Here is an unedited account of a conversation I had with Nicola Sturgeon regarding concerns over the Offensive Behaviour at Football and Threatening Communications (Scotland) Act 2012.
This conversation took place on Monday the 12th of December 2011 (prior to the act becoming Legislation).
Note some of Nicola Sturgeons answers back then and compare them to what is ACTUALLY happening now – do you feel things have changed ? If so, tell her here and ask the question – who moved the goalposts ?
https://www.scottish.parliament.uk/msps/currentmsps/28558.aspx or @NicolaSturgeon
Or Alex Salmond here –
https://www.scottish.parliament.uk/msps/currentmsps/28466.aspx or @AlexSalmond
Sent: Monday, 12 December, 2011 12:14:22 GMT +00:00 GMT Britain, Ireland, Portugal
Subject: Re : Nicola Sturgeon
As some will know I was supposed to meet Nicola Sturgeon on Saturday morning however, she failed to turn up, and instead sent her Constituency Manager Mhairi Hunter. I told her that with all due respect I did not want to ask her the questions, only to be given no answers, or giving NS the opportunity to pre-empt my questions and give me stock answers.
Anyway NS called me this morning. Below is a summarised version of the conversation, it was quite difficult listening to her answers and making notes so excuse me if its quite short.
1)GS ; How do you feel forcing this Bill through with only SNP votes, what happened to wanting concensus ?
NS ; We tried to get the backing of other parties, but Labour never even tried to add anything at the 1st and 2nd stages, which was politically motivated. They have tried their best to get concensus from all political parties but if some do not want to participate this is not the SNPs fault.
GS; In what way does the existing legislation not work and why did they not analyse all the Section 74 data before destroying it ?
NS; Ministers do not give instructions to delete data. To cause a BOP someone else has to be frightened or alarmed, the new law covers people who are causing a serious case of Public Disorder within football grounds.
GS; Christine Grahame has not come out and publicly denied she is anti-Catholic, all she has said is that the allegations “lacked credibility”
NS; I have known CG personally for many years and can assure you she is not anti Catholic. The allegations have been made by a disgruntled employee and for legal reasons she is restricted on what she can say but NS vehemently denies CG is anti Catholic.
GS; According to the stock answer Ive had from MSPs 91% of the public want rid of sectarianism, and yet sectarianism isnt mentioned in part 2 of the reading anywhere. There is a huge difference between sectarian and offensive behaviour. Surely that should have been the question put to the public ?
NS; Cant answer that as their has been no poll. Rangers and Celtic are a huge asset to Scotland however the actions are also a point of embarassment to Scotlands culture.
GS; Sorry, just to clarify that. There has been no poll taken ?
NS: Correct, there has been no poll taken.
GS; On July the 2nd this year, over a 1000 members of a sectarian organisation marched down St Vincent Street openly flaunting their sectarian views through songs. The same songs that are also sung at Ibrox, yet no action is taken on the streets. This is an attack on football fans and if the SNP were serious about taking away sectarianism they could start right there. I mentioned that this was a question a Rangers supporting colleague had asked me to ask
NS; I have some sympathy with that view however this Bill relates only to football and she would rather stick to the issue involving football.
GS; So you cant answer that legitimate question ?
NS; Look, the introduction of this Bill is not the whole answer to Scotlands problem. Freedom of expression is a right for all however it should be used to encourage decent behaviour and not to cause public disorder. There is a lot more needs to be done.
GS; So as a Catholic who may find himself in town on July the 2nd this year, if I was offended and caused a “rammy” you agree it is the innocent party who would be arrested not those who are the cause of the disorder ?
NS: You stated you may cause disorder therefore the police would be within their rights to arrest you.
GS; You were quoted as saying “legislation is not the the full story, and needs to be accompanied by educational and social measures”
Would it not be better to introduce these than focussing on a headline grabbing piece of bad legislation ?
NS; I dont agree it is bad legislation though. Roseanna Cunninham only last week released more funding to tackle social measures and to create a better educational purpose.
GS: I GAVE THE FOLLOWING EXAMPLES
My 64 year old Dad threatened with a BOP at Hampden when he saw a steward rifling through someones jacket.
Again at Hampden,trying to take in Caprisuns I was warned “if you dont move your fenian arse your getting charged with BOP”
FAC demo – one cop aggressively telling us “we think we are above the law”
Antira Demo – Told not to take part in the march and get on the pavement.
I gave these examples of how the police already abuse their authority, and now on the say so of 1 policeman someones life could potentially be ruined.
NS: Its not the case in law, its not possible for 1 policeman to make that decision. The SNP are taking the decision to tackle trouble at football. It will be implemented by a fair police force and a well renowned judiciary system.
GS: Really ?A fair police force ? Despite the examples given ?
NS; Yes, however Im not prepared to go into individual examples you have given as I only have your side of the story obviously.
GS: Re Scottish songs, sung the world over such as, Flower of Scotland, Parcel of Rogues, Massacre of Glencoe and Scots Wha Hae. How can the SNP sanction attacks on Irish folk songs while Scotlands patriots sing songs about fighting repression.
NS; Flower of Scotland is not offensive and couldnt be seen as that. It is not the intention to criminalise the singing of Irish folk songs or indeed the singing of a countries national anthem.
GS ; I heard on the news this morning that law on carrying knives in the city centre over the festive period means you could incur a 4 year jail sentence. So, as a football fan possibly facing 5 years under the new Bill am I more of a threat to the public than someone who carries a knife ?
NS; 4 years for carrying a knife is not the maximum that can be given.
5 years for offensive behaviour at football is the maximum, with the opportunity to create larger scale public disorder. All judiciary sentences are justified.
Not a question Nicola but I am constantly asked why I spend a large amount of my disposable income on being treated so poorly. I have been in contact with fan organisations from Glasgow, Motherwell, Aberdeen and Kilmarnock. Some of us would be prepared to stand as independant candidates in areas where the SNP have a close majority and would be willing to highlight this ridiculous legislation to a far wider audience. There is also a collective legal fund in order to fight unjust charges brought against individuals.
NS : We will have to agree to disagree on many things however if you see me on Wednesday come over and introduce yourself.