear reader, it didn’t take long, did it?  Two days into administration and the Establishment in its many guises is getting to work to save Rangers FC.  From our Sports Minister, Shona Robison, to the Deputy First Minister, Nicola Sturgeon (who at least has a constituency interest), to Alex Salmond himself (not to mention Labour’s Patricia Ferguson and Margaret Curran, who want to give themselves a good talking to!), they all waxed lyrical about the importance of this great ‘institution’ to Scottish society; its vital role in Scottish football; its’ 140 year illustrious history and its great ‘culture and traditions’.  I’ve left the best till last and I still can’t believe he actually said this, but our First Minister actually argued for retaining Rangers because of the ‘fun’ they bring to Scottish society.   I’ve just checked all the dictionary definitions of the word ‘fun’ and I’m fairly certain Alex has made a mistake here…

For the moment, lets leave aside the specifics of what they mean by the history and traditions of Rangers – no-one spelled it out but could they actually mean their 114 year sectarian signing policy, followed by 22 more years of sectarianism in other forms, flavoured with a healthy dollop of anti-Irish racism to pep it up a bit?  I don’t know but I am much more concerned, as a tax-payer and as a ‘consumer’ of Scottish football about what they didn’t say.

There are two fundamental issues here which the press, the television and politicians of all sides are desperately trying to ignore.  The first is that if large firms fail to pay the tax they owe then the public, and the public sector loses out.  So, while as a life-long trades unionist, I would never want to see workers made redundant, I can’t see why a particular group of workers should be given any more protection than those employed by the smaller creditors of Rangers for example.  I also care about those who may lose their jobs in the public sector because of cuts which are made more necessary when firms don’t pay their taxes.  I also care about those who rely on public services and welfare spending, both of which are also being cut as the government tries to cut public sector debt.  Shona Robison doesn’t seem to care about those things – or at least not to the same extent.   Robison’s ‘key concern’, she assured the administrators, is ‘the future of those employed by the club and the potential economic impact of administration’.  I don’t know what lead Peacocks into administration but its owners cannot be more culpable than those at Rangers who are alleged to have withheld tax and VAT that they had collected from employees and customers.  How come their workers don’t merit the same high-profile interventions that those employed by Rangers FC are now getting?

The second fundamental issue here is the concept of sporting integrity.  If Rangers is so ‘crucial’ to the game of football in Scotland that they must be allowed to continue to compete at the highest level even after having cheated their way to titles and cup wins by fielding players they had no right to be signing, then there is no sporting integrity in the SPL.  What precisely would I, as a paying customer, be paying to watch?  If the SPL and SFA collude with Whyte or anyone else to ensure that Rangers stays in the SPL no matter what, then what value can possibly be placed on the top-flight game in Scotland?  It would mean precisely nothing.  We might as well all just watch our teams playing exhibition football.  Now I’m no economist….no, wait, I am an economist…..but the regulatory mechanism that allowed banks to be ‘too big to fail’ has been severely criticised by all and sundry and we are all still paying the price for that policy.  Are we now to see the same ‘too big to fail’ logic applied here because, in this case, we would lose all the ‘fun’ that Rangers bring to our lives?

Salmond, Robison, Sturgeon and the rest could have supported the view that paying your taxes honestly and letting the public sector create jobs directly and indirectly is what is ‘vital’ to Scotland.  The could have said one word of condemnation of those who dishonestly and deliberately fail to pay what they owe.  Instead they chose to speak out on behalf of a company which has allegedly cheated the taxpayer and the sporting public for years.  Maybe we should all visit their surgeries, or write to them, and ask them to justify that choice.








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Admin says:
2012-02-16 21:45:01

Gaudd, in your haste to see an anti-SNP (pro-Labour conspiracy) you are ignoring the alternative, and true, reason why I might have directed my comments more at three SNP MSPs and only made slight dig at the two Labour MSPs I mentioned: the SNP are the governing party! I was directing my anger at the First Minister, the Deputy First Minister and the Sports' Minister precisely because their intervention is so much more significant and damaging. Not that it is any of your business, or indeed of any significance, but I am not a member of any party, far less being an 'apparatchik' of one. If you agreed with my central thesis then say so, if you didn't, then say that, but don't accuse me of having some kind of hidden agenda.

Gaudd says:
2012-02-16 14:59:44

Interesting article, but why create the impression that nefarious establishment protection for Rangers is confined to the SNP? Why play down the numerous Labour politicians clamouring for the taxman to Rangers a break and bleating that they're too important to fail? They've just to give themselves a good talking to have they? It should be obvious that politicians of all parties are playing the vote whoring game, rather than one party being a little bit silly and the other wanting to shove Catholics into concentration camps.

There are far too many articles by Celtic supporters ignoring or excusing Labour's appalling behaviour while demonising the SNP for every single misdemeanor whether real or imagined. It detracts completely from the message and appears, with a lot of justification, to be just another weary bandwagon jump by West coast Labour apparatchiks.

Admin says:
2012-02-16 14:38:51

Joanie says
'Fun?' where was the fun when Salmond and Co were convening summit conferences and putting draconian legislation on the statute books which criminilises football supporter just for being such. Double standards or what? But then again this is Scotland!

Kieran says:
2012-02-16 12:06:58

I totally agree with your sentiments and like you I have been wanting somone to ask "What exactly do you mean by 140 years of tradition and history? What is your tradition?" Your sashes, up to your necks, burning season books when you signed a catholic, racist comments on Nakamura etc, etc, etc. If Rangers go to the wall so too will a lot of the bile and hatred and that can not only be good for football but good for society also. I personally am enjoying this but I do feel sorry for the ordinary workers caught up in this because of the fraudulent practices of their employers. They showed no mercy to us when we were down, I just hope we're not too bloody nice not to show the same sentiment twice over to them.


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