Sectarian abuse and violence have absolutely no
The First Minister has a welcome personal commitment to this issue. Will he use some of that commitment to press the football clubs that are part of the problem to take the lead, along with the police, in imposing on their supporters better standards of behaviour, so that we do not get abuse and violence from sectarian or other motives? Universal condemnation was visited on Spanish fans for jeering at a black English player. We want to create an atmosphere in which the same attitude is taken to people who jeer at players in Scotland for religious or similar reasons. Will the First Minister try to deliver that through the clubs?
I agree absolutely with Donald Gorrie on this matter and admire his long-term commitment to tackling the issue. It is just as unacceptable for white football fans in Scotland to hurl sectarian abuse of an anti-Catholic or anti-Protestant nature at players and other fans inside football grounds as it is for them to jeer black players or to pick on someone on the pitch because they are Jewish or Muslim. We need to make very clear in the Parliament that such behaviour is unacceptable in Scotland today and that we will continue to work to eradicate it.
We do not need exaggerated headlines on what the penalties might be, such as those that we saw earlier this week. However, we need seriously to consider football banning orders and the reasonable action that we can take. After a period of convictions or incidents, there could be more extreme sentences or cautions.
We also need to consider the action that the football clubs can take. Recently, ministers and I met representatives of the football clubs, who have been helpful. I intend to meet representatives of football supporters. I notice that there was an exchange this week between supporters of Rangers and Celtic, in which they both indicated a willingness to discuss the issue. It is time to bring the supporters' representatives on board. I intend to do that early in the new year, and I hope that we can get their full support to help us in our task.
Does the First Minister agree that, abhorrent as this type of
If they ever rerun that old Askit advert, Bill Aitken would be one of the miseries. He cannot see anything good about Scotland today. We have the lowest level of crime in Scotland for years; we have the highest clear-up rate that there has been in Scotland for decades; and we have the highest number of police officers ever. The police are on the streets more now than they ever were in all the years of Tory Government. They are now supported and complemented by neighbourhood wardens—to which the Conservatives are opposed—who are helping them in the local community. The police have more powers than they ever had before, most of which the Conservatives voted against in this chamber. The police are doing an extremely effective job, and they will do even better with the support of this devolved Government. That is the action that we need to take for Scotland. That is action that we should be praising and supporting, Mr Aitken, instead of coming along here like a misery week after week and condemning the police for what they do.