Thursday, 22 June 2006

Blair Back Peddles Over Tartan Army PMQ Slur

Yesterday at Prime Minister's Questions Anne Begg the Labour MP for Aberdeen South asked her leader:

While accepting that people can be passionate about football, does he agree that that incident besmirches the reputation not only of Aberdeen, but of the tartan army, who can travel the world without attacking supporters of opposing teams?

The Prime Minister's response in full to her question was:

My hon. Friend is absolutely right both in what she says and the tone in which she says it. I am sure that everybody condemns what was an appalling and totally unjustifiable attack. In fairness to the football fans from England, as well, the vast majority of them behave extremely well. The way in which the present World cup is being conducted is absolutely excellent and it is a great tribute not just to the German authorities, who are conducting it and in charge of it, but to the English fans who have travelled there. I pay tribute to all those who lawfully and properly are football supporters. She is absolutely right about what she says about that particular case.

The fact that he did not point out that the vast majority of Scottish fans also abhor such attacks which was part of Miss Begg's question has caused upraor with the Tartan Army.

However, with comments flying in from various Tartan army supporters associations A Downing Street spokesperson said later:

"What the Prime Minister was agreeing with was Anne Begg's clear assertion that attacks like these should be seen for what they are, which is a disgrace."

Going on to assert that Mr Blair was "absolutely not" criticising Scottish fans, the spokesman said, endorsing Ms Begg's view of tartan army members as peaceful supporters. However, as seen above Mr Blair's comments in the House did nothing to suggest this about the Tartan army. While Scottish fans praise the English fans on their good conduct in Germany that is in no way related to the question about an attack on an English fan in Scotland.

If only Gordon Brown hadn't raised the issue of World Cup football into such a political arena.

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