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16 September 2012

Scotland and the Olympics

I am a bit fed up with the highly successful London 2012 Olympics being used as a political football to justify that Scotland should not be independent.

Let me put the Olympics into context. The Olympians and Paralympians, no matter what part of the UK they were from did an outstanding job. As a nationalist I was supporting Team GB. I would have preferred to support Team Scotland but I accepted the rules. I was particularly pleased to see Scottish athletes do so well and as a lad from Dunblane myself I particularly supported Andy Murray.

Turning now to the analogy which is often made between TeamGB in Sport and TeamUK in politics, let us remind ourselves of a few facts. During the period 1928 to 1996 TeamGB competed at the summer Olympics and yes we had The Union of 1707 backing us. During that period in which London hosted the games in 1948 the best gold total we managed was 6 in any of them. Better together? 16 Olympic games and as recently as 1996 we got ONE yes ONE gold medal. All this under The Union and "Better Together". We had stunning athletes - Sally Gunnell, Denise Lewis, Tessa Sanderson, Liz McColgan, Chris Boardman but just one Gold from 300 competitors and we had the Union and Better Together. None of it made any difference. One Gold. This year, 29 Golds. Same Union. Tories in power in 1996, Tories in power in 2012. The Union clearly made no difference. Where was it for our athletes between 1928 and 1996?

What made a difference was the National Lottery as a vehicle for raising money for sport and a ruthless focus on sports we were good at and likely to win medals at. You could say the union gave us the national lottery but I would argue this was not a prerequisite for raising money for sport - euromillions could do the same or shock horror the government could decide to fund sport adequately so that not only do we produce world class athletes but we encourage children to be interested in sport as part of an active healthy lifestyle rather than a diet of fish and chips and watching overpaid footballers on TV. What made a difference wasn't the union, it was there all during 1928 to 1996, it was putting an appropriate amount of money towards sport. Just as we had great athletes during those fallow years but poor facilities and funding holding them back, we have the same situation in Scotland now. Oil money wasted in England. Scotland's wealth wasted on Trident. Scotland's energy wealth having to fund illegal wars rather than investing in the Scottish economy, Scotland's future and Scotland's sport.

Scotland is predominately a left of centre political country, we have a different ethic than the predominantly right of centre England. This causes conflicts of priorities and holds us back, like the Team GB athletes were held back for 60+ years under the so called Better Together Union. It wasn't better for them then , it isn't better for us now. Scotland has its own priorities - an oil fund like Norway, renewable energy, a health service and educational system that is free. England has different priorities. Sure we have things in common, but together we are pulling in different directions and pulling us both down. That is why better together is a myth. Just as team GB turned itself around from one gold medal, Scotland and England will politically grow after separation and become more apart than they will achieve together. If there is one lesson from the Olympics it is not that the union made us stronger, it is that a proper sense of priorities and vision to bring them about made us achieve more. I believe Scotland has the right priorities - social justice, equality, opportunity, culture, economic growth and democracy. Only with independence can we take full advantage of these priorities and achieve our full potential and our vision. There is no vision coming from "Better Together" other than more of the same. More of the same isn't good enough, we can do more if we believe in better.

Support Yes Scotland. Play your part in taking Scotland forward as a confident nation and achieve something worthwhile to be proud of and tell your children and grandchildren about.


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