MP Jo's own goal over World Cup tie

IT WAS the do-or-die World Cup qualifier that had millions of Scots glued to the television with crossed fingers and baited breath.

But as the nation was gripped by the fate of the national team on Wednesday, one of its most prominent MPs was left wondering what was all the fuss was about.

East Dunbartonshire Liberal Democrat MP Jo Swinson was trying to get to a meeting in Glasgow and bemused by the crowds of people wearing dark blue and bright orange shirts.

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As she was overwhelmed by members of the Tartan Army at a railway station, Ms Swinson got out her BlackBerry, logged on to her Twitter site and wrote: "Have I missed something? What's the football festivity? Can't move at Queen Street station for folk in Scotland tops."

Seven minutes later, Graham Barrie posted: "The Tartan Army v the Dutch Army tonight at Hampden Jo. You really need to get out more :)"

Her friends on another social networking site, Facebook, which receives her Twitter updates, then piled in, suggesting she might not be completely in touch with the real world.

One warned her: "Delete this before the media spot it Jo!!"

But the 29-year-old Lib Dem MP, once the youngest in Westminster, ploughed on undeterred.

"Well football not really my thing and rarely read the sports pages!" she tweeted.

Then, to prove she was not entirely out of touch, she added: "But we had a big match the other night for the World Cup? Seems like they don't get much rest in between which isn't very fair! Anyway, I hope they win, though at a meeting so can't watch."

There was some sympathy for Ms Swinson's position.

Gail Mooney Stabler posted: "Football goes over my head too…"

But Ms Swinson then got into an exchange with Dan Dempsey, who told her: "Jo, this is worse than fiddling expenses."

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She responded: "Worse that we're out of the World Cup, or that I don't really follow football?"

He retorted: "It's not the following football so much, it's the not following Scotland." But opponents say that despite the humour around Ms Swinson's ignorance, it shows the MP is apparently out of touch on an issue that is important for Scotland's economy, national pride and to many voters.

Glasgow Labour MSP Frank McAveety, a former sports minister and keen footballer, pointed out that the Scottish economy could have gained 100 million from World Cup qualification, which was lost on Wednesday when Holland delivered Scotland a knock-out blow.

"This shows how out of touch the Liberals are," he said. "You don't need to be an avid football fan to know that this was a big national event.

"Even people who aren't football followers were looking out for the national team to do well."

Ms Swinson's Labour opponent in the next election for the East Dunbartonshire seat, Mary Galbraith, was at Hampden on Wednesday updating her Facebook site during the match.

But last night an unrepentant Ms Swinson said: "I appreciate how important this match was to a great many Scots, but I'm not a football fan and I'm not going to start pretending otherwise."