COMMONWEALTH Games Secretary Shona Robison has launched a robust defence of the outfits Scottish athletes will wear at the Glasgow 2014 opening ceremony after their unveiling sparked widespread ridicule.
A petition urging the Government to prevent the use of the uniforms designed by Jilli Blackwood had attracted almost 22,000 signatures by last night.
Blackwood herself has insisted that she "didn't expect everyone to like" the outfits, which include a turquoise, fuchsia, navy blue and caramel tartan kilt with a blue shirt for men and a wrap-around dress, said to be inspired by the Saltire flag, for women. A shawl-like wrap and a stone-coloured leather bag complete the women's uniform.
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But Ms Robison insisted last night it was the ideal parade outfit.
"It is what it is," she said. "It's bright, it's colourful and it will stand out on the telly. It's not something we are expecting people to wear on a night out, it's a parade uniform.
"It's something that's going to be very visual and bright when those athletes come out and it certainly ticks those boxes.
"No matter what your view, the time is right to get behind the team."
Asked whether she would be happy to wear the uniform, Ms Robison replied: "I would love to wear the tartan. The tartan is absolutely fantastic.
"I think it's vibrant, it looks great and here's hoping we might get a wee snippet of it after. Although, it's very coveted, it's only the athletes that are allowed to wear it. So whether I get the chance to is probably unlikely."
Athletes and organisers are said to have given a favourable reaction to the design, but a growing number of people have signed a petition on change.org which describes them as "truly horrendous".
Richard Brown, who started the petition, said last night: "I think it's fairly safe to say that the vast majority of signatories support the athletes wholeheartedly. Finding this uniform horrific is an entirely separate issue, and the two shouldn't be clouded together as politicians often try to do.
"'It's bright, it's visual - it'll stand out!' - I don't think many on either side are disagreeing with that. As for 'it's only a parade uniform!' - that's one of the most important uniforms to get right.
"Try to imagine any other kind of group marching around in this uniform: marines? Queen's guard? Police officers? NHS staff? ... politicians?
"Would MSPs be willing wear this uniform for the opening/closing ceremonies? Sharing such a smart-looking uniform with our athletes would be an incredible show of support."
One signatory, Ross Laidlaw, said: "These costumes are wrong in so many different ways.
"Apart from the fact they look terrible and are an embarrassment for the people who have to wear them and the people of Scotland they also bring into question the credibility of the people who allowed them to go from design to full production to being imposed on the athletes and their supporters.
"A complete waste of money and the only thing more ridiculous than the 'fancy dress costumes' themselves is the refusal to accept there has been a huge mistake in the face of unprecedented levels of condemnation."
Maureen McClelland wrote: "Our athletes will be a laughing stock if they're forced to strut about in these.
"Scotland will be a laughing stock - and no amount of Games success will divert attention from our folly. In the name of God, scrap this mega-minging outfit before we become an international joke."