YESTERDAY I received two emails from constituents complaining about sectarian chanting by Rangers supporters at a recent Old Firm match. It seems to have been even more offensive than usual – something about telling Catholics to go back to Ireland because “the famine is over.”
Inevitably, of course, I knew nothing about this until I received the emails and then watched a news item on BBC’s Reporting Scotland. I say “inevitably” because I have no interest in football and whenever I’m asked the politically- and religiously-loaded question, “Which team do you support?”, I can honestly reply: “None.” That might seem odd coming from an MP who represents the constituency which hosts Scotland’s national stadium, but it is a game in which I find it very difficult to feign any interest.
It’s called “Scotland’s shame” for a reason: sectarianism makes you feel embarrassed to be Scottish. I hate it when the subject is even raised when I’m with English friends because I imagine they must look at us as a backward nation. That is, after all, a logical conclusion: what kind of people still think it’s remotely acceptable even to care about what religion other people follow, never mind object to that religion? What kind of nation still tolerates this kind of mindset?
The only time I ever seriously contemplated moving out of Scotland was in 1992, following the birth of my eldest son. I dreaded the idea of bringing him up in a city where so many people gave a toss about what school he went to.
Whether you’re mocking people because their ancestors starved to death in the Irish potato famine, or flaunting past IRA terrorist atrocities from the terraces, you’re a moron. But unbelievably in 21st century Scotland, you’re still tolerated.