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UKIP using Old Firm divide to canvas political support in Scotland

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The UK Independence Party or UKIP as it is more commonly known as, are actively canvasing and securing political support from angry and disgruntled Rangers fans as they revenge on city rivals Celtic Football Club.

The party, which was described as racist and extremist by former GMB Trade Union and Labour party official Dan Hodges, has jumped onto the bandwagon of corruption and state aid allegations reportedly involving Glasgow City Council and Scottish champions Celtic football club.

One Rangers blogger has taken it upon himself to publish allegations of state aid involving rivals Celtic and the Labour Party controlled Glasgow City Council, as well as the Co-operative Banking Group.

Why? Well one could claim it is in retaliation for Rangers’ own demise at their own hands and wanting to end the smugness that emanates from the supporters of the East End club. Others would label it a plain auld obsession to get a rival into trouble no matter the issue, while a few could see it as throwing as much mud as possible and hoping some of it sticks. Of course there are some that would say that they uphold everything that we hold dear ‘truth, justice and punishment for those found guilty’.

So what mentality does this Rangers blogger fit into then?

Rangers fans who have lauded the work of this anonymous blogger hiding behind a pseudonym, have already convicted Celtic, GCC and the Co-op of State Aid breaches, despite the EC still looking into the allegations.

But now UKIP, who are desperate to get their foot in Scotland at local level, have begun brown-nosing this blogger in attempt to not only discredit the Labour-controlled Glasgow City Council, but also to secure votes from disgruntled Rangers fans who would say and do anything to get one over on their city rivals – to shame them.

This one man show – bolstered by about five alias twitter accounts – and the use of Rangers fan forums and podcasts is seen by some Rangers fans as a gift from god – the messiah to silence Celtic fans once and for all. The problem for these Rangers fans is they don’t actually care if Celtic are guilty or not – they don’t hope they are guilty, they have already passed judgement and now they are talking punishment.

A tad hypocritical given that these were, in all probability, the same Rangers fans who attacked and criticised rival fans and the media for speculating on Rangers’ financial meltdown and their court battle with HM Revenue & Customs. Now they are doing the same with Celtic, the GCC and the Co-op.

This blogger along with many of his ‘disciples’ have targeted politicians and journalists demanding they investigate Celtic, GCC and the Co-op bank in mass email campaigns orchestrated via Rangers fan forums.

However can these crusading Rangers fans’ comments and claims even be considered IF a formal investigation takes place? According to the Scottish Government’s State Aid Unit: “….the European Commission will only consider complaints about unlawful aid from interested parties, which organisations or persons that can demonstrate that the aid affects their competitive position or the competitive position of the person/firm they represent.”

They added: “During a formal investigation, the Commission invites comments from interested parties. An MSP may be considered an interested party if they are representing a constituent’s interests.”

So again I ask why UKIP are getting involved in what can be argued to be a witch hunt? They are not an interested party in all of this. They have no MSP nor MP in all of this. So what have UKIP to gain in all of this other than political point scoring?

The UKIP’s lead person or should I say face [middleman]of their involvement with these crusading Rangers fans is Caroline Santos – the party’s Scottish Borders chairwoman. She actively tweets that Glasgow City Council are corrupt to the core and yet has failed to publish one ounce of evidence to back these claims up. Now why is that?

Not only are UKIP pandering to this anonymous blogger hiding behind a free website that anyone can obtain with little or no trace back, the Vanguard Bears are also getting in on the action.

Earlier this year, Vanguard Bears head honcho Wilhelm Anderson [another alias], interviewed DUP’s Gregory Campbell MP on the allegations of State Aid involving Celtic FC and Glasgow City Council.

Campbell said: “If there has been a competitive advantage offered by a Financial Institution or a Local Authority which was not available to others then this should be investigated. The European Commission have now been informed so we await their response.

“There needs to be a thorough investigation to establish if there were any breaches. The only way this will be cleared up is if there is a full and transparent account given of what happened, who was responsible and what the outcome was. If a financial advantage was accrued by Celtic FC then the public must be informed of the extent of the advantage, how long it continued and who were the people involved.

“I have been in touch with my colleague Diane Dodds MEP who has brought this issue up in Europe on a number of occasions. In 2011 Diane addressed this issue directly with UEFA following sectarian chanting from Celtic supporters during a match against Hearts. Despite assurances from UEFA that they would give an “unconditional commitment to eradicating this from the game of football” the issue has continued to fester.

“Late last year Diane also contacted UEFA, FARE and also wrote directly to the European Commission highlighting concerns about the lack of action being taken against Celtic Football Club to eradicate the elements of sectarianism that remain.”

When Campbell was asked why Scottish politicians and the media are staying well away from this subject, Campbell added: “Sometimes I think there is a small ‘p’ political issue with these matters in Scotland, with possibly some politicians relying on Celtic minded voters and media coverage to get re-elected. In Ulster this is less of an issue.”

Campbell, who is a member of the Westminster Rangers Supporters Club, has raised several issues in Parliament related to both Celtic and Rangers. Significantly he has never called on the house to investigate the dealings between the Bank of Scotland and Sir David Murray on how he obtained huge amounts of loans, yet has called on the Chancellor of the Exchequer to investigate Celtic’s deal with the Cop-operative Banking Group.

He asked: “To ask the Chancellor of the Exchequer if he will investigate reports that the Co-operative Bank provided exceptionally low-interest rate loans and overdraft facilities to Celtic Football Club.”

Sajid Javid, the Financial Secretary to the Treasury, corrected Campbell on this issue, saying: “Individual commercial loans are a matter for agreement between the parties concerned.”

Certainly not a State Aid issue as some are calling it.

Also a question for the Rt Honourable Gregory Campbell directly – Is it illegal for staff in an MP’s constituency office to pass on information to a third-party about those who have called said office on matters related to his position as a Member of Parliament?

Because someone within Campbell’s office certainly passed on information to the same Rangers blogger who is making allegations of state aid involving Celtic and the GCC.

The same group that Campbell sat down with also entered into talks with the political wing of the UVF to help them in their fight against Scottish Independence.

At the time the Vanguard Bears commented: “Vanguard Bears will neither offer, nor proffer (sic) any apologies whatsoever with regards to our meeting last week in Belfast with the leaders of the Progressive Unionist Party.

“As our country stumbles into a vortex of sectarianism and hate from Republicans, Nationalists and Radical Islamists, we deem it our right in a democracy, just as they do, to seek guidance and assistance from friends with a similar mindset, that mindset being the preservation of the United Kingdom against those that would see us ripped asunder and sent down a road of treachery, sectarianism and hate – mostly aimed at one section of the community in the UK.

“Our friends in Ulster have suffered, at first-hand, from treachery and deceit from Governments and have stood proud and firm against a pogrom by Nationalist murder-gangs and butchers, all for the badge to remain British. Many have made the ultimate sacrifice in doing so, and for that we will forever be in their debt. Vanguard Bears wish to see a return to strong and finely principled Unionism here in Scotland, and will accept the offer of advice and leadership from anyone who shares our same aspirations and hopes for our country.”

This is the same group who openly called on Rangers fans to continue singing the Billy Boys – with the up to their knees in fenian blood reference still in it. This is the same group that target individuals for what they write, who they support and who they work for. They publish their personal details via their social media accounts and also on their forums to let their rabid members know all about them – where they live, where they work and who their family is. Now why would they do that?

The Vanguard Bears also have a clear history of sectarianism, bigotry and racism, not to mention clear attacks on their own fellow Rangers fans over the years.

So why would a Rangers blogger, who regularly refers to Celtic Park as ‘Stade de Nonce’ and replies to Celtic fans with BJK, and the Vanguard Bears actively seek out the support of a political party that has no MPs, MSPs or even councillors in Scotland?

Why would they canvas support from a party that has been labelled ‘full of fruitcakes, loonies and closet racists,’ according to Prime Minister David Cameron?

Why do they actively support UKIP, whose leader Nigel Farage, claimed when discussing the reason why radical individuals have emerged in the UK was due to a decline in traditional values.

“A lot of this is our own fault,” he said. “We have been too weak. My country is a Judeo-Christian country. So we’ve got to actually start standing up for our values.”

Even this week on a US talk show, Farage claimed that ‘well over 50%’ of people in Scotland ‘are living off benefits of some kind’. An unofficial party line that most Scots are scroungers and  burden on the State.

Farage is an individual, who himself has been labelled racist, despite the party’s claims on their official website that they are not racist [and the only party to state that they are not racist.]No other party declares that they are not racist as much as UKIP do, so why do UKIP have to declare it?

Is their next defence against allegations of racism, “I’m not racist I’ve got a colour TV.”

Why are UKIP interested in this issue? Do they have an agenda against Celtic and/or Glasgow City Council? Nah that would be bordering on tinfoil-esque conspiracy theories.

And yet the UKIP Scottish party chairman Arthur Misty Thackery, said Glasgow City Council was for ‘Gays, Catholics [and]Communists’.

He also claimed that Catholicism was based on ‘fascist ideology’ and complained of a ‘suffocating culture of anti-loyalism’ in Scotland’s largest city. He also criticised attempts by authorities in Glasgow to prevent a protest by the racist and Nazi far-right Scottish Defence League.

Using his own Facebook page, Thackery in 2011, said: “Real Catholicism and Real Islamism are far from antagonists with both having an outwardly benign image but inwardly sharing a fascist ideology of extreme submissive conservatism and imperialism.”

Later, he aimed an attack on the Scottish Parliament at Holyrood: “There’s more chance of winning the lottery two weeks running than getting an openly Rangers-supporting MSP into the chamber of the institutionally catholicised pretendy parliament.”

And yet Thackery failed to mention that Murdo Fraser MSP is a well-known Rangers supporting Member of the Scottish Parliament
for Mid Scotland and Fife – since 2001. What about former Scottish Socialist Party MSP Carolyn Leckie? She is also a Rangers supporter and held office at Holyrood between 1st May 2003 and 3rd May 2007. Or Karen Gillon, Member of the Scottish Parliament for Clydesdale from 1999 to 2011?

Some people just don’t do facts.

He targeted the Glasgow City Council adding: “No wonder the blue half of my city say G.C.C actually stands for the Glasgow Celtic Council for Gays Catholics Communists eh.lol. NS!”

NS – stands for ‘No Surrender’ – a loyalist phrase.

Not only that Thackery wrote in the same year: “You have to witness a Glasgow election count night to understand the extent of islamist influence within the SNP and Labour …last time out I thought we were contesting a seat in Pakistan.”

SNP’s Alyn Smith, who is a Member of the European Parliament when asked about Thackery’s comments, said: “These racist, bigoted and homophobic comments are totally unacceptable.”

So answer me this – why are elements of the Rangers support happy to be political pawns for UKIP to win seats in Scotland?

Why are they happy to fraternise and actively seek support from a group that the British Prime Minister labelled ‘closet racists’?

Why are they supporting a political party whose Scottish leader resorted to sectarian, racist and homophobic commentary?

These crusading Rangers fans sure do pick strange bedfellows.

Despite claims of inside knowledge and that Celtic, GCC and the Co-op are in big trouble, a European Commission competition spokesperson told Scotzine today: “The Commission’s assessment is currently ongoing and we have not opened any formal investigations. As you know, the Commission has indeed received complaints about alleged state aid in land deals between Glasgow and Celtic. The Commission has requested and received detailed information from the UK authorities, as the Commission always does when it examines a complaint. This information is currently being analysed so no conclusions can be drawn at this stage.”

Scotzine did put questions to both the UKIP party press officer Alexandra Phillips, as well as Caroline Santos, but neither commented.

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About Author

scotzine

Andy Muirhead is the Editor of Scotzine and the Scottish Football fanzine FITBA. He is the Scottish Football columnist for The Morning Star and has written for a number of other publications including ESPN, Huffington Post UK, BT Life's a Pitch and has had his work featured in the Daily Record, The Scotsman and the Daily Mail.

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