Yesterday, the Justice Minister excused a mass outbreak of lawlessness because football fans get emotional when their team stands poised to win things. So whilst the country, as a whole, suffers the pains of lockdown, you apparently get special dispensation if your team gets its hands on silverware. Who knew? Not the St Johnstone fans anyway.
Someone should have told them.
Here’s what I know; for the last few months a lot of our supporters have accused this government of having an agenda against our club. I think it’s nonsense. I don’t believe for one minute that there are people at the highest levels of government in Scotland wasting their time trying to nobble a football team as people die and hospitals fill up with patients.
I tell people who believe this to say the words aloud; “The government is conspiring against my football club.”
Just say the words, I tell them, and you’ll be cured.
Because when you say it and you hear yourself say it you’ll realise it’s absolutely bonkers.
But just because I don’t believe in a tin-foil hat conspiracy theory, it doesn’t mean that I don’t believe our club has been held to a different standard. It doesn’t mean that I don’t smell something rotten and reeking in the responses to our single breach of the regulations as compared to how other folk have been dealt with. Because that’s crystal clear.
The question is; how much are we prepared to tolerate?
I’ll tell you what my thinking here is. I’m not suggesting anyone else follow suit. But I have seen this phenomenon in politics before, and I don’t like it and parties which engage in it should be made to pay for doing so.
This is a classic case of a political organisation pandering to its foes at the expense of its natural allies.
There is some logic to it, but it’s the basest kind.
The idea is that if you can get even a couple of percentage points of support from those who you are sucking up to you can improve your position without consequences. Because your core support will stick with you through anything, no matter how much you insult them.
That was the logic of New Labour under Blair, from whom the SNP has stolen more than they care to admit.
Reaching out to those “new customers”, as Peter Mandelson once put it, is the way you build electoral coalitions which can turn a modest victory into a landslide win.
That’s the thinking anyway, as far as it goes … but it never quite works out like that.
Because what actually happens is that any votes you do get are on loan, and unreliable, and in the meantime your core vote starts to fragment. Oh, it may hold for an election or two but in the end everyone eventually realises the difference between a rainy day and someone pissing on them from a great height … and the quite obvious result is that they begin to resent you for that.
I resent even the idea of it, because it is cynical and disreputable and insulting.
I’ve voted SNP in every Scottish Parliament and European election in the last 14 years; my first vote for them, after a lifetime of voting Labour, was in 2007.
There were two reasons for that vote; first was that Scottish Labour had become so adept at taking its voters for granted, at pissing all over them, that I thought they needed to be sent a message. A lot of folk did.
The second reason was that two months before Gordon Brown had, in the budget, abolished the 10p tax rate so that he could cut income tax by 2p in a naked appeal to Middle English voters, in the full expectation that he would soon be Labour leader.
I am, to this day, still astounded that it took most of his MP’s two years – the time it took before the policy was actually implemented – before the repercussions of that decision began to set in … sitting in a Stirling University computer lab watching him do it I was immediately alert to the ramifications of that choice, and thoroughly appalled.
That was a classic, and grotesque, example of New Labour thinking, courting the right wing media and wary Tory-leaning voters at the expense of your own people.
It was despicable and it was the most compelling reason why I voted SNP a few months later.
I have given Labour my vote once since; in the 2010 General Election when the imperative of stopping Cameron was absolute. Prior to the 2015 vote, I was determined never to vote Labour again after their conduct in the 2014 referendum, when they parroted every lie and smear of the enemies I’d spent the better part of my adult life fighting against.
Particularly horrific was the way they embraced the crown and the lodge; every dirty trick and smear was brought to bear. Sectarianism was weaponised in all its ghastly forms, especially by the Tories, but Labour was not above using it as well.
I’m not going to vote for a party which panders to those reactionary forces. Which is why the next few days are going to decide what I do with my vote next.
I am pissed off at the SNP for the way they have behaved in relation to our club and one of the others. The clear double standard, and especially in the language they have used, seems to me a clear-cut example of them insulting those who’s votes they think they can rely on come what may to appease and appeal to an audience who votes will be harder to get.
I don’t care that the strategy is self-defeating; that’s their own lookout.
The people they are reaching out to despise them and everything they stand for, and they aren’t getting those votes no matter how much they might suck up in the effort to.
I care that it’s offensive. I care that there are people in that party who believe they can take a piss on us without there being consequences. No political organisation which behaves that way should be the recipient or beneficiary of blind loyalty.
If they allow street parties and gatherings to go ahead over the course of today or the next week, or they allow a rabid band of unionists to demonstrate outside Celtic Park in a fortnight’s time I’m giving my two votes to the Greens and a lot of folk I know will do the same. If they go softly-softly on law breaking on that scale after having made our club eat dirt, they can forget it.
It’s about sending a message that politicians can’t treat us with such contempt and think we’re stuck with it because we’ve got nowhere else to go. It’s just plain wrong.
Besides, it’s a no-risk vote. Nobody is putting Anas Sarwar or the part-time linesman in Nicola Sturgeon’s job.
It might deprive her of a majority, but a party which behaves as hers has over a number of issues lately isn’t one that I’m entirely sure should have a majority in the first place; there have to be some kind of checks and balances on them.
The Green’s broadly support the idea of independence.
So there’s no risk to a future referendum in giving them our support.
They are pro-environment (of course) and pro-trade union, they are anti-Brexit, pro-European and liberal. They are, in fact, more liberal on certain issues than the SNP are … and that’s all the more reason to want them to have a say.
The Scottish Government are the ones who provoked this, with their blanket condemnation of our club during the Bolingoli affair and then with the way they hammered at us for days over the Dubai trip.
I didn’t agree with that trip, and thought we got what we deserved.
But when you compare it to how a certain other organisation was congratulated after its own breach (and it wasn’t even their first one, their first one, and the most serious by far, was ignored completely) it stank. So too did the reluctance to offer any kind of condemnation at all after the last violation which involved them and for which nobody was even punished.
Yesterday’s scenes, and the ones that are doubtless unfolding as I write this, have pushed me to the point where the double standard is too much to simply ignore.
To confront it and face it and accept that it’s real requires me to actually do something more than just condemn it … and so I am considering my vote and at this moment they aren’t getting it.
If there isn’t a more vocal reaction, if there isn’t a police investigation into yesterday’s events and arrests made over them, then my mind’s made up.
If there’s a repeat of those scenes I’m going to repost this article on the eve of the election itself, prior to voting for Patrick Harvie and his merry band.
I’m not okay with this, I’m not okay with our club and our fans and our institution being used as the whipping boys for this government whilst other people do as they like.
It’s not a conspiracy, it’s the stinking low-order politics I despise most in the world and I’m not going to blindly give my vote to a party that behaves that way. I’m not asking anybody to follow suit.
I’m just telling you what my thinking is and why, and you can do with that what you like.
I’m going to tell you right now that I do not want to do this … but I will do it.
I’m not alone in feeling this way, and if Sturgeon wants to make sure that her position isn’t susceptible to challenges and future political earthquakes – and I very much believe that she is exceptionally vulnerable to those – then she needs the majority which angry voters who otherwise have no reason not to support her might well deny her.