The Scottish Government Screwed Celtic. Their Sucking Up To Ibrox Is Lamentable.

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In June 2000, Tony Blair gave a speech which was amongst the most poorly received of his career.

He was appearing in front of the Women’s Institute, and he had ignored protestations to make his speech non-political.

They booed him off the stage.

In the days that followed, the right-wing press celebrated his “hand-bagging” from an audience they saw as amongst their own.

Even as the Tory media was thrashing him, the left didn’t raise a murmur of support because in their view he should never have tried to suck up to that truest of blue gatherings in the first place.

It was a classic case of a “leader” trying to cater to an audience of opponents and critics by gushing over them, appealing to their “values” and offering them policy sweeties whilst their friends watched in bewilderment and wondered where the love for them had gone, especially as Blair had spent much of that year gratuitously insulting the party’s electoral base.

This is a mistake all governing parties eventually make to one extent or another, and it feels especially fitting that we mention it on the day of a US Presidential election.

The reason most people got the 2016 result wrong was that few anticipated the crumbling of the Blue Wall, the solidly working class states that had formed the core of every Democratic Party victory in living memory.

Clinton and her team completely took their votes for granted … and gave Trump his way in. That’s how electoral coalitions shatter.

Of course, there’s an ever bigger example much closer to home; the Scottish Labour Party dominated the political landscape here for eons. 2014 broke them completely. Now it’s hard to imagine how they ever put together a winning run in this country again.

Or it used to be hard to imagine.

Now a way through the thicket has started to present itself; don’t be the SNP.

That particular stratagem isn’t putting gas in the tank just yet, and it will need to be coupled with Labour re-evaluating its positions on stuff like the constitutional settlement, but the SNP is drifting towards a dangerous fragmenting of its own coalition and part of it is their endless chasing of votes from people who they should have nothing to do with.

As ever, you see this in the strangest places … but this is where it starts.

The big story of the last couple of days has been the Scottish Government’s response to the latest breach of health protocols involving the club from Ibrox. Their praise for the way the club there dealt with the two of their players who the media has named is in stark contrast to the way they dealt with both Celtic and Aberdeen.

There was no praise for either club, although both had to deal with a difficult and ever-evolving situation. In neither case was the club itself to blame, and Celtic took action even more swiftly than the side at Ibrox did, after the issue became known.

The Scottish Government’s response was to slam our club, and the one at Pittodrie and not just in the verbal sense, but games were suspended at the same time. The approach we got was “zero tolerance”. The approach when dealing with Ibrox has been “zero criticism.”

I’ll tell you now, the Scottish Government has set itself up for a serious red face if the situation here turns out to be a slightly different one than the media has thus far reported. Their praise of the Ibrox operation is going to look foolish at best and at worst outright ridiculous. In those circumstances, it will be interesting to see what their response is.

That doesn’t matter though, as some of us aren’t going to easily forget what we’ve witnessed here in the moment.

Two clubs get a slap on the wrist whilst one gets a pat on the back; what’s wrong with this picture?

To me, it reeks of politicking of the worst sort.

But those attempting this barmy manoeuvre ought to consider the historical health warning that is stamped all over these matters; turning on your friends whilst pandering to your enemies comes at a cost both politically and morally.

It might have seemed like a good idea when it was being war-gamed in some back room or meeting hall, but you don’t piss all over those who share a political outlook with you in an effort to sponge votes from the folk who wouldn’t piss on you if you were on fire.

In case they don’t read the Ibrox fan forums, let me clue them in; there are few friends to be had on there, and no floating voters at all.

The bulk of that audience and that community is resolute on two things; their opposition to anything which screws around with the power of the lodge and the crown and a visceral hatred of the party which promotes independence and thus represents the gravest possible threat to those similar institutions.

What the Scottish Government has done this week already is lose some friends in reaching out to enemies who are more inclined to spit in their faces, and the tactics are lamentable and the strategy is disastrous. As someone who respects those who are good at the game, watching this leaves me slack jawed at the amateurish nature of the move and the mind-boggling naivety that lies at the core of it. This is a vote-loser all the way.

And yes, people will sneer at the idea that this will cost the SNP anything but the sneer is the whole point; this is how coalitions shatter, little bits at a time, and the SNP doesn’t have the best relationship with our club and its supporters anyway because of the Offensive Behaviour at Football Act and the way it attempted to brand us as bigots on the par with the real ones.

There are good reasons to believe that it’s only the absence of a credible opposition which holds the SNP coalition together at the current time, and they cannot rely on the stupidity of Scottish Labour and the Scottish Lib Dems to last forever.

All it’s going to take is for one of them to break ranks on the question of the constitution – and sections of Labour, significant sections, have swayed on this – and the game’s no longer the one it once was.

Our support has changed demographically and politically in the last 10 or so years, but the biggest change has happened in the last five.

You only have to look at the global picture right now to see how quickly events and circumstances can sweep what looks like an established order away in the blink of an eye.

Smart parties double down on the core vote.

Others try to find friends where there are none and insult the ones they have into the bargain.

Nobody who looks at the different ways in which this government has treated our club and the one across the city can be anything but shocked. Add to this the questions, still unanswered, over Ryan Christie and you begin to wonder just what the electoral calculus here actually is.

Are they taking some of us for granted already?

Because that’s not a smart road to start travelling down. Neither is sucking up to the unionist tendency in the ludicrous hope that it will engender some goodwill from that particular constituency. Everyone ought to see that for the fantasy it is.

Recently, the esteemed journalist (and good friend of this blog) Kevin McKenna wrote a magnificent piece on the SNP’s proposed Hate Crime legislation; it was damning, and this from a guy who’s made a steady journey towards Scottish independence.

His doubts over their right-wing approach to criminal justice is shared by others, including all those Celtic fans criminalised by their damnable football hating Act.

This is how movements fall apart.

One brick at a time, one plank of the platform at a time.

One thing starts to rot and suddenly the structure is no longer secure.

Even if this weekend hasn’t cost them votes, it’s sown further doubts and those have a tendency to grow.

Over the course of the next few days it will be worth keeping an eye on events over at Ibrox.

If there’s a major twist in this story – as Phil Mac Giolla Bhain has more than hinted at tonight – then the Scottish Government’s lamentable praise for Ibrox will look ever more ridiculous and become even more untenable.

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