Amidst the many, many incredible moments of the EU referendum, a lot of things escaped the scrutiny that they deserved at the time, although those at the very heart of the action recognised well that they were major moments.
It was only after the fact, in light of the defeat for Remain, that some of them came to be seen for what they were by the commentariat and the public. One of those moments, a moment the significance of which appears obvious, came on 16 April when Jeremy Corbyn spoke at the Senate House of the University of London.
It was the speech where he was expected, finally, to give a clear and unequivocal statement in support of Britain’s membership of the European Union, which he did during the hour or so that followed. But he opened that speech in an odd, and telling, way; he reminded his audience that the building had been the one Orwell had, in 1984, used as the setting for the infamous “Ministry Of Truth”, the government department dedicated to lying.
“We shall see,” he said, before offering his support to an institution he had spent decades decrying and denouncing with every breath in his body.
His not-too-subtle suggestion that perhaps he wasn’t being truthful is now widely regarded as more than just a nod and a wink to the wise.
Not even taken in isolation does it look like one, and it came during a campaign where the Labour top team pretty much went on holiday, and when they didn’t they seemed to be going out of their way to make as much trouble for Remain as they could.
At one point, as the Remain campaign was battling back against Farage’s fear-mongering over immigration and in particular Turkey, Corbyn actually planned to go over to Eastern Europe and meet potential migrants … and then on to Ankara to discuss the possibilities of their ascension with members of the government.
It looked so much like an attempt to sabotage Remain that it can’t possibly be anything else. You could not get a clearer signal of who’s side he was on.
Well I felt a bit like that last night, reading the Martindale story. When you denounce, as conspiracy theorists, those who call you out as being biased, it is probably not wise to do so in the very colours that you’re accused of wearing under your work suit. The only people who do that are those who are arrogant enough to think they don’t have to care.
Let’s remind ourselves of what we’re talking about here.
In the immediate aftermath of the game at the weekend, Martindale gave an interview to Sky where he laughed and joked about his team just getting beat by the visitors. He praised their midfielder who scored the equaliser by suggesting that he always scores against them, referred to their players by cutesy nicknames as if talking about his mates and generally seemed happier for them than he was sad about what had befallen his own team.
We all saw it. We all commented on it. We all thought it was outrageous and appalling and an insult to Livingston fans who paid to watch the match.
In the same weekend, Martindale then had a sit-down for an interview where he denied favouring their team. But the interview – as incredible as it seems to me – was with one of their fan podcasts, in which he admitted that he “once” supported them … and if that’s something you simply stop doing. This is not a nod and wink to the wise.
This is blatant. And yet our media refuses to put it in the proper context. They report his comments and his denials and mention who he gave them to almost in passing, as though it were perfectly normal for a manager of one SPFL top flight club to sit down with a fan media outlet for another club, and especially one he has just lost to.
Even before the game kicked off, I had written about how Martindale almost seemed more to be looking forward to watching his opponents than he was focussed on a tactical plan to thwart them. His pre-match interviews suggested that there was little point in his team even showing up for the match. When they led 1-0 at halftime I was astonished.
But at no point did I think they would win, or even leave with a point. From the moment the second half kicked off, and he had put every player behind the ball, it was perfectly obvious that they were going to sit deep until the visitors scored. Twice.
We are accused of paranoia a lot.
But how many ex-refs are now regulars on the Sash Bash circuit?
We have a current official who was pictured drinking in one of their bars after he officiated a game against us in which there were some pretty ridiculous decisions.
Yet the media shrugged and hand-waived that one away as if it was nothing at all.
And they’re doing the same here, as if this were not an extraordinary demonstration of brazenness with not even the least effort to be subtle about it. It’s as if our field of perception is different to theirs. You don’t have to be on our side of the fence to see how wrong this looks … even if there’s nothing in it, the thing stinks, and it stinks badly.
During Julius Caesar’s time as the head of the Roman religion, his wife – by dint of his own authority, the head of the Vestal Virgins – was the victim of an outrageous and notorious incident wherein a young Roman named Claudius Pulcher broke into her home during a meeting of that sacred order wearing a dress and got up to all manner of mischief.
A day later, Caesar turned up at the Senate, where he could easily have been subjected to ridicule. But he divorced his wife on the spot instead.
“The pontiff’s wife must be above suspicion” he said although there was no indication that she had even done anything wrong.
Above suspicion. Not a concept that anyone in our media cares about … so why should anyone else? If there are no standards to be held to, people aren’t going to set their own. Their entire industry behaves at times as if they represent the Ministry of Truth.