Senior Police figure misses the point made by Celtic fans in spectacular fashion

By Euan Davidson

November 9, 2021

The Celtic fans v prominent cops debate rumbles on, and this time it’s the Scottish Police Federation’s David Hamilton missing the point.

Hamilton, chair of the organisation, has branded Celtic fans “pathetic” and “bonkers”, in an act of bad faith PR so astounding as to only escalate the division.

Celtic fans have been protesting against the possible employ of Bernard Higgins, one of the key figures in the OBFA law that incensed Scottish football fans for years.

On Sunday, Celtic fans launched tennis balls onto the pitch at Dens Park. “The ball is in your court, Celtic FC” [Celtic Shared] was the simple, effective message.

Whatever you think of the demonstration, it harmed nobody, and made a point in a fashion that gained attention; precisely the point of a demo. However, it’s led to some spicy words from Hamilton, who missed the point entirely.

Hamilton said [Scottish Sun]:

“This is just pathetic.

“Bernie Higgins – like every other police officer – has a legal responsibility to enforce laws created by our Parliaments.

“To personify unliked legislation (ironically designed to tackle hatred in football) in any officer is bonkers.”

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Leave aside how involved Higgins was in the structure, introduction and enforcement of the detested OBFA bill. This was a guy who said fans could get arrested for calling someone a “Baldy” [Daily Record].

Hamilton’s argument of “Oh well, the police were just doing what they were told” completely misses the point. The Police were intimately involved with the bill and the severity with which it was carried out.

What’s “bonkers” is that someone so high-ranking in the Police just wouldn’t get it.

It’s “bonkers” to protest, Celtic fans – you’ve been told by the Police now

Talk about escalation. Higgins’ mates telling us we’re “pathetic” and “bonkers” hints at the utter contempt Police have for Celtic fans, or indeed fans in general, protesting the police.

Everyone has a right to question the police. Especially when it’s against heavy-handed policing of a bill that was so subjective, one sheriff described it as “mince” [Herald].

There could be an open dialogue between football fans in Scotland and the Police. Instead, Celtic fans have been treated with arrogance, contempt and a total unwillingness for perspective.

Photo by ANDY BUCHANAN/AFP via Getty Images

It just misses the point of the protest so spectacularly. Higgins’ name is so entwined with the full extent of the OBFA bill, that it’s not about whether he was just one policeman. The “just following orders” patter doesn’t work in this instance. Especially when there’s talk of Celtic hiring this guy.

In terms of PR, this will undoubtedly lose the Police footing in a debate that will undoubtedly linger.

How dare Celtic fans have well-informed opinions, eh?

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