In choosing this September for the Scottish referendum on independence, the SNP was presumably hoping Scots voters would be basking in the glory of a successful Commonwealth Games. There is every reason to hope that the
games, which opened in Glasgow this week, will emulate the London Olympics for organisational skill and, moreover, will help to sell an often-maligned city to the world.
But why does it follow that Scotland needs to be independent of the UK to organise and enjoy such an event? If these games had been marred by pettifogging bureaucracy or financial constraints imposed by Whitehall,
or if someone in London had trampled on Glasgow’s bid and put forward London or Birmingham instead, there would be every reason for Scots to feel aggrieved.
Clearly none of those things happened. These games, and every Commonwealth Games before them, demonstrate that it is possible for Scots to cheer on athletes wearing Scottish vests while remaining part of the UK. The same happens in every World Cup and Six Nations Championship.
The issue facing Scots in September is not whether they want to be able to cheer on their own national sports teams, but whether they want to continue to enjoy the benefits of being a single economic and social system, where money, goods, people and ideas can flow uninterrupted backwards and forwards across the border.
We trust that Scottish voters will see through Alex Salmond’s narrow interpretation of patriotism and realise that there is no contradiction between cheering on Scotland and voting for the union.