Sectarianism? It’s all the fault of the SNP


The touchline altercation between McCoist and Lennon, the orderings off, the bookings and the peripheral problems that follow a Rangers versus Celtic football match – the culprits have been found, it’s the SNP again.

Not content with being unable to control nature, a weakness that led to the resignation of Stewart Stevenson as Transport Minister, the Nat rabble have let the nation down yet again.

Last week’s old firm encounter was the result of the SNP ignoring the rampant bigotry that has slowly infested football and society since 2007 after Super Jack McConnell eradicated it.  But since then the blundering oafs that are the SNP have decided that running the country and fighting on behalf of all Scots should take precedence over the two Glasgow clubs the devil has been at work and Scotland’s media commentators are waiting, pitchforks and flaming torches in hand.

The Daily Record’s football journalist James Traynor, who also moonlights as a sports ‘Shock Jock’ on BBC Radio Scotland, started the proverbial ball rolling by dismissing the intervention of First Minister Alex Salmond.

“Who is he?” asked Mr Traynor as he lampooned the First Minister and the Scottish parliament describing it as ”pretendy”.  Mr Traynor was asked to repeat his offensive insult by an incredulous anchor Richard Gordon, so he duly did – all at once revelling in his ignorant cringe and completely unaware of the irony of his obnoxious and ‘politically sectarian’ remarks.

The sentiments were echoed by one Billy Dodds, a former footballer and now regular on the same Radio station.  ‘Scotland’s shame’ if you listened to the well-paid pundits from ‘Radio Tabloid’ was not the concern of politicians like Salmond.  The station had been part of the frothing frenzy of nonsense that spawned the sensationalist headlines we have been force fed since the eventful evening of a week ago.

Mr Traynor’s employers over at the Daily Record had a different take though.  The Scottish government had taken their chief sports writer’s advice too literally and were actively cutting funding for anti-sectarian groups.  A quote from one Jack (now Lord) McConnell went further as he accused the First Minister of trying to hide sectarianism.

McConnell is quoted as saying: “Alex Salmond wants to sweep sectarianism back under the Scottish carpet, which will only result in more violence and less progress in the future.

“These charities have been pioneers against sectarianism in Scotland and they need financial support to maintain the momentum.

“It will be a national disgrace if they have to close down at a time when statistics show that sectarianism has not yet gone away.”

Wee Jack, a man who diminishes in stature with every utterance, proving once again that no subject is off limits to Labour as far as political point scoring is concerned.

Sports journalist Graham Spiers, the erudite and articulate critic of all things sectarian, opined in a tweet, that sectarianism has grown since the SNP came to power in 2007.

“I think this is where Alex Salmond has tripped.  We have lost ground in fighting bigotry since he took office in ’07.  It is undeniable.”

No point in denying it then eh?  Mr Spiers then reinforced his view a while later: “Forgive my cynicism at this Old Firm ‘summit’.  Where have Salmond/SNP been these past 4 years?  The problem wasn’t born last Wednesday night.”

Of course Salmond didn’t request this summit, he has convened it at the behest of Strathclyde police.  He could have ignored the request and I’m sure Mr Spiers knows only too well how the media in Scotland would have portrayed that ‘snub’.

Mr Spiers is correct on one point though, the problem was not born four years ago but nor was it eradicated four years ago either.  In fact the problem was there even when Jack McConnell left office, as was the cheap booze that so exacerbates the problem and fuels much of the hate filled violence that surrounds this fixture and the baggage.  Cheap booze that will continue to infest the minds of the unthinking after Lord Jack’s party blocked minimum pricing.

There was the added irony of a Northern Ireland Minister this week announcing plans for minimum pricing for alcohol to combat the dreadful effect that cheap booze is having on the people of the sectarian riven province.

But let’s forgive Mr Spiers cynicism and ask the same from him as we indulge in a bit of our own.  You see Mr Spiers himself has some ‘previous’ when it comes to venturing into the political arena.

Last year on the day of the UK general election Mr Spiers and one Peter Martin, a Radio Clyde host, helpfully informed listeners to Radio Clyde’s football phone in that both managers of the old firm would be voting for Labour that day.  Mr Spiers let it be known that he had just voted for Gordon Brown and then both he and Martin had the following little exchange:

Graeme Spiers: “Well, people think you do keep quiet about it, people get tetchy about it.  Who do you think … who do you think Walter Smith [2] will vote for?  Who do you think Lennon [3] will vote for?”

Peter Martin: “Let me tell you: Labour, both of them.  Not a shadow of doubt.  Walter Smith, his background.  It’s an absolute stonewall certainty.  We don’t even have to take calls”.

This blatant endorsing of Labour against electoral rules led to a reprimand for the station from Ofcom.

Spiers who is himself from a religious background referred to Gordon Brown as “the Kirkcaldy Minister’s son”.  A moral compass shared perhaps?  If Mr Spiers had applied the same considered critique to 100,000 dead Iraqiis as he has to what he sees as the SNP’s failure on bigotry then he may well have cause to revisit his political endorsements.

Finally there is our dear friend Tom Gallagher who replaced Mr Kenneth Roy as lead article writer at the Scottish Review yesterday.  Mr Gallagher hopped aboard this hastily built media bandwagon and used it to indulge in one of his favourite pastimes, attacking the SNP.

Gallagher didn’t mess about and moved with such alarming speed from the Old Firm to knife crime that one had to double check the authors name to make sure it wasn’t Iain Gray.  Mr Gallagher then had a go at the ‘Eastern European beggars’ who line the streets from Leith Walk to Byres Road.  Mr Gallagher recently implied that the SNP’s decision to charge non-residents a fee to study at Scottish Universities was ‘racist’.  If they ask to study for free are they then also just ‘beggars’?

The whole contrived sensationalism is just that, sensationalism.  The very media outlets that are decrying the passion and confrontation that surrounds the Old Firm are actively profiting from it.  Indeed they are fuelling it through this overhyping and amplifying of any and every controversial aspect.  Such is the feeding frenzy that any First Minister would have felt obliged to act on the request from the head of the force whose men are in the front line.

That the usual suspects are politicising this at all is distasteful but not unexpected.

Since 2007 there is at least one strand of sectarianism that has indeed materialised and grown, it was one that had remained relatively well hidden and one that hitherto had lurked in the hidden corridors of Scotland’s powerbase, it is political sectarianism.

The first summit that seeks to address that particular ‘Scottish media shame’ will be convened on May 5th, and all are invited.