Date: 29th May 2020 at 12:52pm
Written by:

I just finished reading Daniel Ellsberg’s magnificent book The Doomsday Machine, his brilliant expose of America’s war-plan and his own role in developing it.

Ellsberg is one of those truly heroic individuals from history, the man who exposed the US’s full role in Vietnam by leaking The Pentagon Papers and who was fully prepared to go to prison to end that war.

Ellsberg’s biggest fear, all through his time at the RAND Corporation, where he worked on the most secret plans the American government had for war with the Soviet Union was not that one would start because the men at the top wanted one; he feared that the systems were built in such a way that a major accident could trigger war whether the leaders supported that outcome or not. He also knew that human beings have a habit of blundering into disaster.

Enter Ann Budge and the SPFL’s own Doomsday Machine, a system we almost tested to destruction on the vote over ending the season.

Bear in mind folks that had Dundee not changed their minds, we might all currently be stuck in the mud with no end in sight, because although the overwhelming majority of clubs voted for the season to end the decision rested on a ridiculous 75% margin in each of the individual leagues.

It is one of the barmiest systems devised … and a recipe for disaster.

It is because we built a voting system that was ludicrously over-complex that we’ve ended up here … and with that in mind Budge ought to tread more carefully than she is. Yet here’s another example of the blundering idiocy Ellsberg worried about in our war plans.

Bad leaders make bad decisions, and Budge is a terrible leader.

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In the 1951/52 season, SFA chairman George Graham tried to stop Celtic from flying the Irish tricolour flag over Celtic Park, leading to a bitter stand off between him and the club. Which Scottish club backed Graham over his stance?

If it was stupid to put her in charge of the first attempt at league reconstruction, and ridiculous of her not to see that her presence at the top of the scheme was what doomed it, then it was absolute lunacy for her to assume ownership of the second effort at it.

Somehow, neither she nor those who appointed her to the task could see how much it would stink. It is something to marvel at.

Ellsberg’s book ends on the dramatic note that we now have, in The White House, a leader who is perfectly capable of taking us over the edge and into war by mistake if not out of spite or anger or ego. All of those terms would apply to Ann Budge right now.

Today, with the vote in the balance, she’s resorted again to threats; seeing this blustering woman, motivated entirely by self-interest, at the head of a major effort which asks other clubs to make huge sacrifices so that hers might avoid the fate her catastrophic leadership has wrought on them, is more than a lot of people in Scottish football can stomach.

Hearts entirely deserves what’s coming to them, and if she persists with her threats towards legal action – and especially if she goes through with them – the consequences will be graver than she imagines. The indications are that clubs are set to vote against her proposals.

This website predicted that, because Budge cannot lead such an effort.

The Ayr chairman has already spelled out his objections today, and I have no doubt that are shared by others.

He sees her leading this and understands that the last thing she cares about is the Scottish game as a whole. This is all about her own ego.

I don’t even think she’s representing Hearts at the present time; certainly, nothing that she’s done has improved their position, even a little. In fact, she has made their situation immeasurably worse, and if she goes through with her legal threat the hammer will fall on that club and it will fall hard.

This in the same week, too, that she flatly turns down an offer for the club from serious American interests, which would have been a game-changer for all at Tynecastle.

Her board should be considering whether she is a luxury they can still afford.

Armageddon is coming for Hearts, and they have the wrong person at the top.

James Forrest is the guest on the latest Celtic Down Under podcast, which you can listen to here.

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