Martin Hannan: Kick nonsense claims to touch

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Watching the British and Irish Lions at the weekend, I recalled a recent conversation with a friend who is an out-and-out Unionist.

“You lot in the SNP would even wreck the Lions,” was the printable version of what he said, displaying all the logic, positivity and tact which has so far characterised the No campaign – sense the irony, please.

With more than a year to go before the referendum, the scaremongering and overwhelming negativity of the Unionist side is becoming very ho-hum grating. Not only have the tabloid press and political commentators who are really party hacks in disguise – come on guys and gals, state your party allegiances as I always do – gone for the fear factor every time, they have positively gloried in Unionjackitis.

The Olympics, the Lions – yes, we are all better together, as if sport somehow always melds the four disparate nations of these islands. It doesn’t. Look back at the Olympics and see how few Scots actively supported Team GB at football and let’s wait until August 14 when England play Scotland at Wembley and see how better we are together . . .

The point is that in any sensible person’s list of priorities, sporting success by a small elite wearing whatever flag comes well down the list. A prosperous economy; equality for all regardless of background; improved creation of, and fairer distribution of, wealth; the eradication of child poverty; better health; free, or at least affordable, education; proper care of the elderly; decreasing criminality; genuine regard for the environment; and, most pertinent of all, an end to the public school posh toffs’ war on the poor – these are the real priorities for Scots, English, Welsh, and Northern Irish alike.

The difference is that we in Scotland next year have a chance to assert these priorities by withdrawing from a Union which has singularly failed to deliver them for Scotland for many years. Only by running our own affairs and taking control of our own resources can we ensure that Scottish priorities are met.

Independence supporters are not fixated on trivial matters such as Team GB’s continued existence. But success at elite sport is important to many people, so let me deal with some relevant issues.

If Scotland becomes an independent country and is recognised by the United Nations and International Olympic Committee – the latter’s recognition usually follows the former – the governing bodies of those sports which are organised on a Great Britain and Northern Ireland basis will be expected to realign themselves. For example, our athletes and cyclists will compete in the Olympics and every other international tournament for Scotland, opening up more opportunities for them – and yes, an independent Scotland will invest MORE in sport, not less.

The British and Irish Lions will continue as before – after all the Republic of Ireland is represented on the Lions through the all-Ireland Rugby Union, so why not an independent Scotland?

Best of all, the whole Team GB nonsense will have to cease, for Great Britain will continue only as an island, not an entity. And for what it’s worth, if Scots are not involved in a competition, I’ll happily support South Britain and Northern Ireland.

Trust Labour to lose its focus

Since the police are now involved in investigating the great Falkirk Labour seat-rigging scandal, comment on the issue must be limited due to Scotland’s strict contempt of court laws.

All I’m going to say is that it looks as though the Labour Party that I supported as a youngster, long before I joined the SNP, is alive and kicking – the comrades are still the best at breaking the rules and fixing everything to suit their pals.

And if Ed Miliband thinks that calling in the police will stave off a serious crisis of trust in his party, he has another thing coming.

Sizzling job . . for a wee while

Couldn’t help but stifle a smile when I read the News’s exclusive about Edinburgh City Council employing wardens to stop barbecues scarring our parks.

It is a genuine problem, and I’m sure the wardens will do a good job, but as jobs go, with our weather, being a barbecue warden in Scotland has to be the shortest of short-term contracts.

BEST OF THE BEST

No doubt many Festival visitors will wonder why Edinburgh has never been a European Capital of Culture, or attempted to be British City of Culture. Simple answer – we don’t need such meaningless

baubles.

Munro honour is fitting for John

We said farewell to one of the best at the weekend. John Main was a much-loved family man, a loyal friend, a pillar of the lovely St Philip’s Church, a rugby man to his boots, no mean chanter, and the kind of decent banker this country needs.

Taken too early at 59, John wasn’t quite able to fulfil one great ambition. A keen climber – he once trekked to Everest base camp for charity – John died having ascended 272 of Scotland’s 284 Munro mountains. His family will complete the final dozen and crack a bottle of champagne on the last Munro top.

Those of us who can’t make it in body will be there with them in spirit.

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