One of the most cynical acts in politics is when individuals who get caught doing something wrong try to divert the media’s attention with a half admission of incompetence or bad judgement in the hope that it will satisfy them.
A case in point comes readily to mind; Ron Davies, then Secretary of State for Wales, making up a dire cover-story which painted him as a tragic figure, the victim of muggers following a bad day at the office, when he was robbed at knifepoint after going for a meal with a perfect stranger he had met whilst walking in a public park which was known as a pickup spot for gay sex.
Davies hoped – and so did Alastair Campbell – that representing himself as a fool would keep people from digging deeper.
For who would willingly volunteer his or herself as a clown?
And the answer, as has been demonstrated over and over again, is someone with something much, much bigger to hide. In subjecting oneself to a public flogging for idiocy the strategy is to exhaust the media’s appetite for blood. But a good journalist will always see through that, and these people invariably get caught for their much greater sins.
Over the years, I have heard some truly remarkable excuses made by politicians and others whose personal conduct has tied them in knots. Police, from their own experiences, know that there’s a trick that some criminals use, often successfully. It is admitting to a lesser crime in the hope that the bigger one does not draw the same heat.
I see a combination of both in the SFA’s desperate attempt to explain why Celtic’s offside goal in midweek wasn’t properly scrutinised or the evidence supporting that decision made public. The SFA is volunteering itself for a public slagging. It is claiming to be inept, and pathetically so, in the hope that this satisfies people and stops the questions in their tracks.
Notice how they have done this, so much like a politician or political party. They didn’t volunteer any information in their defence until last night, and they only did so after Motherwell’s chairman had confirmed the existence of cameras at both ends of the ground and Celtic had demanded answers. The SFA then put forth its preposterous explanation.
They hoped to avoid the question altogether. Then when the questions were asked they bunkered and said nothing. When evidence was offered which raised new questions it was only then that they partially responded, and in a manner which is clearly designed to close off further avenues of inquiry by claiming that, in fact, this is some terrible error.
Like the fabled emperor, strutting around in his new clothes, they hope that the audience won’t point out what is blatantly obvious. That this is transparent guff.
Notice how their media briefings all assure the pundits that the goal was offside anyway, and so there’s nothing to be gained by continuing to interrogate them on this. There is no actual footage which proves that definitively, they claim, but everyone involved in officiating that game is sure about the decision, so why are we bothering about it?
Besides, Celtic won, didn’t they? So what’s all the fuss about?
I’m just going to say it, right now, in the clearest language I can use.
They’re clearly full of shit.
I don’t even think their explanation is really intended to be believed, because it’s patently ludicrous.
It’s a shutter defence; pull them down and hope that people go away.
It’s not really designed to stand up to a full-frontal assault. In their arrogance they don’t expect one.
It is, if you’ll allow me a (mercifully) rare foray into pop culture, a little bit like Rebekah Vardy’s famous mobile phone, which “fell into the sea” just before it was to be turned over to investigators in the Colleen Rooney libel case.
As with the SFA here, she didn’t even take personally responsibility for that but palmed the blame off on her agent.
When looked at it in context, that wasn’t supposed to be a serious attempt to explain away the loss of crucial evidence.
It was an act of desperation, but a calculated one.
She knew that nobody could ever prove that it wasn’t a legitimate accident, but that she would be scorned for it.
She chose to be scorned rather than turn over whatever was on that phone.
She chose to be the subject of ridicule rather than have her case fall completely apart.
What should have been obvious to her was that such an obvious scam tainted everything she said and did in the courtroom and so it all fell apart anyway. That’s what we’re dealing with here.
I no more believe the SFA’s cover story here than I believe the nonsense that Vardy spouted in that case.
I don’t think I’m supposed to believe it.
I don’t think any of us are supposed to believe it because it’s manifestly ridiculous. For the SFA, though, it will suffice. It’s a roadblock to the truth, and one they don’t believe that anyone can breach.
But we all know.
We all know that when you are slapping on the whitewash in this slapdash manner, when you don’t care that the coating isn’t even, that the shades don’t match, that the whole thing looks a mess that it’s obvious that you’re trying to hide something worse.
It’s Nixon, standing at a podium and dismissing Watergate as a “third rate burglary” when only a handful of whispers suggested it was more. It’s the same man, months hence, going on TV to accept the resignations of key aides who had gotten caught up in the evolving scandal and hoping that their blood would stop the investigators coming after his. It’s him saying “there can be no whitewash at the White House” before going even deeper into the cover-up, until it all came crumbling down.
This is, as some said last night to me, Dougie Dougie 2, even if we never truly get to the bottom of it.
Even if the “facts” never fully come out … because we know, and we includes our club.
And “we” has to include much of the mainstream media, who must recognise the smell of bullshit when it is so obviously wafting up their nostrils as it must be today.
We know what happened here, and we know it because that cover-story is not intended to be believed, it’s simply meant to make all this go away. The tactic is not a new one.
Let’s, just for a minute, review what it is that they are saying happened here.
They are saying that VAR technology in Scottish football is actually suborned to the whims of a broadcast company instead of to the SFA.
They are saying that company decided, during the most blistering moment of football being played in the game on Wednesday, not to focus on where the ball was – being put forward in a manner that cut the defence to shreds – but on the Celtic dugout instead of on the very thing for which it is intended in the first place.
And for what?
To watch Ange Postecoglou picking his nose?
To see the look on his face when we scored the goal?
This is what we are expected to believe, as the crowd at the emperor’s march was supposed to believe that he was wearing garments of the finest and grandest design.
You have to be willing to be conned, you have to be an absolute mug, to accept that.
And I am fairly certain that Celtic will do no such thing, because they can smell the stink all over this just like the rest of us can.
That we are expected to simply wear that, to get on with it without another word, is offensive because it insults the intelligence of every single one of us, and really, we cannot take that lying down.