2014 Scottish Independence Referendum Analysis
An academic study into the independence referendum was conducted by Professor Ailsa Henderson of the University of Edinburgh. The research, which surveyed 4,849 voters, examined how voting linked to demographics, risk aversion, national identity, and attitudes to change. It interviewed people before and after the referendum result and assessed why people voted the way they did. Findings:
* The typical “yes” voter was male, Roman Catholic, and living in social housing.
* The typical “no” voter was more likely to be female, Presbyterian and more well-off.
* The gender gap played out with 53% of men voting yes, and 56% of women voting no.
* Religion was a factor, most Roman Catholics supporting independence and most of those identifying with Church of Scotland favouring the union.
* A narrow majority of native Scots were yes voters.
* Voters qualified through residence in Scotland but born elsewhere in the UK overwhelmingly backed the union.
The analysis indicated that a minority of Presbyterian voters supported an Independent Scotland. This was attributed to the influence of the “Orange Order and “Rangers Football Club” supporters.
Assuming there will be another referendum it is crucial that “Yes” campaigners work hard to get the Rangers support onside. Failure to achieve this might well bring about a similar result. What follows is an informed treatise on the Rangers Football Club.
Glasgow Rangers: How an illustrious football club became the emblem of a faltering belief in the United Kingdom and lost its identity. The Start of the Downfall – Rangers V Maribor
Rangers FC, the Scottish club that is one of the most famous names in world football, were 15 minutes away from being knocked out of Europe by the champions of Slovenia. The team needed one more goal to take the game into extra time. This was the moment that, traditionally, a home team would be rallied by its fans bellowing, baying, singing a rousing song. Instead, the Glasgow crowd struck up a weary chorus of the British national anthem, “God Save the Queen”. Rangers failed to score.
Soon, the whole club was in need of divine intervention. Without the funds from lucrative European cup competition, years of hubris and inept leadership caught up with Rangers. In February 2012, it entered administration. Four months later, it was liquidated. Following votes by other clubs, a new incarnation of the club that had been champions a record 54 times started the 2012/13 season in Scottish football’s fourth tier.
Three years on, the sense of crisis persisted. Administration left a void in the boardroom, through which passed a procession of businessmen, many claiming to be “Rangers men”. No one ever took full control of the club, which remained in desperate, monthly need of cash to pay its high wage bill. According to Harry Reid, an author of books on Scottish football and religion, “Rangers became a magnet for every chancer in town.”
Many football fans like to think that their team is “more than a club”. In Rangers’ case, the claim was true. For much of its 143-year history, its successes were a source of pride for fans throughout Scotland, if not for supporters of Celtic, Glasgow’s other big club. “Rangers were the unofficial sporting champions of a different Scotland,” said Alasdair McKillop, the co-editor of “Born Under a Union Flag”, an anthology about the club’s place in the UK.
The club, like the nation, had a comfortable dual identity as both Scottish and British. At its most famous game, the 1972 European Cup Winners’ Cup victory over FC Dynamo Moscow, fans sporting kilts and Robert Burns T-shirts waved the Union Jack alongside the Lion Rampant, Scotland’s royal flag. “There was then an unquestioning acceptance of a strong Scotland within an overarching Britishness,” said Graham Walker, a renowned historian of politics in Scotland and Northern Ireland as well as a life-long Rangers fan.
Off the pitch, Rangers was run in unspectacular fashion. It exemplified traditional Scottish Protestant virtues such as “strength, solidity, pride, decency and probity”, said Harry Reid. “This was turned on its head.”
For many fans, it was the European game against Maribor which foreshadowed the subsequent decline. Only three years previously, Rangers had reached the final of the same competition, but it wasn’t just the bad result that stayed in people’s minds.
Rangers drew much of its support from working-class fans in Glasgow and the West of Scotland, many of whom identified themselves as Protestant unionists. Graham Walker, who saw the game that night, said: “It seemed to me that too many fans are more concerned about defending Britishness than supporting Rangers.”
Today Rangers is a faded emblem of a faltering belief in the UK: a Scottish institution in Britain and a British institution in Scotland. Its rise and fall reflects not only how a football club lost sense of financial reality but much of its identity, too. Its story represents an imperfect microcosm of contemporary Scottish and British history.
Success – Arrogance and – Unionism – The modern transformation of Rangers was dominated by two men
* Graeme Souness, the cocksure, moustachioed Scottish football legend who was appointed player-manager in 1986 after the club had gone eight years without a league title.
* Sir David Murray, an industrialist who in 1988, encouraged by Souness, bought a controlling stake in the club for £6m.
Rangers — and Scottish football — would never be the same again. Murray’s money bought star players on high wages, including the England midfielder Paul Gascoigne and Mo Johnston, the first openly Roman Catholic player signed by Rangers since the end of the first world war. Between 1989 and 1997, Rangers won nine league titles in a row. Sustained success on the pitch set the club apart, and the arrogance that accompanies serial winning undoubtedly alienated other football fans in Scotland.
But changes in society also threatened the sense of a dual Scottish and British identity that Rangers represented. Memories of the British empire and the second world war — both of which encouraged a pro-union sentiment — were growing distant. And falling church attendances, especially Protestant, spoke of Scotland’s rising secularism. According to the historian Sir Tom Devine, the “centralising drive of Margaret Thatcher eroded Scotland’s distinctiveness”, too, and provoked today’s left-wing Scottish nationalism.
Partly in response, a growing minority of Rangers fans displayed a more defiant type of Britishness. Religious sectarianism ran through the clubs fierce rivalry with its city neighbours Celtic, formed by an Irish Catholic priest in 1887. And, influenced by the deepening “Troubles” in Northern Ireland, fans sung “Rule Britannia” alongside rejoicing in the deaths of popes. The strident unionism that Rangers fans displayed was anomalous.” It wasn’t that Britishness was dead .. . …… but the kind of flag-waving unionism that some Rangers fans indulged in was exposed as a minority taste in contemporary Scotland, and it robbed [the club] of a lot of sympathy in the country.
Yet the ordinary Rangers fan was deserving of sympathy. “Rangers suffered from every financial calamity imaginable,” said Henry McLeish, Scotland’s former first minister, who in 2009 conducted a review into the state of the country’s football. “It is the longest running business saga in football history.”
Despite its footballing success, spending on star players in the absence of stellar revenues meant that, by 2002, Rangers were £80m in debt. Murray appeared to have adopted the right strategy in the wrong country. Satellite television had turned the English Premier League into a big business. Rangers indicated a wish to join the English league but the entity enthusiastically embraced by the Rangers supporters rejected the approach. The United Kingdom was disunited when it came to soccer. The inevitable result was that the club became over-leveraged within the smaller market of Scottish football. By 2006, Murray was ready to sell. A situation which became critical when the financial crisis hit in 2008. when Murray International Holdings (MIH), suffered severe losses to its property portfolio.
Rangers had indeed spent beyond its means in a time of easy credit — and fans paid the price. “As far as I’m concerned, the bank is running Rangers,” Walter Smith, then the club’s manager, said in 2009. Two years later it was revealed that Rangers had used Employee Benefit Trusts, a tax avoidance vehicle, to reward staff. HMRC launched an investigation which is still not fully resolved at 2016.
In May 2011, Murray sold Rangers to Craig Whyte, another Scottish businessman, for the sum of £1. At first, Whyte appeared to be like Murray but with even more money. Yet promises of investment proved hollow and worse was to follow. Whyte failed to comply with tax obligations, ran the club without proper reference to the board, and caused the club to effectively fund the purchase of its own shares, according to a UK court verdict in 2014.
Under Whyte’s ownership, the club ran up a tax bill of £9m. This was the direct cause of Rangers entering administration in February 2012. Four months later, the club’s creditors, owed £124m, voted to liquidate the old company. That same day in June 2012, a consortium bought Rangers ’ remaining assets for £5.5m. But this new incarnation of the club has, said Henry McLeish, “been unable to attract stable finance backed by stable personalities”. In April 2013, yet another consortium leader Charles Green resigned as chief executive and the two men that followed him lasted only a combined total of 18 months.
The most recent power struggle featured Mike Ashley, a retail billionaire who owns English Premier League club Newcastle United, as well as a 9 per cent shareholding in Rangers. In 2012, the enigmatic sportswear mogul entered a joint venture to sell the team’s merchandise. It was a deal that led to a boycott of official gear by some fans, who claimed that the club only received 75p from every £10 spent on kit. Ashley wielded power disproportionate to his holding by acting as Rangers’s short-term creditor. He reportedly offered the club a further £10m loan, in exchange for taking Ibrox and Rangers’ training ground as security. The Scottish FA prevented him from increasing his stake in the club, citing rules on dual ownership
Sandy Easdale, a businessman convicted of non-payment of VAT in 1997, controlled 26 per cent of the shares in Rangers, mostly via the proxies of mysterious institutional investors. In December he loaned the club £500,000 to avoid a winding-up order by HMRC, an amount repaid after Rangers sold its best player to an English Championship club. Dougie Wright of the website Rangers Media forum, puts it this way: “Twenty years ago we were buying players from Barcelona, now we’re selling them to Brentford!”
At the start of 2015, several groups emerged as potential opponents to the combined control of Ashley and Easdale. These included:
* Dave King, a businessman, guilty of contravening South African tax laws.
* Robert Sarver, an Arizona billionaire who also owned the Phoenix Suns basketball team.
* A trio of rich Rangers fans who go by the name of the “Three Bears” (one of Rangers’ nicknames is the “Teddy Bears”).
The “Three Bears and Dave King emerged the winners after a corporate goalmouth scramble, but the question “why are we still in crisis? remained on the lips of many Rangers fans.
The 2014 Independence Referendum and Rangers Supporters
In the course of the 2014 independence referendum campaign in Scotland “Better Together” campaigners used the term “silent majority” to describe pragmatic voters who cared little for romantic Britishness but ultimately saved the union, which was preserved by a 55 to 45 per cent vote.
In consequence parallels are drawn between the referendum vote and the club’s supporters continued state of angst. This was manifest in the unacceptable anti-social behaviour of some Rangers fans (witnessed throughout the referendum campaign) who repeatedly taunted other fans by singing, “You can shove your independence up your arse.”
But Glasgow was one of the few Scottish cities where a majority voted “Yes.” Given the class divide in votes (the poor are more likely to vote “Yes”), pollsters said, it would be surprising if an institution in Govan, a large working-class area, did not reflect that in some way. It follows that some Rangers fans must have voted “yes.”
It is accepted that Scots reluctantly affirmed the union. But it is a different sort of unionism to that of the past. For the majority a quieter, contingent belief in the UK has replaced the default bellicose Britishness of the past and it is expected (not with confidence) that the public behaviour of Rangers supporters will reflect the new reality. Extracted from: