WHY NOT?

A guest post from Matt Vallance. BACK at the end of last century, St Mirren briefly had a legend on the coaching staff – Ukrainian Sergei Baltacha, a Hero of the Soviet Union from his performances with Dynamo Kiev and the USSR national side. Today, Sergei is perhaps better-remembered as the father of former BritishContinue reading "WHY NOT?"

WHY NOT?

A guest post from Matt Vallance.

BACK at the end of last century, St Mirren briefly had a legend on the coaching staff – Ukrainian Sergei Baltacha, a Hero of the Soviet Union from his performances with Dynamo Kiev and the USSR national side. Today, Sergei is perhaps better-remembered as the father of former British tennis Number One, his late daughter Elena, who died tragically young.

In his short time with the Buddies, however, it was always a joy to speak with Sergei, a guy who had been there, done that and got the medals and the jerseys. His opinion on Diego Maradona, for instance, while making it clear what a great player the little Argentinian was, is couched in the best Scottish dressing room language – bad!!!

While at Love Street, Sergei was forced to sell some of his medals and trophies, to fund urgent medical care for his elderly mother back home in Kiev. He didn’t like speaking of this, but, he did admit, one or two of the awards were pretty special.

From memory, I think he held onto his Hero of the Soviet Union medal, which was the equivalent of our CBE. That’s the same level of award Denis Law has.

Now, personally, I feel it is an eternal, shameful demonstration of how loaded the UK’s honours system is in favour of England, that a journeyman footballer such as Geoff Hurst is Sir Geoff, while an all-time great such as Denis is merely a CBE. And it’s not just a Scottish thing, John Charles, Wales’ greatest-ever footballer merely got a CBE as well. George Best, the greatest-ever Northern Irish player, never even got a BEM, the lowest-ranked medal in the entire UK honours system.

And it is still happening, in the 2022 New Year Honours list, which has just been published, husband and wife team Jason and Laura Kenny become Sir Jason, and Dame Laura. I would never play-down these honours, which are deserved, but, Katie Archibald, who has partnered Laura to most of her many medals, remains Katie Archibald MBE.

This is a woman who “does the hard yards” for Kenny in the Madison and Omnium, who is, if you listen to the BBC cycling commentary team, the heartbeat of the Team GB pursuit squad, a woman who has: two Olympic Games gold medals and one silver medal; is a four-times World Track Cycling Champion; a 17 times European Champion and a one-time Commonwealth Games Champion, representing Scotland. All that, and only an MBE.

Of course, the real they’re laughing at us moments from the 2022 New Years Honours list are:
1. Diver Tom Daley gets an OBE, while Mattie Lee, the man who partnered him to that Tokyo gold medal, has to make do with the lesser MBE.
2. Daniel Craig gets to become a Commander of the Order of St Michael and St George – CMG or “Call Me God” as that particular honour is known in the 
Civil Service. Why did Craig get that particular gong? Because it’s the one given to his fictional alter ego Commander James Bond RN. At least, when reality mimics fiction, it shows somebody within the civil service has a sense of humour.
3. Sir Tony Blair, commit war crimes – you get to be a Knight of the Garter.

Some in the Scottish Independence Movement look forward to Independence and the ending of the UK’s tainted honours system. Of course, to make someone even a Member of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire, an empire which hasn’t existed for over 60 years might seem ridiculous, but, I can see no hint of England dispensing with its archaic honours system any time soon.

But, perhaps, with Independence, we will see an honours system which is fit for purpose – which doesn’t automatically honour those who manage to clamber up the civil service’s greasy pole to collect an Order of St Michael and St George or Order of the Bath medal with their final salary cheque – but instead, honours those who go that bit further – who make a difference.

If the supposedly egalitarian Soviet Union could honour the likes of Sergei Baltacha, why shouldn’t an independent Scotland honour our sporting heroes? Might we one day see Sir Finn Russell, being honoured for his feats on the rugby field, or Stevie Clarke officially getting the title Sir Stephen, awarded him by the Kilmarnock fans?

Here’s a suggestion, why don’t we take Alex Salmond’s notion of being in the early days of a new country and inaugurate our own Scottish honours system – the Order of Scotland, or the Order of St Andrew?

Let’s have our own honours system, away from the dead hand of Westminster? What’s stopping us?

BEAT THE CENSORS

Sadly some sites had given up on being pro Indy sites and have decided to become merely pro SNP sites where any criticism of the Party Leader or opposition to the latest policy extremes, results in censorship being applied. This, in the rather over optimistic belief that this will suppress public discussion on such topics. My regular readers have expertly worked out that by regularly sharing articles on this site defeats that censorship and makes it all rather pointless. I really do appreciate such support and free speech in Scotland is remaining unaffected by their juvenile censorship. Indeed it is has become a symptom of weakness and guilt. Quite encouraging really.

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