Monday, November 24, 2014

An incomplete list?

Perhaps to prove to myself that the Commonwealth Games and the Ryder Cup weren't the only chances to see top-class international sport in this country, I spent the day at the Scottish Open badminton yesterday.  Mind you, if I'd known Gordon Matheson and Craig Reedie were going to be given starring roles, I might have thought better of it.  Luckily, Matheson was kept well away from the microphone (to the relief of all cats and dogs within a five-mile radius), but I was still presented with a huge dilemma when we were more or less instructed to give Reedie a rapturous round of applause for "everything he's done for the sport in Scotland".  I mean, for pity's sake, isn't the knighthood and the vice-presidency of the IOC enough for the man?  I decided to sit on my hands, because far from being a hero of Scottish sport, Reedie is notorious for strongly implying during the referendum campaign that he would wreak revenge on his own country if it voted Yes, by doing his level best to ensure that Scottish athletes would not be able to compete in Rio under their new flag.

My only previous exposure to badminton has been during the Olympics and Commonwealth Games, so I must admit that I didn't realise until yesterday that it's one of the sports in which Scotland generally competes as a nation in its own right (Reedie must have bloody hated that when he was a player).  I said after the referendum that we had just (unthinkingly) voted to continue subsuming ourselves within a straitjacketed Great Britain identity in the vast majority of sports, but on reflection I may have been overstating the case slightly - GB representation is certainly the norm, but there are a reasonably significant number of exceptions.  Here is the list of sports I can think of in which Scotland competes as a country - feel free to add to it if you know of any others...

Rugby Union
Rugby League

Interestingly, there are a few sports on that list in which Scottish representation is a relatively recent innovation (ie. within the last few decades), so it just goes to show that these things aren't necessarily set in stone for as long as we're part of the UK - perhaps with Devo Max we might be able to make the case for representation in more sports.

And I'm certainly not going to give up on the Eurovision Song Contest, because the vaguely comparable Miss World (yes, it's still going, believe it or not) eventually saw the light in 1999.  Fighting for world peace and kittens on our behalf this year is Ellie McKeating.


  1. Elephant polo (former world champs!)

  2. Missed out surfing james...

  3. There doesn't appear to be anything in the IOC rules to prevent individual Nation States having more than one National Olympic Committee and thus sending multiple teams, the United States has seperate NOCs in Guam and Peurto Rico and China has a seperate NOC for Hong Kong.

    Of course there's also nothing to stop multiple territories combining into one NOC, such as the United Kingdom already does incorporating Isle of Man, Jersey, Guernsey and Gibraltar.

    Personally, I never really saw much need for a quick move to a separate NOC, certainly not for Rio, possibly not for the foreseeable future. The entire Cultural Independence argument was always the weakest part of Yes Scotland in my mind, and possibly the most fundamentally destructive (more than any Economic argument).

    1. "Destructive"? Why? For the life of me I can't see why an independent country wouldn't have its own Olympic representation - the only exceptions I can think of were transitional arrangements.

    2. This comment has been removed by the author.

    3. Destructive as it undermined the campaign for independence.

      I'll give you a personal and statistical reason. The only reason I could ever find against Independence was that I like Team GB, I like the BBC (in general and as a concept, obvious caveats about BBC News). Salmond's campaign for a "Scottish Six" is a personal peeve of mine. It was like "What is the fucking point making this even an issue?". Scottish broadcasting would be undoubtedly parochial and poorer. The need to break up the BBC was never clear to me. I doubt it is just me.

      And this is backed up statistically. Which offered topic of Devolution is the least backed by the public in the Yougov poll? Broadcasting.

      I just don't see the need or public desire for Cultural separation. The SNP do and its the reason I'm not a member. I can understand it becomes another rod to beat Independence down with (The rUK would never allow Scotland to be part of the National Lottery, share the BBC, participate in Team GB the Unionists would lie) and I understand the problem that causes.

      But I am not convinced that the Scottish public are that stupid.

    4. "Scottish broadcasting would be undoubtedly parochial and poorer."

      What?! I'm absolutely dumbfounded. I simply cannot understand how any supporter of independence could possibly justify the current treatment of Scotland as an afterthought in the British "national" news.

      Come to think of it, if you believe Scottish broadcast news would be parochial, why the hell do you believe Scottish self-government isn't parochial? You're putting forward the classic argument for British unitarism.

      "Which offered topic of Devolution is the least backed by the public in the Yougov poll? Broadcasting."

      A result that was only produced because YouGov gratuitously named the BBC in the wording of the question (which would have led people to wonder how on Earth a "British" corporation based in London could be devolved to Scotland). But even with that leading wording, support and opposition to broadcasting devolution was evenly-balanced.

      The Panelbase poll, of course, showed majority support for broadcasting devolution.

    5. I'm not justifying the way the BBC treats Scotland in their national News, I find it quite appalling. I wasn't talking about the News, however. I was talking about it as a public service broadcaster, the way it provides entertainment, the programming and the quality I perceive it provides.

      This probably isn't the right forum to provide a full explanation of how you make an hour of television, how much it costs and what the expected return is that for a given potential audience. But it seldom comes cheap, especially for an hour of television drama,

      I recall reading that River City consumes the entire BBC Scotland drama budget (this can't technically be true but again would require a long explanation and as a general point it's useful for working out what this means). Now, yes, BBC Scotland is technically underfunded. But its only underfunded by a factor of two. The result is that without additional government money, you only get two hours of new drama per week with a seperate SBC.

      And that two hours is River City quality. Which makes my argument for me.

      Why is this a particular problem in the Cultural sphere? Because few things scale as badly. Yes you can lose some economies of scale from going from large to small but you get other benefits. With most aspects of culture that scaling just doesn't happen. You have good at a cost or bad on a budget and little in between

      On the second point, I don't disagree with you but that's not my point. My point was that it is a barrier to Independence whether I am right or wrong about the potential for an SBC because as a concept any numbers we have on Cultural Independence shows that it is less popular than anything else. The more barriers the less the Unionists have to do to block Independence.

    6. "And that two hours is River City quality."

      You're making the mistake of assuming that a separate Scottish broadcaster would have the same priorities as a Glasgow branch office of the BBC. That said, although I don't watch River City, I'm not sure I'd agree that a year-round Scottish soap (that even includes smatterings of the Scots language) shouldn't be one priority out of many.

      "any numbers we have on Cultural Independence shows that it is less popular than anything else"

      If anything, the complete opposite is true. Look at the No voters who seem to honestly see no contradiction in cheering on separate Scottish rugby and football teams (which we only have as an accident of history).

    7. Here's some numbers for you.

      Eastenders costs 3.5p per viewer hour.
      River City costs 36.3p per viewer hour.
      Pobol y Cwm costs £2.15 per viewer hour (and a Gaelic drama hour would work out far more expensive given the paucity of Gaelic speakers)

      That's the core of the problem. Just look at an STV schedule. No local drama, no local comedy. The only local programming is those annoying "List" shows which cost nothing to make.

      I just don't think I understand the argument for Cultural Independence. I don't see the need, I don't like the potential costs and I don't like the likely product. It's not enough to stop me wanting Independence, the other benefits are far greater.

      I don't understand the second point you are making. My argument is that cultural traditions are deep rooted and generally popular - whether that tradition is separate or united. Political separation does not require Cultural separation, if someone might vote against Political separation because of the fear of Cultural separation this is a problem and potentially destructive if you want Political separation. I don't see how existing separate aspects of culture is relevant.

    8. Well, I don't understand the whole sweep of the point you're making, but I'll try anyway. What if people vote for political "separation" because it's the only way of getting the cultural "separation" they actively want, for example representation at the Olympics?

      As for STV, yes, their current Scottish output is almost non-existent, but again you have to see that as a failing of the British broadcasting system, not of a Scottish system that doesn't actually exist yet. Only a few years ago, STV were extensively replacing ITV network shows with Scottish programming, but were swiftly bullied back into line.

    9. I think you're getting to see my point of view. Let's classify people into four groups based on their initial worldview.

      Yes to Political Independence. Yes to Cultural Independence.
      Yes to Political Independence. No to Cultural Independence.
      No to Political Independence. Yes to Cultural Independence.
      No to Political Independence. No to Cultural Independence.

      What we are considering is how the offer of Cultural Independence impacts the view on Political Independence and how the Yes Scotland offer of Yes/Yes influences those groups and how my preferred offer of Yes/No influences those groups. Then it's just estimating which groups bigger.

      If the offer is Yes/Yes.
      What percentage of Yes/No will still vote Yes.
      What percentage of No/Yes will move towards Yes

      If the offer is Yes/No
      What percentage of Yes/Yes will change away from Yes
      What percentage of No/No will will move towards Yes

      And of course, how large are the four groups to start with.

      There's no numbers to use, of course, it's all guesswork and opinion.

      My argument would be that No/No is by far the largest starting position and the biggest gain can be found here with a Yes/No offer. I would also argue that Yes/Yes will accept a Yes/No offer as a "pathway to Yes/Yes" and remain Yes almost entirely. So the Gains are moderate, the Losses are small.

      I would also argue that No/Yes will be a very small group to start with and the potential gain that a Yes/Yes offer can make from this group will be very small. The Yes/No group will be larger (one of the very few things we have some numbers for), So the potential losses in this group from a Yes/Yes offer may be more significant.

      So my guess is that :-

      Yes/Yes offer - Small gain, Moderate loss.
      Yes/No offer - Small gain, Tiny loss.

      Now yes, we're talking about small numbers individually a few percent. But a few percent on one and a few percent on the other - that doesn't take much to be 5% in total. And 5% is all we need.

    10. "What we are considering is how the offer of Cultural Independence impacts the view on Political Independence and how the Yes Scotland offer of Yes/Yes influences those groups and how my preferred offer of Yes/No influences those groups. Then it's just estimating which groups bigger."

      But that assumes that "we" are interested only in political independence, and don't give a monkey's about whether it is shorn of what you are calling cultural independence. I can't speak for others, but that certainly isn't my position. I would be utterly appalled to think that an independent Scotland wouldn't be represented at the Olympics (in the real world it would, of course, but I'm following you down that hypothetical road).

    11. As I understand it, our vote was on sovereignty. Which is, a priori, a political concept. The vote to my mind was solely about political independence. Anything else was down to personal preference. I don't have a problem with a Scottish NOC. I do have a problem with wholly separate broadcasting and some other aspects of culture.

      I'm finding it quite hard to frame a response. I can't get my head around the concept that Independence could be anything other than a political expression of self-determination. You did post a guest column on Crown Dependency status and your comments on that seem generally favourable. That means no Scottish NOC saying "Don't get hung up on names - power is what's important." A Scottish Olympic team is not related to power.

    12. "I'm finding it quite hard to frame a response. "

      I'm inclined to say the same thing. Your idea of what independence would and wouldn't entail seems totally alien to me, and is something I haven't encountered before.

      Crown dependency status wouldn't get us Olympic representation, but that's only because of the extremist nature of the Olympic charter. Crown dependency status would certainly improve our chances of other types of sporting representation.

  4. Does Rugby count, as they are mostly Brits?

  5. Had a trawl through some obscure sports - there's plenty of them!

    Ultimate Frisbee and sport climbing are GB sports. However you'll be fascinated to know that touch rugby and roller derby send Scottish representation to international events :)

  6. Another blog that is doing something similar to James (aggregating Scottish sub-samples) has the following results for Westminster VI:

    SNP 43 (+1) LAB 25 (-1) CON 17 (=) LIB 6 (-1) UKIP 5 (+1) GRN 4 (=).

    More interesting is the graph. It shows the sudden SNP / Labour movement in the fortnight after 18 September, as you would expect. If anything the lead has grown over the last month.

  7. On topic for a moment, basketball went in the opposite direction. There was separate representation until the mid-2000s, but they started playing as GB after London won the 2012 host city bid. This may unwind, however, as the GB team stopped getting central funding and they failed to qualify for the European championship next year.

    Off topic, I see that Ladbrokes now have the SNP 8/11 favourite to win most seats in Scotland next May. Labour are evens and everyone else is name your price.

  8. Handball also went the same was as basketball. We were never world beaters at handball, but I think basically what James mentioned in the post above happened to the 4 UK handball national teams - all sucked up in to one big GB team.

    Regards an Olympic team, what are the set rules? I've never been too interested in the Olympics or atheltics in general even as a keen runner, but on the odd occasion I've noticed Guam, Chinese Tapei (Taiwan) and a few others certainly participate. Is it merely just a funding issue?

    I imagine like many I'd rather see Scotland win 5 medals overall than a united GB team winning the thing or coming 2nd/3rd.

    1. "Regards an Olympic team, what are the set rules?"

      It seems that the rules changed in the 1990s, but weren't applied retroactively - meaning Hong Kong, Puerto Rico and a few others can keep their separate representation, even though they wouldn't be entitled to it if they were starting from scratch.

      The current IOC policy is positively extremist - not even self-governing overseas dependencies are permitted their own representation.

    2. You have to have a national Olympic committee to be eligible for the Olympics. It could have been possible for a devolved Scotland to set up its own NOC, but the Olympic charter was amended in 1996 to make recognition much more restrictive. Scotland would now have to become a recognised independent state to get into the Olympics in its own right.

    3. So the Olympics is out (until independence) unless the charter is changed, but a more interesting question is how we would go about getting recognition in individual sports. I don't know the answer to that off the top of my head.

    4. I'm also wondering if there might be a way of getting representation at the Paralympics. Macao seem to have a National Paralympic Committee, even though they're not entitled to a National Olympic Committee.

  9. Scotland competed at the World Cross Country until the 1990's. In handball 4 separate associations were created prior to the 2012 olympics. Before Scotland, Wales and NI were exterminated post haste when the flame was extinguished. Now it's just team england .

    Also AA is either a trolling cockwomble or deranged.

  10. Given that the UK government recognise Scotland as a sovereign nation / country within a mini EU type union where it agrees to share some sovereignty with other union members by devolving power upwards to Westminster (see September's referendum), I think there's a good case to argue for a independent Scottish Olympic team. We're just like e.g. Denmark in the EU now; country status within the UKU, if it was ever in doubt, was confirmed by the iref even though it was a No.

    In the meantime, we should definitely elect MPs with a devo max majority mandate, which, while not leading to independence (i.e. the old and still legal way), withdraws devolution of all policy/governance bar but foreign affairs and defence to Westminster.

    Elect unionist MPs in majority and we continue to give consent for the status quo.

  11. There is no Scotland rugby union team. I believe there is a North Britain team operating out of Edinburgh.

  12. "Does Rugby count, as they are mostly Brits?"

    "There is no Scotland rugby union team. I believe there is a North Britain team operating out of Edinburgh."

    Evidence for this slander on my favourite sport?

  13. I agree with your comments about Sir Craig Reedie, His attitude to the prospective position of Scottish athletes was extraordinarily spiteful - and so distasteful that I hoped he might get some criticism even from his own side. (not that I saw any evidence of that).

  14. Evidence?
    What about all those rugby players declaring themselves Unionists during the campaign?
    How many of those singing FoS at Murrayfield voted Yes?

  15. How many folk play rugby in Scotland? How many declared themselves Unionists? If you're referring to the photo of "Rory" Sole and mates - how many players/ex-players were contacted about getting together for that? How many turned up? Of course there's an image problem when top club sides are named after Edinburgh public schools, but these sides are open now and have been for years. I go to international fixtures with a Yes supporting friend. I stand at my local club (Gala) with an ex-Gala and Scotland international who voted Yes. "How many of those singing FoS at Murrayfield voted Yes?" - well how do you propose we measure that, or should we just stick to our prejudices and not bother? I realise that solid fitba folk like Murdo McLeod, Brian Wilson, Sir Alex Ferguson and Walter Smith put us all to shame with their expansive enthusiasm for independence, but try not to tar us all with the same brush, Juteman!

  16. How many rugby players declared for Yes?
    I admit that the public school background puts me off, although i realise the borders are different.
    I enjoy watching international rugby, but it just doesn't feel the same since the referendum.

  17. I heard the current team was half and half....bit like the country I guess....

    I've stopped going to rugby games, as I can't take the social set that go to them. Ra ra

  18. How many players of any of the sports listed by James declared for Yes? Why is this only a measure when we talk about rugby? I accept completely that the public school set-up enjoys a niche in the rugby world, and it's no coincidence that Sole's band of brothers were overwhelmingly public schoolboys. It was much more of a problem in the amateur days. There are far, far more rugby players and supporters now that have nothing to do with public schools.

    1. It's the hypocrisy of singing FoS and voting No, unless the whole team were Yes voters?

  19. They were giving it laldy with FoS at Hampden. Did the whole football team vote Yes?

    1. I don't know, but i can guess at how the rugby boys voted.

  20. Replies
    1. The difference is that some rugby players didn't just vote No, they were part of the No campaign. From the Hastings brothers, to Kenny Logan, and many others, they actively worked for a No vote for the British state.

  21. Walter Smith, Billy McNeill, Bertie Auld, Barry Ferguson, Willie Miller, Jim Leighton, David Moyes, Alan Hansen, Alex McLeish, Paddy Crerand, Davie Provan, Denis Law, Ally McCoist, Derek Johnstone, Murdo McLeod, Ian Durrant, John Brown, Frank McAvennie.....prominent supporters of Better Together. Which sport was that again.....??

    1. I know they were No voters, but I never saw any of them campaigning for Better Together.

    2. Try this:

      Or maybe the legend that is Archie MacPherson:

    3. What team did Archie MacPherson play for?
      It wasn't a surprise to see many Rangers players voting No, just as it wasn't a surprise to see rugby players campaigning with Better Together.
      Your point was?

    4. OK - Billy McNeill, Bertie Auld, Willie Miller, Jim Leighton...etc etc etc etc. Mainly a Rangers thing then. Archie MacPherson - nothing to do with football, obviously. Rugby, however...BAD. Did any of the current Scottish team campaign for a No vote? How's about the Glasgow and Edinburgh squads? Don't think so, but that doesn't matter. They all voted No. How do we know this? Juteman says so. Nothing like a solid, evidence based case is there? (And this is nothing like a.....) Anyway, other things to do now - my "National"'s arrived!

    5. Ok, i give in.
      Scottish rugby is a hotbed of fervent nationalism.
      Is it British or Scottish nationalism though? :-)

    6. If you're looking for a hot bed, Juteman, I'd forget Murrayfield in February!

      More to the point, I seem to have turned into a bird.............

  22. Although the sport of orienteering is represented by Great Britain in European and world events, the 'home' nations do compete against each other each year at junior, senior and veteran levels.

    In fact it is one of the few sports that Scotland regularly 'kicks ass' at.

    1. And Scotland (Inverness) will be hosting the World Championships in 2015.