I managed to get to the end of the rally in Glasgow Green on Saturday afternoon, and met up with some friends for a little while. I’d have got there much earlier, but I couldn’t get out of the house because my street was closed off and there were polis, fire engines, ambulances, the bomb squad, and security cordons everywhere. A wummin along the road had just received a baby box. Ye cannae be too careful.
The real reason was because I had a previous commitment, and knew I was going to be busy in the evening as well, but I wanted to get to Glasgow Green just as a punter, to sample the fantastic atmosphere produced by this great movement, to participate without speechifying. I’m glad I did. There was an amazing turnout. Estimates of the crowd ranged from 35,000 according to the polis, up to 80,000 or more according to the organisers. Whatever the exact figure, this was certainly the largest demonstration in favour of independence that Scotland has ever seen. It even made the news in Catalonia, where pro-independence newspapers were delighted to report the large number of estelades, Catalan republican flags, on display.
There are those within the independence movement who are sniffy about marches and rallies. No one is converted from a no vote to a yes vote because a bunch of people parade down a Glasgow street waving saltires and playing bagpipes, they point out. And this would be true. But it misses the point. There is a great deal more to a successful campaign than converting no voters. Obviously it’s vitally important that we convert no voters, but in order to do so we must have an energetic, engaged, and enthused body of yes voters who are willing to give up their time and energy to the campaign. The purpose of a march and rally isn’t to convert no voters, it’s to give existing yes campaigners a morale boost in a country where the media is overwhelmingly opposed to independence and where independence supporters feel besieged and beleaguered, because that’s exactly what we are. Rallies are a way of allowing yes voters and campaigners to be visible in a country where the media conspires to keep us invisible. It’s a way of allowing people who support a yes vote to spend time in the company of others who feel the same way and feel the buzz and the energy that it creates. That’s the point of a rally, and yesterday’s rally was the biggest pro-independence rally that Scotland has ever seen. That fact alone should have been the news.
Mind you there’s something wrong when a supposedly pro-independence newspaper was put to shame in its coverage of an independence rally by yer actual BBC Scotland. Today’s front page of the Sunday Herald produced a genuine WTF moment. It takes a special kind of talent to make a photie of a wee group of 20 British nationalist far right haemorantoids look the same size as a march of upwards of 50,000 people – and in a newspaper which ostensibly supports independence no less.
The front page of the only Sunday pro-independence newspaper in Scotland managed to give the impression that a peaceful and joyful expression of belief in Scottish independence was equal in size to a display of British nationalist hate and anger. We have the Express, the Mail, the Sunday Mail, the Scotsman, the Telegraph and all the rest for that sort of thing, we don’t need it from our only pro-independence Sunday paper. All it did was to perpetuate the British nationalist myth that the independence debate is divisive and exclusionary, and to top it all the photie was accompanied by yet another story about supposed divisions within the Yes movement because some guy that no one has heard of shared something on social media with his 79 followers. So thanks a bunch Sunday Herald. Get a grip would you? Thanks. With friends like this, etc etc.
There were two types of nationalism on show in Glasgow on Saturday. There was the civic kind led by bagpipers and Sikh drummers campaigning for an independent Scotland, and there was the far right wing exclusionary kind waving Union flegs and making Nazi salutes in order to prop up existing inequalities and a status quo that works for the few not the many. Guess which one Ruth Davidson complained about?
Funny how the Conservative politicians who rushed to condemn the march for inconveniencing drivers never utter a word against the inconvenience and disruption caused by Orange Walks, and unlike Orange Walks you don’t actually risk physical assault if you try to cross the road in the middle of an indy march. Then there’s the dreadful inconvenience caused to all of us with the loss of our European citizenship and losing the right to travel and settle freely throughout the EU. There’s the inconvenience caused to all those people who are fearful that their jobs might be at risk once the UK falls of the EU and out of the customs union and single market. There’s the inconvenience caused to people in the island of Ireland who see the Peace Process at threat due to the intransigence of British nationalist Brexiteers. Oh no. These are as nothing compared to the disruption of an indy march. Nicola Sturgeon must condemn.
The real reason that British nationalists were pissed off about a march and rally of tens of thousands of Scottish independence supporters is that they couldn’t put on an equivalent rally of their own. Or rather they could, it’s just that it would be indistinguishable from an Orange Walk or a far right hate parade and would largely comprise the same people. All the sectarian exclusionary bigotry that underpins the Scottish Conservatives would be fully on display, and it would not be a pretty sight.
But the fact remains. The actual nazis, fascists, and extreme right wing bigots in this debate are overwhelmingly on one side, and it’s not the side that wants Scottish independence. Scotland in Union was pure miffed when people pointed out to them that it’s British nationalists who are the actual fascists and Nazis. “How very dare you imply that people who don’t want independence are vile,” said a spokesfleg who exists in my imagination. “It’s cybernats that are vile. Everyone knows that. It says so in the Daily Express.”
There are two paths facing Scotland, and we must choose which path to take, do we want the British path, of exclusion, of Brexit, of Tory misrule, of suspicion of foreigners and all that is different. Or do we want the path of joyful inclusion, of peaceful participation – the Scottish path, a path that leads to a better country. The marchers in Glasgow yesterday have chosen which path is best for them, for their families, for this country. Let’s choose the path of peace and inclusion, not the path of hate. Let’s choose the Scottish path, and not have a path chosen for us by Theresa May, by Ruth Davidson, and by far right extremists.
Video thanks to Phantom Power
The Wee Ginger Dug has got a new domain name, thanks to Indy Poster Boy, Colin Dunn @Zarkwan. http://www.indyposterboy.scot/ You can now access this blog simply by typing www.weegingerdug.scot into the address bar of your browser, the old address continues to function, the new one redirects to the blog. The advantage of the new address is that it’s a lot easier to remember if you want to include a link to the blog in leaflets, posters, or simply to tell a friend about it. Many thanks to Colin.
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