true faith : POLITICAL FOOTBALL – How Little We Know

by • April 15, 2014 • Political footballComments (1)1241

We’ve all done it. Indeed it is part of the fun of following a football team and indeed Faragearguably the only enjoyable thing about following Newcastle United any more, or at least until Mike Ashley finally puts us all out of our misery and disappears into the sunset.  I am thinking here of the arguing and debating about who should and shouldn’t be in the team, who should and shouldn’t be bought in the summer and all those other issues we have strong opinions about. I have certainly been known to share my disbelief at a decisions taken by managers in the past. Certainly it is not unreasonable to question what managers do, especially with regards to substitutes in a game we are watching in front of our eyes. As they say football is all about opinions…..

Similarly it would not seem unfair to criticise Mike Ashley about getting Wonga in as club sponsors when their annual rate of interest is 5,853%, or that 90% of the employees are on Zero Hours contracts, or that the club with the third highest average attendances in England have spent the least money on new players over the last 12 months.

But….but….when it comes to team selection and the selection of transfer targets, it is a little more problematic. At the end of the day, we can all hold our opinions but how much do we really know about what is going on behind the scenes?  How much do we really know about what is happening in people’s lives? To put it another way I remember playing five-a-side football one Tuesday evening when I was young and having a dreadful game. Nothing unusual there, some who have seen me play might say. But I did seem particularly laclustre that evening, to the point that a team-mate spent much of the game having a real go at me and continued at the end. At that point I quetly explained that I had been told the previous evening that my mother had terminal cancer and had only a short time left. My team-mate was immediately apologetic, but whenever I’ve played and felt like having a go at somebody who I probably only meet for an hour every week to play football with, I have tried to remember that Tuesday evening if they’re having a poor game. I really have no idea what concerns or even anguish might be on their mind. Mind you if they’re just been greedy and not passing the ball….

It seems to me that we can all spend far too much time passing comment on people we know very little about. But when you have a political party, which according to a recent news story in The Journal is set to win a European Parliamentary seat in this region in the forthcoming Euro elections, on the back of misinformation, prejudice and an almost deliberate delighting in ignorance, then that is something else again. That party is of course UIKP.

This is a party which seems to have many members who like to mouth off about people they have never met and know little or nothing about.  Whether it be immigrants or gays, asylum seekers or women, it seems UKIP members and more worryingly elected representatives seem to be overflowing with prejudice. Most of it is directed towards people whose lives they simply do not understand…..

For a full rundown on the numerous cases of vile prejudice from UKIP members, candidates and councillors, not to mention expenses and elecoral shenanigans, there are many to be found at . In terms of UKIP members talking in prejudiced tones about people they simply don’t understand, one particular gem about one UKIP councillor will hopefully illustrate the wider point. On 20th March it was reported that, “Samuel Fletcher, a UKIP town councillor for Bracken Bank and Ingrow Ward in Keighley, had previously admitted to being “baffled” by lesbians in January.  According to, the UK Independence Party politician took to Facebook on 19th March, arguing that bisexuals are “a part-time homosexuals”, and that “a trans-sexual is someone who changes their own sexuality in order to appeal to either of the opposite sex, so that also makes someone a kind of part time homosexual”. Fletcher also admitted to being “a bit confused about trans-sexuals”, reporting that he had “just realised a man could change himself into a woman in order to attract a man”, which he says “wouldn’t be homosexual at all””.

Fletcher is clearly somewhat out of his depth here and doesn’t really understand what he’s talking about, but hey why let that get in the way of spreading a little prejudice and ignorance? This seems to be typical of many in UKIP. It is also noteworthy that when it was announced at their last annual party conference last September that their former MEP Godfrey Bloom had been suspended from the party for wholly inappropriate remarks about women, there was a chorus of booing in the hall. Although cases of prejudice and sheer ignorance on the part of UKIP members may be individual in nature, they do seem to be representative of an unpleasant attitude within UKIP as a whole.

One person in UKIP who has decided that their prejudice is too much for her is  Alexandra Swann, who was once heralded as the ‘future face’ of the right-wing party.  Alexandra told The Independent this week that she couldn’t bring herself to campaign for UKIP. Swann is reported as saying that, “the focus moved to immigration. It was difficult with the anti-gay marriage stuff. Now so much of their argument is anti-immigration which didn’t sit well with me.”

UKIP is sometimes portrayed as a party of plucky outsiders who speak for the ordinary man and woman in the street. I think that they are nothing of the sort. They are led by somebody who used to work in the City of London, who milks his Euro expenses for every last penny he can, out of sitting in a parliament he claims to despise. UKIP are also a party whose policies, such as they are, are carefully tailored to be populist in line with the ill-informed one-sided, prejudiced poison, which pours out of certain tabloid newspapers on a daily basis. They seem to want to act as the political wing of Richard Littlejohn’s appalingly bigoted and discredited column in the Daily Mail. UKIP are a deeply cynical and incredibly negative party, who apear to aspire to be political representatives of the ridiculously wealthy people who own and run so many of our trashy tabloids.

It is now over three months since our borders were opened to easier migration from Romania and Bulgaria and it appears clear that the scare stories around last Christmas, put about by unscrupulous politicians and sections of the media were just that; desperate scare-mongering in a grubby chase for votes and sales. In the meantime we have seen Downing Street cynically suppress a report, which suggested that the link between migration and unemployment is weaker than the government and others on the political right had claimed.

Bearing all that in mind, UKIP clearly have nothing to offer those struggling with their mortgages, those resorting to foodbanks or those suffering in low-paid jobs. They seemingly want to turn back the clock to some golden past that never really happened and undo any progressive policies of the last 50 years.

The way UKIP members have been known to pour out poison about people they know little or nothing about reminds me of something the Greek philosopher Socrates in the fifth century BCE once said when attacked by a leading Athenian politician of his time:

“I am wiser than this man; it is likely that neither of us knows anything worthwhile, but he thinks he knows something when he does not, whereas I do not know nor do I think I know; so I am likely to be wiser than he to this small extent, that I do not think about what I do not know”.

If I know anything worthwhile it is this. We need to beware any politicians who want to win our votes by appealing to prejudice. We need to beware any party, which camapaigns negatively in the language of hatred, rather than hope. Most of all perhaps we need to beware any party whose membership talk so unfairly about people they know so little about.

It must always be fair to question the actions of football managers and club owners,  whose actions which affect us all. Similarly it must always be reasonable to talk truth to power in society at large and to question the actions of the powerful and wealthy. But surely we all need to beware anybody who talks with certainty about fellow humans, using language which so easily denigrates people for simply being who they are and yet shows so little understanding of their lives.  We can never fully understand what it is like to lead another’s life; compassion and empathy should be watchwords for any discussions on others, especially those on the margins of society who are so often and so easily scapegoated.

UKIP is a party many of whose members happily put prejudice before principle, hatred before hope and a lack of empathy with others ahead of real understanding. Let’s hope that the people of Northeast England, so long known for their fair-mindedness and decency wholeheartedly reject UKIP on 22nd May.




Russell Brand to speak at ‘The People United’ national demo on 21st June


1. ‘The People United’ national demo on 21st June

2. Sign the People’s Petition

3. Durham People’s Assembly – Demonstration against care home closures

4. South Tyneside People’s Assembly Against Austerity Launch Event

5. Tyne & Wear MayDay Saturday 3rd May

6. Challenge Racism – Free Multi-cultural Music Festival 19 April

7. Migrants welcome; Bigots aren’t! 23 April – Anti-UKIP protest






1. ‘The People United’ national demo on 21st June







Coach1 to No More Austerity 21 June demonstration


Email to book seats on the Newcastle/Durham coach on 21st June. Tickets £25 waged, £10 unwaged. Coach is organised by North East People’s Assembly.







Coach2 to No More Austerity 21 June demonstration

We have booked a 55-seater coach to the national anti-cuts demonstration in London on 21 June. It will leave South Shields Town Hall at 6am and go via Sunderland Park Lane Interchange (6.20am pickup) and Middlesbrough Town Hall (7am pickup). It will return from central London at 5pm along exactly the same route. Seats are £25 if you work and £10 if you don’t.


Email: to pay-and-book your seats


Facebook event page here:

Help make our region’s mobilisation to this landmark demonstration a huge success.

2. Sign the People’s Petition



Sign #PeoplesPetition for the alternative to austerity


This petition is running as part of ‘The People United’ national demonstration taking place on 21 June 2014. Help us get to 100,000 signatures!

Sign here:

The People’s Assembly launched this petition based on the decisions at our national conference on 15 March 2014. The full aims document can be found here.




3. Durham People’s Assembly – Demonstration against care home closures

Wed 16th April
9am at Crook Civic Centre




Durham County Council is to close its five remaining homes. It means 172 staff could lose their jobs and 40 elderly people will have to find new homes.


Facebook event page here:




4. South Tyneside People’s Assembly Against Austerity Launch Event

Thursday 17th April

7:30pm at The Lord Ashley pub

South Shields.



Richard Offiong from Show Racism The Red Card

Tony Dowling, North East People’s Assembly

South Tyneside Public Services Alliance
All welcome!


Facebook event page here:




5. Tyne & Wear MayDay Saturday 3rd May

Tyne &Wear Mayday Rally 2014


– Get Up Stand Up, Fight For Our Future!


This years Mayday Rally will be a great event with Speakers, Musicians, Children’s entertainment, Beer Tent & So much more….


Including… People’s Assembly national secretary Sam Fairbairn will be speaking at this years Tyne and Wear Rally – it’s looking like a cracking day-out for all the family featuring a march, speakers, live music acts and plenty of food and drink.


Mayday March will assemble at Princess Square in Newcastle (behind the Library) assemble at 11.00 March to depart at11.30am


Facebook event page here:



6. Challenge Racism – Free Multi-cultural Music Festival 19 April


We all know that the greed of the bankers and the super-rich caused this crisis, not migrant workers or Muslims, so lets challenge racism and celebrate our diverse society

Free family music festival, Saturday 19 April, 11am – 3pm, Grey’s Monument, Newcastle.

Acts include The Lake Poets, Drumdin, Beth Coyle + more

supported by FBU, Unison, Show Racism the Red Card and Hope not Hate.



Migrants welcome; Bigots aren’t! 23 April – Anti-UKIP protest
6pm, Sage, Gateshead – see attached flyer







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One Response to true faith : POLITICAL FOOTBALL – How Little We Know

  1. David Rutherford says:

    Great article though I can’t help but note the sad irony of it appearing on an NUFC blog, when half the idiots who sit around me at the match would probably vote for the fuckers.