2007 - 2020

Britain First

Cx3RH6yXcAAjpdiLaughing / gasping at the American far-right is a thing now, but we’ve got our own wee fascists here too. Trump has white nationalists, we have red white and blue ones. Spot the difference (photos, right).

They’ve got a lot in common, from the deification of flag to a nurtured and misplaced persecution complex, mirrored with a strong sense of superiority. There’s an ever-present simmering undertow of violence and an implicitly racist worldview. Diversity of opinion or culture is something to be loathed and shut down.

We have it here in spades but shy away from naming it or calling it out.

Partly because it has been around for so long we’re just unaware of it. Partly because it serves vested interests to have communities divided by bigotry. Partly because our authorities are negligent by lack of action.

Cx3RJLyXgAAj5zYFor several years Andy Muirhead ran a successful football website called Scotzine which was highly critical of both halves of the Old Firm, despite being a Celtic fan. He got pelters for critical opinion pieces articulating uncomfortable truths about the Scottish game, all of which he was fine with.

But after threats to his wife and his four-year old son he eventually packed it in. Scotzine continues.

He told us:

“Ten years ago Scotzine was born at a time when the mainstream media were idly passing off press releases as exclusives and blogging was in its infancy. I never imagined that the site would achieve what it has done over the years and the quality writers that contributes to the website and podcast. We broke some good stories including the dodgy past of Craig Whyte, Islam Feruz leaving Celtic and had numerous exclusive interviews with the great and the good of Scottish football – Turnbull Hutton was my particular favourite. He loved the game and he loved his club and you could tell that in what he said.

“I faced numerous attacks and threats – not because of what I wrote but because of how outspoken I was and not willing to kowtow to a certain club and only public positives. I stepped on the toes of certain journalists who turned into nothing more than your run of the mill Twitter troll and actively gathering support with his comments.

“I have given as good as I got, I blocked others but when my personal life was invaded, addresses & fake financial details published not to mention my family being threatened enough was enough. The cops were unwilling to do their job inspite of clear evidence handed over to them and questions must be asked over their ineptitude, but Scotzine will continue as a leading light in the blogging circles of Scottish football and stand up to the haters and the detractors who want to tear it down to make their lives feel a wee bit better.”

Angela Haggerty – now the editor of CommonSpace – was branded “Taig of the Day” by David Limond during his podcast on 20 September 2012 because she edited a book on the collapse of Rangers Football Club by journalist Phil Mac Giolla Bháin.

IMG_20161117_213428Haggerty started receiving abuse after agreeing to edit Phil Mac Giolla Bháin’s book Downfall on the collapse of Rangers FC.

Limond was later jailed for six months.

The football blogger, playwright and author Phil Mac Giolla Bháin recently won the fan’s choice for Best International Football Blog. The response was predictable:

“The overwhelming response on Twitter to the news that I had won the in Best International Football Blog at the Football Blogging Awards on November 17th was very positive, and I’m very grateful for that. I was delighted to be voted into the finals, but to be the fan’s choice was very pleasing.

However, not everyone was delighted. Some tweets were churlish; others were childish, some were viciously defamatory. I was disappointed that some of these came from the edges of the mainstream media. In particular, tweets from so-called ‘fan bloggers’ at a Scottish tabloid. I have been targeted by trolls since 2008. This was due to my work on the ‘Famine Song’ then beloved of many Rangers fans. My work on the financial problems and ultimate death of the Ibrox club in 2012 has only heightened that enmity towards me.”

This aren’t isolated incidents and you have to wonder at the level of normalisation that has set-in. Andy Muirhead’s case barely got a mention in the press.

Neil Lennon, Trish Godman and the late Paul McBride QC all suffered intimidation death threats and attacks. The Channel 4 journalist Alex Thomson experienced the same. He described it back in 2012:

“An element of the Rangers customer base remains out of order and neither Rangers, nor Scotland’s football authorities, nor the police appear willing or able to do much about it. I’m talking intimidation. Of the legal profession. Of football’s governing bodies. Of football club executives. Of publishing. Of bookshops. Of newspapers. Of TV stations. Tellingly, in Glasgow this will come as news to nobody. Which should tell anybody half awake how sick things are in this singular aspect of that great city. Outside Scotland people may legitimately wonder how or why this is tolerated? Or simply gawp in astonishment that such things go on almost daily this year. And it is arguably getting worse.”

The Loyalist faithful aren’t the only fascists in town. As A Thousand Flowers points out, one Millenial Woes blogger from Scotland flew out to the now infamous ‘Hail Trump’ ‘conference:

“Watching more than about 40 seconds of his face requires enormous stamina, as he vomits out a whiny shitfest of victim blaming, misogyny, white supremacy and social darwinism. It’s barely comprehensible as it is, but his tendency to slip into the arcane jargon of the alt-right – all white genocide, cucks, globalists and SJWs – makes it even less so. He even has a two part guide to finding a “traditional wife” and an obsession with bestiality that is probably considered weird even by alt-right standards.”

More here.

Ian Cobain has charted the far-right for years and here outlines the varying strands and factions of Islamophobes, anti-Semites, street-fighters and think-tanks that jostle for position (‘Britain’s far right in 2016: fractured, unpredictable, dispirited … and violent’). He argues that they have been set-back:

“In many respects, racial nationalism in Britain in 2016 resembles that of the late 1990s, before the BNP was reorganised by its then leader, Nick Griffin. After taking control of the party in 1999, Griffin rid it of what he called “the three Hs: hobbyism, hard talk and Hitler”. Members focused more on a new enemy – Muslims and Islam. Activists swapped their boots for suits, grew their hair a little and began winning council elections. In 2009 the party won two European parliament seats. Now the far right is back where it was almost 20 years ago, a series of micro-groups struggling to be seen and heard.”

But another reading is that they are weaker ‘on the streets’ because they are stronger in the corridors of power. The politics of the BNP – once beyond the pale – are now open mainstream and spouted around the cabinet table. The SDL may be a meaningless import easily combatted, but Faragism is rarely off the screens and David Coburn is an elected representative. We’ve become so inured to Loyalist threatening journalists and bloggers that its barely deserves passing mention now, ands the police seem disinterested powerless or both.

CyCPxHiW8AAYgGOIn a week where a fascist terrorist was jailed these questions aren’t just the recurring interest of the radical left, they are essential questions for us all.

We can ask plaintively “Why didn’t the Daily Mail put the jailing of Jo Cox’s murderer on its front page?” – but why would they? For a paper able to re-frame the entire murder as a constituent grievance it’s easy to file it away. To do otherwise would be to confront the reality its own role in creating the toxic racism that emboldens and empowers the far-right and the fascist.

Buzzfeed tells us that this week – those self-styled grassroots insurgents representing the ‘left-behind’ met at the Ritz: “Press barons, journalists, Conservative MPs, and UKIP politicians got together on Wednesday evening at the Ritz in London to celebrate Nigel Farage’s Brexit success. The party was organised by the Barclay brothers, who own The Telegraph and TheSpectator (and who used to own the Scotsman-  Ed) as well as the Ritz, and Arron Banks, who donated over £7 million to the pro-Brexit Leave.EU campaign during the referendum campaign.”

There’s a continuum from the far-right to the fascist and they all need exposed and resisted. We start by not tolerating them shutting down and threatening writers and bloggers. We start by putting our own house in order.

15224775_10154687178186894_1325102901_oThat’s why it was right for Ross Colquhoun to call-out the Tory party and UKIP tactics of the last few years. In response to a Conservative MP describing opponents of Trump as “virtue signalling” he tweeted: “Sound familiar? In unionist/Tory world, nobody really opposes all this nasty stuff, it’s just ‘virtue signalling’. Absolutely bonkers. “.

That’w why the Conservatives couldn’t handle it. 

In a clear and undeniable response Ross said:

“The tweets reference Tory pandering to an extreme right-wing Ukip agenda, stoking up fears of immigration, lists of foreigners, go home billboards for immigrants – all for electoral advantage.”

We need to see the tabloid agenda, the far-right and our home-grown threatening mob as part of a movement that needs defeating and not just the abnormal activities of ‘isolated individuals’. As we make sense of the rise and fall of the far-right it’s worth considering the connections of those who live in fear and anger and project that fear and anger across the world and towards others.

 

 

 

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  1. John Page says:

    Bella
    Excellent provocative and depressing piece.
    We have always had the psychopaths like the Rothermeres and the Koch and Barclay brothers. And we have always had their useful scum idiots on both sides of the sectarian divide: Ireland had its very own Phalangist Blueshirtd and before his crash Murphy engaged in plenty of nauseating dog whistling in the West of a Scotland.
    What is different now is the absence of the post war social cohesion brought to light in Ken Loach’s magnificent Spirit of 45.
    The unions have been systematically dismantled in concerted effort started by Thatcher and finished by Blair. (I am currently reading the Jimmy Reid Foundation’s Trident and Its Successor Programme. Appendix 1 gives Unite’s statement in support of renewal: ffs
    Bella…I would welcome further comment on who is the “we” who will oppose the current overt and emboldened rise of the Right.
    I am now over the hill, I can’t think what to say to my kids in the face of the looming inequality and environmental crises.
    John

  2. barakabe says:

    Western Civilization still hasn’t fully absorbed the essential wisdom of Adorno & co’s 1950 milestone ‘Authoritarian Personality’ & the implications of the F-Scale (F for Fascist)- has it? I certainly don’t think it has- why else are we seeing the cyclical rise of fascism ( albeit wearing a modified garb)? Authoritarian syndrome is predisposed to rightwing ideologies and fascism- the usual traits are all there: aggressive authoritarianism, anti-intellectualism, submission to & worship of Power, primitive emotionalism and stereotyping, cynicism oddly mixed with naivety, projectivity, exaggerated concerns over sex, deification of war and violence within a bellicose melange of machismo, group-thinking and fertilisation of militarism- we’ve seen much if not all of this lay out for the last few years and now rising to a screeching hysterical climax. What is to be done if we, as a species in general, cannot learn from experience, even when the when the experience is the most degrading & venal excesses of human debauchery witnessed in Machtergreifung & the Extermination Camps? Is that not what we ought to memorialise each year on Remembrance Sunday: let us gaze directly into the dark beast that lurks inside all of us?

    1. John Page says:

      Interesting point.
      If there is no “progressive civilisation” and the 10 billion of us to come this century are merely chimp/bonobo crosses with highly advanced tools, are we basically screwed?
      Need to spend more time on the Dark Mountain output……
      John

      1. barakabe says:

        John the tremendously transcendental experiences evoked by Bach’s Requiem Canticles, the Symphonies of Beethoven, Rachmaninoff’s Piano Concerto’s, Mozart’s Opera’s or much else from the great Canon of Classical music; the poetry of Rumi, Shakespeare, Donne, Goethe, Rilke or Eliot; the Architectural wonder of the Pantheon, Hagia Sophia. St Peter’s Square, the Taj Mahal or the Pyramids of Giza; Leonardo Da Vinci, Botticelli, Michelangelo & the Sistine Chapel, Van Gogh, Renoir, Vermeer; the cinematic poetry of Tarkovsky, Mizoguchi or the ravishing beauty of a Terrence Malick film are all testament that we, as a species, can operate in a state that advances the transmission of experiences that transcend the purely functional & utilitarian that narrows human perception of its cosmic situation.
        In the past it was religion’s function that offered a portal to this widening of perception beyond the narrow survival-utility of functional consciousness- I believe we must urgently find a replacement for religion: some such as Benjamin, Deleuze & Nancy have viewed the untapped potential of cinema to widen human perception & upscale consciousness- if only we fully realized its potential to do so.

        1. John Page says:

          Thank you…..much to reflect on
          Regards
          John

        2. Redgauntlet says:

          So true, Barakabe, but alas it works both ways surely…

          Fascism could only come about after the birth of film: Hitler and Goebbels were the first politicians to truly understand mise-en-scene. They invented modern propaganda, from which advertising and Hollywood have learned and applied many, many lessons.

          Trump’s victory is inconceivable without the last three decades of Hollywood fascistic cinema output in my opinion.

          The links between the high testosterone, anti-intellectual, violent, Darwinistic framing of human existence of Hollywood and the American alt-right is all too clear. Trump is a Netflix President.

          And if anybody doubts the power of film to influence people, ask yourself why advertisers spend billions every year shooting commercials. Maybe because it works?

  3. Jo says:

    I’ve been thinking about labels recently. There are so many these days that it’s difficult to keep up but the one that repeats, repeatedly, is the “fascist” one and it seems to be used as a general term by just about everyone towards those whose views they vehemently disagree with.

    So I’m reaching the conclusion, rapidly, that it sort of means we can all be pretty fascist at times and nowhere is that more clear than in Scotland. From politics to the duo known as the “old firm” we see very bad things on all sides. (I think the worst thing about the old firm for me is that so many folk say it’s about “religion” when it really isn’t anything to do with spiritual beliefs or God, it’s just basic tribalism and nothing else.) The vast majority of supporters of both teams are ordinary people who aren’t bigots but, make no mistake, there are bigots on both sides and there are people in the media who focus only on one side, stir it up and then plead innocence when those they target turn on them. That’s not good journalism. It’s not clever either.

    And, before we even get to Trump, look at the result most of the time when you get people of opposing political views together on any Scottish website. The first casualty is always meaningful debate, the tone deteriorates rapidly and before you know people are just slinging insults at each other. (Nazis, fascists, self-loathers…..and so on.) While I would agree that Scotland was a lively place as a result of the independence referendum I would also say that the atmosphere around political debate has also become pretty toxic. I read a piece by Kevin McKenna in today’s Herald entitled “It’s time for Sturgeon to start delivering on her promises.” Below the line, one “Hamish Long Dirk Macbeth” (I thought the Herald insisted on proper names?) declares, “More drivel from this moron.” Kevin McKenna is many things but I wouldn’t put moron on the list. He’s written many balanced articles about the SNP and other Parties and he’s criticised and praised equally in most of them. He’s not, say, David Torrance (I hope it’s ok to name him here Mike) who is so anti-SNP that it’s quite sad to read him at times or to take him seriously as a political commentator and it’s embarrassing too, especially when on one occasion he actually drew comparisons between Alex Salmond and Trump. (I think he called Trump, “Salmond on steroids”.)

    Four weeks or so after Trump became president-elect we are still hysterical over a result which, yes, shocked us all a bit to say the least, but is it really justifiable to be going on and on about it and returning to the “fascist” word again and again? I am certain that those who voted for him are not all fascists. I think many got sick of the political debate and politics in general and, definitely, of certain politicians and the appalling way they’ve destroyed, and continue to destroy, much of our world through needless wars while the rest of us out here, or a significant number anyway, struggle to make ends meet, use foodbanks, search for jobs and very often despair and lose hope. If there is one good thing I took out of Clinton not winning it was that Trump has no plan to go into a major confrontation with Russia. He is not planning any absurd “no fly zone” in yet another country we have no authority in. He wants to find things in common with other nations, not reasons to go to war with them. I think that’s all good personally. Clinton didn’t have any of those aims on her agenda! She just yearned for more war.

    Labels are in themselves divisive. Sometimes I wish we could all recognise one thing: we’re all people regardless of colour, creed, nationality or anything else. I’m sick of the right-wing, left-wing, far-left, far-right labels and I’m sick of the “fascist” word which gets thrown around so recklessly. I’ve never understood why it isn’t possible for politicians to find common ground on most things. Maybe that’s naive but I just don’t think it can be that difficult if we had a truly meaningful, democratic UN doing what it was meant to do for our world in the first place. Alas, the big boys rule there no matter what everyone else says. And that, honestly, is where “democracy” goes wrong when it doesn’t really have a place at the table to begin with.

    1. w.b.robertson says:

      last contributor put his finger on it. it is time our so called “intelligentsia” came up with a new word to replace “fascist” to label anyone or anything with which they disagree.

    2. Redgauntlet says:

      What is wrong with the word fascist to describe, say, the man who gunned down Jo Cox? Or Amber Rudd’s demand for a list of foreign workers, which is precisely what Hitler demanded re the Jews? Those are clearly fascist deeds.

      Why is the word Communist acceptable usage, but the word Fascist is not? Why do they talk about “Trotskeyite entryism” in the Labour Party but never Fascist entryism in the Tory Party?

      Let’s remember the Tory party is deeply divided. Ken Clarke is a right-wing democrat Conservative. Amber Rudd is a soft fascist/alt right Conservative. The difference between them is obvious.

      Don’t be fooled by the fact that the apparel has changed. As the Portuguese Nobel Prize winner Saramago said, when fascism returns, it will be wearing an Armani suit.

      Also, remember that Nazism is the most radical end of a very wide fascist spectrum. Most fascists won’t be as plain crazy as the Nazis, but the traits of fascism are fairly well established by scholars and continue to pertain today.

    3. Alf Baird says:

      I think Jo makes good points. This discussion reminded me of Gordon Brown calling Mrs Duffy in Rochdale “a bigoted woman” whilst unaware he was still attached to a microphone. This kind of gave the game away about what the pc neoliberal elites and intelligentsia think of us plebs when we raise legitimate concerns. It is very easy to call people names, it is much harder to tackle the real issues of concern. Maybe that is the purpose of name calling and labelling so loved by the pc neoliberal elites and intelligentsia, merely to divert attention away from dealing with the serious issues that need to be addressed. Which reminds me, I hope Nicola has the red carpet and humble pie ready for President Trump’s visit. He is heid level diaspora efter aw.

  4. john young says:

    There was a very good article on “wee ginger dug” by an American from one of the southern states,for me he with his first hand knowledge being born and raised there hit it right on the button,you cannot discuss/debate give them the facts they just blank you totally/completely,mind you of anyone over here?

  5. Archie MacD says:

    I am pretty fed up of the demonisation of all thing Rangers by Celtic fans such as Mike Small. I know a dozen Rangers fans very well and all are pretty decent ‘normal’ people Most Rangers fans in fact the vast majority do not support the extreme elements or individuals you refer to (yes there are plenty of Rangers lunatics as there are Celtic). I always feel it would help more if people looked at themselves and their like minded circles as critically as they do at others. You might then be perceived as unbiased. You might then realise how close to home bigotry and intolerance is. You might then make a difference.

    1. I’m not a Celtic fan. If there’s an issue of any substance or a factual error in the piece please let me know

      1. florian albert says:

        ‘I am not a Celtic fan.’

        If you were, you might have a more skeptical view of Phil Mac Giolla Bhain. His interpretation of the ‘Famine Song’ is, to put it mildly, contentious. (I know that one judge called it racist.)
        Football supporters delight in winding up/abusing opposing supporters. Often this abuse is nasty. This is not restricted to the Old Firm or Scotland.

        Decades spent attending Parkhead involved listening to some Celtic supporters sing ‘A Soldier’s Song’ preceded with the words;
        ‘Northmen, southmen, comrades all
        Soon there’ll be no Protestants at all.’

        What did I make of this ? Not much. Celtic supporters were singing a stupid – and offensive – ditty. Nobody else made much of it either.

        The rise of the populist right (or, as Bella Caledonia would have it, the fascist right) is best kept separate from football supporters insulting their opponents.

        As Tom Devine has stated, the decline of sectarianism ( i e anti-catholicism) in Scotland, has coincided with the growth of an anti-sectarian industry. Most Catholics and Celtic supporters I know have little or no sympathy with this latter change.

        1. Can you give examples of republicans – if you insist on this weird equivalence – intimidating journalists, bloggers, lawyers, governing bodies, football club executives, publishers or TV stations?

          Thanks

          1. florian albert says:

            Can I give examples of republicans intimidating various individuals ? No, but I was not writing, or thinking, about them.
            I was writing about what I consider a misguided attempt to shoehorn events surrounding football into today’s politics. I was also writing about what I see as a one-eyed approach to the nasty side of football following.
            Does Bella Caledonia seriously think the the cause of the Left is furthered by going on about Rangers supporters singing ‘The Famine Song’ ?

      2. Archie MacD says:

        I didn’t actually notice much of substance in your piece Mike. It was a broadbrush sweep at a large part of our community implying they are all ‘fascists’ based on us all being like Limond (whoever he is), or the violent thugs in George square post sep14 or anyone remotely associated with blue/white/red colours. Alex Thomson’s allegations and assertions were not followed up with one single example of a charge or prosecution. Clearly I am not so naive as to believe these that these things do not happen but it just looks like a series of assertions and I am pretty sure Rangers FC do not have a monopoly on thugs. I thought we were in an age of questioning the assertions of MSM rather than just accepting them. Of all the examples he refers to there was not one single charge (because allegedly the police backed off). Sorry I see no reason to believe that. You promote Phil mac ghiolla bhain who has no interest in unity or bridging differences. He frequently uses perjorative terms about Rangers fans irrespective of their individual characteristics as if they were all part of a subspecies. Finally if this is an independence web site you may be surprised by how many Rangers fans actually support independence. I see no sense to imply they are all ‘fascists’ or part of some sinister far right British thug group. Do you not think we need all the votes we can get? This divisive rhetoric is not what will help Scotland. I alder see no reason to imply the same ‘facist’ label to normal unionist supporting Rangers fans. That sort of superiority complex seeking to alienate may in itself seem like fascism to some.

        1. Hi Archie – Ive got many good pals who are Rangers fans and now fine well that many of them are great folk. I’m talking about the connections between Loyalism and Fascism which is well documented and isn’t really up for dispute.

          I’m not sure what reason Alex Thomson would have for making up those allegations. He’s from Tyneside I think and is a multi award-winning broadcast journalist.

          I also know that there are many Rangers fans who are pro-independence. I’m not sure why that should stop us investigating and writing about the far-right?

          1. Archie MacD says:

            Well Mike I can’t see anything in the Andy Muirhead section that constitutes facist behaviour against him. I would say the same for the Angela Haggert and Pgil Mac sections. Yes they have been subject to religious bigotry and hate messages which is wrong. Yes these hate messages will have been posted by loyalists and yes loyalism and facism can be equated (as can republicanism or communism). But the article has the effect IMO to conflate Rangers supporters and the club with facism in such a broad and demeaning way. it is like the unionists rather tedious equating of Scottish nationalism to the Nazis. As for Alex Thomson I am not clear what research he did into the accusations he reported therefore you are in effect telling us a ‘truth’ on the basis that ‘you know a man who knows a man’. As a Rangers fan I find this constant equating of Rangers supporters in general with the loyalist dregs disconcerting. Btw I would not even classify all the loyalists as facists. Someone pointed out earlier that the term is being misused. I would agree with that.

          2. I think that someone was David Torrance. LOL.

  6. Archie you seem to have a problem spelling peoples names properly. This isn’t the space for your smears.

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