An extremist far-right group behind a series of provocative demonstrations in Glasgow has opened a self-styled “community hub” in Dennistoun, around a mile east of the city centre. The shopfront unit has been opened on Hillfoot Street by the Regimental Blues, a loyalist street movement which maintains a strong social media presence alongside regular marches and demonstrations in the city, and claims to speak “on behalf of the Loyalist community In Scotland”.
Earlier this year the group tried to hijack St Patrick’s Day by staging a march bedecked in union jacks through the city centre, and they have links to a number of loyalist flute bands, as well as the Scottish Defence League. A Thousand Flowers can reveal that the new “community hub” has links to one of Glasgow’s most notorious and violent crime families.
The shop has been branded as the “P.U.L Community Hub”, an acronym for “Protestant Unionist Loyalist”, and opened on Monday promising to offer advice and drop-in sessions on welfare, legal and housing matters, a jobs board and computer access, and “a place where the door is always open”, with kitchen and toilet facilities. It marks a change in strategy for the Regimental Blues, who initially launched claiming that they “walk the walk” and would not shy away from confrontation. In one case, they put it to Glasgow City Council they that should be allowed to march down the Gallowgate, a street lined with Celtic pubs , which they conceded “will cause tensions, but for them for the simple fact they support terrorists.”
The shop is directly adjacent to a unit that for most of 2014 was operated by the local Yes Scotland group in Dennistoun. Within days of opening, the owners of the shop which has now become the “P.U.L Community Hub” covered its facade in union jacks and garish “Vote No” signs in a deliberate provocation to the Yes shop next door. Local crime rag The Digger greeted this with a banner headline of “MOB VOTE NO!”, revealing that the office in question is linked to the notorious Glasgow crime family the Daniels.
A Thousand Flowers understands the unit now hosting the Regimental Blues is owned by “millionaire property dealer” Roy Wolfin, owner of Key Home estate agents and the Key Cars private hire firm. Members of the Daniels family have previously served as directors for his firms, and in 2012 the Daily Record revealed that Wolfin’s payday loan shop, “Key Cash” in Possil, was being staffed by Daniels family members. It is unclear who is funding the latest venture by the Regimental Blues.
The less than covert links between Glasgow’s criminal fraternity and extremist loyalist groups are not, however, the most disturbing aspect of this recent development. More worrying, it shows the far-right adapting to a strategy which sees them reaching out beyond their usual target of angry young men. It’s currently unclear how much of their promised drop-in sessions with “independent advisors” on welfare and housing and job search facilities are sheer bluster, but it shows evidence of a much smarter approach than their one-time crusade of marching up the Gallowgate and campaigning to have all Irish flags removed from Scotland (except the Irish consulate in Edinburgh, which was nice of them).
By concentrating on issues affecting ordinary people, the Regimental Blues seem to be taking on a more nuanced strategy, an attempt to “fill the vacuum” amid resentment of mainstream politics and as cuts, sanctions and the neo-liberal breakdown of our communities spirals out of control. The success of far-right groups in propagating total bollocks around the refugee crisis through online memes, playing to time-old tabloid fantasies about asylum seekers and exploiting the British Government’s appalling treatment of former members of the armed forces, shows the vast challenge facing anti-fascists. Predictably, the Regimental Blues have been playing a similar game on Facebook recently, effectively Britain First with a West of Scotland slant, meaning they’re obsessed by the IRA and even more obsessed by the Queen, along with the usual dose of casual racism.
They are now making an attempt to step into real world community – or at least one “community” – politics, seemingly helped by someone with dubious links to a violent Glasgow crime racket.
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My shop is directly opposite. I looked online to get some background. I certainly found it a wee bit disconcerting.
This is sinister.