THE GAMES 2014, MANDELA, PALESTINE
My column published in the Scottish Sun on Sunday 3rd August 2014
So the 20th Commonwealth games are at an end, a transformed Glasgow showed Scotland at its best. Even cynics like myself were overcome with emotion and pride at how our city welcomed the world.
As the curtain comes down on the people’s games tonight, we will move into the final phase of the ‘War’ for Independence and the gloves will finally come off.
Yet at the opening ceremony we were reminded of a proud history when in 1986 the Glasgow City Fathers renamed St George’s Place as Nelson Mandela Place where the South African Consulate stood at the height of the Apartheid regime.
From that moment every letter that arrived for their diplomats reminded them of the most world’s most famous freedom fighter Nelson Mandela, whom they had jailed.
So it was a proud moment when the ‘Hamden Roar’ greeted the South African National Anthem, though sadly Mandela was not there to hear it.
Which is why it’s such an insult to the memory of Nelson Mandela that when a sportsman or fan raised support for some struggle, they were instantly condemned by those who claimed that politics shouldn’t mix with sport.
There is no point in talking about ‘freedom come all ye’, reciting the words of Rabbie Burns in our opening ceremony and then trying to erase fact that it was boycotts and protests which played a role in the global anti-apartheid movement, bringing the South African regime to its knees and giving the Rainbow Nation its freedom.
Meanwhile there was a furore as England star cricket Player Moeen Ali, who happens to be a ‘bearded Muslim’, was banned by the ICC from wearing wristband declaring ‘Save Gaza, Free Palestine’ at an international match.
Of course our politicians aren’t above mixing politics with sport, loser Nick Clegg is arguing that Russia shouldn’t be allowed to host the 2018 World cup; whilst Margaret Thatcher tried unsuccessfully to convince the British Olympic team to join the American led boycott of the Russian games in 1980 after their invasion of Afghanistan.
Thatcher wasn’t too sympathetic however when half the Commonwealth boycotted the Edinburgh games in 1986 games because of her support for racist South Africa.
It’s a funny old world where those who so harshly judged sportsmen like Moeen or spectators with Yes flags, are the same ones screaming from the roof tops that freedom of expression is being killed off by the ‘PC Brigade’.
The ICC claimed it bans any slogans of a ‘political, racial or religious’ nature from its matches, yet subsequently it allowed players to pay a minutes silence to those who died a hundred years ago in WW1, whilst denying Moeen the right to make a humanitarian gesture in support of over 1600 innocent Palestinians killed in Gaza.
In 2003 it even allowed Andy Flowers former Zimbabwean cricketer to wear a black armband for the duration of 2003 World Cup over the ‘death of democracy in Zimbabwe’.
The word hypocrites, comes to mind. I for one look forward to start of the football season and our stadiums being filled with flags, whether they be in solidarity with Palestinians or a sea of Saltires urging us to vote Yes.
RED ARROWS SYCOPHANTS
For all the sycophants that had a go at Alex Salmond claiming he would try to use the games to push the Nat’s agenda, it didn’t quite turn out that way they hoped, instead he rose to the occasion as an international statesman, leading the minute’s silence for those who died in the Malaysian flight over Kiev.
Meanwhile UK MOD exposed itself as a petty, narrow minded spoilsport vetoing the Red Arrows trailing the colours of the Saltire at the opening ceremony, claiming that they only ever trail the colours of red, white and blue, the colours of the Union.
What rubbish in a recent ‘Malta Air Show’ they had no problem trailing the colours of the Maltese flag, whilst in 2006 they trailed the red and white of the St George’s cross as England competed in the World Cup and to top it off they actually trailed the colours of the Saltire at the 1999 opening of the Scottish Parliament.
You might have draped yourself in an England flag or a Saltire (both of them in my house), but the games are over, time to move on-
In the words of the great Margo Macdonald ‘this is now our time of reckoning, we’ve got to take it, and if we don’t take it we are consigning our children to much less than we had.’