Just Say Naw – To Galloway’s Sectarian British Unionism

Remember George the anti-Iraq war campaigner – then look at his allies now.

With the Scottish independence referendum less than nine months away, George Galloway is bringing his ‘Just Say Naw’ roadshow to Edinburgh’s Assembly Rooms on Monday February 3rd. A seat costs £10 a head – nothing comes cheap where ‘Gorgeous George’ is involved.

Galloway has been dining out on the Left for a long time since his triumph at the US Senate hearing, almost nine years ago, during the Iraq war. Whatever political differences others on the Left held then, we could all cheer his performance in front of such a smug, then thoroughly riled, bunch of war-mongering US politicians.

However, since then, it has been all downhill for Galloway as a credible Left politician. His Westminster election victories, won on a Left populist mix of Islamic communalism and Old Labourism, leave nothing solid behind. He only held the Bethnal Green and Bow seat from 2005 until 2010, and, in 2015, will almost certainly lose the Bradford West seat he won in the 2012 by-election. In Galloway’s own mind, this has no doubt been largely compensated by his financial gains for being an MP (albeit mostly absentee), from earlier substantial libel awards, from good earnings on the celebrity speaker circuit and, of course, from his cringe-worthy performance on Celebrity Big Brother.

One indication of Galloway’s political decline, over the years, is the allies he now has in the ‘No’ campaign. The official Better Together/‘Project Fear’ leader, Alistair Darling, was New Labour’s Scottish Secretary in 2003. He gave his wholehearted support to the Iraq War. Tory leader, David Cameron, also backed the war. The Lib-Dems, then in opposition, briefly opposed the Iraq War, but today Clegg wants to commit British troops to Syria!

And, of course, Hilary Clinton, a supporter of every US promoted war, including that in Iraq, is strongly behind the UK state in opposing Scottish independence. So too is Mariano Rajoy, Spanish PM and member of the rightist People’s Party. He follows Franco in denying Catalunya the right to national self-determination. He also backed the Iraq war.

And moving ever further right, backed by the British ruling class

But the mainstream ‘No’ campaign, with it official Labour (whatever Galloway’s own misgivings on this score), Lib-Dem and Tory backing, does not account for the full political breadth (or should that be lowly depths) of the anti-Scottish independence campaign.

Beyond the Tories lies the virulently anti-Scottish independence UKIP. Indeed, until fairly recently, UKIP wanted to close down the Scottish Parliament. UKIP are pulling both Tories and Labour further to the Right. ‘Blue Labour’, with its ‘UKIP-Lite’ politics, is far more influential in Miliband’s ‘One Nation’ Labour Party, than the marginal Left, or populist George for that matter.

UNITE general secretary, Len McCluskey and the Red Paper Collective project to reclaim Labour for the Left, was blown out of the water at Grangemouth by Miliband. Yet, in the British Labour Party leadership election in 2010, McCluskey supported Miliband as the favoured UNITE candidate, over the socialist, John McDonnell.

It was not the SNP who denied Galloway a venue for his ‘Just Say Naw’ roadshow in West Lothian (despite the completely false impression Galloway gave in his sectarian diatribe directed against the council). Labour run West Lothian!

Last year, the Radical Independence Campaign (RIC) challenged UKIP’s British chauvinism, homophobia and misogyny, when Farage made his British media-courting visit to Scotland. He came to Edinburgh for publicity when backing UKIP’s candidate in the Holyrood by-election in Aberdeen Donside. Aberdeen lies 120 miles to the north of Edinburgh!

The BBC fell right in behind the British ruling class in their wooing of Farage and UKIP. In the future, the ruling class could well turn on Farage and UKIP, once he has served their purpose and shifted the whole of mainstream politics to the Right. We have recently seen how the Greek ruling class, facing an even deeper economic and political crisis, used Golden Dawn, before turning on them. They had served their immediate purpose in diverting enough attention from the Greek ruling class’s alliance with the Troika to impose a banker-controlled government.

However, right now, the British ruling class still has time for UKIP in its drive to push mainstream UK politics further Right. Thus, four British unionists, Right populist, British UKIP leader, Nigel Farage, Scottish Tory leader, Ruth Davidson, Scottish Labour Depute leader, Anas Sarwar (who sends his two children to a private school) and Left populist, George Galloway, were invited on to Question Time. To counter this, the BBC only invited two pro-Scottish independence advocates, SNP right winger, Angus Robertson, and independent campaigner and journalist, Lesley Riddoch. The pro-Scottish independence contributors were outnumbered 2:1 by the British unionists. Yet the SNP forms the majority official government in Scotland. This sort of treatment of the official government would never occur on the BBC in London.

UKIP has little backing in Scotland – not one saved parliamentary deposit, nor one councillor. Their party machine has now fallen apart in Scotland. Here UKIP depends on in life support provided by the British media.

Galloway had already been seen off by the Glasgow electorate in his bid to win a Holyrood seat in 2011 – he did not even save his deposit. Yet, he used Question Time to support Farage’s right to publicly campaign unchallenged in Scotland. In effect, they formed a left/right populist ultra-British unionist ‘No’ alliance, to complement the more mainstream British unionist official ‘No’ speakers invited on to the programme.

Nobody was invited on to Question Time from the pro-independence Scottish Greens, who have 2 MSPs and several councillors in Scotland, nor from the pro-independence SSP, which has a councillor. Along with the Left wing of the Scottish Greens, they are both parts of RIC. Given that RIC’s challenge to Farage and UKIP was a central topic for this programme, the lack of any RIC speaker, and the choice of speakers taken showed the BBC’s pro-unionist bias.

But the BBC’s actions in this regard are just par for the course. It can produce more challenging programmes. Yet, whenever the British Establishment puts on the pressure, the ‘Beeb’ just rolls over, and does what is expected of it. Their supine record was highlighted by the sacking of journalist, Andrew Gilligan, over the Iraq Dossier; and their allowing New Labour spin-doctor, Alistair Campbell, to gatecrash one of their news programmes.

Now the BBC whips up anti-migrant feeling. On New Year’s Day, they sent camera teams to the Bucharest to film the ‘invasion of Romanians coming over here to get benefits’. They could not find any new benefit-seeking migrants. BBC managers would not dare to doorstep those greedy bankers, whose actions have made the vast majority of workers worse off, and pushed some people to suicide.

Galloway’s hypocrisy over the right to publicly campaign

Nobody in RIC was denying UKIP’s right to stand in an election in Scotland, or to publicly campaign. RIC was just asserting its right to publicly challenge UKIP’s putrid politics, especially when so openly encouraged by the British ruling class and mainstream media. Far from RIC’s protest being motivated by anti-English sentiment, those protesting included English students living in Scotland. On January 21st, this year, Farage faced a similar protest in Margate, which he stated, “Was actually worse than in Edinburgh, because in Edinburgh they came along to make a noise”! Good to see the spirit of Wat Tyler still lives on in Kent.

Any socialist would have used their time to attack UKIP’s British chauvinism; their hatred for migrant workers; their homophobia and misogyny; their tacit support for the banksters; and point to the embarrassing number of far right politicians and candidates who have emerged in UKIP ranks, from open racists to holocaust deniers.

When Galloway stood in the 2011 Holyrood election for the Respect Party in Glasgow, he effectively denied the right of free speech to SSP candidates who opposed the dishonest Left populist celebrity politics of Tommy Sheridan’s Solidarity. At a Solidarity rally, held in the city, Galloway virtually encouraged the audience to engage in attacks on other socialists. With Tommy away in jail, Galloway hoped to claim the celebrity socialist mantle in Scotland for himself. He still dismissed the prospect of an equal electoral partnership with Solidarity’s Gail Sheridan. Galloway’s misogyny is deep-rooted. His opportunistic electoral bid was firmly rejected by the Glasgow electorate.

And on to the ‘No’ camp’s wilder Right

But the chauvinist, homophobic and misogynist British unionism of UKIP does not constitute the furthest right limits of the ‘No’ camp. Beyond them lies the sectarian British unionism of the Orange Order and the Loyalists. Nor is the divide between UKIP and the Loyalists always that clear. UKIP’s chair in Scotland, Arthur ‘Misty’ Thackeray, has labelled Labour controlled Glasgow City Council as follows – “GCC actually stands for Gays, Catholics and Communists”!

The Loyalists morph into the neo-fascist British unionists of the BNP and SDL. The official ‘No’ campaign, UKIP, the Orange Order, the Loyalists (including their currently rampaging ‘Ulster’ brethren), BNP and SDL, all want a ‘No’ vote on September 18th. The official ‘No’ campaign depends almost entirely on the UK state machine and a pro-unionist British media to promote ‘Project Fear’. If they organised a public demonstration in support of the Union, people would very quickly see the ugly face of British unionism, as Loyalists and neo-fascists turned up.

The SDL have said they are coming to protest against Galloway on February 3rd. They are not protesting against Galloway’s support for ‘No’, which they are every bit as keen on, but his support for Muslims and Catholics.

Galloway will undoubtedly enjoy the publicity any SDL protest will give him. However, Galloway’s own politics do not really fundamentally challenge the politics of the SDL. The SDL is anti-Catholic and Islamophobic. Galloway attempts to counter this through his own flirting with Catholic ‘Hibernianism’ and Islamic communalism.

The sectarian Catholic ‘Hibernian’ tradition has long-standing roots. It makes no effort to challenge the official sectarianism embodied in the UK state with, for example, its Protestant (Church of England) head of state. Instead, ‘Hibernians’ seek better deals for Catholics within the existing order. The Ancient Order of Hibernians (AOH), tried to emulate the Orange Order, only for Catholic Irish nationalists. Joseph Devlin became the AOH Grand Master in 1905. It is not surprising that, in the First World War, he ended up acting as the chief recruiting sergeant for the British Army in West Belfast.

Galloway’s courting of Islamic communalism in Bethnal Green and Bow has become notorious. Most of the councillors in his Respect Party in Tower Hamlets and Newham soon deserted back to Labour, or even to the Tories. When they became disenchanted with Galloway, they settled back into an earlier form of Islamic communalist politics. Some Respect Party members also became involved in anti-Semitic activity.

It has become a hallmark of Galloway’s politics that he leaves nothing behind but an unseemly political mess. It did not take long after his most recent Bradford West Westminster by-election victory before all five Bradford Respect councillors proclaimed their resignation from the party. Galloway announced that, in effect, he was no longer getting enough of the national publicity he craves. He was now seeking a nomination for the London mayor election in 2016!

In Scotland, during the 2011 Holyrood elections, Galloway’s abysmal political sectarianism directed against socialists he disagreed with was partly overshadowed by his resort to crude Catholic ‘Hibernian’ religious sectarianism. He attempted to play the socially conservative Catholic card and to appeal to Celtic FC supporters on a sectarian basis. Galloway claimed a vote for the SNP would be, in effect, a vote for a new Stormont in Scotland. He argued that only a vote for himself and, implicitly Labour candidates elsewhere, could protect Catholics in Scotland from this prospect!

The decline of religious sectarianism and its replacement by anti-Irish racism in Scotland

The problem with Galloway’s misleading picture of contemporary Scotland is that it is based on a political ‘understanding’ which fails to relate to contemporary reality. Furthermore, his emphasis on the anti-Catholic nature of the SNP is only partly true of that party’s past politics. When the SNP was formed, in 1933, it absorbed the former Scottish Party (SP). Made up of dissident Conservatives, the SP indeed held the Northern Irish Home Rule Stormont parliament as their model for Scotland. A persistent anti-Catholic current remained in the SNP through William Wolfe’s leadership up until 1979. It last showed itself in the Monklands 1994 by-election.

However, even from its earliest days, Catholics were found in the SNP and could take on prominent roles. The Catholic convert, Sir Compton Mackenzie, won the rectorship of Glasgow University in 1931 as a candidate for the National Party of Scotland (the larger nationalist party which merged with the SP to form the SNP).

More recently, SNP leader, Alex Salmond, has been trying, with some success, to woo the support of the Scottish Catholic hierarchy away from Labour – at least until the removal of Cardinal Winning from his post. Although, the SNP have developed a more Left economic and constitutional pitch than Labour, in their contest over shared social democratic politics; when it comes to social issues, such as gay rights and abortion, the SNP have tacked to the right of Labour.

However the Labour Party can not be equated with always protecting the rights of Scottish Catholics either. Outside the Clyde Valley, Labour has sometimes courted Loyalism, particularly in the Lothian coalfields. As recently as 1986, Sam Campbell, Labour Provost of Dalkeith and member of the Orange Order, was expelled from the party for making virulently anti-Catholic comments at an Orange rally on Leith Links. He later returned to Midlothian Council as Labour’s Equal Rights spokesperson!

Labour has never opposed the Protestant/Catholic divide on principled secular lines, but has tried to mediate between two sectarian approaches, opportunistically adopting ‘Hibernian’ or Loyalist colouring in particular areas. More recently, this has also been their approach to Muslims where they have adapted to Islamic communalism. The SNP leadership is currently attempting to duplicate Labour’s approach with some success.

The comparison between Scotland and Northern Ireland

Over the last two decades, however, there has been a gradual shift from traditional Scottish Presbyterian anti-Catholicism to a more specific anti-Irish racism in Scotland. In the nineteenth century, when Ireland was part of the UK, both Catholics and Protestants thought of themselves as Irish, either as Irish-British or Irish-Irish. Then Unionists and Loyalists played up the Catholicism of the overwhelming majority of Irish nationalists, in order to differentiate themselves.

Since Ireland’s Partition in 1922, however, a new division has emerged in Northern Ireland, between those upholding an Ulster-British identity (replacing the old Irish-British identity) and those now upholding an Irish identity. No longer needing to assert their own Irishness, Ulster Unionists and Loyalists, along with their their Scottish allies, have concentrated less on their adversaries’ Catholicism and more on their ‘Fenianism’ – a specifically Irish (and originally anti- or non-religious) term.

In Scotland, that hybrid sectarian/racist divide was never able to entrench itself as firmly as it did in Northern Ireland. James Craig, Stormont’s first PM, declared that, “We are a Protestant Parliament and a Protestant state and that, “I am an Orangeman first, and a politician and Member of this Parliament afterwards.” Both the Church of Scotland and other Presbyterian denominations have declined faster in numbers and influence than their Northern Irish counterparts. They have also become somewhat more liberal in the process, despite a rearguard reactionary backlash.

It is no longer the religious sectarianism, of the likes of the late Pastor Jack Glass, which dominates the thinking of the Loyalist opposition in Scotland. Scottish Loyalist organisations follow the anti-Republicanism and anti-Irish racism of the UDA and UVF.

There has been a considerable influx of Catholic migrants from Eastern Europe into Scotland recently, but they have not attracted the same ire from Loyalists as the Irish-Scottish – unless they wear a Celtic (‘Fenian’) scarf! Where there is anti-Eastern European migrant feeling amongst Scottish Loyalists and neo-fascists, these migrants are not thought of as Catholics, but ‘unwelcome foreigners’, along with Eastern Orthodox Romanians and Bulgarians and Protestant Latvians, all barely distinguishable from Catholic Poles, Lithuanians and Slovaks.

At the same time as specific anti-Catholic religious sectarianism continues to wane, a new anti-Irish racism is consolidating itself in Scotland. The SNP government’s Offensive Behaviour Act of 2012 highlighted this. Celtic FC’s Green Brigade does not encourage religious sectarian songs, but Irish national and Republican songs. The Fields of Athenry condemns Trevelyan’s genocidal behavior, when he was in charge of disbursing aid to the victims of the 1845-9 ‘Great Famine’. There are certainly Green Brigade songs which celebrate Republicans who fought against the UK state and British Army. Yet those caught singing these Irish national or Republican songs face punishment for singing religious sectarian songs.

Now the Loyalists’ song repertoire certainly still includes religious sectarian songs. However, the notorious Billy Boys and Famine Song are specifically anti-‘Fenian’ or anti-Irish racist songs. The individual racist (and misogynist) Loyalist David Limond has just been jailed his for online physical threats directed against Irish-Scottish journalist, Angela Haggerty. However, when it comes to British soldiers in a Scottish regiment publicly displaying an openly sectarian banner, ‘Keep Ulster Protestant’, at a Rangers/Stenhousemuir football game, their commanding officers are left unquestioned, whilst the soldiers are merely ‘reprimanded’ – or so we are assured. The imposition of the Offensive Behavior Act is decidedly more skewed against Irish-Scottish Republican supporters than Scottish and Ulster-British Loyalists and their UK state backers

Galloway’s politics do not challenge but help to sustain reaction

In Scotland, Galloway has appealed to traditional socially conservative values of the Catholic ‘Hibernian’ tradition. ‘Hibernians’ might dream of a future society, where they come out on top, and are able to treat their former oppressors ad they have been treated themselves. However in the actual circumstances ‘Hibernians’ live under, they have first looked for an improvement in their everyday lives and current status within the existing political and social order. Clearly, such politics is unable to fundamentally challenge sectarianism and racism, since it remains trapped within the existing parameters of the UK state’s divided political order. The political counter to Catholic ‘Hibernianism’ is secular republicanism. Historically this sought to unite Catholic, Protestant (meaning Anglican) and Dissenter (including Presbyterians). Today, this unity would extend to those of other religions and none.

Galloway’s unsuccessful sortie into Scottish politics, in 2011, demonstrated that the majority of Glasgow’s Irish-Scottish and Catholic population have moved beyond his sectarian ‘Hibernian’ thinking. Today, more and more Scottish Catholics question the social conservatism of the Catholic hierarchy. They have done this for some time over contraception. Recently, more socially liberal attitudes have emerged amongst lay Catholics over gay rights and marriage. The international spate of scandals over the role of the Catholic hierarchy in covering up, or being directly responsible for, sexual and child abuse has speeded up this process of lay Catholic liberalisation.

Indeed, when it comes to conservative and reactionary social attitudes, be it over abortion and the provision of family planning clinics, or promoting homophobia, there have been alliances, in the USA, Northern Ireland and Scotland between the now increasingly marginalised right wing Catholics and Protestant fundamentalists. Jim Dowson, a Scottish Loyalist and fundraiser for the BNP in Northern Ireland, tried to make contact with right wing Catholics, with the intention of violently targeting abortion clinics.

One reason that Galloway made his specifically Catholic ‘Hibernian’ pitch in Glasgow, is that much of the Muslim opposition to the traditional Labour supporting Islamic leadership in the city has found a voice in the anti-Iraq war SNP, a rather inconvenient fact for pro-Labour Galloway!

In England, Galloway has had far more success in attracting Muslim voters, disenchanted with their traditional leaders’ support for the Iraq war. Galloway’s own appeal, though, has played to, rather than challenging, traditional socially conservative Islamic values. Certainly, he has also come under attack from even more conservative Muslim spokespersons. This is partly because whatever sympathies Galloway declares for some traditional Islamic values, his own personal lifestyle contradicts many others.

However, even in those Islamic communities, where very traditional attitudes still remain, some of Galloway’s own socially conservative ideas have been rejected. This was highlighted when the Salma Yacoob resigned from Galloway’s Respect Party over his glib dismissal of the rape accusations directed against Julian Assange. Thus today, amongst both Catholics and Muslims, more progressive thinking can be found. But Galloway still panders to the more traditional socially conservative values found in these communities.

Both Catholic ‘Hibernianism’ and Islamic communalism and remain barriers in the way of developing a consistent anti-racist and secular politics, in the face of the continuing state promoted anti-Irish racism and the Islamophobia we undoubtedly have to confront in Scotland.

Why RIC will be demonstrating on February 3rd

Thus, Edinburgh RIC will not be deflected from its intention to challenge Galloway’s British unionist ‘Just Say Naw’ roadshow on February 3rd, on the grounds of some specious ‘anti-fascist unity’, despite the planned SDL counter-demonstration.

Instead, RIC will be pointing out that Galloway and the SDL both work within the political parameters of the British unionist ‘No’ camp. The fascism of the BNP and SDL does not draw its strength from German Nazism, but from British unionism and imperialism. The EDL idolises Winston Churchill, and the BNP won its first council seat in Millwall, heavily bombed by the Luftwaffe in the Second World. The BNP, EDL and SDL see their political role as defending the British imperial and unionist state.

The UK state invented concentration camps for use in South Africa, long before Hitler appeared. Both the BNP and SDL see the original UVF of 1912, formed in response to the challenge of the third Irish Home Rule Bill, as the precursor of a their own specifically British fascism. The UVF received the backing of the British High Command in the 1913 Curragh Mutiny. This puts an interesting light on the behavior of the British officers in charge of the Scottish regiment at the Rangers/Stenhousemuir game last year. In time of economic and political crisis, British unionism and imperialism provides the grounds upon which both fascism and anti-democratic British militarism can take root.

We can not rely on the British media denying Galloway’s reactionary views on the Union the oxygen of publicity on February 3rd. It still remains to be seen whether the media goes along with promoting Galloway’s latest political stunt. Given the media’s earlier promotion of the Galloway/Farage left/right populist, British unionist, publicity-seeking marriage of convenience, genuine socialists should be ready to counter their possible response.

Comments (62)

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  1. matt Devine says:


  2. bringiton says:

    Any Scottish politician who stands on a platform which denies fundamental democratic rights to the people of Scotland has lost any credibilty in my mind.
    No time for these duplicitous b******s.

  3. Not sure where to start with this, but I really, really disagree with it. Firstly, let’s assume something that could be true, but might be false: GG’s views represent a small, but real, section of the Scottish people, that is, “left” Labour unionists. People who believe in the welfare state, oppose war and so on, but does so within the horizon of a hoped-for Labour government at Westminster. This is a constituency any reasonable ‘Yes’ campaign would want and need to engage with to win. In this sense, GG’s appearance in Scotland to make this case is an opportunity for a constructive debate. Instead, people campaigning for independence want to smear him, engage in I think dodgy talk about “Islamic communalism” (what is this?) and protest his events. Is ‘Scottish Asians for Independence’ also “communalist”? Galloway won support among “Islamic” (there are actually, you know, different Islamic communities, winning the support of Bangladeshis in East London isn’t necessarily the same thing as winning over mainly people of Pakistani origin in Bradford, but whatever…) communities on the basis of his opposition to the war, the failure of New Labour, Islamophobia etc. The author seems to imply he somehow caved to conservative social attitudes, but no examples are given – although everyone can imagine what he means, yeah? *wink*

    RIC seems to want to apply the same tactics is used to tackle Nigel Farage (a racist homophobe leading a racist party with fascist fringes) against Galloway. This is a disaster. Farage does represent anyone in Scotland, his views are marginal, his politics esoteric and obscure. This isn’t the same for Galloway – he was a Scottish MP for 30 years, he has a base in Scotland (of what size I don’t know), he writes for a Scottish newspaper, he is from Scotland. Protesting his arrival *as if* he were Farage is silliness, especially as the SDL is also planning to protest it.

    It’s fine to hate Galloway personally. I’m not a fan. I find some of the things he’s done and said embarassing and offensive. But protesting him, or trying to anathemize him like he’s a fascist, is just a pure adventure that is not going to do anything for the independence cause or convince anybody not already convinced. A bad mistake.

    1. tartanfever says:

      ‘section of the Scottish people, that is, “left” Labour unionists. People who believe in the welfare state, oppose war and so on, but does so within the horizon of a hoped-for Labour government at Westminster’

      – do they still exist ? are their really people out there so ignorant to think that Labour are still the party of the people ?

      God help us.

      1. I don’t like to call people ignorant, but yes, there are lots of people who think like that. In fact, if there were no such people, then everyone who is a ‘No’ voter just now is a right-winger and the whole ‘Yes’ campaign, as it is currently constituted, would be a complete and total waste of everybody’s time. In other words, we better hope these people exist or we’re fucked.

    2. bellacaledonia says:

      Hi Callum, thanks for the comments. There seems to be too distinct point your making. 1) ‘GG’s views represent a small, but real, section of the Scottish people, that is, “left” Labour unionists. People who believe in the welfare state, oppose war and so on, but does so within the horizon of a hoped-for Labour government at Westminster’ and that this group should be engaged with 2) Tactics to oppose him. I think I disagree with you on 1 and agree with you on 2. Treating Galloway like Farage doesn’t make sense. He represents people that have either been conned by his manipulative and fictional sectarian debate or who are confused by folk memory of his brave anti-war rhetoric. But he’s no Farage.

      But your first point is more difficult. You are right to say that Galloway represents a group of people but surely its legitimate to make a distinction between him and this constituency. Its perfectly solid to analyze and attack what he – as a unieue one man band – represents and stands for?

      1. I don’t think ‘conned’ and ‘manipulated’ gets us anywhere fast. Scotland has a deep, real and entrenched Labour constituency – people who, for good reasons, feel attached to a radical British tradition going back through Bevan, Michael Foot, the Miners’ Strike and so on. I’d say that constituency is small and probably getting smaller, but I’d say it’s still real enough to have an impact – real enough that people like GG can still sell tickets in Edinburgh, get some votes here and there in Glasgow and make a stir. It exists to an extent in Labour MSP group in people like Neil Findlay. It’s about politics and class interests and historic tradition – not a group of dopes being conned.

        Now, I want to *win* these people to Yes. I think the Union is a now disaster for their political aspirations – many of which I share. I don’t think the way to reach them is to react the way RIC did when someone – even someone as obnoxious, self-serving, repugnant and so on – comes to express that view. ‘Protesting’ Galloway at the same time as the fascist nutjobs is not a winning strategy. Writing articles full of – and I’ll use my words carefully here – potentially alienating language about ‘Hibernianism’ and ‘Islamic communalism’ (again, I’d love the author to explain in a few sentences what this means) isn’t going to cut it.

        Twitter last night was full of people taking the bait on Gaelic, Galloway for Prime Minister, Big Brother, Assange and whatever. It was grim – a *total* and *complete* win for Galloway. John McTernan is crowing about how upset SNP members were, that Galloway “gets under their skin”, and sadly he’s right. Either ignore him, or if you can’t, have something better than rehashed New Labour hitjobs. It hasn’t cut ice for 10 years, and it won’t cut any this year.

    3. Hi Callum,

      Thanks for your response.

      You mention the need to appeal some of those people who support Galloway. Although, I did briefly make that point myself, it is further underlined by the report of the meeting made for Edinburgh RIC. This is can be read at:-


      This article explains the thinking that went into Edinburgh RIC’s organising on the night and how RIC carried this out. Nobody in Edinburgh RIC has suggested that Galloway was a fascist, or a right populist like Farage. RIC members held up posters, so those coming to the meeting could see the point we were making (see photo at the head of the RIC blog), handed out leaflets (these will hopefully soon be displayed on the Edinburgh RIC site) and asked Galloway questions inside the meeting.

      We will have to disagree about the tactics to be used by Edinburgh RIC with regard to right populist Farage last year. This demonstration was the first against the almost non-stop UKIP media assault. Tory and Labour commentators just capitulated to his British chauvinism. Following the RIC challenge, UKIP’s Scottish organisation has gone into meltdown.

      However, that does not mean they will be seen off so easily. The forthcoming Euro-election is ideal ground for UKIP. Their electoral bid will receive prominent publicity in the British media, which extends to Scotland. It is likely that the last Scottish Euro-seat will fall to either the Greens or UKIP. I doubt that the Leftist UKIP-Lite ‘No-2-EU’ will outvote either of these two parties.

      You also quite correctly point out the need for a definition of communalism, something I have subsequently supplied in another comment on this blog.

      Lastly, I’m surprised that you think “it is fine to hate Galloway personally”. I don’t. I do hold his Unionist apologetics, sectarianism and misogyny in contempt though. For me, one of the things the Left has to get over is its addiction to celebrity Left politics, whether that be fawning support for Ken Livingstone, Arthur Scargill, Tommy Sheridan or George Galloway.

  4. Jim Monaghan says:

    to me, this lets the fascists off the hook, they are there to protest Galloways links to islam, we need to be opposing the SDL at this event, not attacking Galloway. There are plenty of places and times to have an argument about Galloway. The article is contradictory, an attempt to pretend that Galloway shares anything with UKIP etc because they agree on the Scottish referendum question falls down when you are sharing an anti-Galloway platform with the SDL.

  5. muttley79 says:

    The SNP was formed in 1934, not 1933. Also, Campbell barged his way on to Channel 4 News. He was interviewed by Jon Snow (I remember watching it at the time). In addition, was it not Channel 4 that had the Benefits Street documentary? I am not defending the BBC’s pro-unionist stance though!

  6. rossim02 says:

    Interesting read – but in terms of targets it’s worth double checking some of the facts, eg Benefits Street is Channel 4 and not BBC.

  7. rossim02 says:

    Interesting read, although as others have pointed out it was slightly marred by factual errors in places, e.g. Cardinal Winning wasn’t removed from his post, it was Cardinal O’Brian (or forced resignation); Benefits Street was Channel 4, not BBC.

  8. Dcanmore says:

    I agree that while Galloway is an ever-diminishing force (and voice) in politics, on this occasion it should the SDL that is protested against. If not then Galloway will spin this challenge against him onto the SNP and the Independence movement. If he has a gift then that is it. Like Callum says Galloway has his supporters in Scotland and people will pay to hear him talk because he has something to say (like David Icke), but that doesn’t mean to say he is relevant. There is entertainment value in George but as the years pass that is all he has become.

    Fight the SDL wherever they show up, George can be debunked anytime.

  9. I read the article and found myself wondering who it was talking about.In parts it meandered around and I got lost.Galloway is not my kind of person,in my opinion he is a hypocrite,he basks in his own light,or his own imagination.I think he lost most if not all of his Scottish following,his habit of jumping into bed with whomever is near,makes him a shallow person.I think the piece was showing how GG uses divisions in local politics to his advantage,like most politicians.Being an atheist I just cant understand all the religious stuff,and why religious people claim to love peace and their fellow man,then try to kill each other and poor atheists like me get caught in the crossfire.I don’t understand the idea of hating anybody because they come from a certain place,people come to Scotland because they see Scotland as a place to be and in doing so become (in part) Scottish,now this is each persons choice to become Scottish,others are born Scottish and had no choice! Would they choose to become Scottish?I may have what is presumed to be an Irish name (its my name) but my grandfather’s grandfather came from the Garngad,and all the women had “Scottish” names.Maybe I am naive (probably most likely) but I cant understand why hatred carries on down the centuries.I would rather help anybody than harm somebody who had already caused me harm(saft&daft maybe) and I don’t want to understand why I should dislike a person because of their name or place of birth.I have always found hatred to be a wasted emotion,it is destructive and I would much rather build something or help build something.Being constructive means no time to waste on hate.(I wonder where all that came from hmm) It seems I also meandered through the various fields.

  10. Will Mcewan says:

    This article is seriously and dangerously mistaken in many areas but I’ll pick up just a few.

    William Wolfe was in no respect anti Catholic. He was a friend of mine, he a married a Catholic (also a friend of mine and the widow of the first national organiser of the SNP John McAteer,also a Catholic) and went regularly to mass in St Anne’s, Cadzow.
    William’s mistake was to suggest that when the Pope visited UK he should communicate with the Archbishop of Canterbury for his English visit but he should contact the General Assembly of the Church of Scotland when seeking invitation to Scotland. This the Labour Party twisted into an anti Catholic legend.

    There was no sectarian issue a the Monkland’s by election. I was there . The sectarian issue was invented by GEORGE GALLOWAY who insinuated it into the Herald (which for the first and only time in its history made a front page apology the following day). I was there outside the hall at which George and a cabal of Labour MPs invented the sectarian nonsense because he got angrily involved with a few of us when they came out and announced what they had sent to the Herald.

    Cardinal Winning was not at any point removed from his post. He died in it. He was a good friend of Alex Salmond and Alex Salmond had article in the main Catholic newspaper every issue when Tom was in charge. His predeccesor Cardinal Gordon Gray was an SNP member.
    As a matter of interest I am a West of Scotland Catholic only too well aware of the virulent anti Catholic nature of many in central Scotland in the not too distant past – though in fact this was mainly anti Irishism.

    If this article had any merit (and the political vaudeville act that is George Galloway,a self seeking unsocialist bad man is fair game)it has lost it in careless and dangerous inaccuracy.

    David McWwan Hill

    1. john pollock says:

      Agree 100%. Some of claims are simply factually inaccurate/untrue.

      1. Please provide examples.

    2. florian albert says:

      Are you sure that Cardinal Gray was an SNP member, rather than (possibly) a sympathizer ? Bishops are generally expected to steer clear of party political commitments. I believe his brother was a Tory councillor in Edinburgh..

      1. Alasdair Frew-Bell says:

        The prelate removed, and exiled in disgrace, was Keith Cardinal O’Brien. He was rumoured to have nationalist sympathies.
        The equation Irish + Catholic = nationalist leanings is confounded by the example of the Scottish region of the Labour party. Catholicism has been present in the early romantic stages of Scottish nationalism, Erskine of Marr for example but the movement until the modern-era has largely followed the usual cultural-historical timeline with regards to the Catholic component; overthrown in 1560, practised by immigrant Irish and Highland peasants, adherents ill-educated, conservative, reactionary etc.

  11. douglas clark says:

    The problem with George is that he pretends to represent the the Muslim community. The mere idea that certain community leaders could and did get him votes in both Bethnal, Green and Bow and Bradford suggests that he is somewhat out of touch with younger Muslims. For they are as herdable as cats, i.e. not at all. There are radicals and conservatives and all sorts of shades in between. Much like the rest of us.

    George’s problem, although he will no doubt take the Chiltern Hundreds, is that he is out on a limb.

    There are enough Muslims in the independence movement to make George’s assertions of a new, universal prejudice unlikely in the extreme. These people, and those listed below, have made a decision. They do not believe that the communities they live in are evil, likely to turn on their neighbour the moment
    independence is achieved. Why should they? The evidence is pretty thin.

    It would, in George’s world, be wrong for a Catholic to be independent minded, or an atheist or a Jain, a Bhuddist or a Baptist or a Jew, only the great and good UK state keeps us in thrall to reasonable standards of decorum. That is the nonsense he peddles.


  12. john pollock says:

    Whilst agreeing with some of the general observations, this article is riddled with factual inaccuracies. If I were you I would have a closer look at the historical dates and facts before I challenged the bold George!

    1. Hi John,

      Could you provide me with those corrections, they would be most useful. I doubt though that they would undermine the general thrust of the arguments I have made. Normally I circulate drafts around to several people. This them I did not have time if I was to make the meeting deadline. The corrected version will be posted on the Emancipation & Liberation blog, to which there is a link from this site.

  13. Will Mcewan says:

    I’ll make that a little more clear. When the papal visit was announced to Britain William Wolfe complained that the Church of Scotland had not been shown the same courtesy as the Church of England with a request for a visit and this was distorted by Labour and the press.
    William Wolfe was a guest speaker at my adoption as SNP candidate for Hamilton in 1986.
    William Wolfe was a elder and a Session Clerk in the Church of Scotland and intensely proud of that Church with every right be so. It was the Church of Scotland that was responsible for the law that saw every Scottish child in school centuries before any other nation in Europe made its people literate. (Universal education in England was nearly 300 years later than in Scotland). This led to the Scottish Enlightenment and the suggestion that Scotland was responsible for the invention of the modern world. It is time for Scotland’s Catholics to recognise that Scottish Protestants have every justification in being proud of their sturdy, stubborn and independent church.
    David McEwan Hill

    1. john pollock says:

      I was with you for a moment until that statement. As a Catholic I have never questioned anyone’s right to be proud of their faith. I intend to vote yes. This time last year it was no. I put forward the anti catholic argument until I paused and asked myself why am I defending a faith/institution that has very little, if any relevance to my life?

    2. Iain Ross says:

      “It was the Church of Scotland that was responsible for the law that saw every Scottish child in school centuries before any other nation in Europe made its people literate.”

      Culminating in the Education Act of 1872 which has done untold damage to Gaelic language and culture. Time for lowland Scottish Protestants to be acknowledge that?

      As a side note as a Highland Scot I find all this talk of sectarianism alien and it means nothing to me, in fact it is cringe worth and should be left in the trash can where it belongs. Let’s focus on building a brighter future, is this not what this is all about?

    3. Alasdair Frew-Bell says:

      It was on the shoulders of the likes of the Catholics John Mair or Major, John Leslie and Hector Boece that the reformation built the education system to disseminate the doctrines of the new kirk. There were 5 universities in Scotland when England had but two. A system of schools based at religious foundations was widening with the establishment of grammar schools. The continental connexion influenced ideas in education and facilitated the arrival of renaissance humanism to Scotland. Ironically along with the latter came Lutheranism and subsequently Calvinism. Internal reform of the ecclesia Scoticana, however, was beginning with the enlightened Bishop Elphinstone of Aberdeen. As Scotland was the last state in Europe “to go protestant”, with considerable help from England, had the internal politics been less chaotic things might have been rather different. The new Kirk did certainly encourage popular education but it also discouraged the arts as frivolous and officially encouraged the use of English viewing Scots and Gaelic as inferior and tainted by the “Romish”. This process of anglicization made political union with England possible. The Catholic apologist (and supporter of Scotland’s independence) Ninian Winzet wrote, from the continent, in Scots. For an old style Scottish education you had to go to Europe.
      From whatever background, as a people we certainly have the brains. Together we can restore our nation. A Better Together that we can say Yes to.

  14. Ask yourself this,How can GG preach to the country’s in the middle east that they should have liberty and freedom from the very regime that he wants us Scots to stay a part of.He is now touring Scotland trying to convince his fellow Scots not to take the same road as he wants the middle east people to take.I do not trust this man at all

  15. “Nobody in RIC was denying UKIP’s right to stand in an election in Scotland, or to publicly campaign. RIC was just asserting its right to publicly challenge UKIP’s putrid politics” – No fan of UKIP – or Gorgeous these days – but you’re seriously trying to re-write history there. Farage wasn’t allowed to speak, so how could he be challenged on his policies? A mob of fannies shouting over someone in order to prevent him from speaking isnt a political act, its a fannies act and should have no place in a civilised society. GG quite rightly called it for what it was – embarrassing – and don’t try to convince yourself otherwise. Apart from that, I don’t disagree with much else, pretty much spot on!

  16. Hugh says:

    imagine Georgh Galloway being on the same side as the orange lodge!!
    and all the folk that started the iraq wars – you could not make it up

  17. chicmac says:

    I think GG is the kind of personality who intuitively reaches for the more ‘controversial’ option. I guess its a form of attention seeking??? And like the behaviour of an infant, at times can be amusing, even charming, but more often, frustrating. Also think a £10 entry charge will pretty much guarantee he will be preaching to the converted, those who need assurance that their insecurities are entirely justified.

  18. florian albert says:

    ‘at least until the removal of Cardinal Winning from his post.’ Is this a reference to Cardinal Winning’s death or to Cardinal O’Brien ? If it is the latter, he was not ‘removed from his post.’ He resigned. Arguably his conduct was such that he should have been dismissed but it did not happen that way.

    1. Alasdair Frew-Bell says:

      Given the seriousness of his case he was instructed by Pope Benedict to resign and leave Scotland. He was barred from attending the Conclave following Benedict’s abdication. So he was de facto removed from office. You can check this via online sources.

      1. florian albert says:

        Newspaper reports suggest that Cardinal O’Brien decided himself not to attend the conclave. (If this is so, it is one of the few areas where he emerges with credit.)
        With regard to him leaving Scotland, he was back – in Dunbar – soon after Pope Francis was elected.
        Are you suggesting Cardinal O’Brien concluded that, although exiled by Benedict, he felt entitled to return to Scotland once there was a different pope ?
        He is listed as ‘archbishop emeritus’ on the archdiocesan website.
        To me, it is inappropriate that such a title should be given to somebody whose conduct brought the church into disrepute.

      2. Abulhaq says:

        Florian Albert…i agree. He has a lot to answer for but he is considered a “Spirit of the Council” Catholic which explains a lot about his hubris-laiden “wayward” behaviour. Pope Benedict ordered him into exile. He left Scotland and some days later returned, only to be told once again to leave. Some insider’s believe the cardinal’s hat he received may well have been a mistake, a confusion of name. The Catholic church in Scotland has been damaged by this man. Unfortunately his influence, neo-modernist that he is despite occasional feigned protestations of orthodoxy, hangs around the creaking edifice. If he had dared to turn up at the Conclave, such arrogance would not have been out of character, he would have been barred. Disgraced prelates virtually exclude themselves. Unfortunately, once a cardinal always a cardinal. The current sic. Bishop of Rome needs to do something about that.

  19. Iain says:

    I’m not sure whether Galloway believes anything he says or whether, in the style of Katy Hopkins (I think that’s her name), he just needs attention and publicity. It’s kind of sad to see that need in an adult.

  20. pipster1977 says:

    Cant blame gg for going against the snp. Im all for independence but not with that racist sectarian party

    1. bellacaledonia says:

      Can you cite examples of such racism or sectarianism?

  21. Ken MacColl says:

    This appears to be a hugely muddled article but the inconsistencies of George Galloway’s politics are there for all to see. George is a chancer and the sort of politician that hardly anyone votes twice for, that is if he even waits around long enough for them to get the opportunity.
    He appears to support the self determination of every country but his own but in truth should not be taken seriously. Just remember that he is a Pussy Cat!

  22. wanvote says:

    Galloway did much more than ‘glibly dismiss the rape charges against Assange’ – he made a video on you tube *explaining* at length that having sex with someone whilst that person was asleep was NOT RAPE but merely bad etiquette!! The video was shown here on bella and on newsnet and though his remarks were condemned by many some found the need to justify his right to re-interpretate the legal definition of rape. Never understood why he is given so much publicity.

  23. Simon Barrow says:

    Agree with many of the comments above, and overall with Callum McCormick. This is, in too many respects, a confused, over-emotive and misplaced article — not up to Bella’s usual high standards — which will do little to diffuse and oppose the deeply flawed arguments GG is using against Scottish self-government, while giving ammunition to our opponents. It muddies too many issues along the way, as people have pointed out, and it fails to syththesise the reasoned critique that’s needed. GG exhibits the best and the very worst of populism (from the senate appearance to rape-denial)… but then so, sadly, does this piece. Among the various corrections needed: the gruesome ‘Benefits Street’ is on Channel 4, not the BBC. Btw, I’m not happy with many aspects of the BBC’s referendum coverage. Among other things, this exposes not so much institutional bias at the corporation as cultures of assumption and working which need to be changed. But I don’t think relentless Beeb-bashing by Yes campaigners helps us, either. Focussed challenges and efforts to get issues addressed and people heard does. I’d like the RIC protest on 3 February to focus on the positive case for radical independence aimed at the kind of people GG is trying to lure and bludgeon away, not personal attacks.

    1. bellacaledonia says:

      Thanks for the points Simon. Benefits St error corrected (apologies). I’m not sure how this piece is a ‘personal attach’, nor how it could possibly be described as the ‘worst of populism’? The author is quite right in saying that, given a platform Galloway “In effect, formed a left/right populist ultra-British unionist ‘No’ alliance”. I see that today ‘George Galloway has said he would like to become prime minister of an independent Scotland if his bid to convince Scots to vote “Naw” in the referendum fails’ confirming the worst suspicion that he has only ever been elected to a constituency of one.

  24. Alasdair Frew-Bell says:

    Compared to secularist systems Catholicism may be called socially “conservative”, though its attitude to the deficiencies of states, their governments and the economic systems they use would not merit the term. Questioning abortion or aspects of birth-control is an ethical position it does signify reaction. It does not come in a neat package labelled Reactionary Social Attitudes, convenient though that is for dissing organisations deemed anti-progressive.

    1. I have pointed our elsewhere that those Catholics of Irish-Scottish descent do indeed have a record of supporting progressive economic measures. This has traditionally been expressed in support for the British Labour Party in Scotland. This was before New Labour abandoned progressive economic measures in its support for neo-liberalism and now austerity. This has opened the way for Catholics of Irish-Scottish descent to shift their votes to the SNP.

      However, until very recently the SNP has tacked to the right of Labour on social issues such as abortion, and gay rights. In this it has followed an older Labour tradition of trying to woo Catholic voters in parts of the Central Belt. However, the impact of the women’s and gay movements on the Labour Party though has undermined social conservatism, providing Scottish Labour with its last credible ‘to the left of the SNP’ stance. I think this also helps to explain the lower support for a ‘Yes’ vote amongst women. The SNP government is now trying hard to catch-up, especially with its promise of improved nursery provision – but after the referendum!

      Therefore, the SNP government’s belated acceptance of same-sex marriages is to be welcomed. It probably reflects the independent polls conducted by YouGov and Mori-Ipsos, which show clear majority support (56% and 63% respectively), rather than their own poll, which, because it invited people to make their views known, was far from a representative sample.

      Furthermore, whilst I am sure that the overwhelming majority of Catholics do personally take the “ethical position” Alasdair upholds over abortion, there has been considerable ‘slippage’ by lay Catholics over other “ethical positions” upheld by the Catholic hierarchy, e.g. opposition to contraception. I suspect that lay Catholic attitudes to same-sex marriages is moving in the same direction. I have also met Catholics who see abortion as a particular “ethical position” for those of the Catholic faith, but would accept other people’s right to think differently, in effect acknowledging ‘the right to choose’. I think that the tragic death of Savita Halappanavar in Galway, who was denied an abortion, will further encourage such thinking.

      Therefore, many “ethical positions” do not remain fixed. Earlier Catholic and Protestant theologians often upheld chattel slavery, witch burning and heretic burning. Some conservative theologians still deny full equality for women. The theological upholding of chattel slavery and burning have been abandoned. We do not have to worry about these policies being pushed into the realm of public politics.

      Therefore, the possibility for ‘compromise’ exists over issues such as the role of women within religious hierarchies, same-sex marriage, and abortion. Those who uphold their own particular religion’s “ethical positions” can do this. However, they would not have the right to impose their views on others who do not accept them. The ‘right to choose’ has a wider application.

      It still remains open for women and gays to fight within their chosen religions to change any existing “ethical positions” they disagree with. I suspect some the vehement religious opposition to policies such as same sex marriage reflects the fact that many religious leaders know that they would soon be challenged within their own ranks.

  25. Bob Cordial says:

    Can anyone enlighten me please? What was the result of the poll commissioned by Alex Salmond re whether we Scots should make law, the Same Sex Marriage Bill?

  26. Bob Cordial says:

    OK don’t bother then!!

    1. Abulhaq says:

      The government consultation elicited 77.000 replies. 64% opposed the legalisation of same-sex unions. Only 18 msps voted against legalisation in the legislature. Scotland is following the current libertarian trend in this matter. Some nominally Catholic countries have also legalised these unions despite strong grass-roots opposition. Needless to say no Muslim majority state has even contemplated such legislation.

  27. As a RIC member who attended Galloway’s meeting last night, I can confidently state he was not treated in the same manner as Farage last year. Farage was barracked because of his racist, homophobic and misogynist views, but not physically attacked. Farage is a right populist not a fascist.

    Last night RIC members handed out leaflets outside Galloway’s meeting before going in to ask Galloway pertinent political questions in a non-personalised way. It was Galloway who resorted to personalised abuse and to puffing up his reputation, rather than answering the questions. He wanted to avoid a debate between those who think that only the UK state and Labour Party provides a guarantee of working class unity, and those who think these two institutions are outdated, and completely fail in this task. This is why we need to break-up the UK and create new organisations which can united workers on the basis of ‘internationalism from below’.

    On another point raised on this discuss list, if you want to get a better picture of William Wolfe’s position on the Catholic Church you should go to David Torrance’s piece at:-


    The key point is Wolfe’s describing and upholding Scotland as being part of a Protestant state. However, it is noticeable that even back them Wolfe was being challenged within the SNP.

    Yes, Wolfe had a second wife who was a Catholic. So the DUP’s Iris Robinson in Northern Ireland had an affair with a Catholic youth. I don’t think either of these cases show an ability to get over sectarianism,

    Richard’s article makes the point that both Labour and the SNP have had pro-Catholic and pro-Loyalist wings.
    Furthermore, the Midlothian Labour’s Sam Campbell incident occurred 4 years after Wolfe’s anti-Catholic attack.

    Today, as various other contributors point out, the SNP has been able to gain support from quite prominent members of the Catholic hierarchy, and its characterisation as being anti-Catholic, or having strong Loyalist tendencies is outdated; just as Galloway’s own personalised attempt to characterise Nicola Sturgeon as “Thatcher in a kilt” represented a rather lame attempt to resurrect the ‘Tartan Tories’. Nicola Sturgeon is a Tartan social democrat, and if Galloway wants to find another social democrat whose politics lie closer to the Tories today, he could look no further than Johann Lamont.

  28. Fabricated on the bony banks says:

    For some time I’ve looked upon G.G. as being an effective defender of the Westminister British state. Claims he’s anti T.rident his badge of honor was to be carried off by 4 police men from a Fastlane demo. BUT he’s against the only measure which will get Tr.ident out of Scotland and threaten it’s renewal, Scottish independence. Now that the Union is under threat and a Scocialist Scotland is on the horizon, George (who says he’s a socialist) thinks we shouldn’t do it because
    1. we speak the same language.
    2. Britain is a small island.
    3. We’ll endup beating up foreigners.

    If George Galloway ever stands up to make a speech in Scotland again it should consist of one word repeated many times.
    Me Me Me Me
    Me Me Me Me
    Me Me Me Me
    Me Me Me Me
    Me Me Me Me


  29. Fabricated on the bonnie banks says:

    aw shucks a cannae spell ma ain name. its’s richt noo!

  30. Tocasaid says:

    Article starts off well and then rambles a bit.

    I’d take issue with the ‘anti-Irish racism is gaining ground in Scotland’. Where’s the evidence for this? Outside of an ignortant but troublesome minority mainly centred in West-Central Scotland there is virtually nothing. Compared to the Scotland of the early 20thC it is even more miniscule. Some of the hate barely knows its target – Catholic or Irish.

    Significant swathes of Scotland remained Catholic after the reformation. I don’t hear much about sectarianism in Lochaber or South Uist? The Western Isles, despite being still very religious along Presbyterian/Catholic lines almost seem a model community. In places like Benbecula, Gaels will go to the same non-dom state school during the week but to different churches on Sunday.

    Tarring the whole of Scotland with the same brush because of the actions of a minority of bampots does none of us any favours. Especially when much of the ‘identify’ is a chosen one. I too am of ‘Irish ancestry’ but consider myself Scottish. Friends who are Irish born and raised seem to have no problems. And yet, some, mainly because of allegiance to one football team take on this ‘Irish’ identity despite having no obvious Irish family or identity. I don’t understand it. Equally, the links between Alba and Eirinn are openly celebrated like never before, especially in the field of art and language. Does this not matter?

    The sad fact is, that if TWO certain fitba teams were to suddenly disappear, most of this hate would too.

  31. Big Jock says:

    There is no evidence of anti catholic dogma within the SNP.It is a great urban myth created by ScotLab to counter the nationalist threat in the 70s.My dad has been a member since 1958.Scottish Catholic of Irish grandparents .I joined when I was 18.The only time I have seen sectarianism is from old Scottish Tories,Orange Order and rangers fans.Why would a party that opposes the British state support it by being anti Irish.Its laughable.

  32. Iain Robertson says:

    No one disagrees that GG is bad news yet there is some disquiet over the R Cameron article. Why? It’s confusing, say some. Well, I did have to read it more than once to get it all, but not because it was confusing, but because there is a lot of substance in it. (I will agree, the term ‘Islamic communalism’ could do with a bit of explanation.)

    It is not enough to say that GG is ‘bad’ or that he is an opportunist, etc. We need to know how and why he continues to (1) draw support from some on the left, (2) tap into the ‘deep and real’ constituency of pre-New Labour voters and (3) be given regular media coverage.

    You are not going to do all this in a couple of quick sound bites and I am not going to do it here because, to be honest, the original article pretty well covers it. I can understand why some feathers have been ruffled by the article. Some on the left prefer the independence issue to kept simple: it’s only to be about Scotland separating from Westminster then all will be well. I don’t mean some on the Left actually believe that, but want the public debate to kept that simple so as to ‘not frighten the horses’.

    All we do is disarm ourselves and those we need as allies. We need to have out there in public view how the spreading tentacles of our ruling class operate. The links with unwritten constitutional powers (privy council, city of London), the use of the far right (UKIP, loyalist, etc), the use of state agencies (agent provocateurs, spying, etc), the links to the media (of course, not just the BBC but why, oh why focus so much on one wee slip?) and the links to politicians outwith the UK.

    You need all this background to begin to appreciate exactly how dangerous someone like GG is. You begin to see how he serves their purpose (while, of course, serving his own) and how destructive he is of attempts to build a more enlightened, more democratic Left.

    Callum McCormick is upset because RIC were going to confront GG ‘as if he were Farage’. I think GG is more dangerous to us than Farage precisely because he dresses himself up with Left clothing all the better to mislead, confuse and demoralise us.

    I remember being told, many years ago when I was in the Labour Party, of a cynical warning given to an aspiring Labour MP, ‘those Tories in front of you are only the opposition, the real enemy is behind you’. We might change this slightly, Farage, etc are the enemy before us, GG is the enemy within.

    Final word. This is NOT how we should generally regard those on the left with whom we disagree. The point is that GG, by his words and actions, is not of the left any more than, say, Blair ever was.

    Iain Robertson

  33. Galloway’s ‘Just Say Naw’ meeting was also given a prominent place in The Herald on February 4th. My original article, providing some explanation of Galloway’s politics, has produced a variety of responses. Together, these show that it is important that those advocating Scottish independence do indeed give our attention to Galloway, the Left British unionist politics he represents, and the social divisions he both reflects and tries to encourage.
    A. Unfortunately, I did not have the time, to check all my sources, so some bloggers have highlighted two factual inaccuracies. The first of these refers to my mixing up BBC and Channel Four. The second points out that it was Cardinal O’Brien, not Cardinal Winning who resigned.
    I welcome corrections to factual inaccuracies. If these undermine the overall argument, then this is a real problem. However, in both the cited cases, this is not the case. You can test this out by reading the corrected versions.
    1. But the BBC’s actions in this regard are just par for the course. It can produce more challenging programmes. Yet, whenever the British Establishment puts on the pressure, the ‘Beeb’ just rolls over, and does what is expected of it. Their supine record was highlighted by the sacking of journalist, Andrew Gilligan, over the Iraq Dossier. Now the BBC whips up anti-migrant feeling. On New Year’s Day, they sent camera teams to the Bucharest to film the ‘invasion of Romanians coming over here to get benefits’. They could not find any new benefit-seeking migrants! BBC managers would not dare to doorstep those greedy bankers, whose actions have made the vast majority of workers worse off, and pushed some people to suicide.

    2. More recently, SNP leader, Alex Salmond, has been trying, with some success, to woo the support of the Scottish Catholic hierarchy away from Labour – at least until the removal of Cardinal O’Brien from his post.
    B. It was not my intention to provoke the spat between pro-Catholic and pro-Protestant comments, or to make the case that the SNP or Labour are more intrinsically anti-Catholic or anti-Protestant. I was pointing out that Labour has tried to reconcile competing Hibernian and Loyalist claims in specific areas of Scotland, not by seeking to overcome ethno-religious divisions, but by mediating between them. This attempt to manage ethno-religious politics has been extended to Muslim Asians. The SNP is trying to duplicate this Labour approach towards both the Catholic hierarchy and Muslim religious leaders.
    The fact that comments of both a Catholic and Protestant defencist nature, and of an SNP and (weakly) Labour apologist nature can appear, shows that supporters of Scottish independence can not content themselves with brushing such arguments under the carpet. They can not be satisfactorily addressed with ‘No such problems here’; or confined to a few fringe supporters of two football clubs. The issues raised have to be addressed and debated.

    C. There is also the call for me to define what I mean by ‘communalist’ politics. That is a perfectly valid comment. It does however, require some space, so here goes!

    Rather than begin with a fixed definition of ‘communalism’, I will try to elaborate this concept and reality giving relevant historical examples. Communalism in the UK has been a product of the interplay between migrants and their families on one hand, and the state and wider communities on the other. Two good examples would be Irish and Muslim communalism. The first produced a disappearing but not entirely extinct form of politics. The second is very much alive today. None of this is to deny the considerable differences found within both communities, allowing other forms of politics to exist and for conflict to emerge within communalist politics.

    How does such communalism arise? It is a migrant response to being treated as second class members. They find difficulty getting jobs, or discover that access is largely confined to the worst jobs. The same goes for access to housing. When it comes to education, there is either little recognition of the history and culture migrants and their families come from, or distorted versions are promoted.

    In response to this, migrants form their own networks for self-protection within the ‘host’ society. In the case of both Catholic Irish and Muslim Asians, the church or mosque has historically formed a prominent part in this process. These have helped newcomers by providing networks of support, help for getting jobs and houses, or succour in times of adversity. They have often offered wider cultural and recreational support (e.g. the setting up of Hibernian and Celtic football clubs). Given the hostility, and sometimes worse, migrants and their families have often faced from the UK state and from some members of the wider community, these religious (and other) bodies have, not surprisingly, often been given loyal support.

    Communally based organisations, when they become more established, tried to seek political recognition within the existing order. A good example of this would be the role of the Irish National League (INL) in the Irish communities in Scotland at the end of the nineteenth century. The Catholic hierarchy attempted to keep a firm control over this body, and in the process took very strong action against anyone who challenged that control, or who campaigned against the INL’s chosen ally, the Liberal Party. The first three chapters of The Life of John Wheatley (successively, a member of the INL, Catholic Socialist Society and ILP) by John Hannan, gives a very good indication of the flavour of this. ‘Hibernianism’ was the political expression of Irish communalism.

    Socialists, who believe that socialism is a real possibility, and not just a May Day dream (rather like Sunday Christians wanting a Christian order), have to develop a politics, which overcomes the ethnic, religious (and other) divisions encouraged under capitalism. We are not happy with a politics that looks no further than an accommodation within the existing social order. That is what communalist politics does – and also New Labour, One Nation Labour and the SNP leadership today.

    Secularism (limiting religious or atheist beliefs to the private sphere) is the approach socialists seeking a new society have developed to unite people from different religious and non-religious backgrounds. That biography of Wheatley (who eventually became Housing Minister in the 1924 Labour government) highlights the differences between those attempting a secular approach, which included other Catholics, and those pursuing a communalist approach in their politics. The latter also were opposed by some Presbyterians (particularly those in the Orange Order) pursuing their own version of communalist politics. They had (and continue to have) the added advantage that the UK state, they support, has anti-Catholic aspects in its constitution.

    Those advocating a traditional communalist approach also give succour to religious politicians who attempt to defend reactionary social practices, e.g. towards women and gays – the latter highlighted by Catholic hierarchy’s and many Islamic leaders’ opposition to the recognition of equal rights for gays.

    Prominent religious leaders also claim to be the sole, or sometimes the officially recognised leaders within their communities. From the 1980’s, both Tory and Labour governments and councils encouraged this in response to united, anti-racist opposition.

    Victims of particular forms of abuse – e.g. sexual within the Catholic Church and enforced marriages (sometimes accompanied by rape) within some Muslim communities – are discouraged from seeking real justice. They are unable to appeal to those beyond their communities who uphold universal human values; or even to seek justice within the state legal system.

    Bad practices with regard to human and individual rights are not confined to Catholicism and Islam, as the sickening case of rape-victim, Helen Percy, within the Church of Scotland shows, and the treatment meted out to those accusing ‘Comrade Delta’ of sexual abuse in the SWP.

    However, it is heartening that those members of the Catholic hierarchy covering up abuse, are far more likely today to met by public protests from lay Catholic members, than from some latter-day Pastor Jack Glass.

    The original article points to examples of Catholics and Muslims who have questioned their religious leaders’ conservatism or reactionary social stances.

    D. This brings me to the last point. As one commentator has said, there has been a decline in anti-Irish sentiment in Scotland. Indeed, at a cultural and social level there has been a growing celebration of the Irish connection. This could not be clearer than in the great Celtic Connections events in Glasgow, which have just finished for another year,

    The article shows that traditional ethno-religious, or sectarian and racist opposition to the Catholic Irish found in Scotland, has given way to a more specifically anti-Irish racism, even if the extent of this has indeed declined in wider Scottish society. However, the e operation of the Offensive Behaviour Act (OBA) shows that the state is putting an obstacle in front of this. It defines the targeted behaviour it opposes as as ‘sectarian’.

    The reason for this, is that the UK state, including its current Scottish branch, does not want to give up on the powers it has with dealing with certain forms of political opposition, e.g. republicanism. The OBA is skewed in its application. Just think of the treatment of Neil Lennon, subjected to so many attacks. It is also is designed to protect the UK state forces. We saw this at the.Rangers/Stenhousemuir game last year.

    The OBA completely ignores the state-enshrined ‘sectarianism’ of having a Protestant monarch as head of state. Now, if the possibility of the British monarch being a Catholic was the still the only issue, it is more than likely this ban would have been lifted some time ago. It was contemplated under the last Labour government. The real reason this is unlikely to happen soon, is that it would threaten UK’s continued hold over Northern Ireland. Having a constitutional Protestant monarch provides succour to Loyalists. Otherwise, they would organise riots much worse than their ‘flag’ protests in Belfast. Some of them would openly advocate UDI, and pursue a policy of ‘nullification’, i.e. the ethnic cleansing of Irish nationalists and republicans.

    And, it is precisely because the knock-on effect of Northern Irish politics can reach Scotland, that we have to seriously address these problems.

  34. Galloway seems VERY confused… “NAW Surrender”? – As he put it in his diatribe…

    I have the grave misfortune to live on the fringes of West Lothian. We’re what my (Catholic) Grandmother would have called a “mixed” family – She and my wife’s (staunch Mason) father were of the same generation… Nana’s candles from the Pope’s visit and the old man’s Masonic bits and pieces occupy the same ‘memory box’ in a dark corner under the bed… We’re an irreligious lot! But don’t intend repeating history’s mistakes by repeating them…

    Here’s my own personal account of sectarian intimidation in West Lothian, precipitated by my position on independence… http://matt-quinn.com/Referendum/Intimidation_and_bullying.pdf Frankly, Galloway may have a point about some areas of the district being steeped in the throwback-mentality of the Orangeman. For the abuse meted out to be was certainly of that order.

    But I was called a “Fenian B******” on no other basis than my failure to kautau to their Unionism. It’s a complete non sequitur therefore for Galloway to claim anti-catholic bias in West Lothian Council’s refusal to grant him an audience.

    1. Alex Buchan says:

      Matt I don’t know if you’ll pick up on this response. I found this article through the RIC website and have been reading through the comments. I’m a bit surprised that there has been no response to your comment. What you describe putts the stuff about Galloway in the shade. I’m not sure if this has been picked up but this needs to be more widely known and there needs to be some discussion about how collectively we deal with this kind of thing.

      1. Alex – the first thing I’ll do is invite you -and all reaonable headed folk of whatever persuasion to feel free to communicate with me via the email address matt ‘at’ matt-quinn.com I’ll admit to the worth of a certain ‘caution’ in response to what I wrote. For it is as well to deny such throwback behaviour the oxygen of publicity. I merely place it on record.

        Galloway saddens me. for I once thought him a man of integrity… Sadly ‘Asian babe fetish’ – which I must confess some weakness to mysellf ( my eldest child is 1/2 Chinese – and very lovely her sadly-late Mother was too!) -seems to have addled his brain. George DID have my comments emailed directly to him. But has clearly risen well above the point where some scheemie from the Red Road who happend to have a ‘half-chinky’ wean is of any iterest to him – even if said fetishist happens to hold a UK presscard… George is – to date – above so mch as a reply!

  35. Ibrahim passande says:

    This is a misinformed self serving rant

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