Readers' Letters: Don’t blame pundits for Scotland’s Euro exit

Has the BBC's choice of panelists to comment on the various games in the Euro finals been too Londoncentric, indeed, insulting towards viewers in Scotland? I don't think we need to go as far as Kenny MacAskill suggests in terms of Holyrood appointing a BBC Scotland board (Perspective, 24 June).

Scotland's goalkeeper David Marshall concedes a third goal during the UEFA Euro 2020 match between Croatia and Scotland at Hampden this week. (Picture: Paul ELLIS / AFP) (Photo by Paul Ellis/AFP via Getty Images)

A bit of balance is required here. Not all viewers are enamoured of pre- and post-match analysis anyway, preferring to note the time of kick-off so that they can tune in close to that point and avoid an endless round of cliche and repetition. We also need to consider the negotiations that go on among the terrestrial channels to determine which one covers what game. The BBC lost out on live coverage of the Scotland games against England and Croatia, with STV's choice of panellists distinctly Scottish. Its coverage of the national team's fortunes has hardly been comprehensive, for reasons beyond its control.

It is easy to delude ourselves that what is said by the experts affects what happens on the field of play. The fact that commentators may herald from Scotland should not preclude honest criticism of the team's performance. Journalist Andy McIvor pointed out on STV the night before the encounter with Croatia that after two rounds in the group stage Scotland was the only team not to have scored a goal.

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A mischievous thought crossed my mind after he had said it. It was that the only time Scotland might hit the net in the tournament would be when its goalkeeper, David Marshall, crashed into his own. We should be grateful to Calum McGregor for helping to avoid that ignominy. But we should also be realistic about the reasons for the early exit. It has nothing to do with panellists quips and everything to do with lack of teamwork, lack of penetration, and a simple inability to score goals.

Bob Taylor, Shiel Court, Glenrothes

BBC propaganda

Kenny MacAskill (Perspective 26 June) is right when he states it’s time that BBC Scotland’s board was appointed by the Scottish Parliament and it is farcical that broadcasting is not devolved until such time a proper Scottish Broadcasting Corporation is established.

For example, the Czech Republic v Croatia football match played at Hampden Park had a material influence on Scotland’s progress yet this was covered by BBC London with no Scottish input or even references to Scotland by the pundits. How much would it have cost BBC Scotland to use the same feed with local commentators describing events from a Scottish perspective?

Far from broadcasting being devolved, the BBC is intent on a London power grab of two Glasgow Pacific Quay studios which are being transferred to BBC Studioworks – a subsidiary of the broadcaster in Elstree. The Tories plan to sell off Channel 4, perhaps because it provides the best news channel, also threatens Channel 4’s Creative Hub in Glasgow. This is all indicative of the Tories One Britain, One Nation propaganda agenda.

Fraser Grant, Edinburgh

Well done, lads

Congratulations to Steve Clarke, his Scotland players and support staff for their efforts at the Euros. They had good moments and bad ones, but no one can say they performed below their world ranking and they suffered the unavailability of two key players, who may have made a slight difference. The day of the first Scotland game, the picture on the front page of The Scotsman filled me with foreboding – Humza Yousaf keeping goal and watching the ball fizzing past him into the net. For once, he wasn't scoring an own goal, as is his habit. This brought to mind the analogy of Scotland playing in football tournaments being akin to the nationalist independence cause. Both causes create euphoric expectations without regard to engaging the brain and taking into account facts and realities. Each dog can have its day and celebrate, but cold analysis shows that the unfounded expectations will inevitably result in disappointment and disaster. We can, however, still enjoy the one-off successful footie moments.

At least our footballers left us with only a goal difference deficit of minus four, whereas the comparable situation would leave Scotland with an ongoing deficit of billions.

Fraser MacGregor, Edinburgh

Gloom and shame

The vacuousness of British propaganda currently endorsed by UK Education Secretary Gavin Williamson, encouraging children to sing ‘One Britain, One Nation’ with its blandly uninspiring incantation of ‘We are Britain and we have one dream, To unite all people in one great team’ stands in marked contrast to British imperial propaganda a hundred years ago, which at least tried to articulate some values and clear sense of direction. It demonstrates the extent of cultural decay and the aimlessness at the heart of British identity and common purpose. Arthur Mee’s Children’s Encyclopedia (1910) could at least declare that values such as freedom and self-determination were at the heart of what was uniquely British. As soon as a colony is able to govern itself, opined Mee, “the power to govern is given it”. Wherever Britain’s influence went he proudly claimed, “she has planted seeds of freedom”.

Today’s British children cannot thrive in a state riven by the scourge of inequality. Those singing this meaningless chant will not realise their potential, blighted by the UK’s bleak austerity policies. Rising in-work poverty is a national scandal; 200,000 low earners are having their benefits capped, including those who have lost jobs due to the pandemic, a figure which is nearly double that of a year ago. US politician Dean Acheson’s words ring as true today as in 1962 – Britain lost her empire but has yet to find a role.

Mairianna Clyde, Edinburgh

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British bull

Since the current Tory government’s election in 2019 I have been curious to know what it actually stood for, other than Brexit. The events of the last few weeks, however, have demonstrated that they wish to return us to the early 1800s, even further back than John Major’s Victorian values. A few examples of their retrograde Soviet-style policies include the Brexiteers’ desire for “splendid isolation” within a British Empire which many deluded individuals believe still to exist, the ludicrous naval sabre-rattling in the Black Sea, diktats requiring public buildings to be displaying Union flags and Tory MPs on TV news Zoom calls trying to outdo each other and impress Boris with the size of their background flags, the forced charm offensive of the Royal family and now the bizarre spectacle of getting school pupils to dress in red, white and blue and sing “British” anthems.If this was the subject of a Jonathan Swift novel or a Powell and Pressburger film it would be hilarious. In fact, it is hilariousIronically, the only thing this Colonel Blimp government has in common with early 19th century governments is its well documented corruption.So what price the return of rotten boroughs and a war in Europe over the next few years?Makes you proud to be British.

D Mitchell, Edinburgh

Showboater

The Scotsman editorial of 24 June was absolutely right to comment on the “playground insults” delivered by the First Minister in response to perfectly legitimate comments made by Michael Gove when questioned about a potential Independence referendum in this UK Parliament. The First Minister belittled her position as national leader and, as usual when she is confronted by somebody who does not follow her nationalist beliefs, she resorts to petty, small-minded personal attacks.

However there might just be another reason for her intemperate language and perhaps it was designed to grab the headlines away from EasyJet’s sad decision to cancel their proposed flight links between Manchester and Edinburgh/Aberdeen following her supposed travel “ban” between the two regions. This decision, pretty much unenforceable by law as admitted by the police, was the First Minister showboating at her best. Her antics have serious economic consequences for a supposedly outward looking Scotland. The Scottish economy and its wealth creators can ill afford any reduction in UK connectivity and once again, the First Minister demonstrates the unpleasantness, parochialism and divisiveness of her brand of separatism, to the detriment of the Scottish people.

Richard Allison, Edinburgh

State reasons

Given the ongoing discussion about the next referendum and suggestion that Scots throughout the UK should have a vote, I find it difficult to understand exactly why Westminster seems so keen to hold on to Scotland. The line is always delivered from a Scottish perspective, emphasising the risk to the Scottish economy of separation. In truth the dominant theme from down south is that Scotland is costing the rest of the UK money and benefits more in funding per head than England, so again, why the avid defence of the union? Furthermore a recent YouGov poll found a lack of concern amongst residents south of the Border, with just 46 per cent saying they want Scotland to remain part of the UK.

Some suggest the UK State is keen to preserve the union primarily because of the need to secure Scotland as a defence base, while others point out that the country generates more in income tax than the majority of the English regions. Others have suggested that oil is still an important source of duty. One other position points to the possible embarrassment of the break-up of the world’s oldest union.

What would remain of the UK state could easily survive without Scotland. Surely it is time for the Westminster government to be honest and explain exactly why they really want to retain Scotland in the union, beyond meaningless references to our precious union and family of nations.

Stuart Smith, Aberdeen

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