Wednesday, September 13, 2023

Sorry, did you just sing about the King being sappy and laborious? I couldn't really hear over all that BOOING.

Remember at this time last year, unionist commentators couldn't contain their rather inappropriate jubilation at the TV pictures of people in Scotland lining the streets to see the Queen's final journey, or queueing up at St Giles' Cathedral to pay their respects? This was, we were excitedly assured, absolute proof that there exists in Scotland a "silent majority" who love Our Precious Union and who quietly seethe away on a daily basis at an SNP government and a wider independence movement that Don't Represent The Real Scotland. It was wishful thinking on steroids, of course - if any such silent majority existed, it would show up in election results and there wouldn't have been a pro-indy government since 2007.  Even silent people are perfectly capable of going to a polling station and using a pen or pencil to mark a cross on a ballot paper.  (Incidentally, I was one of the people who lined the streets last September, but that didn't make me a silent Brit Nat.)

But this unionist infatuation with the idea that anecdotes or things you see happen on the TV somehow trump election results is, I think, the explanation for their weird meltdown over the booing at Hampden last night.  Spontaneous episodes of that sort are supposed to affirm their belief thaf 'The Real Scotland Is Decent And British', but instead it went completely the other way.  That bothers them on a visceral level, and they need to find An Explanation For It.  Naturally they're going for the lazy option of "it's just a tiny minority of idiots whipped up into hatred of the English by the SNP", but not even they really believe that.  It didn't sound much like a tiny minority, did it?  I could barely even hear the tune over the booing (I'm using the word "tune" in the loosest sense).

To be clear, I do not approve of the Hampden crowd booing other countries' anthems.  I was there in person in 2021 when the Czech anthem was booed, and I said at the time how much I didn't like it.  Exactly the same principle applies to the English anthem.  But by the same token, I'm realistic enough to know that Scottish football supporters booing the English anthem is an unstoppable force of nature, and getting overly worried about the fact you can't stop it is about as daft as worrying about the fact that you can't stop pantomime audiences from booing the Evil Stepmother.  Unionists are incapable of putting it in that proper perspective because they didn't hear the English football anthem being booed, they instead heard the British political anthem about the British King being booed, and according to unionist ideology Scots are supposed to secretly adore Britain and His Majesty.

BBC unionist propagandist Nick "he didn't answer" Robinson got so frantic about the whole problem that he suggested England should stop using God Save The King as their football anthem because it's an "invitation for the Tartan Army to boo in order to demonstrate that they are loyal to Scotland".  That was a somewhat puzzling comment, but I think what it's supposed to mean is that the Tartan Army would boo any anthem England come up with, but that wouldn't actually bother Robinson one jot as long as it's not God Save The King - the booing of which is apparently intolerable to his dignity as a Brit and thus must be stopped by any means.  Why is it intolerable? Robinson's official version is that it needlessly creates a false impression that Scottish football fans dislike the UK, whereas in fact they adore the UK and would never boo anything British unless they were forced into it.  The unofficial version is that he's worried the fans were booing God Save The King precisely because it's the UK anthem and he would rather not be confronted ever again with that disquieting possibility.

It reminds me of one of the lowest points in the history of BBC Sport, when political impartiality was completely tossed aside to allow the Belfast-born (ahem) football commentator Alan Green to launch into a lengthy ranting monologue about Scottish supporters booing God Save The Queen at the Scotland v England Euro 2000 qualification play-off in late 1999.  He made clear that he was only angry about the incident because "the last time I checked, that's still the anthem of the United Kingdom, of which Scotland is a part".  So in other words, he wasn't bothered about Scots booing the anthem of another country, but expected the English anthem to be an exception to the general rule because it doubles up as the political anthem of the sovereign state Scotland is part of, even though it wasn't being used in that context.  As it happens, Alan and Nick, Scots are quite capable of booing the United Kingdom anthem when it's actually being used as the United Kingdom anthem, because at least half of us don't want Scotland to be part of the United Kingdom.  But I must say that as special pleading goes, saying that Scots still have to treat GSTK with reverence even in the context of England nicking it and using it as their anthem alone, really takes the biscuit.  That arrogance would in itself probably warrant at least a few jeers.

The supreme example of this double standard is Ally McCoist blasting Scotland supporters as "SNP fans" for booing the English anthem (a nakedly political comment that undoubtedly oversteps the mark for any sports broadcaster) and then openly admitting that he lustily sang along with the English anthem "because I'm British".  I mean, it's one thing treating the opposing side's anthem with the appropriate respect, but singing it yourself and believing you're somehow singing for your own country in doing so? It's just bizarre.  Let's hope people don't react by calling him a "Tory fan", but he wouldn't have much credibility in complaining if they do, because they'd just be following his own logic to its inexorable conclusion.

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I have an article on The National's website about the new Find Out Now poll which shows a pro-independence majority - you can read the article HERE.


  1. We all know Ally Coist's thoughts on the constitution - he thought the devolution referendum in 1997 should be cancelled out of respect to Princess Diana, a woman well-known for hating Scotland, or at least the version if it the royals made her endure.

    I suspect if England stopped using the old imperial anthem it would stop getting booed, and that booing it is a political statement as much as sporting rivalry. But while we are on the subject of inappropriate anthems, our own is not exactly blameless.

  2. Super Ally looking for a well deserved Knighthood.

  3. I'm not very keen on national anthem's at all but would like to make a suggestion about our own.
    'God Save the King' is reactionary drivel and, in the event that we achieve independence, should go into the dustbin of history whether or not we vote to abolish the monarchy in Scotland.
    However, to me 'Flower of Scotland' is also problematic. It defines us by what we do not want and, although it's a powereful expression of a vital formative moment in our history, says nothing about what we want our society to be.
    'A Man's a Man', with a slight tweak to ensure that it's clear that "man" means 'human', sums up an aspiration to be a free, open and humane country with a healthy dislike of self appointed elites. 'Caledonia' is also good.
    This is not a new discussion - it went on during 2013/14 and probably before and since as well.
    We have lots of bigger issues to deal with but this one deserves a bit of thought too.

    1. A Man's A Man wouldn't work as a national anthem simply because of the plodding tune. It's too earnest, it's an anthem only an academic would choose.

      Someone suggested this a few years ago, and I found it impossible to disagree, although it would need new lyrics -

      The reality is, though, that Flower of Scotland is likely to be the anthem of an independent Scotland because rightly or wrongly it's the public's clear preference. If politicians tried to go over the public's heads, there would instantly be a campaign to change the decision.

  4. Is this where we are as a society? Is there anyone out there who thinks that "A man's a man" applies to only men?

  5. Topher Dawson here, I'm not anonymous. To answer Alistair's point about national anthems my vote would be for Freedom Come All Ye, which has a wonderful tune and great lyrics.

    To reply to James, perhaps the problem with God Save the King is that it is the UK National Anthem and at the same time the English football anthem. In other words singing it at football matches demonstrates the "England is the UK and the UK is England" attitude which seems quite natural to many English people but mystifies Scots, Welsh and NI people.

    The other elephant in the room is that this anthem plays to one side of Scotland's sectarian divide, see Aly McCoist's rant.

  6. A clear majority love the great European Union. God save Ursula von der Leyen.

    1. Rule Britannia!
      Britannia waives the rules!
      Britons aw-aw-aw-aw-always shall be fools!

  7. Very much OT, but it's good to see the Herald honour a prolific letter-writer. Letter writers get little credit for their (our) contribution as do or don't, below the line commenters. Politicians gain news, info and perspective at times but have never to my knowledge, acknowledged the source. Not in a good way anyway. Yet whatever their - our - views, we help to keep debates lively if not always good-natured, and at times, give valuable info.

    RIP R Russell Smith

  8. Good article James. The mindset of the Britnats like McCoist has always been bizarre. Just like Indians in pre independent India who aspired to be British by sucking up to their English rulers McCoist and his ilk are the same.
    Personally, I am always happy when GSTK(Q) gets booed. It represents the status quo which keeps Scotland as an undemocratic colony. In fact I was very pleased to hear it being booed with such force by so many.

    Did McCoist have nothing to say about the booing by English fans during the minutes silence for Craig Brown. Brown supposedly being a pal of McCoists and was certainly his Scotland manager. He probably wouldn't want to upset the English and get himself removed from the English gravy train. I am sure McCoist wishes there was a British football team full of English players. A House Jock.

  9. James, I would like to put on record - to hopefully shut up the anonymous pricks who post lies about me on your blog - that if you say you won't vote for independence in a referendum on independence then you quite simply cannot be classified as an independence supporter. I would think that was self evident. That category includes Campbell of Wings over Scotland. You are either for independence or not. There is no in between.
    No excuses - no qualifications allowed.

    Independence NOW!

    If that bampot Maggie Chapman of the Greens somehow was FM in Scotland and she held an independence referendum I would still vote yes.

    The above statement will no doubt not satisfy these anonymous pricks because - well - they are pricks.

  10. Poor Ally. In his own words (almost) - "Bless his wee British heart" šŸ¤£ Look forward to him singing "The Soldiers Song" next time he's covering a game at Lansdowne Road…. Apologist springs to mind. An nothing to do with the SNP. Scotland fans were booing GSTQ long before the SNP had any relevance in the political spectrum.

  11. If this is anything close to the motion, then I predict a bloodbath for the SNP at the next election:

    Conference believes that if the SNP subsequently wins the most seats at the General Election in Scotland, the Scottish Government is empowered to begin immediate negotiations with the UK Government to give democratic effect to Scotland becoming an independent country.

    To which the UK Goverment would simply say that there not going to do probably within days of taking power.

    Publish ‘Withdrawal from Westminster – a New Partnership Agreement’, which would set out the detailed terms we would seek in discussions with the UK Government for Scotland becoming an independent country and include draft legal text on the transfer of powers from Westminster to the Scottish Parliament necessary to prepare for independence.

    Which would be nothing more than words printed on paper that had no legal power and as above there would be no discussions with the UK gov in the first place.

    Conduct a nationwide consultation on a draft interim constitution, which would be the founding document of an independent Scotland.

    In another words a talking shop about something that you have no ability to make reality because your 'plan' to get independence just involves negotiating with the UK which the UK will not do.

    Prepare the ground for Scotland to become an independent member state of the EU, by establishing an envoy position, who would be a representative of the Scottish Government in Brussels.

    Because foreign relations are not devolved the Scottish Government can not appoint a diplomatic 'envoy' so in reality all this means is sending someone to Brussels to get ignored.

    I thought the the motion would be bad, but this is worse than I could imagine.

  12. The European Union has a population approximately nine times bigger than England. Why on earth would we want to keep ourselves cut off from the much bigger market just so we can stay pitifully attached to the much smaller one?
    Typical Brit Nat nonsense. I know you lot are reading this, and let me tell you this: you have completely lost it.