Scottish Labour leadership contender Jim Murphy has already spoken about a desire to “reconnect” with and listen to voters. Is the best way to do that a promise to repeal “right away” legislation designed to outlaw and discourage sectarian behaviour in and around football grounds (your report, 6 November)? He wants the focus of an attempt to counter intolerance and bigotry to be in the classroom and communities and not around legislation.
It appears he doesn’t understand the history of the way the law has tried to deter all forms of discrimination in the past 50 years. The main thrust has been to create an atmosphere in which the worst forms of sex and race discrimination, for example, can be outlawed.
Laws on these matters have an educative effect even if they do not change straightaway people’s attitudes and prejudices. In football grounds today the overwhelming majority of fans think very hard before they mouth anything that could be construed as racist or homophobic.
Few people express concern if their team is a multi-racial one; no doubt in time they will be more concerned with the skill rather than the sexual preferences of key players.
Similarly, in time it will be considered hopeless to use sectarian language, or send online abuse, in order stir up hatred. The Offensive Behaviour at Football and Threatening Communications (Scotland) Act has a role to play in all that. It can help change attitudes in time and Mr Murphy’s role ought to be to find additional ways to eliminate a scourge on Scottish football and society.