Gregory in a twist over success of H-block song

Opinion: Campaign against journalist suggests sectarianism is still alive and well

Celtic and Rangers fans taunt each other at an Old Firm derby. But can they really be seen as “two sides of the same debased coind”? Photograph: PA

Celtic and Rangers fans taunt each other at an Old Firm derby. But can they really be seen as “two sides of the same debased coind”? Photograph: PA

Thu, Feb 20, 2014, 12:01

Why doesn’t Gregory Campbell launch a campaign to lift The Power of Orange Knickers up the charts? This would be a more apt and less risible response to the success of Glasgow Celtic supporters in finessing The Roll of Honour to number 33 in the UK, securing a ticket of entry into the BBC’s chart show.

The Derry DUP man was among a number of unionist politicians outraged when BBC Radio One presenter Jameela Jamil explained last Sunday that the song had made it to 33 on the back of a campaign by Celtic fans opposed to the Offensive Behaviour at Football and Threatening Communication (Scotland) Act – the song had been banned from the terraces under the act – and then played the first two lines: “Read the roll of honour for Ireland’s bravest men/We must be united in memory of the 10.”

Politics apart, considered solely as a song, The Roll of Honour is rubbish. In contrast, the Tori Amos number, released in 2005 in a duet with Damien Rice, is elusive, unsettling and altogether brilliant: “The power of orange knickers/Under my petticoat/The power of listening to what/You don’t want me to know/Can somebody tell me now who is this terrorist/Those girls that smile kindly then rip your life to pieces?”

Gregory would be well ahead on the aesthetics front if he were to summon fellow Rangers fans to download Amos’s song all day, every day until The Power . . . had passed out the hunger strike anthem. But then, aesthetics aren’t what this is about. Anyway, it’s doubtful if Gregory has a sufficiently well-developed sense of fun to see the matter in this light. What he wanted was that the BBC ignore its own criteria for chart inclusion and simply ban the song.

Hit parade
Seen solely in the context of football rivalries and mischievous manipulation of what we used to call the hit parade, the issues involved may seem unserious. But not everybody can afford a light-hearted approach. The most significant aspect of the song controversy may lie in the extent to which it has forced the mainstream media and some in politics in Scotland to acknowledge that, far from fading away, sectarian hatred remains a reality in the land and may even be on the rise.

Last month, David Limond was sentenced to six months in prison for making sectarian threats to a journalist. He had called Angela Haggerty “Taig of the day” on his (unofficial) Rangers podcast before subjecting her to an obscene tirade and urging his listeners to “hit her with all you’ve got”.

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