Amid all the debate about oil, currency, pensions and a million other items, I’m surprised higher questions have not been asked about our cultural identity. I’ve never said I’m British in my life, I’m Scottish, but the full story is more subtle than that.
Despite being a football fan, a Scot and a Gordon Strachan fan, I watched another channel when Germany-Scotland was on. My sense of personal identity, the anthems I cherish, the emblems I’ve always worn, my ‘national’ community, is the one I share with you.
I know we have a large number of England-supporting, English-Celtic fans here, just as there are Ireland-supporting, Irish, and Scotland-supporting Scots, but some of us feel our strongest affinity among our urban, west of Scotland-based, Celtic community. This community will only ever march behind a green flag. There is nothing wrong or unpatriotic about this, finding your own identity is what multiculturalism is all about.
There are a thousand more national identities than actual nations, but why do many of us feel more like sons of Jock Stein, than Jock Tamson, or (cough) John Bull?
I don’t think there is a single British, or Scottish, cultural institution I feel an attachment to. I was really caught up with the whole Mo Farah/Jessica Ennis-inspired Super Saturday at the Olympics – delighted at the success of British athletes, but later that day, when Ki stepped forward to take the decisive kick for South Korea against GB, I punched the air with joy. The whole Burns Night thing feels like someone else’s party.
In fact, it’s worse than not having an affinity with a British cultural institution, our Celtic community is marginalised by competitors in the south. If Scotland, which is perhaps more bound-up in tribal football culture than anywhere on the planet, had EQUAL access to the UK’s cultural markets, would we feel so excluded?
I know there are many who are happy with the way sentiment is going right now, but if those intent on saving the union want to get busy on some urgent nation-building, they should set about removing the two-tier cultural divide which keeps our club, our community, from the top table. We pay an obligatory BBC tax to subsidise an England and Wales league, our non-tax-based pay TV money goes the same way. This is a distorted market, with Scotland obscured by an England-Wales cartel. As a result we’ve been drained of talent and financial muscle for a century.
Football is not controlled by politicians, but it can be, and is, influenced by them. Westminster is speaking with a more unified voice than I’ve ever known right now. Its voice should be clear: Scotland needs equal access to the UK’s cultural markets, including football.
Our exclusion is intolerable, unfair, has fermented disaffection and must end, irrespective of what happens next week. Why would Westminster politicians be unable to say this?
Let’s hear you.
The fantastic new edition of CQN Magazine is out today. You can read it, for free, here, at it’s dedicated site (don’t try to read on the graphic below).[calameo code=0003901718cdc4362fa2e? lang=en page=122 hidelinks=1 width=100% height=500]