All my life, I’ve been fascinated by the art of lying. It comes from having spent some time in the political sphere, and from having a degree in media and in studying the great practitioners of it. There have been some amazing liars throughout history.
Amongst the most ruthless was Joseph Goebbels, the Nazi Minister of Propaganda.
The art of lying, particularly in politics, is often misunderstood.
A lot of people think that Trump was a great liar. He wasn’t.
But he was a particularly brazen one, and would frequently say things that were so obviously utterly false, even fantastical, that you couldn’t help but conclude that his complete lack of remorse or shame is rooted in some deep mental illness.
It was his followers and acolytes who were the great political liars; they weaponised some of the most egregious of his falsehoods and turned them into a bizarre new creed. When one of his spokespeople spoke of “alternative facts” it was the first real sign that far from retreating from his lies that some were determined to make political hay out of them.
All of this can, in some way or another, be traced back to the Poison Dwarf.
He was quite brilliant at crafting lies into political weapons and slogans.
He and Hitler had both studied the art form, and their theories have, unfortunately, survived to the present day.
I think of their over-arching philosophy a lot when I read articles in the papers explaining why £23 million in losses on top of losses on top of losses on top of losses is actually a normal way to run a business, and proof that it is essentially robust.
This is amazing to me. To believe it, there needs to be a wilful switching off of the critical faculties.
Even if it’s the Ibrox directors who are keeping the lights on, out of the goodness of their own hearts, and the club was not in thrall to other figures who the public doesn’t know of, it is manifestly unhealthy to be so dependent on the largesse of people who might one day decide that they are no longer willing or perhaps just no longer able to keep on doing it.
You would never believe that these people are, in some ways, amongst the most knowledgeable in Europe on the possible consequences of such behaviour, but they are.
They’ve lost one club already. Their current club had to bite and claw and scrape its way up, through years of toil.
That should have left a deep mark on their psyche.
I know Celtic fans who, to this day, would not want our club to spend a penny more than it was able, because they are scarred by our near-thing in 1994.
We didn’t go bust, but they remember what it was like to read that we almost did, that the bank was on the brink of calling in its debts and closing our doors. We learned from what almost happened.
Their fans have learned nothing whatsoever from what did happen.
The same blithe assurances that they cling to now were being offered back then; the first Ibrox club was making losses, but there was no reason to be concerned.
I first wrote about the danger they were in back in 2009; I wrote about it almost constantly from 2010 until the meteorite hit them.
At every stage, when myself and others were telling them that they were in peril, they denied the reality of it and their club lied to them about the true picture.
The closest they came to accepting it was when Alastair Johnston famously nodded his head at Chick Young when he asked, in relation to the Big Tax Case, if the club could go bust if that bill finally came due.
Young ran with that story. A backlash out of Ibrox followed.
It led to one of the most notorious live radio spats in the history of Scottish football when Jim Traynor, of all people, tried to tell him how to do his job, and denied that he had enough to stand the story up. But Young turned out to have been right, of course.
And so did the handful of Celtic fan writers who were essentially saying the same thing.
It is amazing to look at the Ibrox fan forums today and see how little concern there is on them. They have been told that the club is in good shape and they believe it, in spite of the obvious fact that they don’t know who paid last season’s bills or who’s paying this seasons.
The board says it has the funding from “existing directors and other investors” … who are the “other investors” and what do they want for their money?
Those fans appear not to understand that when the bank or the finance company or the Wonga loan people take a block of shares in your organisation that this isn’t “investment” it’s collateral and most likely the tip of the iceberg.
A company isn’t “investing” if it’s charging you interest.
Some Ibrox fans have been emailing me since my initial article on this, telling me I don’t really understand what a “Going Concern” notice is and how common they are. Yeah? What about a “material uncertainty” qualifier?
Does every company have one of those in their accounts too?
As I’ve said before, I don’t care who believes in fairies at the bottom of their garden, but I draw a line at being told I have to keep my music down in case I disturb them.
All I know is that if this was us I would be worried. I would be asking hard questions.
I wouldn’t let the league title we’d just won stop me any more than I let the Treble Treble stop me from saying that Lennon’s permanent appointment was an unpardonable folly and a disgrace.
As I keep reminding them, their former club won its third title in a row in 2010-11.
By the end of the 2011-12 season they were in administration and going out of business.
And yet, they accept the glib assurances out of their boardroom. They are told that their club is in no danger and that, indeed, soon enough they’ll be in profit. Joseph Goebbels would have recognised the technique at once; he pioneered it.
It’s when you look at it all in context – banning the media, even charging their own fans to attend the pressers, going after everyone who says a negative word about them and sewing disharmony far and wide in the game – that it all starts to make sense.
It is just as Goebbels said;
“If you tell a lie big enough and keep repeating it, people will eventually come to believe it. The lie can be maintained only for such time as the State can shield the people from the political, economic and/or military consequences of the lie. It thus becomes vitally important for the State to use all of its powers to repress dissent, for the truth is the mortal enemy of the lie, and thus by extension, the truth is the greatest enemy of the State.”