We're not anti-English but the politicians deserve high jump

ARE you fed up hearing Scotland is too wee, too poor, too stupid to be an independent country?

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Well, some unionists reckon we are also too nasty to be hosting "the friendly Games."

English newspapers claim their athletes fear Scots Nats will boo them at Glasgow 2014. Team England has supposedly told them how to react to anti-English bigots as they venture over Hadrian's Wall. Have you ever heard such unionist tosh?

It's designed to create yet more negativity with the referendum less than two months away.

Sure, we are using football stadiums but it's no football match, far less the Tartan Army baying for the blood of the Auld Enemy.

And someone should remind them that, after their flop in Brazil, Roy Hodgson and his poor excuse for a team would be booed even in England.

Believe me, Mo Farah, Sir Bradley Wiggins and Tom Daley will enjoy the equivalent of the Hampden Roar (although Police Scotland will be thankful Ashley Cole and John Terry are not running the marathon gauntlet).

Football apart, it's not anti-English sentiment up here. We are anti-Westminster. Blame a myriad of perceived and justified grievances, from Culloden to 1966 overkill to such iniquities as the Poll Tax and the Bedroom Tax.

English athletes and visitors should feel at home in Glasgow, unless they are unfortunate enough to meet the Neanderthals that poison every society.

It's not Westminster politicians competing, more's the pity. Who more deserves the high jump?

Politics helped wreck the 1986 Commonwealth Games, when 32 African nations boycotted Edinburgh because of Maggie Thatcher's support of South Africa's apartheid regime.

It was also a financial disaster. Crooked media tycoon Robert Maxwell promised millions but it transpired he contributed hardly a penny (which was also his approach to my Daily Record pension at the time).

We are hoping for a repeat of Edinburgh 1970, a joyous celebration in a brilliant summer, just a month after Mexico hosted the greatest-ever World Cup Finals (now there was an England team to be admired, beaten by a Brazilian blend that remains the best ever).

For seven years we've been told Glasgow 2014 would inspire a generation, boost the local and national economy, and regenerate the East End after decades of decay. With one day to go, we are well on our way.

Glasgow firms won more than £200million of Games contracts for new state-of-the-art venues and a £229m Athletes' Village - that's 700 homes for sale and rent in Dalmarnock, where the new Clyde Gateway route now connects it to the completed M74.

Some £50m was spent upgrading Subway and rail stations and £13.3m on creating 11 miles of walking and cycle networks and a 400-bike hire scheme.

And in five years, the membership of council-run sports centres has almost quadrupled from 4485 to 16,535 (even if staff wages have stagnated).

But while track suits are already the clothing of choice for many Weegies, there's no chance of trackies suddenly being put to their intended sporting use in a Red Road-type explosion of post-Games euphoria.

Norovirus apart, we are Europe's heart disease capital, UK leader in low life expectancy and teenage pregnancy, with one in three of all city kids living in poverty and thousands using food banks. The Games will not register with most of these people, who will be well off the authorised beaten track for visitors.

But just as the UK media did in Delhi four years ago - and recently in Brazil - you'll find visiting journalists eager to shine a light on Glasgow's dark side for an expected TV audience of more than one billion.

PLENTY of folk will be happy to tell them that Glasgow 2014's £563m price tag could have been better spent.

Whether that becomes universally true will largely be determined by the success or otherwise of the next 11 days.

We have been assured the transport systems are ready.

The Evening Times has warned for months about Games hotspots to avoid, but we'll still hear gripes about delays and drivers being fined for using Games Lanes.

The biggest security operation in Scotland's history, costing £90m and including restricted airspace above the city, is ready.

Celtic Park is ready and looking splendid for tomorrow's opening ceremony, as are Hampden Park and the other venues.

Team Scotland's 310 athletes are suited and booted, ready to give their all in 17 sports.

Even the Glasgow Fair weather looks promising and, as I've said before, I only hope our expected one million foreign visitors mistake our litter problem for a ticker-tape welcome.

It's now up to the people, and those 15,000 helpers chosen from a Games record 50,811 volunteers. Let's kill those nasty rumours and prove the "friendly Games" have a natural home in the Commonwealth's friendliest city.

Sport

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