Saturday, 17 March 2018

Ned Kellys versions of anything cannot be trusted.

It would be unexceptional to expect that murdering three policemen in the space of a couple of hours would result in unanimous condemnation of the perpetrators. Yet, in the bizarre case of Ned Kelly, a triple police murderer, we have the criminal being upheld as an Australian hero and icon, though as we know from a published survey there aren’t that many such people. But even so, the fact that anyone at all can regard such a person as  a hero requires explaining, or so I would have thought. The point I am going to make in this post is that one reason some people think Ned Kelly is a hero is because the story they have been told about him is a gross misrepresentation of the truth about him. They've been fed a line by the Kelly apologists and have swallowed it. They've been fed Ned Kellys lines but his versions of anything cant be trusted, because as even the great Ian Jones said, and I quote "he lied"

Take the killing of those three policemen at Stringybark Creek as an example. Its common to read that atrocity described as a ‘fair fight’ and a ‘gunbattle’

“When Kennedy and Scanlan returned to the camp Ned called to them to “Bail up”. Instead the troopers opened fire. A gunfight followed with the policemen dodging from tree to tree”

This description from the recently published “Ned Kelly the Iron Outlaw” is a typical example, written by one of the leading Kelly fanatics, but is factually grossly misleading. For anyone unfamiliar with the facts, it reads, as Ned Kelly himself, and the Kelly apologist who wrote this would have wanted, as if the police brought the so called ‘gunfight’ on themselves. The vibe is that the idiot  police tried to take on the Kelly Gang instead of sensibly surrendering, but it was Ned Kelly who opened fire on the police and only one of  the police was ever 'dodging from tree to tree'. 

On Facebook pages for Kelly followers one often reads things like ‘They got what they deserved’.

Now, there were only two witnesses who wrote about what happened that evening – Ned Kelly and Constable Thomas McIntyre, but for some reason, its always Ned Kellys view that predominates in the literature describing it all. Thus, though McIntyre very clearly stated that Lonigan was shot within a few seconds of being ordered to ‘bail up’ , and wouldn't have had time to get his gun out, the story that everyone tells, from Kenneally in 1929 to now, is Ned Kellys version that Lonigan ran six or seven yards to some logs, got behind them and then was shot in the head as he came up to shoot at Ned Kelly. Ned Kelly thus maintained he killed in self-defence.

Likewise in describing the second half of this debacle, McIntyre clearly states that he was given almost no time to explain to Kennedy and Scanlan what was going on – in fact he stated that Kelly shouted “Bail up” before he had said a word to Kennedy:

“I stepped towards Kennedy and was about to explain the position to him when Kelly sang out ‘Bail up, hold up your hands.’ Kennedy smiled and playfully put his hand upon his revolver case. Judging from the expression on his face he thought that Lonigan and I were jesting with him. Immediately he put his hand down he was fired at by Ned Kelly.” (My underlining ) (Reminiscences of a Victorian Mounted Constable)

The bullet went over his head, but Kennedy, suddenly realising it wasn’t a joke, rolled off the horse and drew his revolver just as the rest of the gang broke cover and advanced, firing. Scanlon also tried to throw himself off his horse, and in his panic, he fell.

“.. in his efforts to scramble to his feet and at the same time disentangle himself from his rifle he fell again and both his hands and knees were on the ground when he was shot under the right arm. I saw a large spot of blood appear on his coat” (Reminiscences)

Its accepted now I think that Kelly’s description of how Lonigan died was bullshit. The forensic evidence clearly shows that Lonigan was out in the open when he was shot, and supports McIntyre’s recollection. So, isn’t it time we also called ‘bullshit’ on Kelly’s description of what happened when Kennedy and Scanlan returned?

Kelly blamed McIntyre for not getting them to surrender but McIntyre’s testimony shows that  Kelly gave him almost no chance to do it. Kelly should have shut his mouth and stayed hidden and given McIntyre a real chance to persuade Kennedy and Scanlan to disarm and surrender, but instead, exactly as when Lonigan was killed, Kelly panicked  at the crucial moment, and he started shouting and shooting almost straight away. Its interesting to notice that Kellys first written version of these events more or less agrees with McIntyre’s version, there being no mention of McIntyre actually speaking to Kennedy:

McIntyre went up to Kennedy, Scanlan being behind with a rifle and revolver. I called on them to throw up their hands. Scanlan slewed his horse around to gallop away but turned again and as quick as thought fired at me with the rifle, and was in the act of firing again when I shot him” (Cameron Letter)

In his second version however, he says something quite different. He now says McIntyre spoke to Kennedy who then reached for his revolver, got off his horse and “got behind a tree when I called on them to throw up their arms’(Jerilderie Letter)

So, in the Cameron letter, while the Police are still mounted Kelly calls on them to Bail up and then Scanlan and Kennedy react. In the second version, the Jerilderie Letter,  they react not  to Kellys words but to McIntyres word and only after Kennedy is behind a tree does Kelly call on them to “bail up”. So was Kellys call to ‘ bail up’ made while Kennedy was on his horse or behind a tree? McIntyre said Scanlan didn’t fire his rifle, Kelly said he did.

My question is why would we believe Kelly’s versions of Scanlan and Kennedys deaths when we know his version of Lonigans death was a self-serving lie? Why wouldn’t his versions of Scanlan’s and Kennedys deaths also be self-serving lies ? They have every appearance of being exactly that, especially when you look at the changes he made in the second version.

My next question then is why is it always the Kelly version that gets repeated and promoted and written into the texts time and time again, in preference to McIntyres? My own answer to that question is that people haven't yet fully realised what an outrageous liar Kelly was.

And one other thing : this garbage about a fair fight – on what planet is it a fair fight when three or four armed men confront two men, only one of whom carries a weapon? And the fight with Kennedy : Kennedy retreating from tree to tree was armed with a revolver that took six cartridges.  The Kelly gang of four, pursuing him for almost a mile through the bush, was now armed with the police shotgun, the Spencer Carbine carried by Scanlon, McIntyre’s revolver, Lonigan’s revolver, Scanlon’s revolver, dozens of rounds of ammunition taken from the Police tent, and of course the guns they brought with them to the police camp at the outset: Neds ‘rickety old carbine, a cheap shotgun and a pocket revolver’ (Ian Jones: A Short Life Hachette Edition p157). What kind of lunatic could ever imagine that could be a fair fight?

Sunday, 11 March 2018

Tell that to Lonigans widow

Ive been too busy to write a Post for the Blog this weekend. Heres some music for you instead, and the Lyrics below, of a song that was part of the soundtrack for the Kelly movie from 1970. 
The best line?  "Bury the truth as you bury the dead"

Now four jolly troopers from Mansfield town
Were sent out to hunt all them Kelly boys down
They searched through the wombat for most of a week
And they camped on the banks of the Stringybark creek
But Lonigan's widow, she's a singing no songs
She walks these red hills and she cries all night long

They say that Ned Kelly had never done wrong
Tell that to Lonigan's widow

Early that morning amid laughter and shouting
Kennedy and Scanlon, they rode out a scouting
And left McIntyre to cook up the grub
While Lonigan sang at the old washing tub
They were cleaning the camp, boiling some tea
When up jumped Ned Kelly with his comrades three
With a shout and a cry and a crack of a gun
Lonigan staggers and Lonigan's done
But Lonigan's widow, she's singin' no songs
She walks these red hills and she cries all night long

They say that Ned Kelly ain't never done wrong
But tell that to Lonigan's widow

He's crawling, he's crying, he's clawing the ground
His voice makes a pleading and pitiful sound
Of the way that he's dying, nobody will speak
When they tell of the glory's on Stringybark creek
But Lonigan's widow, she sang him no songs
She walks these red hills, she cries all night long

They say that Ned Kelly ain't never done wrong
But tell that to Lonigan's widow

So sing of Ned Kelly, the lad of renown
The pride of Australia, the scourge of the crown
Sing of his bravery and God bless his head
And bury the truth as you bury the dead
But Lonigan's widow, she's singing no songs
She walks these red hills and she cries all night long

They say that Ned Kelly ain't never done wrong
Ned Kelly, ain't never done wrong
Ned Kelly's never done wrong
But tell that to Lonigan's widow

Saturday, 3 March 2018

The Kelly Legend : almost dead.

The Ned Kelly Legend is on Life Support

Why isn’t Ned dead? The Australians we still Believe in” This was the title of an article published a week ago by the on-line news site “The New Daily”. It was described as “News” though most of the discussion was about a paper that was published in the Journal of Sociology in 2014, which in turn was based on the results of a Survey carried out in 2011.

The ‘news’ being reported was that recently the legendary Australian musician Nick Cave and his son Earl were seen visiting the Kelly armour on display in the State Library of Victoria in Melbourne. Apparently, Earl has been selected to play Dan Kelly in the forthcoming movie adaptation of the Peter Carey novel, ‘The True History of the Kelly Gang’.  Nick Cave is reputed to have been obsessed with Ned Kelly when he was a kid – not surprising really because he was born and grew up in Kelly country and in 1967 when Nick was 10 his father Colin was Director of the Adult Education Center, Wangaratta, the place where that landmark Symposium ‘Ned Kelly Man and Myth’ was held. Colin Cave was the Editor of the 1968 publication of the same name which records the fascinating presentations and discussions of that symposium where Ian Jones gave first voice to his fantastic redemptive theory about Ned Kelly and the Republic of North East Victoria.

The article quickly went on to ask this question “how has a cop-killer endured, with much love, as a figure of ‘national importance’?”. A chart was produced of the top 20 people nominated by respondents to the questionnaire as the most important Australians, living or dead. Ned Kelly was slotted in at #15. The #1 was Kiwi-born eye surgeon Fred Hollows.

The article eventually concluded the Kelly Legend was not going away any time soon : “There’s too much money in it” according to Tim Hogan, Manager of Collection Development and Discovery at the Victorian State Library. And, according to ‘an historian with an interest in myth-making’ Dr Dale Blair of Deakin University, Melbourne, “ the revisionist crowd – who believe Ned was a bad man – won’t cut through. Because people aren’t interested in that story. Even if it’s true.’’

Kelly apologists of course are giving this article a big tick. I responded in the Comments section at the bottom of the article, comments which were duly noted by one of the contributors to the Facebook page originally dedicated to the vilification of Ian MacFarlanes book but is now predominated by hysterical attacks on me. It claimed I hated articles like that one, and went on to liken my remarks to a Tiger Moth crashing into Uluru – a big flash and a bang but in the end, the Rock remains, unchanged. This was the amusing analogy created by Ian Jones many years ago, predicting how successful revisionists would be. Very funny!

But I have to tell that person that this article, on closer examination has turned out to be something he will hate, because, knowing how often journalists are lazy and how often they write garbage I decided to track down the articles and the sources for the statistics to make sure we weren’t being fed bullshit. And we were! He's going to hate it because its led to the discovery and broadcasting here that hardly anyone regards Ned Kelly as important or significant. He's on the way out! 

The Chart of who the most important Australians were was based on the 2011 Australlian Survey of Social Attitudes. Ive tracked it down. 1225 Participants were asked “In your opinion, who are the two most important Australians, living or dead? Guess how many of the twelve hundred respondents nominated  Ned Kelly as their number one pick? A miniscule 19!  Ned Kelly was the nominated first or second choice by 35 people, Fred Hollows by 150! To describe someone supported by 35 people in a survey of over one thousand as " a figure of national importance " is hyperbolic nonsense. Fake News by a lazy journo. 

Participants were also asked “Many people throughout Australia's history have influenced the way Australians see themselves in terms of their identity as Australians. If you had to choose among the following, which would be your first choice as the most influential? Aboriginal people/Convicts/ Free settlers/ Bushrangers/ ANZACS/ Immigrants after World War II/Sporting heroes/ Political leaders/ Other..” 

The most popular first choice was ANZACS (47%) but Bushrangers were the least popular first choice (1%) In other words 99% of Australians think there are other more important influences on the national identity than bushrangers, and by that they mean Ned Kelly the name first on anyones lips when bushrangers are mentioned. Who would have guessed ? The Kelly apologists, and this journo think Kelly is "much loved" and wildly popular and admired, but these FACT tell us otherwise. This survey tells us that the huge majority of Australians don't think Ned Kelly was important or particularly influential.
Evans, A. Australian Survey of Social Attitudes 2011, The Australian National University: Australian Demographic & Social Research Institute, 2012.

Now, when this Survey was undertaken Ian Jones was still in full flight, the Ned Kelly Forum and the Beechworth Ned Kelly weekend were still in existence, and the ABC documentary on the Glenrowan excavation had just been shown. The myth-busting works of MacFarlane, Morrissey, Kieza and Dawson were still to come. But even then, in what was a relatively pro-Kelly environment support for Ned Kelly was minimal, something which the Kelly apologists wouldn’t want anyone to know. But since then much has changed, and none of it would give any comfort to the Kelly apologists: quite apart from the exposure of the true story by the aforementioned writers, the Beechworth Ned Kelly Weekend has disappeared, the Ned Kelly Forum imploded, the Iron Outlaw Website has died, the tourist attractions are falling into disrepair, the crowd-funding  attempt to raise millions for a Ned Kelly Center raised a paltry $1100 and another one for yet another Kelly movie raised barely 5% of its target, and the only ‘pro-Kelly’ publications have been repetitions of the same old tired fairy stories. Since then all that will have happened is that support for Ned Kelly will have shrunk even further.

Heres the proof :  long term Kelly country tourist operator, Bob Hempel had this to say three months ago when asked about the new Kelly movie:

“I think there is Ned Kelly fatigue. We used to get 70,000 people through our doors a year, now it’s down to 20,000. Good luck to them, but I think some people are a bit sick of Ned.”

The only thing that’s keeping the myth alive now is crappy journalism like this News Daily article.  It would have been more honestly titled “Ned Kelly is on life support : an Australian almost nobody believes in”, and its time to turn the ventilator off. I think the analogy about Uluru and the Tiger Moth should be replaced with the story about the Emperor with no clothes. The King is dead people! Wake up! The  age of the Kelly myth is over! Nobody believes in him any more!