James Kelly MSP

Rutherglen Reformer - - News From The Pews -

I’d like to start this week’s col­umn by pass­ing on my con­grat­u­la­tions to Ruther­glen and Hamilton West’s new MP, Ger­ard Killen, who was elected in a ma­jor vic­tory for Labour in this area.

Vot­ers backed Ged: a strong lo­cal voice with a proven track record as a coun­cil­lor. I have no doubt he will do a great job of fight­ing for our area and put Ruther­glen and Cam­bus­lang first.

It’s time to scrap the foot­ball act

Il­lib­eral, in­ef­fec­tive and im­moral. That is ex­actly how the SNP’s dis­cred­ited foot­ball act has been de­scribed time and time again.

I’m lead­ing a mem­ber’s bill in the Scottish Par­lia­ment to re­peal the Of­fen­sive Be­hav­iour at Foot­ball and Threat­en­ing Com­mu­ni­ca­tions (Scot­land) Act 2012 which has now been in­tro­duced at draft leg­is­la­tion.

Ni­cola Stur­geon’s gov­ern­ment’s ob­ses­sion with main­tain­ing this bro­ken leg­is­la­tion speaks vol­umes about the na­tion­al­ists’ pri­or­i­ties for Scot­land.

When the foot­ball act was in­tro­duced, I called it out for be­ing a PR stunt which achieved lit­tle other than break­ing down years of progress be­tween fans and the po­lice.

Five years on, the sta­tis­tics prove this to be ex­actly the case. Young, work­ing class men have been crim­i­nalised, while there is lit­tle ev­i­dence of any re­duc­tion in sec­tar­i­an­ism in Scot­land. In fact, the SNP have gone on to cut fund­ing for anti-sec­tar­i­an­ism ini­tia­tives which would make much more progress in tack­ling real big­otry.

The con­vic­tion rates are alarm­ingly low and the scenes from foot­ball matches show crowds in­tim­i­dated by po­lice point­ing video cam­eras in faces as the vast ma­jor­ity of fans just want to spend their Satur­day watch­ing the game in front of them. I have heard count­less sto­ries of the po­lice pur­su­ing the most ab­surd threads of ev­i­dence in des­per­ate bids to con­vict one per­son in a crowd, but with cases fall­ing be­cause of­fi­cers did not un­der­stand the lyrics, or un­able to as­cer­tain which verse they caught in­di­vid­u­als singing.

This bro­ken leg­is­la­tion sums up the SNP for me: un­able to un­der­stand the pri­or­i­ties of Scot­land and be­ing wholly in­ef­fec­tive in gov­ern­ment. Their stub­born­ness to not even think again about the foot­ball act shows clear their ar­ro­gance; that they think bet­ter than Scots when it comes to con­sul­ta­tions, le­gal ex­perts and com­men­ta­tors all call­ing out their law.

It boils down to this sim­ple fact: Ni­cola Stur­geon and her loyal group of par­lia­men­tar­i­ans will never ad­mit they’ve got it wrong. On ed­u­ca­tion, on our NHS and on jus­tice, count­less in­de­pen­dently mea­sured sta­tis­tics show that Scot­land has been failed by 10 years of the SNP in gov­ern­ment.

That’s why it’s time to get rid of the foot­ball act and for the SNP to ac­cept their mis­take in in­tro­duc­ing it in the first place.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from UK

© PressReader. All rights reserved.