George Square, Tommy Sheridan, sunshine and guaranteed leather, what could possibly go wrong? #HopeOverFear was back, in all its angry, shouty and perhaps even kinky glory. Keen to see if Tommy Sheridan would drive in on some kind of misogynist monster truck or Robin McAlpine would soar over the crowd doing a Common Wealy, we snuck down to “Freedom Square” to sample the festivities.
Once again my tardiness meant I missed much of the Yesbikers spectacular, which was just about the only thing I wanted to see. Thankfully, they kept circling George Square for a bit, which helped drown out at least some of the din emanating from the platform. But it would take more than a few bikes to make a bigger racket than Tommy Sheridan, once again the star of his own show.
Before we go on, it’s compulsory to mention that lots of people were there who aren’t about to be carried aloft in Comrade Shouty’s solidarity session. It was a rare sunny day, there’s grass in the square, you can take your weans and a picnic and people are, in fact, free to support the SNP if they choose to do so and to express that view in a public place.
I met lots of people, some more friendly to us/Tommy/the SNP than others but there’s a limited extent to which I’d ever ridicule people for happening to go to political events to see what‘s going down…especially since I was in attendance myself. A mention is however owed to those who simply couldn‘t attend anything which Sheridan was involved in, given how many people‘s lives he wrecked in his failed attempt to unshag and unlie his way back to credibility.
The speakers list was rather less packed than the previous rally, with more time given over to music. This, combined with the weather, created something less fundamentally depressing than the previous event, which was more of a gruelling list of angry people telling us we should all vote SNP, although the fundamental message of today’s platform was much the same.
It’s hard to argue with the inclusion of people like anti-poverty campaigner Denis Curran or Roza Salih, one of the Glasgow Girls who spoke of the need to build solidarity with the Kurds fighting ISIS. But as per, everyone and everything was punctuated with appearances from the man himself. Let’s recreate that famous photo of the two young women holding their saltire in the midst of a mob of unionists on September 19th, only this time…with Tommy in it! Let’s have a speech from CND, so Tommy can lead a big chant afterwards. Let’s invite loads of bands to play, so Tommy can engage in never-ending banter about tied up cables and how people will be coming round with SEALED buckets [emphasis his] to collect money for whatever it is, presumably more flags and more amplification for those least in need.
Everyone not fortunate enough to be in the non-restricted viewing areas had the benefit of a big screen which displayed the platform, along with various graphics, including some promoting the hasthag #lendyourvote2SNP. It’s a social media phenomenon which could certainly do with the publicity, since prior to today’s event, it was used on a whole 8 occasions, always by a man called Tommy Sheridan.
Some of our old favourites were in attendance as promised, including unilateral declarer of independence, SNP councillor Pat Lee, who we can report did not repeat his call for the SNP to just form a separate state in the now likely event they win the most Scottish seats. He did however confirm the election is an opportunity for a “second bite of the cherry”, whatever that means, before going on to shout “shame on them“ about various ideas, people and institutions. We can also confirm there were not only teacups but another ride which featured Thomas – in this case the tank engine and not the perjuring misogynist fantasist.
There was another familiar face, in the form of the Captain of the Common Weal (Ltd.), Robin McAlpine, who came across a bit like Ed Miliband posing with the Sun – you couldn’t help feeling he was apologising for being there, although clearly not strongly enough, given he was still, well, there. He spoke about “controversies” which are “a great shame” apparently, but said we should be “reaching out across divisions and not dwelling on them.” We’re sure there’s a massive divide between someone who’s a self-appointed leader of a purported lefty nationalist movement and, erm, Tommy Sheridan. The controversy tends to happen when you share a platform with the “great shame.” “We need to put pressure on our leaders,” McAlpine said before he and Tommy embraced. Yes Robin, we do…
The bizarre aspect of today was that it was appeared to merely be a rally in favour of an SNP vote, held without the input (support?) of the SNP themselves, who were round the corner launching their Women’s Pledge. The event was largely organised by a bunch of obscure left-wing groups who‘ve been hovering around Sheridan since he destroyed the socialist movement last decade. “Hope Over Fear” was initially dubbed as being “the socialist case for independence”, but any reference to getting rid of anything other than the Labour Party and the BBC seems to have gone AWOL somewhere along the way. While there were ample flags – Welsh, Cornish, the Lion Rampant (the Scottish Royal Standard…) – the plain old red one was nowhere in sight.
Sure, there were the usual stalls, but they only really demonstrated the trouble over at Team Tommy at the moment. We spotted the CWI, otherwise known as the Socialist Party of Scotland, not to be confused with the Scottish Socialist Party, from whom they split to form Solidarity, only to split from Solidarity….remember? Solidarity used to be Tommy, the SWP, CWI and a few stragglers, but the CWI have now left over disagreements with, you guessed it, Tommy Sheridan and will now be participating in the totally different Scottish TUSC (or STUSC), which is made up of the SWP, the CWI and a few stragglers – past TUSC candidates have included…Tommy Sheridan. If you’re completely lost by these meaningless acronyms, so are they. Suffice to say, the class struggle seems to be on hold until after another referendum.
The monotony of average white band after average white band, playing versions of such socialist standards as Flower of Scotland, was broken by a pretty decent outfit, playing Average White Band followed by a rendition of Long Train Running, but we’d ran out of steam long before. I decided to hit the road and spare my ears and soul the main event, which all the previews suggested would have involved Tommy again repeating that we should all vote SNP… in case you missed that part.
By far the most telling Tommy-ism of the day was when he declared he wanted at least “30 dragons to slay the Westmonster.” But we’ve been here before, creating one monster to destroy another and in the end, all getting burnt. Tommy continues to breathe fire in the direction of all those who point out he’s never accepted his role in the destruction of a movement which, had it continued to thrive, could have played a decisive role in actually winning independence.
The conclusion alluded to by almost all the speakers, that independence is now an aim which can and will be delivered in future, is hard to dispute. We always argued a No vote would create much less of a decisive outcome than a Yes vote because it would be viewed as “the past” holding back “the present”, our parents telling us we weren’t quite ready. The forces which created the desire for independence will continue to strengthen and the ties which hold the union together will continue to weaken. So is the focus on Yes, Yes and Yes again really what the left should be doing? Do their now 106,000 plus members not do a good enough job getting the SNP vote out?
I’d suggest the Nats are doing fine and dandy without the assistance of Scotland’s most recognisable liar. Despite what today attempted to project, the referendum is over. The sooner we stop seeing everything as a postscript to one referendum and a prelude to another the better. Yes is the answer to a question no-one is asking right now and being encouraged to shout it at everything will only allow those in power to continue to do bugger all to make Scotland that fairer place they all prattle on about. But of course, that’s of no interest to Mr. Sheridan.
Underneath the shiny, or should I say slimy, façade of today’s event, Sheridan was hosting an election rally for a totally different election, the Holyrood election in 2016, in which his aim will be to become an MSP on the Glasgow list. His flawless tactic is to say the SNP are amazing until about May 8th, when he’ll declare that in fact, he’s been the King of Yes Swingers all along, so the least we can do is vote for him. This isn’t a pitch to the left, it’s a personal pitch to a specific group of nationalists he’s been courting for the last two years with his shouty patter. Hell mend the scraps of the former left holding his bags in the vain hope they can use him to get a “radical” message across, eventually, probably, once he’s stopped organising big rallies in support of the Government. Rest assured that if Sheridan is given yet another opportunity to set the left in Scotland back several decades, he will, to steal the mantra of today’s event, seize the day.
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