One of the best TV dramas I’ve ever seen was A Very British Coup, the story of what happens when a left-wing, trade unionist Labour leader is elected Prime Minister and immediately has to face off against the old establishment.
Harry Perkins is a good man, moral, compassionate, good humoured and he uses his down-home charm to disarm friends and foes alike, but it is only a thin veneer on a steely core.
He is an accomplished politician of serious skills, with insight, intuition, courage, cunning and a ruthlessness every bit the match of his opponents.
During one meeting with the American Secretary of State, things get heated when the Yanks tell him Britain needs nuclear weapons or it’ll be easily bullied. “You’re telling me a small country would find itself helpless without nuclear weapons?” Perkins asks, and when the American affirms he counters with the crushing retort that “Vietnam didn’t.”
During another confrontation, a vanquished opponent snarks that, “You always were a dirty fighter, Harry,” to which Perkins replies, “Your friends would do well to remember that.”
His first real test of leadership comes when he faces pressure to prove that the party can fund its manifesto commitments. To secure the necessary cash, he cuts the Treasury out of the process and sends his Foreign Secretary, Tom Newsome, on a secret mission. Newsome succeeds and Perkins has his first big win. But it is soon dashed.
Newsome had been having an affair with a woman who once had an upstairs neighbour with a vague “IRA connection.” The media splashes the story. M15 demands to know if Newsome is a security risk. Perkins brings him into the office for what Newsome assumes will be a short interrogation and a dressing down.
He has prepared a resignation statement for the sake of appearances.
But Perkins is way ahead of the game.
He knows Newsome is only a stick to beat him with. He knows that his enemies expect him to fight for his friend and colleague, especially as he is the current hero of the party and the government. That will guarantee weeks, maybe months, of negative headlines and force them to be reactive, on the back foot instead of pushing forward with their own agenda. He knows they – he – can’t afford that distraction. He stuns Newsome – and his opponents – when he accepts his resignation on the spot.
“Clear out your desk, Tom. And buy your wife some flowers.”
There are people at the SFA, and especially those around Ian Maxwell, who will be loathe to give Dave King and his shameless club a blood sacrifice. There are people who will see it as a sign of weakness. But they don’t realise what Perkins does at the moment he hears from Newsome’s own lips that he’s guilty as charged. That there are bigger issues at play than a little wounded pride and ego. That sometimes blood needs to be spilled for the greater good.
Look, Gary Hughes did exactly what he’s accused of.
Is the guy a bigot?
Evidence suggests not, but that won’t stop people labelling him one.
If an SFA non-exec said this about our fans I’d want him gone, and that’s reason enough right there.
Has he been fair and independent?
Well, he pissed me off when he spoke up for Regan over our inquiry demand. He certainly didn’t let that he was a Celtic fan influence his decision on that score. So overall, I’d have to say he’s probably a guy who does what he thinks is right in a given situation.
I won’t always agree with him, but I can respect that.
But he shouldn’t stay on the SFA board, and my reasons for believing that are grounded in the reality of the situation.
Sevco will be beating this guy and the CEO for as long as he clings on in there.
Some sections of the media will support them 100%.
And that will derail everything Maxwell hopes to achieve.
It will make it impossible for him to have been seen to rule justly on any number of major issues.
When Perkins gets up to announce Newsome’s dismissal in the House the leader of the opposition demands to know if Newsome was fired because he was a security risk, in an attempt to keep the scandal alive and the bigger story bubbling away; Perkins’ answer blunts the weapon and further marks him out as a man not mess with.
“Tom Newsome behaved like a damned fool and I won’t have any damned fools in my cabinet.”
And that’s Gary Hughes.
Not a bigot, not someone who was venal or corrupt – Ralston’s headline screams that he “ruled on Rangers” which is a barefaced lie – just someone who behaved like a damned fool.
Maxwell cannot afford this distraction and he cannot allow any perception to exist that decisions are being made for reasons other than that they are right. People will say Hughes should fight on and I understand the sentiment, because it sticks in my craw to imagine King and his trash-talking board of hypocrites and charlatans claiming any kind of victory at all.
But that’s exactly what they are counting on and this requires cold-bloodedness and a willingness to go the extra mile. I don’t think he should go on and I don’t think he will, lest this matter be raised over and over and over again by people with a bigger target in mind.
Nip it in the bud, Maxwell.
Gary Hughes, with all respect, has got to go and the Sevco horde can celebrate their wee victory as much as they like, but it’ll be forgotten in a day and the broader agenda can be pursued with vigour and without the disruption.
On the wider issue, The Record couldn’t help but mention the other organisations Hughes serves on, in a disgusting attempt to have them take action against him too. The Record has delivered some low blows before, but this one should be remembered for a long time.
In those circumstances, Hughes should be talking to a lawyer and he should fight like a tiger and consider suing anyone who deviates from fact even in the slightest fashion. He is a target now for the gutter rats and I include the one’s who put their names to those pieces today.
He gains nothing from being meek in the face of that.