Big Brother Is Watching (Sometimes)

Last updated : 28 May 2016 By EARL C

The statement by Calum Steele in the aftermath of Hibs Hampden Shame remains, days later, nothing short of astonishing. That anyone – never mind a paid, senior mouthpiece of the Police Federation – could have the gall to claim that the standard of the policing was “nothing short of remarkable” and “should be praised to the highest heavens” beggars belief. 

As goalposts and nets were ripped asunder - with recently laid and expensive turf desecrated, advertising hoardings being vandalised - the swarm of locusts then jostled, manhandled, spat on and assaulted the Rangers players and staff; yet there was no visible sign of the forces of law and order attempting to ensure that people were being made safe in their working environment on the pitch. Yards away, off the pitch, disabled fans were being goaded and abused (bizarrely, the entire Scottish mainstream media has missed out this monstrous story) and you have to say that it takes a particularly special kind of cowardly bully to taunt and abuse the blind, the lame and the helpless. 

I throw the word helpless in not as a reflection of those that were being freely terrorised but more as a point of reference that police officers stood yards away as this was occurring and failed to intervene. Let that one sink in: as the most vulnerable were being ridiculed and maltreated, Police Scotland’s reaction was to stand back and do nothing. Actually, that’s not quite accurate – those poor fans had to take evasive action as mounted police thundered towards them as police (finally) attempted to wrestle control of the situation several minutes and a lifetime later. You’re being spat upon and verbally abused and Police Scotland’s idea of customer service is not to make you safe and arrest the aggressor but is instead to place you in further harms way courtesy of being forced to evade stampeding horses. Absolutely quality stuff, one has to say.

We were also treated to the sight of police officers filming Rangers fans as, only yards away from their very backs, Rangers players and staff were being assaulted, abused and placed in danger. That is not merely beyond belief but, quite frankly, utterly contemptible. I always took the viewpoint that a police officer's first duty was to protect those in need and uphold the law. 

As events unfolded on the despoiled Hampden turf, it became blindingly obvious that Police Scotland now consider the safety of citizens to be of secondary importance. Let’s be blunt here; we were one spoon-burning Ned high on Buckfast and bigotry away from a fatal stab wound being inflicted upon a player. And before you accuse me of hyperbolic histrionics, ask yourself this simple question – do you really believe that not one of those jolly craicsters that rampaged across the pitch was carrying a concealed weapon? 

Scotland has a massive issue with knife crime and I’d argue, anecdotally and statistically, that there were dozens of concealed weapons freely roaming around Hampden. That someone was not stabbed or threatened with one of them genuinely surprises me. Make no mistake; we were a heartbeat away from witnessing a far greater tragedy on Saturday afternoon. 

At a base level, risk management operates on the sound and responsible principle of hope for the best but prepare for the worst. In the case of Police Scotland and the SFA, they clearly hoped for something halfway to quite good but prepared for next to nothing. 

This was amateur hour (and a half) and it was unquestionably incompetence on a grand, industrial scale. Heads should roll for this – on the showpiece occasion of the footballing season, the residing memories of it shall be that an entire side was physically and verbally abused, mascots were terrified, disabled fans were ridiculed, hours of work by hard working ground staff was obliterated. Sponsors are now associated with shameful scenes by default and the wider, watching world saw Scottish football for exactly what it is – a pool of hatred fermenting in a cesspit of bile. In some ways, one could contend that the conduct of Police Scotland actually was exemplary, except that it was a perfect example of how NOT to do things. 

Again, I reiterate, heads should roll. And to repeat myself, if you’ll forgive me, it was miraculous that no-one was more seriously injured. Despite the horrendous scenes, Police Scotland got lucky. Getting lucky is not the benchmark of exemplary policing – it is the hallmark of inadequacy and proof that those in charge are unfit for office. At a bare minimum, within 24 hours the match commander should have been publicly admonished and RFC given a full and frank apology by the head honcho of Police Scotland. Of course, all we will receive is the usual feeble platitudes of lessons will be learnt and we’ll get it right next time etc. Their excuses, much like their policing, are predictably pathetic and utterly inadequate. 

The notion that the long arm of the law will reach out and apprehend a substantial portion of Saturday’s offenders is a joke: under the current government they have indeed become politicised and their impartiality reduced to a fading, distant memory. 

When you’d prefer to film football fans rather than stop serious assaults taking place or protect vulnerable members of society then you know that you’ve got a deep rooted issue embedded in your working DNA. It also suggests a wider societal problem that needs to be addressed; why did Police Scotland feel comfortable enough to disregard criminality taking place (quite literally behind their backs) and instead opt to continue with their Orwellian fascination of the Rangers fans? 

Evidently, Big Brother likes watching us but not all of the stuff that’s happening, though – some of that he’s happy to blissfully ignore altogether. When a police force chooses to happily disregard criminality then you’re forced to arrive at the conclusion that the powers that be look upon us as second class citizens. The logic may be contentious but the conclusion is irrefutably true. The demonization of Unionism in general and the Rangers support in particular that has occurred under the current government’s rule has allowed us to arrive at a point in time where thugs feel safe in the knowledge that they can attack and assault without fear of being stopped, never mind arrested. This is exactly where Scottish society finds itself now and this is through deliberate choice, not luck or a concatenation of series of unfortunate events. 

The performance of Police Scotland was shockingly bad and to try and dress it up as anything else is an abrogation of common sense that borders on the clinically delusional.

When I read the statement that was made by Calum Steele, the man who praised “the speed, the skill, the agility and indeed the brilliance with which the police officers brought events under control”, the first image that sprung to my mind was that of Comical Ali, spokesman for Saddam Hussein's regime. 

Modern day Scotland twinned with 1980's Iraq? Now there’s a marketing slogan that the Advertising Standards Authority would agree was legal, decent, honest and truthful – four things that the Police Scotland statement can only grasp at.