I’ve tried (sort of) to avoid using my football-based website as a bully pulpit to support the cause of Scottish Independence unless there has been a direct connection to the beautiful game. You may remember several articles (here and here and here and here) that I wrote a couple of years ago about, and in opposition to, the participation of Scottish players in a “Team Great Britain” to compete at the London Olympics in 2012 because that touched on the intersection of the two subjects. However, for the most part I’ve stuck to pestering people in person about my beliefs on the subject. These two worlds have collided again over the past two days so I have an excuse to talk about the subject again in a footballing context on my footballing blog.
As you may be aware, the referendum on Scottish Independence is only eight days away and multiple polls are showing that the “Yes” campaign (in favor of Scottish independence) has finally gained a majority over the “Better Together” campaign (against Scottish independence) among those expressing a preference between the two. This change should not come as a shock as the Yes campaign’s support has been growing steadily for months now. Apparently, however, those behind the No campaign were surprised by it, somebody in Westminster hit Ye Olde Panicke Button, and a mad scramble has commenced to convince Scottish voters to vote to remain part of the United Kingdom.
What better way to do this than to send out representatives of the very party (Conservative) and government (Westminster) that many (perhaps now the “majority” of) Scots see as not representing their interests? What do I mean by that? Take a look:
Clearly, even those who side with the No campaign have little use for the Tory party and the government at Westminster, but nevertheless, the Tory-dominated U.K. government decided it would be a good idea to send out some of its representatives to convince Scots to vote “no” and to give up their national football team.
That’s right, in the wake of Scotland’s loss to Germany in their opening match for EURO 2016 qualification former Deputy Prime Minister (and now “Baron Prescott”) John Prescott (who served under Tony Blair and is, ostensibly, not a conservative), speaking in Rutherglen, suggested that, “Perhaps if England and Scotland together had one team, we could at last beat the Germans – who knows?” Interesting use of the word, “we,” but I’ll get to that in a second.
There are so many things wrong with that statement that I’m going to have to limit myself to pointing out three of them or I’ll be here all day:
Well, at least nobody noticed him acting like an idiot. Oops.
Not to be outdone, Laurence Robertson (Conservative, Tewkesbury) went on the BBC and not only showed that he was tone deaf about the political and sporting climates in Scotland and world football in general, but that he also knew nothing about the historic reasons why Scotland, England, Wales, and Northern Ireland have separate football associations. If you’d like to refresh your memory on that issue please go here again and skip down to paragraph seven.
You’ll also note in the links I provided at the beginning of this post that it is a virtually certainty that any “U.K. National Team” or “British National Team” will, in fact, simply be the English National Team wearing different shirts, with the occasional Scot or Welshman thrown in for variety.
All of this, by the way, coming in the wake of the No campaign suggesting that if Scotland voted “yes” Scottish athletes would be barred from the 2016 Summer Olympic games in Brazil.
The International Olympic Committee basically laughed this off by pointing out two things: First, if the U.N. recognizes Scotland’s independence before the games the IOC will respond in kind and Scottish athletes would march and compete under the saltire in Rio. Second, if this does not happen/happen in time, Scottish athletes would still march and compete under the Olympic flag as many athletes form nations in transition have done in the past.
So, let me boil this down. On September 18, we’re taking back our country and we’re keeping our football team.