‘Not really being very democratic’: Loyalists Against Democracy, part 3

LAD3This is the third in a series of posts that came about after I asked, several times, those behind the Loyalists Against Democracy site to meet up with me.  They refused.

I am not the only person to object to LAD.

In parts 1 and 2 I asked 12 influential people to offer their opinion on the Loyalist Against Democracy website.  These were a combination of community relations workers, community workers, writers, academics, a politician, and a church leader.  They were male and female, and catholic and protestant.  Together they have hundreds of years of experience of peace work.

They raised concerns about the mendacity behind LAD.

LAD laughed it off.

The first thing to say is that LAD should not make light of the views of those who have together spent hundreds of years helping to build the peace they now enjoy.  It is one thing to mock those you think contribute to the violence.  It is quite another to mock those who have contributed to peace.  It is arrogant in the extreme.

It is interesting that LAD featured uncritically on BBC Northern Ireland’s ‘The View’ this week, as their ‘tweet of the week’.  Perhaps next week ‘The View’ might want to use the one below?


Others in the media have started to question LAD.  These include journalist Brian Whelan, who in a tweet referred to LAD as ‘the Loyalists Against Democracy joke (that got a bit old)’.

On Friday at the Political Studies Association of Ireland conference ‘Alan in Belfast‘ said it was time for LAD  to ‘wise up and grow up’ (part 2 20:25).  Likewise, panelist and journalist Alex Kane (part 3 3:00), warned against the tone LAD takes.

LAD have every right to say the things they do.  What they don’t have the right to do is complain when the same mirror that they hold up to other people is then turned back on them.  Claim you want to expose sectarianism and bigotry?  Then don’t complain when people point out your own bigotry and prejudices.

LAD claim to have noble intentions.  They claim to be providing a public service in exposing sectarianism.  They do this through a process of the public online shaming of individuals that they decide need shaming.  Aside from that not really being very democratic, I wonder how many of these individuals have been convinced by LAD’s tactics and now hold a different worldview?  I would imagine there aren’t many.  With this in mind it’s probably worth asking if they have actually helped in any way to eradicate sectarianism?  Probably not.

It is one thing to speak truth to power.  It’s quite another to attempt to speak ‘truth’ – if that is what this is – from a position of anonymous, unaccountable power, as LAD do.

A number of people have contacted me telling me who they think LAD are and who they are connected to.  One of the concerns some people have about LAD is that they have cranked up sectarian tensions.  I have no intention attempting to ‘out’ them, but Loyalists should at least know that LAD are not part of some Republican agenda against them.  LAD are self-loathing Unionists.  Unionist self-hate is nothing new.  David Ervine said that Unionists invented the word Loyalists so they could separate themselves from those in their own tradition that they considered ‘scum’.  That tradition is alive and well today.

Another interesting feature about LAD is that they thrive on anonymity.   It’s easy to make fun of people when you do it behind a mask.  I have a problem with anonymity and unaccountability, whether it’s on the streets or on the internet.  I suppose LAD would probably be critical of those who pull on a mask and go out on to the street bullying people, the same should apply to those who pull on a mask and go on the internet bullying people.

I know LAD don’t think they are bullies – bullies never think they are bullies – but this is what a female friend – fed up with LAD – wrote to me: ‘Those LAD dicks are simply bullies that the middle classes can like. I do despair for this country sometimes.’  They also might want to consider why some of the contributors to my previous two blogs were so worried about LAD’s bully boy tactics turning on them that they did not want their names included.

One feature of democracy LAD claim to be exercising is the ability to engage in open public debate.  When we step out of line there are people around us to pull us back in (indeed, that is what LAD claims to do).  No one is above criticism.  No one, of course, except LAD.  Object to their discourse and you get told you are a ‘tit’, an ‘arsehole’, a ‘c**t’, or an ‘ass’.  When LAD is offered any sort of critique, it just reverts to exactly the kind of bully boy tactics that it claims to oppose.

Instead of striking out at the most powerful, LAD often strikes out at some of the most vulnerable.  Is having problems with literacy funny?  If you know someone who struggles with literacy and the stigma that is attached to it then you know that it is anything but funny.

The pleasure that LAD seems to take in mocking literacy levels is alarming.  LAD argue that if you are sectarian (again, by their definition of sectarianism, where it seems only working class unionists can be sectarian) then your lack of literacy is fair game for ridicule.  I would ask LAD that if people are sectarian and also have cancer is it also fair game to make fun of them for having cancer?  I wouldn’t think so.

I can think of something much more productive LAD could do instead of laughing at people who struggle to read and write.  LAD could pour their creative energy into setting up or helping out at homework clubs in Loyalist areas where there is educational underachievement, in order to tackle the poor literacy levels they like to highlight.  That way they could really start to address the problems facing Loyalist communities instead of laughing at them.  I can’t imagine they will, but I would be happy for them to prove me wrong.


15 thoughts on “‘Not really being very democratic’: Loyalists Against Democracy, part 3

  1. Another good article. Here’s my view for what it’s worth!

    I come from a Middle Class background, Unionist by background but I’m not staunch. In the midst of the Flag Protests many were disgusted by loyalist rioters, the vast majority of our country were, and we began to distance ourselves from the ‘under class’ loyalists. Something which was evident before, but an even bigger gulf developed. When a Nationalist friend first introduced me to LAD I had a look through and certainly had a laugh. Some of the things they were editing and putting up were brilliant, but a line in the sand was drawn. They have turned having an innocent laugh into bullying, and I’m not exaggerating when I say this. Any Unionist I’ve seen support them has been a smug and arrogant individual, who’d rather cosy up to Nationalists than try to reform Unionism. Especially working class Unionism/loyalist. LAD are cringe worthly rude to anyone who questions their methods, and the innocent laugh makers are most certainly showing their raw hatred of Working class Loyalists. They have a right to oppose them, but they come from a stock which is more than happy to try and portray bigoted Loyalists as being representative of all Unionism.

    The rest of society can only let LAD tear on, they remind me of the spoilt teens at school who got bullied themselves by ‘lesser people’ and now they’ve got this ego boosting power with some anonymity threw in, they are law on to themselves and loving it. Rather than screenshot easy targets behind a computer screen hold a meeting for people to come and put views for and against their tactics. Lets see how ‘democratic’ they are!

  2. Nigel Dodds Can read and write.

    They get stuck into him.

    Nelson McCausland Can read and write.

    They get stuck into him.

    Peter Robinson Can read and write.

    They get stuck into him.

    Mike Nesbitt Can read and write.

    They get stuck into him.

    Jamie Bryson Can read and write (though, to be fair, not with the same fluency as the university graduates mentioned above).

    They get stuck into him.

    Some of the above are middle class too.

    Why is this ignored in your postings?
    Could you prove that LAD are all of a middle class

    If LAD didn’t do what they do, then how would the rest of us see all the nastiness of the Loyalist underbelly?

    Especially if the middle class is so detached from the Loyalist working class as you imply?

    Their methods might be a bit harsh.
    But same of many publications and sites that deal with an ugly topic.

    “(again, by their definition of sectarianism, where it seems only working class unionists can be sectarian)” could you back that up please?

    If I were to do a google search and find evidence of them ripping the piss out of nationalist bigots too then that accusation is immediately rent asunder, so, do I have to do that or will you acknowledge that the statement is a tad unfair (if not down right biased)?

    Here’s a video of some upper class English people ‘mocking’ illiteracy: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_guKhYVr5vA

    Better known to the rest of as Monty Python’s Flying Circus…

    If I recall correctly ignorance and illiteracy was part of Ali G’s act too?

    You’re giving off an impression that you’re frustrated with them and are jumping on the band wagon of criticism, the most convenient one being the class aspect.

    If they reveal themselves some day and you find out that some of them are working class then that’s going to sting your credibility some what.

    Again, I may not agree with everything that they say or do (and vice versa I’m sure) but I’m glad we have somewhat focusing the spotlight on that which our (as in Unionist) politicians are ignoring.

    • A few points in response. Firstly, I don’t mind LAD speaking truth to power. But they should take off the mask and contribute to the debate like normal people do.

      Secondly, I know you think you are defending LAD but they won’t thank you for that comment at all. I’ll leave you to work out why.

      Thirdly, just because they once or twice have a go at nationalists does not mean they are balanced. They are far from it.

      Fourthly, where is this bandwagon of criticism I am jumping on? I have taken a lot of abuse from LAD and posted about this long before any of the other instances I quoted in this piece.

      • I know they won’t thank me, nor do they need to nor do I want them to.

        I want them to continue to name and shame.

        They might be a bit cruel sometimes but ho hum, that’s life.

        I take you on your word that you aren’t jumping on the bandwagon and I retract that part of the statement.

  3. Yesterday they posted a picture of a protest, roundly mocking the people in the picture for failing to spell the word ‘brethren’ properly. The actual word they used to describe what they felt was the abject stupidity of those people was ‘remedial’. I don’t know how many more examples people need. You can ignore it if you like, but you’d just be ignoring it. Doesn’t mean it doesn’t regularly happen.

  4. I would class myself as a very loose catholic born Unionist from a working class background, I have witnessed the flag protests and the ongoing lunacy with certain sections of Loyalism, with a large degree of despair and anger. To me I’ve viewed them as simply anti Catholic, and of a certain section of society unwilling to adapt to a changing political landscape, and wanting to use the old loyalist tactic of mob rule to get their way. I am in a mixed relationship and have felt in the past 12 months these protests have made me question my values and politics to a large degree.

    I accept that LAD is often cutting and brutal, but that those complaining the loudest about them, are often those that are happy to stoke sectarian tensions through the guise of the flag protests. Both sadly are
    a prefect match and deserve each other.

    • In response to your last comment – not one of the 15 people I referred to in this article as complaining about LAD were involved in the flag protests, and neither was I.

  5. Lad are far from perfect. There are more than likely some quite republican minded contributors which inevitably leads to some posts that are less than agreeable.

    However it’s worth remembering that Lad gained popularity because people are sick of the section of loyalist community who appear to abide by the process of democracy until the outcome doesn’t go their way at which point they cause as much disruption to decent peoples lives as they can (they were quite happy to ruin Christmas for everyone if they could) . Something that in the interests of balance certainly merits a mention.

    As far as anonymity for the people behind Lad goes, why shouldn’t they remain anonymous. Bearing in mind the mindset of some of the people they lampoon it may not be safe for them to announce who they are publicly. Lad has opened my eyes to how vile and hate-filled some of these these flag enthusiasts are.

    It is clear that the many in the Loyalist community feel hard done by because now days the police force is actually attempting to serve both communities equally, something which was not always true with the RUC, not to say there wasn’t plenty of good cops pre-PSNI as there certainly were but anyone that tells you both sides were treated equally by the RUC and Army is either ignorant to the facts or lying.

    Anyway, I digress..

    Some of Lads posts do display a lack of maturity and I personally object to them. I have personally taken the time to pull people up when they have made unacceptable comments referring to people being murdered during the troubles. I was not alone, many people were not happy with this behaviour. Lad is no worse than the tabloid media when it comes to overstepping the mark but some of its contributors could do with being reigned in from time to tame as when when they overstep the mark it detracts from what I feel they should be doing. Satirising ridicules opinions and idiot politicians (which is most of them). Because life in Northern Ireland can be frustrating and depressing due to hardcore backward idiots on both sides ruining it for the rest of us.

    Finally, Lad are not responsible for teaching loyalist children to read and write. Frankly that idea is absurd. Do you really think that they would be welcomed into schools in loyalist areas? Ridicules. Of course they wouldn’t..

    Lad are however recording a Christmas single with all the proceeds going to a cross community charity that raises money in order to send kids with very poor health to Lapland. So no matter what you think of Lad something good will come of their existence. Unlike the flag protesters and the rioters who contribute nothing to the community what so ever. It’s a shame that these set in their ways throwbacks aren’t so passionate about our health service that is being starved of vital funds, that would be a worthwhile cause for them to block roads and march through town shouting about. But that’s not what matters to them. What they want is a flag on City hall.

    Personally It made no difference to me whether or not the flag was up but they had a vote and democracy should have prevailed. I’d like to point out that being English, I can tell you that people in England don’t feel the need to insist a flag flies from every public building. They have more important things to worry about. Only in places like Gibraltar, the Falkland islands and Northern island do we see this hyper nationalist behaviour, all places where there is a question as to whether or not they should remain under British rule. As a resident of Northern Ireland I would prefer to remain part of Britain as whilst I am no fan of the current government the Irish government are far more inept and arguably more corrupt.

    I am not a nationalist, I do not bow to any flag or any head of state, I do not however object to people who do. That is their personal choice. They should be allowed to celebrate their nationality as long as it doesn’t impinge upon other peoples daily living. Marching should be restricted to account for this. There is no need for the amount of marches that take place in this part of the world. It is a major inconvenience for the many people who do not engage in such activities. If traffic was being diverted 20 or 30 days a year so that cyclists could race, thus taking over the roads people would be up in arms. Why should marching bands be treated any different?

    Lad is certainly worthy of some criticism but they are not the ones out wrecking the streets and claiming that not getting to march through areas where they do not live and where the residents do not want them is a civil right issue. Anyone who talks such utter nonsense should take some responsibility for their idiocy and the community leaders/politicians who back them up should be ashamed of themselves. It is they who should be organising literacy classes for their communities not Lad. They know exactly what they are doing when they stir up trouble like when the DUP distributed leaflets slating the Alliance which lead to crowds gathering outside Alliance party offices and Naomi long Receiving death threats. So if one is going to question the morality and behaviour of Lad, then for balance perhaps one should question the behaviour and morality of certain elected representatives. People who receive public money to serve the community. Unless of course the real issue isn’t simply one of morality but of disdain for an group due to their constant mockery of a tradition that you personally favour. Whilst Lad’s targeting of one community more often than the other may be down to political leanings within the group one must also consider the fact that Nationalist and/or Republicans aren’t blocking roads, rioting and claiming that not getting to march through Loyalist areas is a invasion of their civil rights.

    When there has been rioting by nationalists, it was not because they didn’t get to march through a loyalist area, it was because a Loyalist march was forced through a nationalist area. A very different circumstance indeed. However, both instances of rioting are to be thoroughly condemned, civilised people should not behave in such a way, there is no excuse, they should all be ashamed of themselves. We have come too far for idiots on either side of the sectarian divide to go and ruin our peace. I only wish David Ervine was still with us as he was one of the few politicians that had the vision to put aside all the sectarian nonsense in order to serve his people by attempting to bring them some form of peace. There was a man fit to lead the Loyalist community, more interested in securing peace and a future for all the people of Northern Ireland than getting bogged down with petty squabbles leading us all round and round in circles. David Ervine was capable of acting like a grown up, I don’t see any politician capable of having that sort of positive influence over the Loyalist community these days. Perhaps there in lies the problem.

    • Many thanks for your considered response. A couple of points: if you read the article you would know LAD are not republicans. Also, David Ervine may be sorely missed but I think it’s fair to say he would most definitely not have been on the side of LAD.

      • I know Lad are not Republicans, I am just saying that there are probably contributes with republican leanings.

        David Ervine would have offered leadership rather than fanning the flames like the DUP and others, he would have had the sense to realise that flag protests and rioting would only damage the Loyalist cause.

        Had this happened, Lad would not exist… Lad is a symptom of the problem caused by Idiots wrecking their own and other people’s communities. Perhaps some of the folk behind Lad would have made other facebook pages/blogs but they would not have gained so much support.

        I know a lot of Westies (west belfast folk) who aren’t fans of the British but they also hate the IRA as they have seen many of them for who they are, Gangsters (same as Loyalists).

        So whilst they may consider themselves Irish they are not the bigoted people that perhaps some people on the other side assume.

        My point is that there are a great deal of people closer to the centre ground than you might think, these people would not endorse a site that was overtly sectarian as they are sick of that nonsense. They see the bigger picture and want a brighter future. Lad may seem to be targeting the Loyalist community more often than not. But In truth they are targeting large movements of people who are idiotic, they cannot target Nationalists who don’t get to march and then claim that they are having their civil rights breached because there are none.

        Marching is not a civil right. There are an inordinate amount of marches in Northern Ireland each year around 70% of which involve the Loyalist/Unionist community. this might be OK if everyone in Northern Ireland was Loyalist/Unionist although in truth even then it would be unsustainable to have that amount of disruption with roads being closed etc. but because it is claimed as a tradition people who object to the inconvenience these marches cause are often accused of attacking the Loyalist/Unionist community which simply isn’t true. I don’t care who you are but if you are making my chances of getting from A to B more difficult because you feel the need to march and block the roads then I am entitled to be put out. Every now and then one could make allowances for these marches but the marching season never seems to end here. I would feel exactly the same if it was nationalist marches constantly blocking road in order to march but in truth in the 18 years I have lived in N. Ireland I have never had to make a detour because a Nationalist march. Also I have never heard of Nationalists protesting about being blocked from marching in a Loylaist/Unionist area so either Loylaist/Unionists don’t object to Nationalist marches and they are allowed to march or as I suspect they generally don’t march in Loyalist/Unionist areas.

        I have certainly never experienced nationalists blocking public roads throughout Northern Ireland inconveniencing everyone in the process. This sort of behaviour is unacceptable and extremely selfish. Another contributing factor in the popularity of Lad. People are angry and frustrated at the disruption caused to their lives by some members of the Loylaist/Unionist community and so if someone gives them the opportunity to joke and mock people who do not appear to have any concern for the community outside there own then they are only too glad to take it. It may be wrong to mock these people’s lack of literacy but when the people are themselves using social media to make dreadful sectarian statements talk absolute nonsense and behave like selfish ass holes (please excuse my language) because someone didn’t get to march down a road somewhere or a flag isn’t going to be flown as often as they insist it should be on a building somewhere then they can hardly take the moral high ground when someone makes fun of them.

        To sum it up, Lad exists and is popular as a result of some sections of the Loylaist/Unionist community showing no respect for other people outside it. All they seem to care about is themselves and Loylaist/Unionist agendas. If you do not fit into their view of the world they are happy to make your life miserable. When they are asked to show some sensitivity by not marching in a certain areas they claim it is an invasion of their civil rights (something they do not seem to understand the concept of). This moronic behaviour is unacceptable in any civilised society. Things have to change otherwise it is going to get a lot worse before it gets better.

        The reason I have such admiration of David Ervine is that he was a progressive thinker, he was more interested in securing peace than digging his heels in and missing the chance for future generations to grow up with a brighter future. He wanted what was best for everyone, not just Loylaist/Unionist people. I do not see anyone in the Loyalist/Unionist community capable of this level of progressive, pragmatic thinking. Certainly not the DUP who are currently part of the problem not the solution. In order for the Loylaist/Unionist to move forward they need some proper direction and decent political representation, something which is sourly lacking these days.

        I would focus on that rather than issues concerning Lad as it probably wouldn’t exist in the first place were it not for this lack of direction.

  6. Very interesting if not long winded. I get the impression yet again that you don’t like LAD and who cares? I am from a Protestant working class background, believe in the Union and served in the armed forces with honour (as many others have done) during the Troubles. I
    am disgusted that we are still at this backwards stage in Northern Ireland and angry at the sectarian bigots ON BOTH SIDES who keep us there.
    In our society the “the nice people” take what we are given, seldom complain and hold no one accountable. The system is set up that if you do complain you have to jump through so many hoops in the hope of wearing you down.
    LAD gives the nice people who don’t throw bricks, a voice against the sectarian bigots who ‘are’ pretty thick. Mocking literacy levels of others isn’t funny but if it’s an illiterate moron talking about how their human rights have been breached, then it’s more to do with mocking an asshole who thinks the flag has been taken down for good. Now that is comedy, I mean “Hand’s of our flag” you couldn’t make that stuff up.
    They don’t have a clue what DUP and UVF pawns they are being . LAD does mock the Republican side too but not as much because they are more media savvy and when Loyalists were getting roid rage in the Maze they were getting degrees.
    My own blog has been featured several times on LAD, Gerry Kelly jumping on a Land Rover was a god send but I reckon you missed
    that. Not surprising considering their Facebook page has been taken down several times.
    Why would anyone be against one of the few voices against sectarianism which has infected this province? We don’t do humour, our time our place now get out, is that why? do you just not get being funny? speaking of which, Allen of Belfast should not be telling people to “wise up and grow up” because if he is an adult then it seems like a pretty drab and boring existence. Yes I can remember his blog from way back, hasn’t changed much. Now he definitely doesn’t do humour.
    My last point is that without LAD you would not have had three blog posts, well milked out.

  7. Pingback: McCann meets…LAD Part 1 « Slugger O'Toole

  8. I think satire is a key element of a democracy, and the free press. LAD are in the new media age where there material is solely online, and not in newspaper form like Private Eye. There has been an absence of a real satirical behemoth in Northern Ireland for a while, there was Newton Emerson and political cartoonists but LAD is a new breed. There are no holds barred for people in power; the fundamentalists; the practitioners of nepotism, the camps on interfaces, stirring up tensions; the violent protesters who wreck communities, and a constant tit-fot-tat war of words between Unionism and Republicanism. This ‘bullying’ is generally of people who hold deeply sectarian views and openly post hateful imagery and comments. Though they would say they’re entitled to their view, they’re entitled to be satirised and lampooned/

    Nothing is perfect, especially on a public forum like Facebook. There will be posters who are as moronic as those who spout sectarian and racist abuse. But for some it is an outlet for the frustrations of sectarianism driving away tourists and giving them a bad image, protests causing mayhem and blocking roads, an NHS not fit for purpose, politician’s religious views causing the tax payers millions and politicians deeming what is suitable and not suitable to view.

    They are worthy of satire, and if you obsess over LAD, they’re going to lampoon you, why walk into a lion’s den?

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