When I use the term “Civic Scotland” who exactly am I talking about?
That’s a question I was asked just the other day. It’s a good question and it deserves an answer. I mean our political class, our commentariat, the police and the various non-governmental organisations like the charities and other opinion makers and formers.
These people have tremendous power. When they bring it to bear, changes happen. When they bring it to bear. If you were waiting on Civic Scotland raising its voices yesterday, in relation to Union Bears and their appalling leaflet, you would have been waiting in vain. The silence from almost all of them has been deafening. And that is disgraceful.
Why were their voices important here? They were important because this is bigger than just an issue involving the Sevco fan group. Civic Scotland can condemn them for all its worth; these Peepul don’t care about that. But there is one organisation who could stop them, who could put these folk back in their box and push them to the social margins where they belong.
That organisation is Sevco itself.
Civic Scotland could have pressured the club to act. It could have shamed the club into action whether the club wanted to take it or not. In failing to do so, Civic Scotland has failed all of us. It has failed to stand up and defend the Good Society it claims to want to build.
And this is not the first time. Civic Scotland’s record of tackling sectarianism is appalling. The current government passed a law which they claimed was designed to do that; it wasn’t. Existing legislation would allow the police to tackle scum like the Union Bears, but it was never used against them. The Offensive Behaviour at Football Act targeted songs. It didn’t tackle the real face of the sectarian bigot in Scotland. It didn’t go after the people who promote it.
Sectarianism in Scotland comes from various agencies; the Orange Order is still allowed to parade it through the streets every single year. The Lodge is allowed to institutionalise it. The newspapers are allowed to stoke it when it suits them and ignore it when it doesn’t. And yes, it exists inside football. Nowhere is this truer than Ibrox.
I know this is not something Civic Scotland wants to face up to, but Civic Scotland is united in its utter cowardice for not confronting it before. Sevco – or Rangers as they insist on calling it – has been a bastion of sectarianism for as long as it has existed and Rangers was for as long as I’ve been alive, and for decades before that.
Civic Scotland has always treated the club with kid gloves.
Here are just some examples of that.