Anthems and Protests

Date: 23rd September 2022

This week’s first blog brought to you by our Donald.

Anthems and Protests

Democracy is a funny thing. It’s fragile. Oftentimes I think we take it for granted.

In a month when national mourning has become the day and daily, we have been privy to some scenes of devotion and protest. In the main, the four nations of the United Kingdom have observed a respectful level of reverence for the death of Queen Elizabeth II.

By the time you read this, we shall have had the funeral and the streets will no doubt have been as quiet as Christmas, a major pandemic lockdown and the funeral of Princess Diana. And then, we shall have a coronation at some point and perhaps a similar event with pomp, ceremony and national holidays? Who knows.

The amount of sporting events cancelled to allow for the mourning and the reflection called for was difficult for those of us who may not have the same affection for the royal family as others, but it has happened and is now in the past.

For Rangers and Celtic there are still some rumblings to come, it would seem.

Rangers escaped a UEFA fine because they played the National Anthem at their game against Napoli. I think it would have seemed absurd if they had been fined.

Celtic, however, face a fine because the Green Brigade or whosoever, displayed an anti-Royalist banner. And now we get into more difficult territory. Equity would suggest that if you let one away with their response, that you should let the opposition have the same courtesy.

In short, playing an anthem and showing dissent are two sides of a democratic coin.

Sport struggles with democracy. We do not go to see our favourite team because we share the political views of the guy standing next to us, the woman in the seats in front of us or the kids running around the terraces prior to the game starting. We all have opinions. And on the terraces, it is often opinions which divide us as much as unite us. We can agree on who needs to be substituted or which manager has had enough time to turn things around or whether the Board should stay or go. Well, maybe we don’t always agree. In fact, oftentimes, it takes a lot of debate before we get to the point of at least swing the other point of view.

But it is the debate that keeps us going. We hope we can prove that we are wrong and our centre mid is not rank, the manager does not need to buck up their ideas or the new owner has no reason to act before it gets worse. But there are plenty who within seconds of kick off, instantly disagree.

That we are unable to find unanimity with our fellow supporters on such fundamentals often leads to bigger conversations outside of the weekly worship at our favourite filed of forgotten hope come 4.45pm, each and every Saturday.

And so, the death of Queen Elizabeth II has caught us with a majority wishing to celebrate and recognise, and a minority wishing to have their voices heard too. Opposition to the monarchy has taken a twist with protesters now holding up blank placards as people who held up placards with writing got arrested and charged with public order offences. The opposition to the monarchy has decided to protest in quite an original and poignant manner. Along with some strong arm police tactics, laws to be enacted to reduce or remove the right to protest and even more legislation on the way to remove for some occupations the right to strike, many feel their civil liberties are ebbing away.

The offensive, to some, banner at Celtic Park was far from blank but it was a heartfelt and genuine, if disingenuous, response from people who have a democratic right to protest within a democratic society. Or is it just an offensive attempt to bring politics into an arena where it should not fit?

Whatever it may be, perhaps a level-headed debate is what we need… perhaps as rare within the context of the Auld Firm as a 95th minute penalty in a cup final against them?

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