When I first heard about today’s march for independence in Glasgow, I had a sneaking suspicion it might be a bit of a wash out.
But my eternal cynicism/stinking hangover faded slightly as the sun shone over this morning’s proceedings. I’m not gonnae give a big chapter and verse on some nationalists going for a walk. Obviously, there were shouty men in kilts aplenty but there were loads more families, weans, young people, women and more working class folk than are ever attracted to events run by the Great British Labour & Trade Union Movement™ or what’ s left of the left.
Speaking of ex-lefties, no ATF day out would be complete without an appearance from Comrade Sheridan of Cardonald, flanked by Gail and perennial Brit botherer, Donald Anderson.
And no demo would be complete without a counter-demo, and thanks to a few football fans who we overheard saying, “we didn’t know, we were just in the pub,” we were reminded that there remains work to do for Yessers amongst “certain elements of the community.”
A massive shout out is owed to the guy who can be frequently found hinging oot the windae beside Glasgow Green, who you may remember from his starring role in this video about the bedroom tax.
When we reached the Green, things came to an abrupt end. After a wee rendition of Flower of Scotland featuring bagpipes on fire, we were informed no speakers were scheduled. With a mixture of relief and bemusement, I nearly headed off.
Then I heard that unmistakable hoarse roar, “BROTHERS AND SISTERS.”
For an event billed as being Yes “all under one banner”, it was nice to know that the one speaker, you can probably guess who, was followed by a financial appeal from another of his party members, just to make sure the broad range of Solidarity was represented. Credit to the family who managed a selfie with Sheridan and their wean holding a flag emblazoned with the words “FUCK THE UNION.” I contemplated attempting a snap with the furry perjurer myself but the queue was too big. Some day…
Anyway, his sparingly short speech involved lots of references to armies and militarism, which seemed appropriate given the overall tone of the day and how much marching around with flegs we’d all be doing. “Keep marching until we deliver Scotland its freedom,” he bellowed, in fact, Tam got so excited about Marches, he encouraged people to attend his event on March 19th in George Square. I’d encourage you to do the same, not least since you’d avoid running into him at his event, which is in September.
If Sheridans’s patter isn’t your thing, there were at least a few other Yes regiments in the crowd if not on the platform, including the one man Scottish Resistance, Nicola’s Army and our friendly neighbourhood fascists, Siol nan Gaidheal. #diversity
An event like today simply wouldn’t have been as busy or vibrant were it not for the referendum, there is clearly a desire not to let the grassroots nature of the Yes movement fade and there’s a lot to be said for the kind of DIY approach that made this at least a bit different. Most folk had fun, that doesn’t normally happen at demos and not having a massive list of speakers is a plus not a minus, so long as it doesn’t mean just having Tommy screaming at us.
But the absence of any kind of politics, of any mention of why independence is still a good idea, could run the risk of creating a movement that’s very easy for those of the used-to-be left or even the far right to exploit. I don’t really care for sharing space with openly racist organisations or disgraced shagtastic egomaniacs, solely on the basis they voted Yes. Building independent movements from below, which one day we might have half a chance of connecting together, seems like a much better option that chucking up a big tent and being surprised when it attracts clowns.
Context matters and it’s important to remember how young this movement is; forget about the 20s or “it’s Scotlands oil”, what’s happening right now really only started a few years ago. There is hope that, in time, a message develops which is less arrogant than the cry of, “we’re gonnae do it anyway,” which was put forward by the sole speaker today, less than a year after we made such a big deal about the democratic process and how great it was. We need to start raising some more banners, ideally less fascisty looking ones and realising that shouting Yes into the wind won’t win over many who weren’t convinced last time around.
Today was actually a reasonable amount of fun by the admittedly low standards of political events and as walks in Glasgow go, it was hardly the most reactionary or controversial of the summer months, despite the appearance of one notable Orange man.