"The estimated costs of introducing new laws targeting hate crime at football matches are "way off the mark", according to a leading police chief."Yeah, but suggesting that the problem with the proposed legislation is the cost is a criticism that rather misses the target as well.
The problem with this proposed legislation is that it is stupid, illiberal and unjust. Kick someone's head in and you'll get eighteen months, if the judge was feeling particularly strict; say you're going to kick someone's head in because they're an Orange/Fenian bastard and you could get five years in the 'New Scotland'. Actually, seems you don't even need to go that far:
"Football supporters could be jailed for singing God Save the Queen or Flower of Scotland under the SNP's new law to crack down on sectarianism.
Making the sign of the cross or singing Rule Britannia could also be regarded as an offence under certain circumstances once the legislation comes into force next football season.Community safety minister? Jesus wept! But the purpose of this is not to make an easy point about free speech; support this and you obviously don't believe in it - period. But if it wasn't this it would be something else, will be something else, just as stupid and illiberal in a constitutional framework where a voting system that was supposed to avoid overall majorities has delivered one in a unicameral system with no revising second chamber.
Community safety minister Roseanna Cunningham yesterday said that such songs and gestures could be regarded as offensive acts when she was questioned about the SNP's anti-sectarian bill being fast-tracked through parliament."
The other point is, why has our new strident majority government opted to make a priority of this and excessive drinking? For these are both problems that almost everyone agrees are Bad Things yet at the same time are features of Scottish life where it is doubtful that government has the ability to change without very drastic measures.
I would doubt, for example, that Salmond & Co would go ahead with restrictions on alcohol consumption of Scandinavian proportions. As for sectarianism, it is in any event a much-exaggerated problem. Glasgow 'Belfast without the guns'? Please don't be mislead; the sort of people who say this are exactly the same kind of people who describe only moderately authoritarian politicians as 'Nazis'. But in as far as it is a problem, we already know the Nationalists are unwilling to countenance measures that might actually do some good - such as eliminating religion from schools.
So what are the SNP playing at? I have to confess, I don't know but it seems to me that they're behaving like Blair did when he was first elected; huge majority yet still falling into the opposition default? Or in the case of Salmond, like he's still in minority government. Or maybe he's playing the long-game, avoiding controversial issues like the local income tax and keeping his powder dry for the forth-coming constitutional confrontation? But whatever happens, one is beginning to suspect that in the 'New Scotland' being Scottish will be elevated as a virtue above boring conventions such as the independence of the judiciary or legislative scrutiny.