This is a family show, so the word in the title is “rubbish”. But the sentiment is something which, coincidentally, also rhymes with rubbish…

Look, don’t get me wrong – I’m as patriotic as the next Scotsman (though how you measure this, I’m not sure). I want the best for my nation, Flower of Scotland makes the hairs on the back of my neck stand up and I scream bloody murder at Scottish sporting failure. Are those credentials evidence of patriotism? If not, what is? I’ve lived here – with the exception of one Masters year – all my life. When I’ve worked – sparingly, since I’m a semi-permanent student – I’ve worked here. Are those essential for patriotism? I also think we should be independent – is that important? Or can you be a patriot and a Unionist (I think yes, but I’m trying to build a case for myself here).

So, all that said, patriotism evidenced… I still think its an utterly lamentable state of affairs I’ve found myself born into. Scottish? Be damned for eternity. That seems to have been the future which fate decided for us long ago.

I’m a big sports fan – and those of you who follow me on Twitter will recognise all the frustrations that particular vice brings me. But I’m not alone, and plenty of our population of 5 million join me in despair every time Scotland take to the field at football or rugby, watching in a masochistic orgy of expectation followed by crushing despair as we continually snatch cruel defeat from the jaws of victory, finding new ways to shoot ourselves in the foot along the way. Oftentimes we’ll blame others – the referee in both the Scotland v Czech Republic football match and Scotland v Argentina rugby match rightfully got pelters for terrible decisions which changed the shape of those matches – but the truth is, if we were good enough, we’d win. That we don’t is disappointing, but hardly surprising.

Sure, we’ve historically been decent – good even. We’ve qualified for tournaments and won Grand Slams. We’ve done better in other sports too – with frequent World Champions in snooker, major champions in golf – until the rest of the world were invited to play, then we fell down the pecking order. We’ve been World Champions in elephant polo (and just where in Scotland do they train?!) and we won the Homeless Football World Cup. And while the latter is a terrific achievement, it surely points to the fact that, as a nation, we’ve bigger problems than our lack of sporting prowess.

And that’s a fact. Although I’ve styled this as a rant about how rubbish we are at sport – or rather, how the story of glorious failure is always the same – its a symptom of a wider problem: the Scottish malaise.

This is a characteristic which epitomises Scotland (and is evidenced in the title of this post). We’re constantly down on ourselves. We have a level of expectation which, in many cases, cannot be matched by our ability. Its logical extension is the “too wee, too poor” argument against independence. On the flip side of that, those arguing for independence do what we do in sport, and blame others. “We’d be a much better place if only we were allowed to be independent” is the rallying call, as if independence is the silver bullet for all of Scotland’s troubles. Its not.

Politically, we’ve been here before – standing on the edge, ready to take a leap on something which would hopefully help to change Scottish society for the better. 1979, 1992 – opportunities to take a chance with a new institution and a new government ready to deliver such an institution. But then the Scottish mentality takes over, the fear of our own ability, the opportunity to blame someone else for our failures would disappear, and we’d be left with no one to blame but ourselves.

The constitutional debate – as it has been heavily featured on Better Nation this week – needs widened. Its not just about who governs us from where and why one form of governance is better than another. Its about big ideas for Scotland. How, to put this in the context of this blog’s founding, do we make this a Better Nation? If its independence, why will that be better? How will society as a whole benefit – what will our politicians do to ensure that being free to make our own decisions makes things better for that wider society? Similarly, if we want to stay in the Union, and countless many do, why is that better? What does the Union bring that we can’t do better here – by ourselves?

I started this post talking about sport, and I think its important to note its role in identity building. When a team is on the up, it gives a nation confidence – plenty of Welsh folk assured me that, had their referendum been in a year when Wales won a Grand Slam, the margin of victory would have been much more than the slender 6,721 votes that it was. Equally, when we do badly, the nation slumps – and some argue that the failure of Ally’s Army in 1978 had an impact on the 1979 referendum. Perhaps sporting success provides a confidence to the nation, extending into other areas of society. Perhaps the conviction that we can be good at something helps to motivate the populace into productivity. Perhaps a referendum at the moment would confirm that theory – or blow it out of the water.

“We’re shite and we know we are” is a chant heard regularly in the stadiums of perennial relegation candidates. Maybe if we should look no further for a new national anthem. Unfortunately, all it would serve to do would be to help us meet rather than surpass expectations.