@LADFLEG: “We are pro-Union and pro Loyalist”

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Last week I sat down with two of the brains behind Loyalists Against Democracy (LAD), Billy and Ron. I was interested to catch up with the guys since we last spoke in February about the group’s foundation and how they approach certain issues. This time, however, I was interested to speak to them about some of the issues that they group has been involved in since we spoke, namely; the departure of Winston Smith, Pastor McConnell and where does LAD go from here?

I began with the departure of Winston Smith and put to them the points raised in his blog about being obsessed with ratings and image. Billy led off tackling the notion that they were obsessed

Look LAD is an entertainment platform on social media. At the basis of everything it’s about humour, it’s a brand. We are obsessed by LAD, we have been since the 10th December 2012…we have been developing skills on social media as to how to get the brand out there…what’s wrong with being obsessed? It’s like obsession is a bad thing, wouldn’t it be worse if we were just half arsed about it.

For the rest of the LADmins, Winston left because his ideals were not those of the brand that has been built up over the last 19 months. At this point, Ron was keen to point out that as a group they have consistently pointed out that LAD is not a republican website; rather it is a group of people with differing points of view. They did however express regret that Winston did leave group and state that they have no animosity towards him.

The discussion about Winston’s departure led us into an interesting conversation about who the LADmins would support personally in an election and the general views they hold. Billy told me that

LAD is pro-Union and pro Loyalist…Just because we take the piss out of Loyalists doesn’t mean we have anything against them. I voted for a Loyalist political party in the PUP and in European election went to the Alliance party.

For both of them, LAD doesn’t believe in them and us labels, rather they just take politicians as they find them. They will support people who they believe are the best candidates in each of the constituencies that they live in. All of this links back to the LADmins central thesis that essentially LAD is a ‘sitcom’ and a character that they play on social media. As Billy highlights this character is what people expect

people tune in for a character, what did they say today? They want to be shocked, offended and entertained. In order to provide that service you have to be obsessed.

After going through the motions of internal group dynamics, I wanted to move onto how they broke one of the biggest stories of the year about Pastor McConnell and his musings about the gay community and Muslims.

Ron told me that they actually received a tip off on Facebook about the language that McConnell was using in his sermons. As McConnell’s work is streamed online, from his computer Ron sat and watched for a full 90 minutes a procession of language that made his jaw drop. Well aware that some members of the DUP were friendly with McConnell, the LADmins knew the political implications of what McConnell was saying and doing in his church.

Once they uploaded clips of his sermons to Youtube and actually began live tweeting just exactly what he was saying they knew that they had a big story on their hands. Yet, despite all the fallout from it, I really wanted to ask did it not bother them that some media outlets never bothered to name LAD as the source of the story? My answer was swift from both, that they really didn’t care about that as that would turn a serious conversation about race and LGBT rights into a story about them. The ultimate satisfaction from this was described by Ron as he told me about his immediate feelings;

that week I had an enormous sense of well-being, what the fall out was I felt amazing about with the anti-racism march alongside the shopping for Peter.

However, the LADmins don’t let the media totally off arguing that it should be newspapers and broadcasters investigating this type of stuff and not them or as Ron succinctly put it

It’s a bit of an indictment of the main stream media that it takes six guys in Belfast to find this stuff out. We are about rocking the boat and we will rock many boats.

After break these stories and highlighting the past statements of local election candidates, I wondered where LAD goes to next. Billy told me that the strategy of the group is to essentially fly by the seat of their pants and make it up as they go along. Both of the LADmins told me that part of the problem now is that they are sent information from a number of sources looking for them to break a story. Ron told me about a recent blog post they had from a serving police officer and the process of sense checking that they had to go through before publishing it, but since the site is pro PSNI and is sympathetic to the troubles officers go through, they were happy to publish it.

I was still curious will there ever be a time when LAD ceases to exist?

Both LADmins told me about how much work is put in to the site and how hard it is to stay in character and continue to be entertaining to their audience. Billy said that ultimately “I would like to think we will kill LAD off at some point but it’s not just up to me anymore.” The LADmins are interested in taking the brand to new platforms with a book, musical and ultimately a LAD TV show to replace the local comedy programmes on BBC One, “we want to show that we can do a better job,” Billy told me.

LAD are famous for taking the piss out of politicians they don’t like, are there any politicians they do like I asked?

Máirtín Ó Muilleoir as Lord Mayor is somebody they were a huge fan of, as he represented everyone in the city and was willing to put aside his political allegiances. LAD compared his record with the poor performances of Gavin Robinson and Niall Ó Donnghaile who they believed pandered to the worst instincts of both of their communities. In terms of other politicians who get a stamp of approval from LAD, John Kyle, Anna Lo and Naomi Long are rated very highly by the LADmins for the leadership they have shown and their integrity. These qualities made the guys make a bold prediction that Long will retain East Belfast next year.

Ultimately when it comes to deciding what politicians to go after they don’t really care what side of the fence they come from or as Billy succinctly put it

we take the piss out of whoever is being a fool and look at the flag they are flying afterwards.

For the LADmins they believe we need to get away from looking at politics in Unionist and Nationalist terms and realise that we all share the same city and we will ultimately sink or swim together. If you want to not be a target of LADs rath it is important to be disciplined on social media and not come out with mad stuff. Ron cited the example of ill-discipline within NI21 and how that led to the party’s demise arguing that “whoever is responsible for that should never work in politics again.”

 

 

 

 

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  • MYtwocents

    did the pastor slag of the lgbt, was not much fuss about it, that’s a change.

  • between the bridges

    Hmmmm the auld cynic in me says that’s a very down pat interview for a couple of part time community awareness activist’s and ticks all the boxes, of course the auld loyalists in me will get the blame for not appreciating the comic geniuses…

  • Sp12

    I didn’t know a LAD admin had threatened to expose someone’s identity. That’s very sinister. Up until now I assumed that the only instances of ‘censorship’ outside of the deletion of blatantly sectarian comments (from both sides) was the pulling of Ian Parsley’s post from their FB timeline probably in relation to the reaction it garnered from those who frequent the page.

    Did the LADmins address the accusation that one of their number had threatened to expose the guy’s identity? I don’t see it in your interview.
    Seems like a very serious charge for them and the interviewer to let pass.

  • Comrade Stalin

    It’s a bit of a silly threat (if true) as the individual concerned could simply expose their identity in response. Mutually assured destruction.

  • Sp12

    “It’s a bit of a silly threat (if true) as the individual concerned could simply expose their identity in response. Mutually assured destruction.”

    It’s only a ‘silly threat’ if he knew the identity of the other admin making the threat or is willing to play ‘chicken’ with them.
    Silly threat or not, it seem to have had the desired effect and was glossed a little too easily in the interview.

  • http://fitzjameshorselooksattheworld.wordpress.com John Mooney

    I dont know that they need “explanation”.
    When Comedy is analysed …it has failed.
    Theres no ned to explain that they are fond of Anna Lo and Naomi Long and not that fussed on NI21 (a view shared in Alliance quarters). They always appeared …dare I say it….letsgetalongerist.

    There is a serious issue about how Blogs are neutralised by acceptance or rejection in academic circles. There is a hierarchy to Blogging and in engaging in interviews, LAD merely neutralises itself.

    Sometimes better to keep ‘em guessing.

  • aquifer

    So LAD broke the McConnell story.

    And backing the police too.

    This is very advanced political work when we have a political class who get ahead by excusing bad and criminal behaviour.

    Thanks.

  • sitarman

    I’m sure LAD aren’t so silly to believe all their followers are anti-sectarian liberals? Considering around 95% of their criticism is aimed at one section of the community I would wager there is a portion of their following who just like to hate on ‘prods’ /unionists/’the other side’ and probably aren’t strangers to a little bit of sectarianism themselves. Would LAD feel they are pandering to this demographic to a degree?

  • http://fitzjameshorselooksattheworld.wordpress.com John Mooney

    It might well be that the nationalists and unionists (and of course the so called middle ground)provide the raw material for comedy in fairly equal measure.
    or it could be that the pre 1789 philosophy of one side is comedy gold and the post 1789 philosophy of the two other sides is less risible.
    Thats always been the dilemna for our local comedians.
    One joke about this side has to be “balanced” by a joke about the other side.
    To do otherwise incurs the wrath of the “victimised” side.
    The comedians on “Mock the Week” would get nowhere near a local BBC studio if they were working here.

  • Comrade Stalin

    sitarman,

    The stupid stuff is mostly coming from unionists at the moment. Has been for some time. Nationalists are clever enough to keep their sectarianism behind closed doors; or dress it up to make it look sophisticated.

  • Sp12

    “Nationalists are clever enough to keep their sectarianism behind closed doors; or dress it up to make it look sophisticated.”

    Yeah, like they do with their racism.
    There couldn’t possibly be another explanation.

  • sitarman

    @Comrade Stalin, Yeah i have no doubt there are some in the loyalist extremes who could keep LAD going single-handedly for years to come but then it seems LAD are only trolling loyalist pages/sites, and their followers seem to do the same, alerting LAD to instances of sectarianism on the loyalist side while perhaps ignoring ignorant comments from other sources? When they are not exposing idiots they revert to general piss-taking of one community. They might say they are staying in character but they have no problem coming out of character on other issues.

  • MYtwocents

    a rad site of course would be sectarian.

  • aquifer

    You are deluded so your votes don’t count, we are going to kill your policemen and blackmail you, threatening major damage to the financial services industry unless you take the political claims of our co-religionists seriously, however absurd.

    Our success depends on us not being noted as sectarian by our major political sponsor, the USA, who imagine they are continuing a post colonial struggle. We are in a religious war, but cannot declare it.

    So we ensure that the Unionist community in Ireland are backed into a sectarian cul-de-sac, trying to defend the indefensible, mourning their protestant supremacist racist and imperial past.

    So far so good.

  • Comrade Stalin

    SP12,

    there are certainly nationalists who are racist. Try starting a conversation with inner city nationalists in, say, West Belfast about travellers, for example.

    MYtwocents,

    nationalism and unionism may well be two sides of the same coin, and may be equally sectarian, but they are not uniform. There is no nationalist equivalent to the “Protestant Coalition” or the “Proud to be a Protestant banter” facebook page, or the “sash bash FM” radio station broadcasting sectarian loyalist drinking songs. Nationalists don’t, to my knowledge, picket Catholic burials at graveyards, openly advocate burning flags, advocate putting up flags in all kinds of places where they are unwelcome, or appear on TV in support of bonfires by saying that scientists working in labs come to wrong conclusions. They reject the leadership of the political leaders they vote for, preferring to constantly split and form their own protest micro-groups.

    [I noted with particular bemusement the other day on .. I think it was LAD's page .. that some of the loyalists protesting on the Newtownards Road did not want a deal to be done at Twaddell, as this would mean they would have to call their own protest off.]

    Nationalists have learned how to be strategic. They are not afraid to abandon strategies that don’t work for them and embrace new ones that do. They understand PR and know what works in public and what doesn’t. Nationalist voters trust their political leadership and follow them – note how Gerry Adams was able to deftly make the crisis around his arrest pretty much completely disappear while using a careful form of words to ensure that nationalist confidence in the PSNI was largely unharmed.

    Loyalism is in a constant, self-reaffirming infinite loop; it is a caricature of itself, and as such is a soft target which begs to be lampooned. LAD are merely reaching for the low hanging fruit.

  • MYtwocents

    CS,
    “Nationalists don’t, to my knowledge,”.
    The most deluded people are those who ignore what they already know (Thomas Chalkley).

  • Comrade Stalin

    Making a snide remark is a poor substitute from refuting the case I made.

  • Neil

    A bit more fleggery:

    It is understood that after negotiation it was agreed the loyalists could erect Ulster flags and Union flags but not a pale blue Ulster Defence Union one.

    Mr McBride stressed the UDU flag was historical.

    The Ulster Defence Union was a unionist organisation formed in 1893 to oppose the Irish Home Rule movement.

    Shortly after its creation, it adopted the motto Quis Separabit?, which is also the motto of the terrorist UDA.

    Mr McBride said: “They talk about a shared future but where is that when we go to put up flags?”

    Brilliant.

    http://www.belfasttelegraph.co.uk/news/local-national/northern-ireland/police-confront-loyalists-over-erection-of-flags-in-south-belfast-30395841.html

  • Sp12

    “there are certainly nationalists who are racist. ”

    Way to deliberately miss the point CS.
    The issue I have with your theory isn’t that racism and sectarianism exists in the nationalist community, it’s the idea that it’s all cleverly kept behind closed door by those sneaky so and sos
    Here’s a mad idea that relies at what we see rather than what we want to see. Like with racism, sectarianism is a bigger issue for the unionist community.
    I mean, it’s not like they spill onto the streets every summer simply to demonstrate it.

  • sergiogiorgio

    Taking the piss out this comedic madhouse is one of the few ways sanity may eventually prevail. If we can demonstrate to those involved that their positions are just plain dumb, through the lens of the NI past time of TTP then they may actually start to see things in terms they can understand. Engaging your average loyalist flagger in an intellectual discussion on the wrongs and wrongs of his position is like a broken pencil.

  • Jagdip

    @Neil, careful now, you wouldn’t want to be exposed like the “restaurant owner” in that article who will presumably, now, be seeing their windows put in.

    And who would have leaked the fact that it was a “restaurant owner” who made a complaint about the flags? Was it the same “dark side” inside the Lisburn Road PSNI station which allowed the erection of *any* flags on its building?

    Catholic PSNI officers who work from that station must be proud!

  • Joe_Hoggs

    Lets look at LAD’s targets, Willie Frazier, Jamie Bryson and a number of anonymous profiles conveniently named “Billy Flag’ or “Rangers Fan” etc. Hardly reflective of the pro Protestant community it pertains to lampoon.

    The fact that it ignores Republican issues such as the arrest of Mr. Adams etc reduces the credibility of the site and some of the comments from members/fans of the page show a hatred for anything Loyalist. The irony is sometimes all too clear.

  • Am Ghobsmacht

    Joe_Hoggs

    “Lets look at LAD’s targets, Willie Frazier, Jamie Bryson and a number of anonymous profiles conveniently named “Billy Flag’ or “Rangers Fan” etc. Hardly reflective of the pro Protestant community it pertains to lampoon.”

    I think you’ve tripped yourself up there Joe, they’re not going after ‘the Protestant community’, they’re going after those who volunteer themselves for the altar of piss-taking comedy.

    The afore mentioned gents offer their services gladly.

    If Gerry Adams and Co did not offer so much fodder then that’s no reason to hold back.

    Yes, the hysteria from SF (‘dark forces’ etc) was a bit laughable but how do you compare that to the gibberings of Bryson and Frazer?

    They are low hanging fruit.

    If republicans have learned how to climb a bit higher well then so be it.
    Darwinism at work.

    Can you not see the correlation between this and other loyalist centric topics?

    i.e. Doing something, screwing up but doing the same thing again anyway.
    And then complaining about the predictable results?

    Spitting Image used to get stuck into all manner of Norn Irish characters, from Paisley yelling his head off to Gerry’s duffle coat and his ‘actor’s voice’.

    I have no doubt they would be entirely one sided should the circumstances at the time have decided it (as in if one side left itself less open to mockery).

    I don’t recall Harry Enfield doing a nationalist equivalent of ‘William Ulsterman’.
    Never once saw him as anti unionist.

    English people just became aware of these bad tempered people who would kick up hell at seemingly trivial matters.
    So he mocked it

    Unfortunately, fast forward a few decades and the opportunity for lampoonery has mushroomed in the wider unionist and Protestant community; Frazer, Chittick, Bryson, McConnell, the OO in general, Peter Robinson…

    WE (unionists and Protestants) have created and supported this clowns’ gallery.

    To complain that themuns aren’t getting enough stick is childish.

    There is unfortunately a lot to criticise within the loyalist culture at present, I’m sure you’re sick to death of hearing the list.

    As long as that list remains then the easy pickings will picked (I imagine) and of course some will rejoice in it but many are just glad that the underbelly is being exposed.

    The greater the exposure then the harder it is for politicians to ignore it and keep their integrity intact.

  • sitarman

    @Comrade Stalin… I think a lot of what you said is true but I can’t help thinking that when LAD made the comment about the shooting of republican Tommy Crossan (which was crass and unwarranted) would they have gotten the same backlash if it had been a loyalist shot dead? Would Admins have resigned due to it? I have a feeling it wouldn’t have caused much of a stir, because I think the general opinion on loyalists amongst LAD followers is “f#*k ‘em, they’re all animals”. And this opinion might not stop at at hardcore loyalists but may grow into an attitude towards all loyalists and perhaps working class protestants in general… and thats dangerous. I see people online who themselves are from deprived working class, under educated, nationalist areas replicating the ‘Loylast pradisan’ style of writing by LAD, complete with bad spelling and inferred broad Belfast accent, without a hint of irony… because this is how themmuns talk, not us’uns.
    Of course none of this nagates the fact that there are some people out there who say some idiotic and disgusting things, and they should be challenged… But there’s no need to constantly have a pop at things vaguely connected to them, (Queen’s visit, NI football team, Ulster Scots, etc.) Or make fun of how they talk, their education or economic situation. It kind of reminds me of the stigma attached to the deprived mountain areas in the USA (ironically many of them are of Ulster protestant stock). Ask anyone to think of an Appalachian American and they’ll likely think of an ugly, inbred, toothless hillbilly idiot that speaks with a slow uneducated drawl and who is probably married to his own cousin. this is a discriminatory caricature cast over a whole people. You probably wouldnt even stop to ask them directions ‘cos you’ve seen one too many horror films (The Hills Have Eyes, Wrong Turn, Texas Chainsaw Massacre), yet they are perhaps the friendliest people you could meet. They used to say similar things about poor southern black folk but of course the media wouldn’t dare do something so racist now, except it’s still ok with white mountain folk. Just like their Ulster cousins, they’re the ethnic group it’s still ok to put down and make fun of.

  • Joe_Hoggs

    Am Ghobsmacht,

    I don’t disagree at all with what you’re saying and yes there are elements that need to be exposed. It is however disingenuous of the site to claim not to have an agenda. It practically tells its followers who to vote for and listed about 12 Unionist politicians not to vote for without reason or justification.

    A Loyalist band member was criticised by the site and its followers for laying a wreath where a Catholic man – was this necessary or ‘humorous’?

    For of the banter is very childish too such as references to “Flagery Campbell,” are the Ladmins at primary school?

    When Jim Allister referenced the Netherlands victory and referred to the Orangemen he was called a “bigot”, Martin McGuinness made the same reference and he was a “legend”.

    There is an OI parody clip which can only cause fear and suspicion of the Orange as the Ladmins against clearly don’t understand it.

    Do we need to read daily updates from Willie Frazier? I think most reasonable people have worked him out by this stage.
    Overall I think the stereotyping it is creating is dangerous and lets face it many of the followers don’t like themuns – hence why they are followers.

  • stewart1

    As someone from the Nationalist community, I find the stereotyping of the whole loyalist community very uncomfortable.

    The LAD idea had played itself out after a few months last year. There’s a real whiff of navel-gazing from those involved and its’ now all about massaging their own egos.

    Best ignored!

  • Comrade Stalin

    sitarman,

    I cannot speak for LAD of course, but my impression was that they reflected on, and ultimately withdrew, their comments on the shooting of Tommy Crossan. To compare with the other side of the camp you’d have to find out what they thought of the shooting of Bobby Moffat. I would be surprised if their (current) views were especially inconsistent.

    An G, yeah it used to be easier to make fun of SF back in the day. The Day Today did the sketch where the Sinn Féin representative being interviewed “due to broadcasting restrictions, must inhale helium to subtract credibility from his statements” which is hilarious to anyone who remembers the preamble to a dubbed SF interview in the past.

    Joe,

    If it is possible to easily lampoon nationalists, can you think why nobody has done it yet ?

  • Comrade Stalin

    Stewart,

    I hear you but I disagree. LAD suffer from the same criticism that John Stewart on the Daily Show does. He is accused of not attacking liberals or Democrats, but the problem is that it’s the tea party and the GOP who do the lion’s share of the stupid stuff.

    LAD’s contribution is also invaluable in helping to set the media agenda by doing the groundwork and leading on serious matters such as the behaviour of Pastor McConnell. I hope they keep doing this and I do not agree that they are a thing that has run its course.

  • sergiogiorgio

    Another day in paradise –

    1. A loyalist mob gets jailed for kicking a catholic community worker to death.

    2. The PPS offers no evidence in the case of Sean McVeigh.

    3. A KKK flag flies in east Belfast.

    For all our them and us, this is some fucked up reality.

  • Tugger

    sergiogiorgio,

    No-one was ‘kicked to death’. He died of a heart attack.

    Did you not follow the trial?

  • sergiogiorgio

    Are you serious Tugger or just trolling?

  • Joe_Hoggs

    sergiogiorgio,

    What is your point in reference to number 2?

  • Greenflag

    Am Ghobsmacht,

    Harry Enfield saw it as it was and still is unfortunately . You never get a second chance to make a first impression as they say .Not that that would concern the likes of William Ulsterman .

    While Enfield never took the p out of NI nationalist caractures as he did with unionist if you look at the last minute of the link above you won’t have any difficulty in knowing who the chap refusing the pizza is .

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wxpYW_w5pgo

    As a general marker theres no question that these loyalists/Twaddlers , KKK +Israeli flag wavers, Irish Tricolour, Pope’s effigy and used tyre arsonists don’t do themselves any favours and hve become the butt of jokes by the civilised world .

    All that LAD are doing is giving them the publicity that they richly deserve . The main stream media such as it is no longer finds them ‘funny ‘ .

    Funny they are though but not funny ha ha -more like funny peculiar , odd or perverse .

    And they call it ‘culture ‘ ??

    I

  • Greenflag

    Note to all above – I now support the real Orange .

    i.e the Netherlands soccer team ;)

    A return on my investment looks better than it did a week ago

    Note to AG

    ‘ fast forward a few decades and the opportunity for lampoonery has mushroomed in the wider unionist and Protestant community; Frazer, Chittick, Bryson, McConnell, the OO in general, Peter Robinson…’

    The lampooners /Spitting Image /etc miss Paisley .

    You might want to add Sandy Row bonfire supremo George Newman to the list above . This ‘genius’ actually counted the number of Tricolours burnt on last years pyre -60 – and hopes to reach the same ‘productivity ‘ level at this year’s toxic fumes memorial . Alas only one pope’s effigy was consigned to the flame . They’d have burnt more but they’re not Made in China

    And then there’s this

    http://www.bbc.com/news/uk-northern-ireland-28103319

    Mind you they did agree to take the flag down ‘after discussions ‘ ????

    Not racists not racist not a racist or should that be is a racist -is a racist -is a racist ?

    Or just dangerous idiots ?

    LAD seems to be honing in on the answer to the existencial question of the era ;)

  • sergiogiorgio

    Joe,

    Probably not the point you may be thinking. I pulled the top three headlines from the BBCNI website yesterday at 1400, just to illustrate that all the crap views we exchange on this website matter for a hill of beans to what’s factually happening on a day to day basis in this wee parish. Mr McVeigh was arrested, charged and lawyers instructed, then appeared in a court with all the associated expense to have prosecution offer no case or even evidence. If this doesn’t stink then the piss away of yours and my tax pounds should at least exercise you. I know you have your point of view and you express it reasonably but daily reality is still skewed and the scumbags keep dictating the headlines.

  • Joe_Hoggs

    sergiogiorgio,

    I wasn’t aware of this case at all, however following your post I just read up on it. I think this is a disgrace with darker undertones, possibly informants?

  • sergiogiorgio

    It stinks Joe.

  • keano10

    It’s worth pointing out that LAD is not infallible. Around 2 months ago in a rather dramatic weekend LAD faced a barrage of criticism from many of it’s regular contributors and supporters. This was in response to a rather violent comment made on the LAD Twitter site by one of it’s admin concerning dissident republicans.

    LAD responded by removing all of the people who had criticised and in doing so they lost a huge amount of credibility among many people who had supported their site from the outset. Many of those banned had offered criticism in a very polite and constructive manner but LAD just removed them all en masse. In doing so, they behaved in the kind of undemocratic and unliberal manner which they so often berate in others.

    There always comes an acid test for any satirical site of this nature and LAD very sadly failed their’s in dramatic style.