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Threats, Damned Threats and Lies: A Response to Alex Thomson


Alex Thomson's latest blog is a new low. Not only is it frighteningly inaccurate, but the motive behind writing it is dubious. I can see no reason other than demonising Rangers fans, a now depressingly familiar theme. It is a naive and ill-informed to say that one club has a problem of an "underclass" any more than another. 

It was unsurprising to see Graham Spiers jumping on the Thomson band wagon. “I have been threatened as well” he told us. Yeah, that is why you need protection when you report from Ibrox isn't it? The really galling thing is both Thomson and Spiers go out of their way to antagonise supporters. I heard Gordon Waddell talking about Spiers on BBC Scotland radio. He spoke about how Spiers, the wee devil, was deliberately putting out tweets to wind up supporters. Another recurring theme is "I have been threatened but no police action has been taken". We have seen it with Phil MacGiollaBhain, Donnecha DeLong of the NUJ and Alex Thomson.

Let’s actually look at Thomson’s blog in detail. It is rhetoric that Chris Morris would be proud of. He speaks of the groups and people who have been intimidated.

THE LAWYERS.

Alex speaks about the furore that surrounded the original SFA findings against Rangers. I am not going to dispute that any of these gentlemen were abused or received threats and that is totally unacceptable. However, if anyone is threatened on social media and it is brought to the attention of the police, guess what they do? They advise on best practice and what to do. Not one single arrest has been made arising from these alleged threats and most importantly, as is so often the case, these gentlemen were left unmolested. This is not evidence that threats or unacceptable behaviour is prevalent in or unique to Rangers fan is it?

This blog is about threats but, for some reason, Lord Nimmo-Smith is mentioned.

"It has continued. In the past few weeks Scottish Law Lord and former Supreme Court Judge Lord Nimmo-Smith actually had to put out a statement pleading for his independence to be recognised as he embarks on yet another investigation of the fallen club."

What has continued Alex? Rangers fans questioning the impartiality of the process? Is that a threat now? Are you not getting mixed up with democracy here? Has anyone read anywhere or suggested that Lord Nimmo-Smith was threatened? Alex is grasping at straws here.

THE FOOTBALL AUTHORITIES

If it is Stewart Regan allegedly being threatened by Rangers fans it is worth a mention in his blog - not that there is any proof this even happened.  If it is Jim Ballantyne of Airdrie and the SFL, it is not. Perhaps the abuse that members of the SFL took when some thought they were going to enter Rangers into Div 1 has slipped Thomson’s mind? Perhaps he is not aware of the campaign Celtic ran against the SFA and refs that resulted in refs being threatened with injury and death? It got so bad that the refs went on strike.

Who perpetrated those threats? Rangers fans? It seems it is only Ally McCoist who has to act responsibly. In Thomson’s world, McCoist should be ashamed but Turnbull Hutton is a hero for saying that the SFA are corrupt, bullies and liars on the steps of Hampden. Could Hutton not be putting the SFA officials in danger by stirring up hatred? 

THE PUBLISHER

This would be my old Twitter sparring partner, Bob Smith. Bob loves retweeting anything disparaging about Rangers and has no problem calling Rangers "Sevco" and "cheats". I have not seen Bob retweet any threats he has received and alas, it seems Bob is another who the police don't want to help. Anyone arrested for threatening Bob?

“There was definitely pressure applied and there were certainly some wobbles along the way from shops and customers. But we got through and in the end people were supportive.”

I thought there were threats? They now seem to be downgraded to "wobbles". What pressure? I have no idea what Bob's issue is and it seems neither does he.

THE BOOKSELLER

It is simply not true that the book had to be hidden away in stores. I did an article on the Rangers Standard about the truth about the book sales. In East Kilbride Waterstones, for example, the book sold 30 in its first week. It may have sold reasonably well in some Glasgow shops and if it made local charts then its prominence increased. The simple reason it was not prominently displayed is because it wasn’t a major book. The stories on twitter even included Rangers fans setting fire to books in stores. Surely no one would believe nonsense like that, would they? Oh, hold on:-

"In at least one store copies were ripped up. In another Glasgow shop an angry individual wearing a Union Jack repeatedly entered the bookshop to scream at staff to send the offending tome back to the publishers."

Comedy gold. Now even if this was true, how do a couple of isolated incidents prove the case that Rangers have a particularly bad problem with its "underclass fans"? But it is not true. It is not true because if Alex had taken the time to contact individual Waterstones and WH Smith stores and contact the HQ of both businesses, like I did, he would have been told that they have no reports of staff or branch intimidation. Alex is unwilling to divulge which shop the Union Jack shouter appeared in but guess what, no arrests. Why is Alex unwilling to tell us where this occurred and when? 

THE BROADCASTERS

Well I will leave the STV ‘colleague’ out of it for the moment except to say his idea of a low profile must be different from mine. But the rest of Alex's comments are really stretching it:-

"NUJ officials say currently around 25 journalists have been threatened recently for attempting to tell the truth about Rangers."

Well actually they don't. Phil Mac Giolla Bhain said that he was shown a bit of paper that had the names of 25 colleagues that had been threatened by Rangers fans. That was Mac Giolla Bhain's usual spin and was not in any way officially linked to the NUJ. He was speaking at a motion that specifically mentioned him and his book. Let me tell you that the branch of the NUJ who put up this motion were the New Media Industrial Council boasting members including MacGiollabhain and the lovely Donnecha DeLong, the Rangers and poppy hating president of the NUJ.  So again Alex is intentionally misleading his readers.

THE FOOTBALL CLUB

This is Alex returning to the Eric Drysdale affair. Separating the two issues gives Alex another point to list. Usual hyperbole applies:-

"The day Fife police passed on credible information from the Strathclyde force that two men has been paid to burn down Raith’s stadium is a day Mr Turnbull and Raith Rovers will remember."

This story was also featured in The Herald some time ago. The Herald carried the story that a plot to torch Starks Park had been foiled. I had to check I was not reading the National Enquirer. So I asked Fife police to clarify via a FOI request. What they told me was that the on-going investigation may or may not have interrupted a credible threat and Raith Rovers were not the complainant. No arrests. Of course it could be that Strathclyde Police were given malicious information but that is not going to stop Alex using it to prove his point. I mean the police are not corrupt? Oh sorry, Alex thinks they are corrupt but only when it comes to investigating a small group of journalists who say they have been threatened.

THE NEWSPAPER

Alex seems baffled by The Sun's decision to pull the serialisation of the book. The simple explanation, of the author's document hatred and Ranger's fans mobilising to point this out, is not accepted. Despite barely being mentioned in the English press except by MacGiollabhain’s friend and fellow Republican writer, Roy Greenslade, this was apparently:

"one of the more bizarre editorial u-turns of recent newspaper history in the UK when a Scottish Sun double-page splash promoting the author of ‘Downfall’ prior to serialising the book – suddenly became a non-serialisation"

Again, Alex fails to mention that the double page splash feature has Mac Giolla Bhain lying in it, as he claims he does not hate Rangers. How can I say he is lying? Well, Alex told us. Here is Alex talking about MacGiollbhain in a previous blog:

"He wishes to see Rangers FC obliterated as far as I can discern" and ''He writes about Rangers’ downfall with undisguised glee and mirth'

Maybe the fact that Phil was shown to be a liar, and tried to do anything to paint himself as a victim who was only interested in a story of corporate failure, helped The Sun make its decision? 

"The paper denied it was bowing to threats. Yet the publisher of the book says the threat of a Hillsborough-style boycott was real and instrumental."

So what? We did threaten a boycott of the paper. Is Alex saying this is a sinister threat? If anyone else does it, fine. When we do it, it is menacing. If Alex would like to check he will see that some Celtic fans are threatening to boycott The Sun today because of coverage of Rangers share issue.  Can we expect Alex to condemn this threat soon? 

"The difficulty here is that, whatever the paper’s reasons, in the end the mob got their way."

Many thousands of Rangers fans complained about Mac Giolla Bhain. We are now "the mob". At this point Alex has completely lost the plot. It is very similar to Phil's language and note he is now not talking about an “element”. Anyone who complained was part of “the mob”. All Rangers fans are now targeted. 

"The serialisation of a fast-selling factual book on Rangers never happened."

There is that myth of a best seller again.

"They couldn’t get Turnbull Hutton, Lord Nimmo-Smith, Eric Drysdale, STV and many, many more – but many believe they did get the Scottish Sun".

Just read that again. How ridiculous is that? They? Get?  Alex cites anecdotal nonsense and unproven accusations as justification for this assault on Rangers fans.

In summary, this blog seems "hell-bent", as Alex would say, in tarring Rangers fans with a sinister brush. It is devoid of any real thought or analysis. The ‘evidence’ is based almost exclusively on the ramblings of a group of about 4-5 people who are all well documented as detesting everything about Rangers.

Thomson is doing the work of a small group of pseudo journalists who are making it their business to attack our football club. He has made no meaningful contribution to a story which deserved much more. I’ll leave the final word on Thomson’s blog to Tom English of The Scotsman – a man who often gets up the noses of Rangers fans - and who described it as “hysterical, attention-seeking nonsense”.