17 March 2015

Chris Graham - A Silver Lining

by Ally Brown | Guest Contributor

Rangers fans who have joined or supported the RST or Rangers First in recent years, championed fan representation on the board, or just hoped for some better engagement between the fans and board than Graham Wallace's failed "Ready To Listen" scheme, will be despondent at what has transpired this week at Ibrox with Chris Graham's appointment to the board and resignation just three days later.

But Rangers fans who have been asking for a board that prioritises transparency and accountability might be able to see a silver lining in the debacle.

The appointment of Graham just a few days after the new board got in the door now seems unnecessarily hurried; but they still probably did more homework on him than David Murray did on Craig Whyte.

And with his one and only action as part of the board - to resign from it - Graham also showed more personal responsibility than almost any of the directors we've had for three years. When there's a debate about whether someone should resign from a position of authority over some indiscretion, it's generally a good sign when people fall on their swords easily.

I currently live in Colombia, whose political scandals make Britain's controversies look pathetic and trivial. For one example: a man called Juan Manuel Santos was the defence minister when it was found that army troops were systematically kidnapping young men from poor neighbourhoods, taking them to the jungle, dressing them up as FARC terrorists, and murdering them, to earn money offered for FARC kills. More than 3,000 innocent men were killed because of Santos' rewards policy and his complete lack of oversight of it. Now SeƱor Santos is in his second term as president.

So to me it seemed rather OTT in comparison when Labour MP Emily Thornberry resigned because she tweeted a photo of a white van parked outside a house with three England flags, with the innocuous comment "image from Rochester".

The truth is that cultures where impunity is the norm breed corruption. Cultures which punish minor indiscretions are far less likely to ever allow bigger ones. In many ways it was ridiculous that a falsified outrage pushed Mrs Thornberry out of her job, and again that another pushed Chris Graham out of his. But looking at the bigger picture, it signifies the presence of a culture of accountability.

Contrast what happened last week to what was happening under the previous board. By my estimation, David Somers' job was untenable at least six times over. How did Rangers respond when his email to Ashley's lawyer was leaked in December? They didn't. How did Rangers react when Sandy Easdale was caught lying about Rafat Rizvi's visit to the club? They didn't. How did Rangers react when major shareholders declared Barry Leach's position to be untenable last month? They didn't.

How did Rangers react when Chris Graham was castigated for trying to wind-up a terrorist sympathiser on Twitter? They (or he) took action.

Over ten days ago Dave King promised a regime of transparency and accountability, and he was really serious about that. Judging by this episode, King doesn’t want anybody to get away with anything. As sad as this story is for Graham himself, ultimately, that's a much better policy than what we had recently: allowing everyone to get away with everything. 

We've finally got standards again, and we've set the bar high.