Glasgow Rangers Scottish Fan-base and Scottish Independence
The total number of fans, family dependents and associates of voting age in Scotland is estimated to be between 250,000-350,000. Of these guestimates are that around 30% voted Yes in the 2014 referendum. Allocating the remainder to the “no” vote increases that total by 175,000 – 245,000. The numbers are significant and much work needs to be done (between now and the date if the next referendum) to convince the bulk of the Unionist supporting fans and their dependents that their future is with a Scotland free from the false utopia that is Westminster. But the challenge is immense and an understanding of what drives them is crucial to the outcome. The message to the supporters favouring independence is, “Ditch the Union Jack, wrap yourselves in the blue of Scotland and claim your freedom from a system that has sent the grim reaper on many occasions to claim the lives of many hundreds of thousands of your countrymen and women in the name of patriotism and visited, oppression, mayhem, theft and suffering on many millions of Scots.”
Glasgow Rangers – From the Start
In the early years of the nineteenth century, Scotland was the most Protestant country in the world, and probably the most literate. The immigrants who then began to drift in from Ireland – first in a trickle then, after the Famine, in a torrent – were sharply differentiated from the society they were joining – or at least intending to live alongside. They were Catholic, many of them Gaelic-speaking, as big a proportion semi-literate at best. To an extent that was never true south of the border, Catholicism in Scotland emerged as a specifically Irish phenomenon – now presenting cut-price competition for a disciplined Protestant working class with, already, a well-developed sense of its own place and entitlements.
Celtic was founded in 1888 with a conscious perspective of giving expression to the sense of identity of the Catholic-Irish community. Within five years the club had, astonishingly, established itself as the leading side in the – admittedly still semi-organised – Scottish football set-up.
The underdogs, or at least the underdogs’ colour-coded representatives, were suddenly top of the pile. Celtic’s first honorary president (jointly with the archbishop of Glasgow), Land League leader Michael Davitt, exulted: “The Celtic club is the pride of the Irish race”.
Small wonder that many in Scotland who associated themselves with the kirk, the Queen and the Tartan establishment felt a jolt of angry disbelief at what seemed the overthrow of the natural order of things. It was inevitable that any side which came forward to put a halt to the upstarts’ swagger would become a focus for Protestant loyalty – and Loyalism. Rangers stepped up to the mark.
The club had been founded in 1872. It was now, 10 years on, that the “no Catholics need apply” signs were erected around Ibrox. The establishment of a Harland and Wolff shipyard brought a fresh influx of Belfast Protestant shipyard workers, hardening attitudes and helping give Glasgow sectarianism its razor’s edge. The ideological character of Rangers which was to persist for more than a hundred years was set by the material circumstances of the time.
Competition between the separate sections of the working class for jobs, status and access to resources constantly replenished resentments and reinforced division. There was nothing ersatz or merely symbolic about the howls of hate exchanged at Parkhead or Ibrox on Saturday afternoons. The social function of football was to give unrestrained raucous expression to the underlying tensions of workaday life, the champions of each tradition going out uniformed to do battle on their supporters’ behalf.
And thus, with the occasional, soon-corrected stumble off the narrative line, things were to remain until the 1960s when, the world over, old certainties began to fragment and fade. Traditional industries declined, dragging down old elites. The Conservative and Unionist Party went into its free-fall phase. The role of religion receded. The influence of the Orange Order on business, the professions, the civil service, the judiciary etc began steadily to weaken. Rangers “constituency” was shrinking.
Celtic’s triumph in the European Cup in 1967 and the completion of the nine-in-a-row run of League titles brought the football dimension of this harsh new truth home to Ibrox.
Glasgow Rangers and Its Unionist Links.
Graeme Souness, a self-professed right winger and trophy hunter who had spent little time in the country of his birth and his good friend David Murray took over ownership of Rangers at the beginning of 1988/89 and established close friendships with a number of Thatcher’s Tory party MP’s and associated activists. He went on to dismantle many of the Clubs hallowed traditions which did not endear him to many fans but his arrogance knew no bounds and he ploughed on regardless of consequence in single minded pursuit of gaining success for the Club. Which he achieved but at an excessive unsustainable financial cost.
It was the desire for European success which prompted Murray to borrow massive sums from the Bank of Scotland using the assets of the club as collateral. And it appeared to work to the Clubs advantage, the money helped lure top-flight players to Ibrox and Rangers re-established themselves as the number one Club in Scotland. And all this was achieved without anyone (apart from Murray and a tight-knit coterie around him – as well as, presumably, account managers at the Bank of Scotland) – knowing that the club was meantime sinking ever deeper into what Americans might call the doo-doo.
Rubber stamping the new regime had been formalised on March 10, 1990, when Murray, (a personal friend of Malcolm Rifkind and the Conservative Party leadership in Scotland and London), organised a visit of Margaret Thatcher to Ibrox Stadium to make the Scottish Cup semi-final draw before the quarter-finals had been played. This was one of the proudest days of Graeme Souness’s life as he gloried in showing his heroine round the wonderful new stadium and introduced her to his players, all instructed to be smartly dressed for the occasion. She described the stadium as ”legendary” and said: ”It leads the UK in the excellence of its facilities.” The visit confirmed Glasgow Rangers as a Unionist entity which exists as much today as it did then.
After a number of years at the top of Scottish football successive failures to qualify for European competitions brought about a financial crisis and this linked to Inland Revenue investigations of wrong doing resulted in the club folding in default of a number of loans. A new club was then formed and had to compete at the lowest levels of the Scottish Football League. After 5 years in the lower leagues the new Glasgow Rangers returned to the Premier Division in 2016. (1)
(1) It is noteworthy that in a number of important legal actions associated with its financial mismanagement the Club was represented by Richard Keen QC, (now Baron Keen of Elie) a Conservative Party politician who was appointed Advocate-General for Scotland on 29 May 2015. Keen is one of Scotland’s richest men.
16 May 2008: Murdo Fraser and his Ill-Judged Remarks
Will Fraser, the deputy leader of the Scottish Conservatives ever learn? Protest in haste and repent at leisure. He must learn to contain his enthusiasm, or prejudice, before rushing out statements that turn out to be not exactly adjacent to the truth.
Questioning the heavy handed use of Manchester riot police against Glasgow Rangers fans, he also voiced concern about the approach of the Manchester city authorities in coping with the invasion of so many Rangers fans. It was chastening when a somewhat chagrined Mr Fraser, a few hours later, had to eat his words when he’d seen what the rest of Scotland saw – namely Fraser’s peace-loving Rangers fans attacking the forces of law and order in the most bestial fashion.
Fraser, in statement number two said: “The attacks on police officers and paramedics are deplorable and have to be condemned without reservation.” The moral of this story is that when it comes to issues of public order, politicians shouldn’t rush to judgement – especially when it comes to the supporters of Glasgow Rangers, or any other, football club. One cannot believe that the fact that Mr Fraser is a supporter of the Ibrox club played any part in his initial statement. Perish the thought.
Murdo Fraser, like other Tories really believes that by defending sectarian bigots and by identifying the Tories with a club like Glasgow Rangers will endear them to the Scottish working class. This reminds me of the 1996 Tory Conference in Perth when they had a piper outside playing the sash. The fact is that the working class in Scotland have left these bigoted and outdated attitudes behind them at least 40 years ago. Even if Murdo Fraser’s remarks do get the Tories an extra few votes, he has lost his party ten times as many votes. I can’t stand Labour but the Tories are so stupid and so outdated they deserve to be heading for complete extinction.
13 November 2011: Unionists and their sectarian tweets – Ruth Davidson’s staff provoke outrage
On April 17th, the day of a Scottish Cup semi-final match between Aberdeen and Celtic, Taylor wrote: ‘Hope the sheep absolutely hump the tims today’ –(tim is a term of anti-Catholic abuse.)
Taylor is not the first member of her staff to embroil her in a sectarian related controversy. At the very beginning of her recent campaign for the leadership of the Scottish Tories, Ruth Davidson had to fire her Holyrood assistant Ross McFarlane – Mr McFarlane was filmed burning a European Union flag in Glasgow while sectarian remarks were made by a companion. At the time of the incident, Mr McFarlane was the president of the GUCA, as well as being Ruth Davidson’s Holyrood election agent.
The cases of McFarlane and Taylor have highlighted Davidson’s ties to Glasgow University Conservative Association (GUCA) – according to their website Ms Davidson is the group’s honorary president. She attended GUCA’s annual dinner Friday 11th. It has been noted that Ms Davidson when referring to her party repeatedly uses the name Conservative and Unionist – the emphasis on Unionist being evident. A spokesman for the Scottish Tories said: “The allegations against Mr Taylor have been fully investigated and he has been issued with a formal warning. Mr Taylor deeply regrets the comments and he apologises for any offense he has caused.”
26 October 2012: Threats and intimidation at the hands of Rangers’ ‘fans’
Channel 4 news broadcast a report bringing to public attention alleged intimidation (by a hardcore minority the clubs fans,) of those perceived to be instrumental in the relegation of Glasgow Rangers to the fourth tier of Scottish football. The content was controversial and generated a fair amount of press coverage. Aspects of the report surfaced again in the course of the 2014 Scottish independence referendum campaign. https://www.channel4.com/news/by/alex-thomson/blogs/threats-silence-intimidation-rangers-fans
22 July 2014: Glasgow Rangers fans on Scottish Independence
Pre-match interview of a group of Rangers supporters revealed an astonishing level of vitriolic malice aimed at anything supportive of Scottish independence. One fan, wearing an England football top was particularly intimidating, (check the video at 2:31)
14 September 2014: Last Week Tonight Show – Hosted by Political Commentator( Englishman) John Oliver
Oliver hosts a very popular weekly show on HBO. It usually finds its way to U-Tube and is highly recommended viewing. Just before the 2014 Scottish Referendum he presented his analysis of the referendum campaign in his usual irreverent fashion. Gaining an understanding of his views requires the viewer to enjoy the humour but assimilate the messages. As example his analogy (comparing the relationship between England and Scotland and Harry Potter and Ron) is classic observation. “I’ll have all the powers, and your brothers can die fighting my wars.”
19 September 2014: Vice news report on the outcome of the referendum
A well made documentary concentrating on the euphoria of Unionist supporters and the pain of Yes voters.
20 September 2014: Vanguard Bears Rangers Supporters Organise Clash with Independence Supporters in George Square
It was early evening. Independence supporters had gathered earlier in the day in George Square with the purpose of peacefully discussing the shock outcome of the referendum, less than 36 hours before. At around 18:30 a group of about 200 Glasgow Rangers fans (gathered by the Vanguard bears) entered the square and started intimidating the despondent “Yes” voters. Police attended in numbers and soon established control of a potentially explosive situation. But there were casualties, caused by Rangers Unionist fans attacking “Yes supporters without cause or reason.
16 January 2015: Glasgow Rangers: A club in danger of losing its identity
From Scotland’s favourite team to financial free fall. How an illustrious football club became an emblem of a faltering belief in Britain
Ibrox stadium, August 25 2011: Rangers FC, the Scottish club that is one of the most famous names in world football, are 15 minutes away from being knocked out of Europe by the champions of Slovenia. The team needs one more goal to take the game into extra time. This is the moment that, traditionally, a home team would be rallied by its fans bellowing, baying, singing a rousing song. Instead, the Glasgow crowd strikes up a weary chorus of the British national anthem, “God Save the Queen”. Rangers fail to score.
Soon, the whole club is in need of divine intervention. Without the funds from lucrative European cup competition, years of hubris and inept leadership catch up with Rangers. In February 2012, it enters administration. Four months later, it is liquidated. Following votes by other clubs, a new incarnation of the club that has been champions a record 54 times starts the 2012/13 season in Scottish football’s fourth tier.
Rangers draws much of its support from working-class fans in Glasgow and the west of Scotland, many of whom identify themselves as Protestant unionists. A spectator at the game 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.
17 April 2016: Twitter – Murdo Fraser wrote: Rangers 5 Celtic 4 – The Queen’s 11 deliver Her Majesty the perfect Birthday present. The Scottish Cup
* Just watch the singing. I’d have thought keeping football well apart from the politics of the constitution might be advisable.
* Dry your eyes Of course the Queen is a Rangers fan. And a Tory. And a unionist. Like all good folks.
* What’s more embarrassing – following a Glasgow club when you’re from Perth or being a Tory? It’s a toughie!
* Police Scotland. After your pep talk with players might be worth blowing in this supposedly responsible politicians ear!!
* What is the connection with rangers and the queen. Can you explain please?
* Is this really the sort of acceptable comportment from an MSP who represents all, regardless of how/who they vote/support?
* You sir are a right wing disgrace of a politician.
* Were you elected to serve only certain people in Scotland? Remember who pays your salary and behave yourself man!
* Why are you trying to stir up tension? You need to answer this.
* We are trying to move on from this bile you headcase.
* Lost the right to say the queens 11 when they diddled millions in tax good luck with your career.
* Perth based Tory Rangers fan in popular cultural reference shocker. We need a summit + special police powers.
* A Tory, Rangers, Royalist in the unionist and conservative party. It’s hardly earth shattering news.
* Her perfect Birthday present would be the Rangers paying back of her stolen taxes.
* Sure the Queen would be happier if your club paid the tax that they cheated her out of for all those years. Shameful Comment.
* I think she’d prefer them to deliver their taxes to her Revenue & Customs officers.
* Of course they are the Queens 11, they love to avoid tax too. All in it together.
* The daftest thing abut this tweet is the thought that the Queen cares what the score with Rangers was! Ill-judged tweet though.
* Aye Murdo, I’m sure there wont be anyone more thrilled about the Rangers result than Queen Elizabeth II.
* Do you think it’s suitable to be condoning the politicisation of football when there is such tensions?
* Glad you’re able to rise above the sectarian bile associated with the old firm. Oh, wait…
* Great to see politicians at the vanguard of progress towards a Scottish society not blighted by the bile of sectarianism. Pun.
* Scotland’s shame back on the agenda.Could you explain what you mean to my wee granddaughters.
* What has the birthday of a 90 year old Englishwoman who lives 400 miles away got to do with a Scottish football match?
* Congrats on the result. Any comment on the tens of thousands of people singing sectarian songs in the Rangers end yesterday?
* Pleased to hear Rule Britannia being sung by only a few at Hampden Must mean something for the Queens11 & dinosaurs like you.
* Did you really tweet that? My god man, what is wrong with you?!
* What else might Her Majesty like? Loyalists burning saltire’s in George Sq again? GSTQ’s verse about crushing rebellious Scots?
* The queen cares about *Rangers as much as you do the working class.
* Rangers fans know your a toxic Tory. Jog on with your opportunistic crap!
* Can’t believe I just read this, with this causing such a divide across our nation, did you really think this was a good idea?
* Sectarianism is alive and well.
* Amazing you haven’t got further in life than the Scottish Tory party with this level of emotional intelligence pal.
* If the good people of Perthshire are thick enough to vote for you, they deserve you, numpty!
* Well you’ve just lost my vote.
* What a vote winner, even the demographic you are trying to appeal to know won’t buy it!
* Couldn’t care less for your football rivalry, but this is utter filth, same old bigot Tories.
* It may be a good idea to keep the political and religious nonsense out of football, a lot of young folk are atheist/agnostic
* When all right minded individuals are trying to eradicate sectarianism from football. This is your contribution. Shameful.
* To refer to the queens 11 after the tax dodging schemes does take a brass neck. But fair play your stupidity is a lesson 2 all
* Not the brightest tweet by a Tory politician. But when are they ever……?
* Scraping the barrel going for the Bigoted wife beaters but spose an another votes a vote
* Don’t mind the fitba stuff it’s the whole ” I’m a Tory ” thing that gives me the boak
* Another reason not to vote Tory. Arrogance personified. Shouldn’t you support you’re local club over a Glasgow club. Shameful!
* I’m a Rangers fan & I’m delighted by the result but associating anything beyond football with this fixture is irresponsible.
* Good to see some Rangers FC fans take Murdo to task for the toe curling creepiness of his remarks.
* Representing all areas of Scottish society eh? Bigotry is not one,not in my name, shame on you! As a veteran I am appalled
* There’s a reason football and politics shouldn’t be mixed.
* I’m a Rangers fan and I wouldn’t post this tripe grow up your supposed to be a candidate to become an MSP.
* Disgusting behaviour for a politician to write something like this.
* Wow!!! Look at all the attention you got, what you were after obviously.
* Absolute shocking comment but typical of a Tory. Shameful every sense
* No wonder no-one votes conservative with tubes like you rocking about
* As much common-sense as your political capability, zero
* You should be ashamed of yourself Mr Fraser.
* An irresponsible and harebrained comment.
* Oh grow up, for Pete’s sake. What a truly moronic post.
* Typical Tory Unionist wee mindset. It was only a game of football
* And now garnering support from UKIP. Result Murdo. You must be so proud
* Am I missing something? Why is a politician tweeting such pish? What does the queen have to do with football?
* Why is this comment bigoted ? who gives two craps if the Queen is Hun.
* Time to break out the Lambeg drum and march up the Garvaghy Road. Her Maj would be proud
* What a sanctimonious tweet,can you also add how proud you must clearly be of your fans sectarian singing-bile like your tweet
* Celebratory sectarian nonsense on old firm day. Surely Ruth_E_Davidson has something to say on the matter? Scotland’s shame
* Ruth_E_Davidson you must be proud of your right hand man Ruth? Shocking and unprofessional personified.
* Ruth_E_Davidson you’ve just lost my planned second vote. This is seriously one of your candidates?
* Your comments are very naive, your an educated public servant and you should really think about stoking sectarian tensions
* Ridiculous coming from a grown man never mind someone in a responsible position. Absolute buffoon!! Get well Soon Rupert.
* Bringing football into politics, it’s already all over F.B. proves you bring football and religion into politics Scotland’s shame.
* I was never a fan of yours Murdo but I never thought you could sink this low. #shame.
* Ruth_E_Davidson Ruth between this & your head of media tweeting pornography what is going on within the conservative party!?
* Despair at the quality of our presumptive political class, sometimes.
* Insightful & helpful tweet from an idiot MSP.
* What a way to polarise one section of the electorate. Well done. I take it your not looking for votes from any other teams fans.
20 July 2016: Brexit May Be Scotland’s Chance at Independence
Scottish nationalists may have failed in their 2014 bid for independence, but that wasn’t the end of the story. They’ve grown in strength and numbers, and now have another chance to push for a split from the United Kingdom. This video explores the resilience of the independence movement, how Brexit’s boosted its case, and why some say it’s is bad thing.
23 May 2016: The Rangers Forum – Scottish Cup Final – Rangers v Hibernian – A supporter Sent Adam Tomkins (MSP) an e-mail
I’m writing to hopefully discuss the disgusting scenes witnessed at Hampden yesterday. I would write to Nicola Sturgeon, but she’s already made it quite clear that she has no interest in condemning it, in fact, on the contrary.
At the age of 29, and having attended hundreds of football matches at both Ibrox and Hampden, I’ve never seen scenes like yesterday. As a Rangers supporter, it’s safe to say I feared for my safety, and to watch Rangers player getting attacked was my worst moment as a Rangers fan.
I appreciate there’s not a huge amount that can be done with the SNP in control, but I was curious to hear your thoughts on the matter, none the less, and hoped as the main opposition, you would be the best person to contact (I should mention I’m a local constituent).
Any suggestions on what can be done to take the matter further would be greatly appreciated. I think I speak for the majority of Rangers fans when I say that we can’t accept what happened yesterday getting swept under the rug by the SNP.
Adam Tomkins responded:
I was at the game: not on a corporate freebie but with Rangers season-ticket holders in the Rangers end. I used to be a season-ticket holder myself at Ibrox.
I have tweeted several messages about the disgraceful and dangerous actions of the Hibs fans in storming the pitch at the final whistle. Like you, I was appalled by what I saw. It is important that the police and SFA inquiries proceed without political interference, but I will be looking for answers to two sets of questions in particular:
* Why Hibs fans were allowed to reach Rangers players who were still on the field of play?
* Why the police seemed (to me) to take quite a while to restore order?
It is the job of MSPs to press for answers to questions such as these and you may be assured that I will not rest until I have them. I will be discussing with colleagues in the Parliament tomorrow morning what further action we as MSPs should take at this stage. As the father of four young children, a number of whom enjoy coming with me to football matches, I share your concerns. What follows, in case of interest, are the lines the Scottish Conservatives have put out today:
“The events after the final whistle at Hampden on Saturday ruined what should have been a day of celebration for the whole of Scottish football; not only the culmination of a long cup competition but the first time that two teams outside the top tier have competed in the final. While Hibs supporters will rightly wish to celebrate winning their first Scottish Cup in 114 years that can be no excuse for the reported assaults on players and officials, nor the destruction of the fabric of our national stadium.
l understand that Police Scotland have set up a unit to track down the perpetrators, and I would urge them to ensure that all routes are taken to identify and charge those involved in these criminal acts. Thereafter, it will be for Parliament to determine how best to review the performance of Police Scotland in responding to this disorder.
The hard work of the footballing authorities, the police, football teams and their supporters has meant that significant progress has been made in the past two decades in making attending football matches in Scotland safer and more enjoyable, sadly the scenes on Saturday represent a significant setback for that progress.” This is not the end of this matter, but I hope you can see from the above that we have made a start in getting to the bottom of this, with a view to ensuring that all relevant lessons are learned. With very best wishes: Adam Tomkins MSP: Conservative MSP for Glasgow : http://forum.followfollow.com/showthread.php?1084645-Adam-Tomkins-MSP
Forum members comments:
* Bravo Mr Tomkins, I actually trust this guy to do his best for us, most unusual for a politician.
* I’m heartened to read that response from Adam Tomkins MSP
* Thank you Mr.Tomkins and I trust that you will be vigilant when the SNP and Labour attempt to whitewash this affair.
* Puts his party leader to shame. If this guy was in charge, they would get more votes.
* One of the reasons why I voted Conservative for the first time in recent elections.
* That is the difference between a real political party and a shower of charlatans (SNP and Labour).
* Impressed with that response. Wee Nicola is my constituency MSP. I emailed her. Still waiting.
* He was one of my lecturers at uni. Self important, loves the sound of his own voice and very committed to the union. Didn’t know he was a bear. That reply is very good. Hope he delivers.
* Good reply, I hope he shares it with his party leader. She could learn from Prof Tomkins.
* I’ve written to mine whose constituency covers Hampden. Not expecting much … he’s an SNP ass-licking knob-end
* Just remember this is the result of voting Conservative in the Glasgow region. Far from a wasted vote. Correct, don’t give SNP or Labour your votes, they despise Gers fans.
* He is one of the reasons I voted conservative for the first time
* Puts his party leader to shame. If this guy was in charge, they would get more votes. She was too busy getting married. Don’t suppose she gave much thought to the game.
* Excellent response. I don’t know why we don’t vote more conservative in Scotland. SNP are fascist. Labour/liberals a joke.
* That is a good reply. Glad to see that we have someone our side. I was at the game (as I was in 1980) and Saturday was a lot worse.
* Best political response so far…..sadly maybe the only one. Saturdays troubles and concerns should transcend politics.
* Excellent reply from Mr Tomkins, it’s good to know we have a politician on our side, I may need some advice later.
* Read about him. Said he is a constitutional lawyer (whatever that is ) and academic and probably the cleverest person at Holyrood.
* Just gained a vote for Tory next elections. Bravo to him, hopefully he keeps his word.