England’s early exit has strengthened No

England’s early exit has strengthened No

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The World Cup will all be forgotten by September

And so England will head home from the World Cup after the first round for the first time since 1958.  The result may be disappointing for England fans even if the standard of play – bar a few lapses – was generally better than expected.  Lapses, however, count dearly at this level.  How the results are seen in other parts of the UK is another matter.  In large parts of Wales and Northern Ireland, there’ll be some sympathy and support; in Scotland, rather less so.

Apart from that being a cultural division in its own right, it’s also a fact of some political import given the referendum now less than three months away.  A number of Scots Nats have posted on politicalbetting their belief that a good England run would produce a natural reaction north of the border; I’m inclined to agree that it would have done.  Given the early and low-key exit, it follows that there’ll be no such response.  The exploits of Rooney and co will be forgotten by the end of the month, never mind the end of the campaign.  In net terms, that’s a win for No.

There are of course other opportunities over the summer for Scottish patriotism to fuse with nationalism in a rather more positive way (i.e. rather than being simply anti-English), the Commonwealth Games being the most obvious.  A successful Games, however, could be used by both sides: either to assert Scotland’s ability to deliver top level events on its own or, alternatively, to show that independence is unnecessary to it being able to do so.

Even so, come September the Games will have been over for a month and the festival fading from the public mind as the obsession with the maestros (or hoofers) of the round ball returns.

David Herdson

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