The more I look at this, the more I’m convinced that the obsession with sectarianism in Scotland has nothing to do with sectarianism. It’s fundamentally a way for politicians to look morally righteous.
I’m absolutely convinced that Alex Salmond jumped on the bandwagon a bit. There was no evidence provided of an increased problem of violence. All that was provided were extreme cases – which could have been dealt with as extreme cases.
Jack McConnell did exactly the same thing. Each time there is a new government, the one thing they can hold up and stand up against and tell the public “I denounce this in all its forms” is sectarianism.
There are lots of other prejudices involved here which are not the prejudices of the punter, but prejudices of the middle classes and cultural elites who are basically snobs. They think football fans are thugs and equate singing a few songs with violence, with beating your wife.
This legislation is just a “something must be done” approach to make themselves look good. Every legal expert has said that the laws are already pretty much there.
What it has done is racheted up the sentences that are already being given out. It’s given the green light to sheriffs and law enforcers to come down harder and harder on anyone who is seen as being offensive.
For me, it’s the most authoritarian piece of legislation in recent history.
lStuart Waiton is a lecturer in sociology at Abertay University.