In Defence Of A Yes

10173781_654723821231467_962494434_nThere’s one Hell of debate going on amongst Celtic supporters right now, over the independence referendum. It’s getting heated in some places. I don’t know why.

For me, there’s little point in becoming steamed up over some of what I’ve read lately. You would be as well to get bent out of shape over the kind of nonsense they talk on RangersMedia at times.

I am not surprised that the Celtic sites are having these internal discussions, of course. Celtic supporters are amongst the most switched-on and politically aware fans in Europe. It is not unusual to see wide ranging political discussions being had on the forums and in the chat-rooms, on subjects as diverse as foodbanks or the crisis in Syria and Iraq.

For years people have tried to spoon-feed us the notion that politics should be left outside the ground, that it has no place in the stadium, and to an extent I agree with that. I don’t believe that Celtic Park is the place to score political points, as I wrote some years ago when the STUC, an organisation I have tremendous respect for, tried to use our club as a baton with which to beat the Israeli football federation, and the Israeli state itself.

It did not matter that I agreed with their political stance against Israel – and I did agree with it, I agreed with it in every way. I disagreed with them trying to use Celtic as a political vehicle for that cause. Our club does not belong to one shade of opinion any more than it belongs to one colour or creed, any more than it belongs to one religion.

Equally, and for the same reason, I oppose the scandalous imposition of the poppy, the forced wearing of it on the shirt that’s been worn by Japanese players, Germans, Irishmen, Italians and those of many other nations who have fought the British in wars over the years. For us to be told, on the one hand, that politics doesn’t belong inside a stadium and then for us to be forced to put a political symbol – and the poppy is without question a political symbol now – on the Hoops is an outrage and reeks of hypocrisy, and it devalues what those poppy’s once represented.

I have too much respect for those who did fight and die for our freedom – as opposed to those who fought for modern Anglo-American imperialist hegemony – to pretend anything other than disgust at the way the poppy has been turned into a symbol which glorifies militarism, which commemorates not the horror of war but celebrates victory in it. That is an abominable transformation of what it was supposed to be, and shame on every individual whether in politics or elsewhere, who has played a part in allowing it to be corrupted in this way.

Celtic Football Club should have no political allegiance or ideology, but I have no issue with the large section of our support which has one, and which expresses it. It just so happens that I agree with very nearly every single thing they believe in, and it is no exaggeration to say that being a Celtic supporter has been one of the most important factors in shaping my politics and my political philosophy and I am fiercely proud of them both.

Celtic supporters have flown the Irish tricolour alongside the flag of Palestine, and that of the Basques. Sections of our support have formed links with anti-fascist clubs across Europe, most notably St Pauli. A large section of our support has embraced left-wing causes across the world, and these are not kids who are simply following flags, but serious minded political activists, who dare to put themselves on the frontlines, both at home and abroad.

And you know what? I am proud of every single one of them, proud that my club’s fans are recognised in those circles, that we are accepted as friends and comrades.

The broader Celtic support might be made up of those from various political backgrounds and comprised of people who hold a broad sweep of opinions, and indeed many who do not consider themselves as being on the left in any way shape or form, but I cannot imagine there is a single Celtic supporter anywhere who considers his or herself of the far right.

We are not that kind of club. We don’t attract those kind of followers.

No, it doesn’t surprise me to see the independence referendum getting the fans talking and debating. I expected it, and I kind of looked forward to getting involved in it. What has surprised me is the tenor of the debate, the way in which some of our fans are turning on each other, the way in which bitterness is starting to come through.

This is not all the fault of one side or the other. Positions are hardening on this subject, and they will continue to as we get closer to the day, but there does appear to be one strand of opinion that is causing most debate, and it’s one being provided by those in the No camp.

I’ll come clean now and state, clearly, that my heart lies with Team Yes. I believe we should be independent and in fact that we must be, for our own good as well as those in England who need an example of how hope can triumph over fear. So much of our political climate is ruled by fear these days and nothing could better turn that on its head than Scotland voting to cast aside the advice of the naysayers and the threats of the Westminster elite.

We can craft a Scotland built on social justice, a Scotland of progressive values, a Scotland that speaks up for those around the world whose voice are silent or crying out alone. A Scotland which turns its back on nuclear weapons. We can have a Scotland that sets an example with more than just words. We only need the courage to vote Yes.

All of this might seem grossly optimistic, and it is, but that’s the point. Those of us who want a Yes vote are putting hope front and centre. We are optimistic because we believe that with the power in our own hands we can change how things are done in this country, that we can change it forever.

See, the hard work doesn’t end on the day we get independence. That’s the day the hard work starts. Our vision goes far beyond the here and now, and what some in Labour sarcastically refer to as a campaign which seeks only to “drag itself across the line.” Some of us are already thinking, planning, for what happens next, for what happens on Day 1.

One of the bitterest voices in this debate belongs to Dr Michael Kelly, who haunts some of the Celtic forums writing the most vicious stuff imaginable about the Yes campaign. His contempt for his fellow Scots, and in particular some of his fellow Celtic fans, is mind-boggling, and it amazes me to think that this guy is a former Lord Provost and more, is actually supposedly the head of a PR firm. This is to say nothing of his judgement being highly suspect and his skill as an administrator forever tarnished by his “spell” as one of the men who almost wrecked Celtic.

His atrocious manner is offensive to many, but as his arguments are largely limited to calling everyone who wants to vote Yes an idiot, and calling Salmond every name he can conceive of, I find him more tiresome than anything else.

See, he and others would have you believe the pro-independence camp is the province only of the SNP, that it’s little more than Alex Salmond’s private army. Their misjudgement is incredible, their myopia almost unreal.

Yet it’s not even this particular suggestion that I find most offensive, or most foolish. The one I take greatest issue with is this arrant – and dangerous – nonsense being stoked about an independent Scotland being a place where Catholics are somehow going to be at risk.

This is a view most commonly heard from those who, for one reason or another, have opted not even to live here. Some even claim to have left to get away from a poisonous atmosphere where they feel themselves somehow under threat. I am not going to call them cowards. I understand the impulse to run, but this is my country and I will not abandon it to the type of knuckle dragging scum these people seem so afraid of. I will not give them any modicum of victory.

No, I’m staying, and I’m going to play a part in making Scotland a place where their kind feel as unwelcome as a Daily Mail hack at an Radical Independence Campaign meeting. This country belongs to me, and to mine.

They are the interlopers, the unwelcome, like a turd on the bottom of your shoe. The idea of packing my bags because of them … never going to happen.

As I said, I am not accusing the people who feel differently of being cowards for leaving. We all want an easy life. None of us wants to live under a toxic cloud. I don’t feel like I do, or ever have. I love Scotland, but recognise there are elements here who don’t belong in civilisation. I would dearly love to live in a country without them, and I know why some have chosen to.

So no, it’s not cowardly to want out.

What I find less easy to accept, what I have a degree of contempt for, are those who, from the safety of that distance, are still seeing monsters under the bed, those who are trying to scare the rest of us, those who’ve opted to stay, with the stuff of their own fears.

I am not scared of bogeymen in orange sashes any more than I worry about Scotland becoming the province of lunatics draped in bed sheets and pointy hoods. I don’t know what country these people think we are living in, but it’s never been that way and it never will be.

Oh there are elements here who don’t like Catholics, or Irish, or Irish Catholics in particular. That’s not news. Yet at the height of their power, all these people could do to me and mine was to ask what school we went to.

The schools themselves were beyond their reach and our religious freedom was untouched.

Back when these people were at their strongest, their power over us was limited to a snide question and the denial of certain jobs. It sounds like a lot, but even then they couldn’t stop us, couldn’t box us in. Instead, we organised. We enabled ourselves. We got education and then we got politics. Oh yes, we got politics and how. It’s not for nothing that our enemies used to think the whole of the Labour Party in Scotland was under our control, because much of it was, and it had nothing to do with the Unseen Fenian Hand. There was no grand conspiracy.

We did it ourselves, little by little, and we didn’t do it for the greater good of Catholics everywhere. We did it because it was right and because it was just, and we did it for all the people to whom the doors were closed, and not just for our own. We did it because unlike those who wanted to keep those doors shut we had a social conscience, and wanted to change the world, and not just the part of it we lived in.

The fight for equality in Scotland, the one that brought an end to Section 28 and eventually civil partnerships, was being fought long ago, on different ground, and we moved that ground inch by inch so the old “which school did you go to?” question and much else with it was consigned to the bin. Now, in a very real sense, we’re equal partners at all the top tables.

In an independent Scotland, where do you think we’ll be? I’ll tell you where. Sitting right where we are now, only with even more power in our hands.

I refuse to accept the idea, for even one minute, that the backward semi-literate idiots who could not even save their own football club will suddenly develop intuitive political skills which take years to hone and wind up running this country.

I look at the modern, multi-cultural Scotland in which I live, and in which the great independence debate is taking place, and I do not see a country which will stand back and allow, far less enshrine in law, anti-Catholic sentiment.

The subject will not even enter the political arena. Frankly, our leaders, of whatever political shade, are going to have a hell of a lot more important things to do than pandering to the pure white trash on the lunatic fringes, and any who did would be drowned out at once.

Someone told me today that this is the biggest scare story of the campaign. I take issue with that. This is not a scare story at all.

Scotland not getting into the EU is a scare story. Border checkpoints and not getting to use the pound, they are scare stories. They are flawed, and transparent, but they are at least on point. They are at least serious issues to be debated by serious people, questions deserving of consideration and an answer, even if they are largely overblown and the threats disproportionate to the amount of energy expended on them.

Asked and answered already, in spades, by the way …

No, these are scare stories. The “anti-Catholic Scotland” talk is not in that calibre. It is not something I take even remotely seriously. If I had to assign it a place in the debate I would put it beneath the “Scotland will be at threat from alien invasion” discussion in terms of how I view it. It is not a scare story as much as a fairy story, something by the Brothers Grimm.

To suggest otherwise is lunacy. To do it from the other side of the border is cowardly. Either way, the subject draws only my contempt.

In the first place, do these people really think this country is that bad? Secondly, do they view their own people as so weak, so without conviction, without influence, that we would simply roll over and allow this if their dark vision somehow came to pass? When they look in the mirror they see their own fears reflected back. Some of us aren’t so easily scared.

Furthermore, the loudest voices on that side of the debate, the wild side if you ask me, are mostly from the professional class, people who made or still make very good livings in the country they would have us believe hate them and everything they stand for.

Where did these people disconnect from reality? Because unless that disconnect exists I can only conclude that they are using this issue to pursue their own agendas, and that makes them less cowardly than purely and simply contemptible, people willing to prostitute their own faith and their own intellect, to play the religious card like some still play the race card, for narrow personal or political gain.

Those of them who fit that bill and who’ve left, I say good riddance. Those who’ve threatened to go should Scotland vote Yes, I can only offer to help them pack. They will be happier, and so will the rest of us, when we’ve escorted them across the border, like fugitives from a warzone.

The rest of us will be getting on with it here, in a newly emerged nation, crafting it into something our grandchildren will be proud of, and where they will feel like genuine partners, in a society which pays no heed to any of the old nonsense.

The small minority of anti-Catholic bigots in Scotland are weak and powerless.

Look at the state of the institution they crowed over, and danced around, and warped into their own image.

Look at them, worshiping at the Alter of Ally, scrabbling around for spare change to sign has-beens and past-its.

Look at them, run by charlatans and spivs and unable to muster enough fight to be rid of them.

Look at them, destroyed the last time by a guy from Motherwell, for the princely sum of one pound.

Look at them, used, abused, royally grafted for season ticket money to watch dreck, conned on a grand scale over shares which are now virtually worthless and on the verge of doing it all over again, those of them who are not about to follow a convicted fraudster from South Africa over the cliff.

Look at them, marching in commemoration of events from over three hundred years ago, events who’s history they don’t even completely understand, celebrating their “freedom from Rome” when the man who won that victory for them was in the employ of a Pope at the time.

Look at them, those who worship militarism and crown, for reasons they only half comprehend, who talk a good fight but who’s finest hours were bleeding for God and Ulster in their own fag-ends and pish, in the sick filled gutters of Pamplona, Barcelona, Villarreal and Manchester.

Look at them. That’s who you’re worried about. That’s the Big Threat. Those people who can barely string enough brain cells together to power an electric tooth brush … those are the people you are worried about doing us out of our own country.

When did your sense of self morph into this self-doubt? When did you lose faith in the place you come from? When did your self belief turn into this self-loathing? When did “the cringe” get hold of you? Worse; when did you start believing in their mental myth of “superiority”? When did their notion that they are “the Peepil” become not so much their reality as yours?

Every bizarre thing they believe in, every notion of supremacy, no matter how far removed from the truth, every facet of their identity and “culture” is, furthermore, bound up in the flag you would wrap around yourself like a comfort blanket to protect you from their power.

Indeed, what’s left of that power is bound to that very same flag. Without it, they are nothing because without it they have nothing. Which part of that are you failing to understand?

Their power, you see, is not real. It’s an illusion, and it always has been. If you’re a Thrones fan, you’ll recognise the analogy when I describe it as a shadow on the wall. Their whole notion of being somehow special, of being important, it’s a trick of the light, and what amazes me is not how many of them actually believe in it but how many of us actually do.

Every institution they hold dear, every source of power they care about, be it Orange or Masonic, be it military or even paramilitary, flows from only a few places. It comes from the Crown and from the Union, and when we’ve got rid of the second getting rid of the first will be child’s play, and only a matter of time. The source of everything that makes them who they are is in the flag, the flag, the flag … I cannot accentuate that point enough.

I know, deep down, some of you still don’t believe this, so I’d ask you to consider for a moment why it’s these people, those you’re so scared of, who have become the most vocal advocates for maintaining the status quo?

Why are they the people leading the line for the No campaign you are pledged to support? How did it end up that your bogeyman has wound up not so much under the bed as sharing the bed with you?

Which part of this am I missing? They are fighting to maintain the system you claim is the only thing checking their unlimited dominion over us all? What’s wrong with this picture?

Whilst you’re considering that one, consider this … it’s the Westminster parties who are, right now, in talks with one another about dumping religious education out of the state school system, in the name of “social cohesion”. Does that line sound familiar? Yes, it’s the exact same line often used by the “opponents of segregated schooling” right here in Scotland.

Except here that kind of talk is little more than a fringe debate, something for the intelligentsia to get their knickers in a twist about, but certainly not part of the political discourse.

In Westminster, it’s becoming a serious issue. I’d suggest the threat from the “secularists” around David Cameron and Ed Miliband is slightly more troubling to me than the pub talk in a corner of The Louden on a hung-over Sunday afternoon.

And by the way … it’s probably worth pointing out how very many Rangers fans are committed to independence too and it’s a slur on them and on every other decent person in this country to try and paint this debate along religious or footballing lines.

I am very clear on the fact that I’m not talking here about Rangers supporters per-se but a minority of cast-iron bigots whose allegiance to a particular football team is a secondary issue to their damaged worldview.

In truth, that is what damns you most, those from my own background who follow my own club and who are worried, or claim to be, about pogroms and the Scottish equivalent of apartheid.

Those ideas are not representative of the vast, vast majority of the Scottish people. They are the province of a tiny, tiny minority … and in placing so much store in that dark fantasy you are viewing this entire country through a very warped lens

You’re in danger of becoming exactly what it is you fear most.

I cannot take you seriously. I cannot take your point seriously. I do not believe your argument has merit. Indeed, I don’t believe it’s an argument at all. It’s the raw material of your own nightmares, the scrapings of your own dark imaginations and nothing more.

I cannot ask you not to see that shadow on the wall. I cannot ask you not to jump at things that go bump in the night. I cannot ask you to believe in your fellow Scots or in the good intentions of people who’s motives you don’t automatically trust.

That’s not what galls me, what disappoints me, what frustrates me most.

It’s that you have no faith – none whatsoever – in those of us who’re just like you. You don’t believe that our dreams of Scotland can be realised or that our vision will prevail.

When did you stop believing in us? In yourself?

It makes me sad. It really does, but I do not lose heart.  I look forward to us proving you wrong. I look forward to winning this debate and then the wider one, and building a country where you feel more at home.

Maybe then you’ll lift your heads again and see the sun.

Three words … they’re all you have to learn.

Yes we can. Yes we can. Yes we can.

And you know what? We will too. I really do believe that.

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James Forrest

James Forrest is a writer and blogger from Glasgow, and the author of two books, Fragments and Believers, which are available on Amazon.

25 thoughts on “In Defence Of A Yes

  • 1 July, 2014 at 7:44 am

    I don’t know what was more appalling, dr reid’s advert for the union in the catholic observer or the fact that the paper allowed political adverts.
    I was under the illusion that the loyal unionists voted loyally for the union and Celtic fans voted against it. But I’m living in the past.

  • 1 July, 2014 at 9:19 am

    The best article on the independence debate I’ve read James, and there have many.

    I, like you, am on the VoteYes side of the argument, but I’ve been astonished at the momentum gathered by the Yessers.

    Everywhere you look all that can be seen are Yes stickers.

    I was also surprised to hear about the ‘warfare’ between Celtic fans on the issue.

    That seems to have passed me by. All the Celtic fans on my twitter timeline seem to be enthusiastic YesVoters.


    You know it makes sense!

  • 1 July, 2014 at 9:24 am

    There seems to be a lot of bluster and scaremongering from the Better Together Campaign.

    It’s one of the oldest Sales Techniques in the book….

    They are manipulating this to their own end.

    To use the military so crassly stinks to the high heavens. The same military they sent out to die with piss poor equipment.

  • 1 July, 2014 at 9:41 am

    James another great post for anyone in doubt I would say do they remember those who have gone before us FLEMING,BELL,BAIRD,WATT,CARNEGIE,JONES,
    BURNS,LISTER,SMITH,YOUNG,SLESSOR. All great people and who knows who will come next I know some will have genuine doubts and fears of how we will use what resources we have and any industry we have left (thanks to Westminster of various hue’s) despite all of this we must grab this opportunity with both hands lets walk though that unopened door we will do it, we can do it, so I say YES YES YES to the future.

  • 1 July, 2014 at 10:52 am

    It’s a shame your not a politician telling this to a wider audience.
    You have hit the nail on the head and I hope with all my heart that we win our independence.
    Im not a political person, im not right or left, im just a proud Scot who has dreamed of an independent Scotland all my life.
    My background is im a Scottish catholic with my parents being of different religions, my dad a catholic man from the highlands and my mum from a protestant family although she is not religious but since she married into a catholic family she has seen and has been sickened by the bigots and their attitude’s towards Catholics. My wife is Thai and like me she is 100% in the Yes camp.
    together we are part of a multi cultural Scotland and we are going to fight for our country,to make it better.
    As you say the sevconians are very much in the No camp as they are scared to lose the union, their identity. Like you said take away the flag and you take them away too. They fear and don’t want a multi cultural Scotland and know that if Scotland does become independent that’s what will happen and what they are will end.
    another aspect to look at is that if the Yes campaign wins, all these unionists will be fleeing our country to England or the north of Ireland which is all good too.
    lets make it happen and vote YES!!!

  • 1 July, 2014 at 11:53 am

    As a Partick Thistle fan and Connelly Association member I wholeheartedly welcome this fine contribution to the debate. Celtic fans have shown themselves to be part of progressive Scotland – we desperately need them on board the new Scotland that a YES vote can give us.

  • 1 July, 2014 at 1:06 pm

    I agree with 95% of what you have said James – maybe even 99% – but the bit that troubles me is that I feel you have misrepresented, indeed caricatured, the concern (or ‘fear’ if you like) that there are dark forces in Scotland which, at present, are somewhat diluted in a bigger state. This may not be a justified concern/fear – that remains to be seen – but surely people are allowed to express it? For my own part, let me make it completely clear: I do not fear the type of people or groups which you have suggested are the focus of this issue. Like you I pity the people you have described and I believe that their publicly proclaimed anti-Catholicism and anti-Irishness is heard more loudly because they know their time is almost over.

    No, the ones I fear hide (often in plain sight) behind business suits, judges robes, police uniforms and civil servant’s traditional garb. They are members of an organisation which, in Scotland but not elsewhere, is fundamentally anti-Catholic. In my view, they are responsible for the otherwise inexplicable decisions of the law and the footballing authorities that we have seen in recent times. They will work tirelessly for the abolishment of Catholic schools – aided by militant atheists who are an equal threat in this regard.

    You may be right that the labour market in Scotland is now almost entirely free of anti-Catholic prejudice but we are still over-represented among the poor, among the imprisoned and among those who suffer poorer mental health and other health problems. These are the facts in Scotland in 2014 but I do not have the figures for England where I suspect the position is not as bad – please correct me if you know differently.

    Now it maybe that some of what I and others ‘fear’ may not come to pass in an independent Scotland or indeed may come to pass under any constitutional arrangement. My point is that we are being asked to vote for a particular constitutional arrangement and it is not unreasonable for people to discuss what arrangement is more likely to deliver the way of life that they prefer, whether it is in terms of their faith or in terms of their political views. For my own part, I will vote for the arrangement which I believe will deliver the best terrain for the labour and trades union movement to fight on. I am not a nationalist and I don’t even feel particularly Scottish although that is how I would describe myself if asked. If I could, I would say that I was Glaswegian because this city with its large Irish diaspora is a statement for me about where I come from and where I am now. In the end I am a socialist and nation states don’t matter to me but democracy does so I am happy to accept the will of the people but to argue with the majority when I think they are wrong.

    My point, then, is that you have spoiled an otherwise fine argument by setting up an ‘Orange’ herring or, dare I say it an ‘Aunt Sally’ and very easily knocking it down. The real fear of a clandestine, anti-Catholic organisation becoming more powerful in a smaller state is much harder to allay.

  • 1 July, 2014 at 1:42 pm

    This has nothing to do with democracy it’s about a small political elite protecting their own best interests: for the likes of Darling, Alexander et al this is all about preserving the link to London that has served them very well, thank you. £300 a day expenses. Hefty wage. Career prospects. Seat at the Lords. Gold Pension Pot. As for Dr Reid & his ilk we know how well they’ve been served by the gravy train. Same for Lamont & CO as she dreams of Westminster & ermine in the Lords- Lord Haughey anyone? You can buy a peerage after all. That’s how the system works. Is for Wilson, Galloway, Kelly & others of the old socialist guard what motivates them? The cry was “Internationalist” is the usual response. The could be dismissed as out of touch old men. For many or even most high up in the Labour Party the Party itself comes before all else, including the Scottish people- sadly. Zealots like Kelly seem to hold onto New Labour as if it’s the old Labour of the working man, like Trigger & the broom hypothesis or Sevco/Rangers. Labour of the left is a Dodo. Labour supporters hate the fact the SNP have taken centre-left policy territory as New Labour lurch further to the right to court Home Counties votes from Little Englanders. They also hate the fact that the SNP are now more popular than the Labour Party in Scotland. They just cannot accept or process this fact. Added to this heady cocktail is that nationalism is viewed as evil among Labour Unionists- with no distinction between civic or racial nationalism. All nationalism is evil. Hence the comparison of the SNP to fascist groups or the Nazi Party & Salmond to Mugabe or Kim Jong il. It has created a very reactionary debating atmosfear.
    Scottish “cringe” certainly has a big factor in the no supporters, no doubt. Many Scots hold as offensive & out of touch opinions of the Yes Campaign as their British Unionists in the London media/Westminster circus- as seen by Bremner & the likes of Rowling. We never really hear a coherent argument for preserving the Union nor do we ever hear a convincing argument against Independence- it’s just all oversimplified assumptions or crude vitriol. Too many Celtic fans are allying themselves under the Union Jack with the other side. I don’t get this at all. If anything it’s a chance to wound the British establishment once and for all. How can it be alright for Palestine, Ireland or the Basques or Catalans to be Independent or anybody really but Scotland? What’s that all about? At the end of the day the cyncis are pushing the agenda through the deeply cynical MSM: cynicism is a powerful force for preventing & blocking up the gland of freedom & genuine change. It makes people callous, apathetic & hopeless- but Independence will be an unblocking of cynicism & reinvigorate a positive society by the sheer force of the peoples will, the power of hope, with a re-energized citizenry in a brand new nation fresh with possibility.

  • 1 July, 2014 at 1:52 pm

    Jeanette, excellent reply and thanks for that.

    I would say this. If they are clandestine, then they’ll be here come what may. I will worry when they put their agenda front and centre and can command the parliamentary majority to carry it off. I have no doubt some strand of it will be “more powerful” in an independent Scotland, but more powerful than what? A fifty watt bulb is more powerful than a forty watt one, but none of them is ever going to light up Wembley. They can operate where they always have, in the shadows and on the margins. Their day is over.

    It will take them developing real power, real influence, real authority, before they can accomplish even one of their goals, and the party that actually proposes a bill to end religious education in Scotland will be confined to the wilderness once and for all. It will never happen. Realpolitik will prevail, and none of them will commit electoral suicide for an issue which barely registers on the collective consciousness of the majority of Scotland’s people. Check out the polling on the issue. As to where it’s ranked in importance to voters. It’s nowhere to be seen. It’s not even a minority issue but a fringe, fringe issue. So someone proposes that they elevate this point into a political policy, for their own narrow ends … you think the whole Labour Party or the SNP is going to walk off the cliff over it? Not in this lifetime.

    The Offensive Behaviour at Football bill is only inexplicable if you consider it as a one off, but it’s not. This is the government which has centralised policing. Which has abolished certain aspects of the right to trial by jury. Which has abolished or is trying to abolish the rules on corroboration and has already over-turned the centuries old law on double jeopardy. I see no anti-Catholic or anti-Irish conspiracy here, but an authoritarian, criminal justice government which in that sense is radically right-wing and who’s policies are dangerous. Laws against football fans are one strand of a vast criminal justice transformation that leaves me angry and who’s repeals should be the FIRST acts of the next non-SNP administration.

    We have a history of being persecuted in this land, but some of us still see bogeymen where they long ago ceased to be. You, yourself, are a well known and hugely respected academic and social commentator. These people never stopped you getting where you are. They never prevented you from having a voice, or using it to great effect. They won’t stop the rest of us.

    An independent Scotland will be whatever the people of Scotland make of it. Some of us have very clear ideas of what we want that to be, and we’ll do it all in the light of day and in full transparency … and by the people’s choice let the people be judged. But I have no fears on that score.

  • 1 July, 2014 at 2:50 pm

    I very much hope you are right James but I will make only a couple of additional points. Again I agree completely with you about the authoritarian approach of this government to policing and the law in general. It is a matter of complete amazement and dismay to me that non-football fans have failed to see the dangers of the increasing centralisation of policing; the lack of democratic accountability of the Chief Constable and the debasement of the Office of Lord Advocate by the current incumbent who acts as a cheer-leader for the government. They are sleep-walking into an erosion of their own civil liberties stupefied by the belief that it is only football fans who are affected. When they wake up they may find their rights have already gone and they will have to fight hard to get them back.

    However, and let us call a spade a bloody shovel, I believe the craft is behind much of what we have seen happening around these issues, especially when it comes to matters of a Celtic/Catholic/Irish hue. I contend that the craft will be more powerful in a smaller state and the only real question is, will progressive forces be more powerful still…

  • 1 July, 2014 at 3:05 pm

    Brilliant piece,best I’ve read by a country mile.
    ESP. using terms that we all understand.TY M&T

  • 1 July, 2014 at 6:32 pm

    Three of my Celtic supporting friends and indeed my 83 year old father will be voting NO.

    One of the friends is afraid his rather generous benefits will be reduced in an independent Scotland – for him it’s all about him and nothing else. Make of that what you will, I’ll keep my opinion to myself.

    The other two friends and to my astonishment, my father, are in the NO camp for the very “reasons” dissected by James in this article. They are convinced that an independent Scotland will be run by a Masonic/Orange Lodge council to the detriment of Catholics.

    Furthermore, all three believe Alex Salmond will be President for the next ten years if the YES campaign win the day. They fail to understand that the only sure and certain way to get shot of the SNP is to vote YES and render them irrelevant.

    How supposedly intelligent people can arrive at these conclusions is beyond my comprehension. Either they are stupid or I am.

  • 1 July, 2014 at 8:52 pm

    “we can craft a Scotland built on social justice”.

    We have had a Scottish government in Holyrood for a number or years and there is no indication of any advance in social equality yet. What is it th

  • 1 July, 2014 at 9:00 pm

    I must say, I completely disagree with your opinion on this. When you say “the small amount of anti-catholics in Scotland are weak and powerless”… you are so wrong.
    Thats like saying there’s a small amount of trifc supporte

  • 1 July, 2014 at 9:34 pm


    Where is their power? Give me one example of it.

  • 1 July, 2014 at 9:42 pm

    A thoroughly cracking read and i applaud your stance and the way you have delivered your piece i agree whole heartedly with your article and i believe Scotland will vote a resounding YES on sept 18th we have a fantastic chance to change our country for the better history is being made and we will all be the better for it! Bravo james

  • 1 July, 2014 at 9:46 pm

    Good post again James,like yourself I am a yes voter,how any Scot can vote no in this referendum,baffles me,listening to the Danny Alexander,Honest Mr Darling and his like puts you off your breakfast,never mind the clueless Joann Lamont,who at the Scottish Labour Party Conference,spent the whole of her speech slagging Alex Salmond,labour party activists now long dead,would probably turn in their graves,if they could see the labour party of 2014,I heard on the news today that over a million Scots are living below the poverty line,that is criminal,and to think Cameron and his cronies will win the 2015 election such is the labour party under Milliband,to finish I will quote Ian Macqwhirter in the herald when he said “Scots will be the laughing stock of every stand up comedian in Britain if they bottle out of Self-Government” H H

  • 1 July, 2014 at 9:46 pm

    I must say, I completely disagree with your opinion on this. I could go on an on, but since I agree with the vast majority of your posts, I’ll stick with my first sentence.

  • 1 July, 2014 at 9:49 pm

    I understand why some people are worried, but the truth is mate that these people have never been as powerful as they thought, and that many of us thought. You only have to look at the wreckage of their football club to see it, and the shambles that continues to surround it. They were obliterated by the events of three years ago, and the hammer blows ain’t done coming yet. No-one came to save them, and here we are, on the cusp of a country of our own, one which doesn’t live under the Union flag, and they are bricking it. They’re over with mate. They are history.

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