This past week the papers have been full of articles about the ugliness of the new Scotland away strip. Some mentioned in passing that the design used the racing colours of one Lord Rosebury, a patron of Scottish football in the late nineteenth and early twentieth century, but a lot went unsaid about who he actually was.
Rosebury belonged to a group within the British Liberal Party who are now referred to as the ‘Liberal Imperialists’. They held that under Gladstone’s leadership the Liberals had lost their hold of the vote due to neglecting the spirit of British imperialism. In 1871, Rosebury described Scotland’s unification with England as ‘like nothing so much as a poor man marrying an heiress’ (The Union between England and Scotland, Address to Edinburgh Philosophical Institution, 1871) and he opposed the foundation of a Scottish Parliament in favour of a devolved administration. 1884, he became the first president of the Imperial Federation League. At first he toed the Liberal Party line on the issue of Irish Home Rule but later spoke out in vehement opposition to it. In Rosebury’s time as Foreign Secretary he was known for his outright support for empire, his association with the campaign to increase naval estimates in support of overseas imperial interest and was responsible for securing a British protectorate over Uganda in 1894. His reign as prime minister from 1894 to 1895 was largely unsuccessful due to a combination of opposition from more left-wing members over his own party and a Tory House of Lords’ determination to defeat all Liberal legislation that passed their way. After his time as prime minister he was an outspoken and staunch supporter of the Second Boer war. This, alongside his absolute opposition to Irish Home Rule actually caused him to be unable to participate in the Liberal’s return to power in 1905.
Now our away strip is decorated once again by his racing colours (it was worn previously in 1881, 1900, 1905-1909, and most recently in 1951). This strip will be worn in the Euro 2016 qualifiers, from September 2014 to November 2015, one full year after the result of the independence referendum.
How close those “rhubarb” lines resemble the pink traditionally used to mark imperial British dominions on maps.
What an ugly strip.