Margo MacDonald: The naysayers can take a hike

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If we’re thinking of having a new national anthem, to be played and sung with gusto at the Commonwealth Games next year, how about “Ah’m the saftest in the family”?

We’ll deserve nothing better if we fail to tell the various opponents of Scottish independence who have been mouthing off untruths, sly suggestions and scary stories about a post-independence currency, pensions, welfare benefits and life as we know it, to take a hike.

When the first signs were observed that neither the British government nor the EU would take a neutral stance on Scotland changing her constitutional status, either the Scottish Government or Yes Scotland should have started to think of these bodies as not as collaborators in an effort to improve the future prospects of Scots in our own country, but opponents who’ll pull every rotten, underhand trick to prevent that.

Those of us who’d been through the last referendum in 1979 were well aware that our opponent didn’t think of the generations of young Scots who will be frustrated in being all they can be, in Scotland, if we do not have the freedom to concoct our own, customised, mixture of priority spending on bursaries, part-funded apprenticeships, distance learning etc for people in the remote areas.

The British Government is territorial, it’s not going to give up power (ownership) of anything it holds, even if that means hard times for the people of the territory. Think Falklands and Gibraltar. In both cases, the people want to stay British and this is respected. So why shouldn’t the wishes of the Scots be treated in the same way even if they choose to have a new equal, relationship with Britain. YES Scotland shouldn’t be shy of pointing out that democracy cuts both ways.

And why should we take seriously the reflex response of EU Commissioner Barrosso when he says Scotland won’t necessarily be welcomed in the EU? He resists anything that could change his comfort zone, where democracy is preached but not practised.

But if Scotland isn’t in the EU then its rules over cross-border pension schemes don’t apply to us. So nothing that can’t be handled by positive co-operation within the UK. Just how shiny are the EU’s fraternal and democratic credentials in its treatment of Greece, or Spain, where unemployment is higher than it was in the 1930s? Since complying with the EU’s “austerity” plan, the Italians will have to overcome the emigration of one million graduates, essential elements in the effort to grow the Italian economy.

The EU would rather see the destruction of Spanish or Portuguese communities than the end of the euro . . . the one-size currency that doesn’t fit anybody, any more.

We don’t need to go cap-in-hand to anybody, we’ve paid our way in the UK, and we’re net contributors to the EU. So if they don’t want us, maybe EFTA would. As for the UK minus Scotland, we’ve had a glimpse of how little understanding there is of our nationhood south of the Border and how much resentment there is if we celebrate it. So there will be a period when some organisations on either side following independence will be in a huff. But that won’t last for long . . . because companies have to sell things to other companies and that’s what they’ll do.

And in any case, dogs in the constitutional manger will be out-barked by those who go with the flow, and respond to the feeling of renewed hope and confidence that will sustain the re-emergence of Scotland in her own light.

A sporting chance to put clubs at heart of community

Neil Lennon, the manager of Celtic, is a very prickly person. He’s all petted lip and no relaxed posture when he comments on the unusual position of having no Celtic players nominated as Scottish Player of the Year. Having seen the Celtic players on their visits to Easter Road, I’ll happily agree that some were outstanding, but not any more so than Leigh Griffiths, pictured, for example. Motherwell and Dundee United also had players who would not be out of place in a line-up for Player of the Year.

I’d wager a modest amount on Neil having to get used to real competition from the revived teams who played out of their skins in the much more genuinely competitive Premier League now that there’s only half the high hurdle of previous seasons.

Rangers’ absence, though, has highlighted the fact of the disappearing crowds from Scottish grounds.

Football needs fans and fans, these days, want football-plus. Maybe our community-based teams should consider broadening their appeal by establishing their ground as a sports hub offering coaching etc in other sports, Many of the big clubs in Europe and America have grown the business side of their sport. Some Scottish clubs have the essential requirements already . . . they should go for it.