MORAY’S MP IS FACING an investigation into his comments on Gypsies and Travellers – by the Scottish Football Association!
Douglas Ross has dominated the political headlines since his comments about wishing to see tougher enforcement against gypsies and travellers in what was supposed to be a light-hearted three-minute video interview of new MP’s at Westminster.
While he has since apologised, saying that when asked what he might do first if he was prime minster was an off-the-cuff remark based on work he was doing at the time, the MP has faced fury from political opponents and even Amnesty International.
Now the SFA have said they will consider if he has a case to answer under their rules of conduct for all those involved in the professional game – Mr Ross is a respected assistant referee who has officiated at the highest levels.
An SFA spokesman said: “The Scottish FA is committed to ensuring that football in Scotland is open to all and we wish to reiterate our commitment to our Equality Action Plan.
“As an Association we promote the values of equality, inclusion and respect with a view to creating an inclusive and cohesive culture across all levels of our game.
“The comments made by Mr Ross have been brought to the attention of the compliance officer and it would therefore be inappropriate to make further comment at this time.”
The Moray MP is being accused of being in breach of Rule 73, which states: “No recognised football body, club, official, team official or other member of team staff, player, match official or other person under the jurisdiction of the Scottish FA shall in an interview, a ‘blog’ on the internet, on a social networking or microblogging site, or in any other manner calculated or likely to lead to publicity, make comment(s) of a discriminatory or offensive nature based on, but not limited to, race, ethnicity, religion, gender, sexual orientation or disability, or that endorse or encourage foul play or violent Conduct or are otherwise offensive.
“There shall be a presumption that any material published in such a manner was published in the name of and/or with the authority of the person or body bearing to have published the material.”
The MP could face sanctions that could be a £100 fine, a suspension or even expulsion from the game.
When we broke this story on Thursday, I pointed out that giving the answer in the manner he did was a mistake by Douglas Ross.
It was – and one that he has admitted himself was an error of judgement, saying that of course no prime minister past or future would ever make such an issue any kind of priority.
Sadly for Moray’s MP, the wagons are circling his camp fire in what is a wholly over-the-top reaction to his comment. The simple fact is that he has been dealing for years with issues brought to his door by constituents as a Councillor, MSP and now MP.
There is a strong Gypsy and Traveller community either resident in or passing through Moray, some of them have caused problems for local people and local services. Mr Ross has called for a serious debate around those problems – but all he is receiving is the ire of people who have their own issues and see an easy target on which to vent their pseudo-concerns.
If they were really that concerned, they would agree that it is an issue that needs to be discussed.