Keep the peace and avoid potential flashpoints. The world’s media will be arriving soon…

Screen Shot 2014-09-01 at 14.02.47


As our beautiful democratising Independence referendum swings into September and the last fortnight, and with the Yes campaign brimming full of the confidence that visible momentum inevitably brings with it, the best and worst of this campaign has surfaced.  The best is highlighted in the other story posted on Bella today Yes Fife In The Sun This is the side of the referendum that most of us recognise like we see in the photo above from Moray yesterday.  A flowering of imagination, talent, optimism and a desire for a better and fairer Scotland.

A darker side, a more worrying side, is also emerging, which may need some good old fashioned common sense to deal with over next 17 days.  This comes mainly from an extreme Loyalist fringe who have little or no connection with the official No campaign.

Up until the second debate between Alex Salmond and Alistair Darling most on the No side privately believed the result was a foregone conclusion.   They accepted the findings of opinion polls and didn’t even entertain the possibility that Yes could win.   This complacency, born out of arrogance or entitlement amongst some, or out of a misplaced sense of unchanging permanence among others, is now over.  No supporters are having to face up to the fact that this could be close and Yes have every chance of winning.

99% of No campaigners, like those on the Yes side, will be arguing their case democratically and peacefully.  And so they should.  Respecting the ideas and legitimacy of opponents you don’t agree with is what a mature democracy is all about.  It needs to be re-stated too that despite all the passions aroused this has been one of the most civilised and democratic Independence campaigns in history. This aspect of the referendum has been a credit to the whole of Scotland – Yes, No or Undecided.

However, we also have to face up to a less pleasant facet of Scottish reality.  Scotland is not The Apocryphal Land of Kumbaya.  There are many who live here who engage in violent criminal activity and politically point-blank refuse to engage in any form of democratic discourse or debate.  These are the fringe loons of the Britannica Party, the BNP, the SDL and perhaps more worryingly: the sectarian bigots of the Orange Order.

These are not just a small handful of extremists. They number in their thousands and there are worrying signs they could intervene in our wonderful referendum in the last two weeks with violent unprovoked attacks on peaceful Yes campaigners.

Reports on Saturday say a pregnant woman at a Yes stall in Glasgow was kicked in the stomach by a well-known member of the UK far right.  It was a barbaric and cowardly act and thankfully the alleged perpetrator has been arrested by police.

Today’s Edinburgh Evening News describes of how a group of Rule Britannia singing Unionists abused and attacked a Yes stall outside Hearts football ground at the weekend.  This is despicable behaviour.

Also last week a fire was set off outside a Yes shop in Midlothian. It was a clear attempt to intimidate.  Other incidents of anonymous threats and actual attacks against Yes supporters have made the pages of the press.  Most haven’t.

As Yes momentum builds, and No flounders, Loyalist & far right attacks on Yes supporters may increase in certain areas of central Scotland.  Some of these Loyalists will feel threatened by Yes. These folk will have no enthusiasm for democracy, they can’t deal with the prospect of Independence psychologically, and they may act like wounded animals as a result.

We need to be aware of this and do everything we can do to keep the peace and minimise any chance of provocation.

Unfortunately the disgraceful, dishonest and hypocritical smears of Jim Murphy these last few days – a man steeped in facilitating violence in the Middle East against Palestinians and Iraqis – have given these loons all the excuse they need to try and undermine the peaceful process of our referendum.  The Unionist media, echoing Murphy’s ludicrous and deceitful claims about “organised Yes mobs” also bear part responsibility for inadvertently whipping up fringe Loyalist extremists.  This is totally inexcusable and irresponsible on their part.

With Farage’s UKIP and the sectarian Orange Order both due to publicly demonstrate in favour of the Union in the next fortnight I’d like to make an appeal to every Yes groups and every Yes supporter to please, please, please, do not go within a mile of either event.  Counter-protests, even holding up Yes banners, may only antagonise these extremists.  The world’s media will be arriving soon and despite what No says (or hopes for) the world will be watching us in the last few days.

There is absolutely nothing to gain and everything to lose by going near these extremists.  Who knows what lengths a provocateur hiding inside a counter-protest could get up, to try and sully the good name of our referendum.  If the police had any sense they’d see what was happening and ban the Orange Order march as a section of these Loyalist thugs, once they’re tanked up on beer and Buckfast in pubs, could run riot in Edinburgh afterwards.

In these last crucial days its up to to Yes supporters everywhere to be aware of the dangers – without unduly exaggerating them – stay positive, keep our sense of humour and perspective, but also use common sense to minimise the chances of Loyalists bigots bringing shame to our exemplary democratic process.

Comments (0)

Join the Discussion

Your email address will not be published.

  1. Tog says:

    All going very well until we get to the bit about Jim Murphy and then the labelling of UKIP as extremists.Mr Murphy does perhaps protest a little to much but quite how Yes supporters think mobbing his meetings helps democratic discourse I don’t quite understand. Admittedly some of this has been by Siol nan Gaidheal headbangers an encounter with who would show the New Statesman what blood and soil nationalism really is. High Street events are to inform Joe Public and YES/NO campaigners should keep their banners down and mouths shut when the other side are doing this. Saying this is to stop them spreading their lies or poison make the protestors look obsessive, unempathic and others things which I am sure you can work out for yourselves. Mr Murphy should be allowed to freely shout himself hoarse and allowed to get on with his campaign for the Union event if he is in danger of turning hinself into the Pete Wishart of the No campaign in the process.

    1. Justin Fayre says:

      That would be well and good if that was all Jim was doing. Alas he is also engaging in the worst aspect of the Better Together campaign, that of mass deception.
      Any sane person viewing the evidence gathered to date would view this as a desperate stunt.
      It is simply beyond belief that Murphy’s MI5 trained and skilled bodyguard team would stand calmly by and allow someone within two feet of their protectee, then stand calmly by and let him flee into the crowd.
      This like their other attempts to lie and be deceitful has backfired and could even leave Jim being charged with wasting police time….the final humiliation for a sordid man.

    2. Illy says:

      If he were telling the truth, no-one would object.

      But he’s not.

      He’s a doomsayer, but unfortunately he’s believable enough that it’s as though he were yelling “fire!” in a crowded theater.

      Does the UK have “incite to riot” on the books?

      1. Dean Richardson says:

        I think it’s worded as, “behaviour likely to cause a breach of the peace”. There’s no doubt that Murphy’s antics have been deliberately provocative. If Miliband had any principles, he would have withdrawn the party whip from Murphy.

  2. weluvenglish says:

    flying across early morning 18th – hopefully to join in the celebrations, but just to be there whatever. thanks for all the wonderful articles which have allowed me to keep pace with the whole shebang

    1. Ian Kirkwood says:

      Me too, with my son. We want to do our wee bit and enjoy the whole experience. We are going to win!

      1. Graham Hutton says:

        Flying home from Italy. Very emotional.

  3. Tina Feedgie says:

    I hope the citizens of Edinburgh silently turn their backs to the marchers.

    1. Doug Snell says:

      Might be better just to stay away from them – have a walk down to Leith and an ice cream!

    2. William McMurtrie says:

      Good tactic, but needs a lot of collective discipline. YES people have to be on their toes throughout the day, both Glasgow and Edinburgh. So easy for roaming fascistoids to provoke a cluster of incidents after the main events which though small in themselves, the tabloids could then massively inflate.

  4. Gavin P says:

    It would have been great to have lined the route of this OO march and turn our backs on them all the way. But it’s not worth it after what’s been happening.
    Still – it would be nice to find a spot somewhere where we could all dress in orange and sing peace/freedom/Yes/love songs and smile and laugh and dance.
    Cos one thing’s for sure; there will be nothing but bitter, hateful, angry faces on that march. Unless maybe Gordon Brown teaches them how to smile for the cameras.

  5. I agree with Kevin – Stay away – and if you encounter hostility stay silent and walk away.
    Do not let the ‘useful’ idiots become proxies for any injuries to anyone in order that the referendum is sullied.

  6. Scottie says:

    Non-violence is a weapon of the strong – Gandhi.

  7. Dean Richardson says:

    Apparently there’s going to be a UKIP meeting in Glasgow soon, and Nigel Farage will be speaking there in defence of the ‘Union’. It doesn’t take Mystic Meg to foresee trouble happening there, so be warned.

  8. Bryan Weir says:

    I would welcome the arrival of the World’s press. Surely that will give us at least a wee chance of some balanced coverage?

    1. Illy says:

      started already:

      via cynicalHighlander via Munguin.

  9. yesguy says:

    Great piece and sound advice.

    17 days and counting. Yes Scotland.

    Keep safe folks.

  10. Sooz says:

    You’ve all no doubt seen the recent missive from the Scottish Police Federation. To cut it short, they’re saying that all in all this has been a robust and largely good natured campaign on both sides, but that the recent stories from BT in the press, whipping up worry about “carnage” at the polls could be seen as incitement. Looks like Murphy and the No campaign have had their heads well and truly smacked. The bottom line to BT appears to be – keep going on about it and you may incite it, in which case on your heads be it.

    That’s BT telt and not before time.

    That said, it makes perfect sense to avoid confrontations of any kind in the next two weeks. Just let the unionists do their bit in the glare of the world’s media; the word is out across the globe that we’ve been given a hard time on all sides and the fact that we’re so far ahead is testament to our message, our spirit and our belief in a better democracy. At least the rest of the world can print what our own MSM refuses to cover. Apart from the Sunday Herald of course, for which all thanks.

    1. Justin Fayre says:

      So refreshing to hear this. Well done America

      1. MBC says:

        Wonderful. This is from a radio site affiliated to the Democrat Party and progressive politics, Net Roots.

      2. Dean Richardson says:

        I notice that the radio presenter referred to Alex Salmond as Prime Minister, rather than First Minister. Does he know something that we don’t?

      3. Iain Hill says:

        No, we all know it!

  11. The term’The NO-HOPE CAMPAIGN’ springs to mind.
    Good advice to keep away from these likely troublesome events,but can’t help thinking if it don’t happen for them they’ll fabricate some anyway.Look at the coverage of the ‘mystery’ egg assailant.Don’t be surprised if there is another ‘DESPICABLE EGGING’ LOL.

  12. Bill Scott says:

    Dead right Kevin. Hope folk take your good advice.

  13. Gary says:

    I agree with everything you say and although I would love to be on the street to let them know that they are minority groups I’m clever enough to stay away, their actions will speak for themselves. I would also at the same time urge people to be there taking pictures and video as anything untoward happening will not get the media coverage that it deserves. I’m talking about quiet observers, not flying colours or engaging in arguments. But average grass route campaigners that have done so much to make us proud so far.

  14. MBC says:

    The best we can do in Edinburgh is just to leave the Orange Order empty streets. Nobody looking at them at all.

    1. Alex Birnie says:

      What a fantastic idea! Boycott Edinburgh on the day of the march! Imagine the visual effect on the TV of these idiots walking down empty streets! Imagine the reaction of the shopkeepers along the route of the march to the reduction in business. That just might be the trigger for the local authorities to ban future marches! There is no place in a modern society for these “history spinners”. Their time is past. What happened in Ireland in the now distant past is and will be irrelevant in a forward-looking Scotland.

  15. David Gillan says:

    We know what there here for! We know that both the OO and UKIP are reactionary forces and this is both what they thrive on and how they nourish themselves, by feeding off dissent! Despite what the UK government has tried to achieve by labeling us as “nasty nats” “cyber bullies” using there press and media against us, to belittle and insult us, to provoke us over the last 2 years, we have maintained our peace and our decorum! They have failed and will continue to fail in there attempts to “press our buttons”

    We know that we will not be subjugated to there rule! So let’s just let them get on with there bile and we will carry on as we have…in peace with positive assurance that our outlook is the by far and away the best way that we serve our independence movement.

  16. Iain says:

    The point about an agent provocateur or two getting in among Yes supporters (think eggs) and discrediting the Yes movement is a very relevant one, especially given the emphasis that will be placed on any such thing by the media. The best advice is to steer clear of the nutters in the first place and ignore their marches or rallies. I would also suggest ignoring Sincerity Jim – there’s nothing funnier than seeing pictures of him haranguing an empty street.

  17. Charles Edward says:

    Be Warned! Please stay away from the marchers, these are not democratic people. They have fixed blinkered minds when it comes to this Union business. To describe it as fanatical is wrong, there is a militant belief behind their actions that is very dangerous. The best approach is to let them bang their drums and go away, let the police deal with their disorder. I cannot understand what cultural links these events are trying to preserve. If the man in the street knew the true cost of the Six counties to the British taxpayer things would be very different. As it stands the existing power structure still has considerable connections with these groups and appreciate this display. It is worth knowing that during the Civil rights unrest in 1970’s Ulster threats were made to disable power-stations if concessions were made in the name of delivering an equal society. These are not progressive people in word or deed, I have witnessed this behaviour and wished for change with all my heart. Please stay away.

  18. Whaup says:

    Please, please can we just let Jim stand and rant at an empty street, let the Orange Lodge have their Walk and let Farage hold his rally, without Yes supporters getting involved.

    We know we are right about Independence,the momentum is with us it’s almost within our grasp.

    The No side are looking for bad publicity to throw at the Yes campaign and the MSM will happily print and broadcast it.
    I think that is what Jim’s traipse about Scotland is all about. He expected confrontation earlier on, and when it did not happen beyond some shouting and holding up banners, a situation had to be manufactured. Why did his security men/minders not jump on the egg thrower when he was lobbing the eggs? Why did they then let him hit Jim with the egg? Why did they not pursue him? He just walked away. None of it makes any sense.

    Let’s not fall into another trap where we can be cast as the crazy Yes supporting mob intent on mayhem.

    We are smarter than that.

  19. Another way of dealing with Spuderoo would be silent protesters with appropriate placards ringed round him, perhaps humming quietly “Caledonia”or “Auld Land Syne” . References to Chilcott, N Farage and Bojo; the OO-even a cartoon one of him a white charger leading his fellow are initial suggestions.

    Thing is, Spud craves publicity [obviously] and just loves [and fervently hopes] this “trouble/terror”will continue to follow him around so he can exploit it. While shouting /throwing eggs may at the time make you feel better, it’s votes we want to wi and I would suggest silence,calm, ridicule will achieve that ultimate aim.

    Unwittingly, he’s one of our best “weapons”-let’s not vitiate that advantage

  20. Wow how embarrassing when the World media turns and gets exposed to Scottish media. I was employed by Rupert Murdoch for thirty years and I have seen my fair share when it comes to the black art of publishing and TV production,
    Scotland has created a new blacker than black when it comes to the manipulation of all media outlets
    World leaders in the category, no contest, I’m sure even Rupert would be gobsmacked by the sheer audacity and lack of ethics. ( or perhaps not )

    PS I mean embarrassing for Scottish media, and not the poor victims of their insulting puerile tripe.

  21. Nan Rattray says:

    One idea would be to organise public song /dance meet-ups well away from the likely trouble spots. Have them filmed & put on social media. Hopefully some of the unbiased press would pick up on this, especially the foreign press who will be there at this time.

  22. Justin Fayre says:

    Please be careful YES Supporters. There is a precedent for Murphy’s actions.

    Fox News ran this story. Totally fictitious of course. Chavez remained in power until his death in March last year.
    Fox, by careful editing, also managed to turn a celebration carnival into a rioting mob.
    This so outraged elements in Venezuela that there were reports of American businesses being targeted in protest.

    There we have it. Murphy claims he was forced to cancel his ‘tour’ due to violence.
    Doubts about the veracity of his comments flood the web.
    Murphy resumes his tour.
    Certain elements are so infuriated by his actions, that they voice their displeasure too forcefully.
    Fait Accompli

    The Chinese have an old saying

    ‘Speak softly but carry a big stick’

    Let us forget about the big stick.

    Better Together are beating themselves up enough without our help.

  23. Rosie says:

    What’s the name of the pub in Moray that is shown in the photo. We will be in the area the weekend after the referendum, and it would be good to visit them.

  24. Douglas says:

    Absolutely agree with that, Kevin Williamson.

    And lets hope the same international press corps see the Orange March and the UKIP rally, and take note of what it signifies in the larger picture of this referendum process; that, after two years of the most negative campaigning in the history of democratic politics, the case for the Union comes down to big tough men marching down the streets of the capital city of Scotland banging drums in honour of a battle/king from four centuries ago. Identity politics/tribalism, at its worst…

    No, Better Together have not sponsored these events, I agree with that.

    But nature abhors a vacuum, and the total absence of a positive case for remaining in the Union, the total refusal to engage with the issues by the Better Together/No, Thanks/ I’m All Right Jack campaign, means that inevitably, somebody else will step into the frame.

    So after two years, this is it, this is what they have in the locker, this is the appeal to the people of Scotland: an Orange march and a UKIP rally, mere flag waving and irrational tribalism…

    1. James Coleman says:

      “the case for the Union comes down to big tough men marching down the streets of the capital city of Scotland banging drums in honour of a battle/king from four centuries ago.”

      More like wee nyaffs and blubbery fat bastards in fancy dress waddling down the street blowing in tin whistles.

    2. Iain Hill says:

      How about a formal statement, carried on the BBC, that the No campaign disassociates itself from these organisations, and requests all it’s supporters to boycott their events?

      1. Douglas says:

        Nice idea Iain Hill, but I don’t think the No campaign do requests…

        Let’s hope that some of the wavering/conservative/middle class voters of Edinburgh are out shopping at Jenners for the afternoon so they can see which side a NO vote will leave them on…

        …with friends like these etc…

  25. Iain Hill says:

    Poor Jim! His attempts to draw attention to himself were only moderately successful to say the least. We should avoid the usual conclusion that he is just not very bright, and wonder why he, virtually alone of Labour’s WM gang, has chosen to come here now instead of doing his paid job, to represent his constituents there.

    Is it just possible that he already knows the game’s a bogey, and is really here to launch his campaign as leader of a new Scottish Labour/Radical/People’s Party after the Yes vote? There is no other viable potential leader, and publicity now might help him into an MSP seat . False flags ‘n’ all that!

Help keep our journalism independent

We don’t take any advertising, we don’t hide behind a pay wall and we don’t keep harassing you for crowd-funding. We’re entirely dependent on our readers to support us.

Subscribe to regular bella in your inbox

Don’t miss a single article. Enter your email address on our subscribe page by clicking the button below. It is completely free and you can easily unsubscribe at any time.