On 18 September this year, the seventh anniversary of the Scottish independence referendum, a staggering thirty-four unionist-loyalist Orange Order parades will take place in just one city — Glasgow; one of two Scottish cities that backed independence in 2014. This of course is no coincidence. The Orange Order, in typical fashion — and with the consent of Glasgow City Council, intends to put on a triumphalist show of force to celebrate the victory of Britishness over Scottish independence and remind independence supporters of their place in the union.
Fifty to a hundred guys – and a few girls – dressed mainly in black, hoods up and faces covered, swaggering in a column towards a specified location in any city sends a very clear message! And we all understand what that message is. We don’t all button up the back. Regardless of how Police Scotland treat Loyalists, it was right for the police to intercept this little army – and it wasn’t wrong of witnesses and folk on social media to think this was a repeat of the last Loyalist day out. This brigade, this battalion, looked like a duck and it sure as hell quacked like a duck.
So long as we live in a world where the Scottish parliament’s former Presiding Officer, Tricia Marwick, insists that male politicians “wear a shirt AND tie,” we also live in a world where women are expected to dress in a certain way. Let me be clear, these are not my rules. I make a point of never dressing the way I am expected to dress. Other than the fact that I just don’t look good in black (it does nothing for my skin tone), the cassock, stock, and Roman collar are self-defeating in the twenty-first century; they look is far too authoritarian.
Yet, we feel that we can’t ban these marches – that we can’t ban the organisation – because to do this would be illiberal, it wouldn’t be tolerant. Rubbish! If the Orange Order insisted on marching through the more affluent streets of Glasgow, insisting that they too were “the Queen’s highway,” they would have been banned decades ago. If their songs and their open hostility were directed against Jews or people of colour instead of Catholics, the government would have no option but to ban the organisation. So, why is this not the case when they are marching down working-class streets?
How could these stories not leave the listener affected? At every stop on our way around the tunnels and underground platforms Paul informed us not only of the stories of the places and the events, but of the people – the ordinary working people of Glasgow, the ordinary working people of the Highlands who came, cleared from their homes, to work in the city, and the ordinary people of Scotland and elsewhere who passed through the station.
The object lesson here is that we are not powerless in our democracy. We do not need permission to act to safeguard the rights of others and the rights of our nation. In a democracy we elect – as free people – to delegate our power (that’s sovereign power in Scotland) to our chosen representatives. Nowhere does this delegation of sovereign power imply that we have given away our power. We have simply lent it, and we can just as simply take it back.
There’s a four day old report on the BBC website that’s refusing to go away. On the 22 February the BBC published a video report covering the cost of recladding a private apartment complex at Glasgow Harbour found to have “similar” cladding to that believed to have accelerated the spread of the fire on Grenfell Tower in June last year. As a result of that tragedy building inspections were carried out on local authority high rises throughout the United Kingdom, finding that of the 173 structures tested in England and Wales 165 were clad with the hazardous material.
In person the author of the Wee Ginger Dug is every bit as sharp and erudite as he is on his blog. His language is measured and precise. He uses words like surgical blades, always cutting right to the heart of whatever it is he has to say – and this is a rare quality in people. It’s impressive and intimidating in equal measure. What’s more is that he delivers this show, this oratorical performance, in the finest Glaswegian voice you’re likely to hear. This is something, given our horrible national inferiority complex, I had never thought possible.