2007 - 2020

Myths of False Equivalence

After days in which the centre of Glasgow, supposed to be a public square open for all, and the historic site of protest and peaceful assembly, has instead been captured by a group of a few hundred men intent on violence and intimidation, David Hamilton, Chairman of the Scottish Police Federation Scotland today issued a statement:

 

It’s an extraordinary statement which seeks to divert the public gaze from the police forces own operational failure, over days, of failing to prevent these people entering the square, failing to arrest or control them and then allowing them to continue to intimidate and threaten ordinary people and peaceful protestors. This failure in itself was seen as a political act. Now to compound matters the police representative issues a statements that reeks of Trumpian false equivalence.

Instead of accepting responsibility for his officers action (or inaction) David Hamilton attempts to lay blame with the Scottish Government, for, presumably, not denouncing the black lives matter demonstrations. Worse, he then claims there is no difference between “right or left; green or blue; unionist or nationalist; statue wrecker or statue protector, your side is as guilty as the other”.

For a start he is claiming that there is no difference between people making a peaceful assembly in defence of their own human rights for housing, and people who came with the intent to physically attack them. That is a disgraceful statement for a police officer whose job is to protect people from violent intimidation. We should also be very clear that is a political statement and a sackable offence. Hamilton’s statement draws on myths that have been perpetuated by appalling media coverage for days, that the people in George Square were “statue defenders”. For this BBC Scotland’s The Nine, Radio Clyde, and the Herald were all at fault, failing completely to articulate plainly what was going on.

The First Minister’s condemnation of the attacks as coming from “a gang of racist thugs who should face the full force of the law” was welcome, if overdue. But the problem is that they did not and will likely not either.

Hamilton’s statement is problematic for other reasons. The police in this country are under direct scrutiny for their own racism and brutality.  His statement that “there is no difference between “statue wrecker or statue protector” is a political one. In this he seems entirely oblivious to the movement and awakening that is sweeping the world and which stems from police murder. He is, and they are, not some independent body adjudicating how society operates, they are at the heart of the debate and at the heart of the problem. This is not to say that the police in Glasgow are as bad as the  police in Minneapolis, but they need to be conscious where they stand in the public’s mind. His attempt to equate “unionist or nationalist” into one unhappy bundle is completely unacceptable. The violence perpetuated now (and before) has come from one side only, and the men in George Square are the from the National Defense League, they are British Nationalists. Hamilton must know this, even if his colleagues don’t inexplicably have access to these groups communications. Finally the statement saying there is no difference between “green or blue” is an odd one, given that the protestors came uniformly from one of those colour codes. That may be an awkward reality for some but it is a reality.

The violence has been condemned by Amnesty International. Amnesty called for all political leaders in Scotland to condemn far-right violence and racism.

Naomi McAuliffe, Scotland Programme Director for Amnesty International said:

“It is hugely concerning to see a peaceful protest highlighting the grave problems facing asylum seekers in Scotland, attacked by violent, far-right thugs. There is a legitimate problem faced by asylum seekers during this Coronavirus pandemic and that message mustn’t be drowned out.

“We were pleased to see that Police Scotland were protecting peaceful protesters. It is now important to see condemnation of racism and far-right political violence from leaders across the political spectrum and Scottish society.”

The STUC have said: ‘The trade union movement in Scotland opposes fascism and racism in all of its forms. We stand in solidarity with our refugee and asylum seeking friends, family and community members.”

The activist and RIC co-founder Jonathon Shafi said: “If you are Black, Asian, Catholic, an asylum seeker, anti-racist – the city centre of Glasgow is not safe. That cannot be allowed to stand. We need to see a full spectrum civic response. And we need to take back our streets from a group of people who do not represent Glaswegians.”

What we have here is democracy – the right to peaceful assembly – being denied not just by the violence of loyalist gangs – but now supported by the apologism and ambivalence of the police. For any environmental activist or peace campaigner (or ordinary football fan) who has been kettled or attacked by the police it is not difficult to imagine that those who came to George Square could have been contained. They do not have overwhelming numbers.  So we need to have some answers to why their operation was so ineffective. The public need to have some reassurance that the police are an independent body.

The deeper problem is that sectarianism and racism has been allowed to fester. Glasgow is a city that has become inured to loyalist violence. In a city where a priest is spat at, where hundreds of Orange Walks every year (now comically virtual) and where we have become deaf to the sectarian and racist songs blasted from media channels and from football grounds until it has become the subliminal surround sound of Scotland. It is a dog-whistle that operates at a frequency no-one appears to hear.

This is a deep and festering wound in Scotland’s culture that has lay untreated for to long. As community activist Luke Devlin has written:

“A klan of far-right superlager herrenvolk have been holding George Square for four days now. There is little effective opposition to it and very little substantial media analysis or coverage. This klan emerges from a particular subculture associated with Ulster loyalism, British nationalism and a subset of Rangers football hooliganism. It is catalysed by a toxic West of Scotland culture of alcohol abuse (facilitated by a network of sectarian pubs and lodges for this purpose), low educational attainment, celebratory ignorance and a crisis of meaning in Scottish masculinity, especially in communities hardest hit by globalisation, de-industrialisation and multiple deprivation. The ability to take a public space with impunity and assert dominance is an attempt to form community and identity by individuals unable or unwilling to do so in any other way. Any meaningful response will need to reckon with all of this.”

If there is anything positive about this it is this. If Hamilton’s statement is indicative then it has become crystal clear that the police are not going to protect peaceful assembly. If this is the case then we will need to unite and defend peaceful protest. This will need to mean a coming together of anti-fascists, anti-racists, minority groups, asylum seekers, black lives matters activists and just decent  ordinary people to build a movement strong enough to defend itself.

In the meantime the mainstream media should take a long hard look at their output which framed the entire process as “a clash between two groups” and sets the context for the police statement. Finally it is inconceivable that the Chairman of the Scottish Police Federation Scotland can remain in post after issuing such a statement, and it is highly unlikely that the police can regain people’s confidence if he does.

 

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  1. Daniel Raphael says:

    Excellent, Michael.

  2. Janet Fenton says:

    availability heuristic

  3. Kevin Hattie says:

    David Hamilton = Arsehole.

  4. Dougie Blackwood says:

    The piece above is well founded. I totally agree with the statements made and the opinions propounded in the piece above. I am ashamed that I fall into the a part of the tribe, a subset of which, has caused the trouble in Glasgow.

    Unfortunately the police have been an arm of the state since Thatcher bribed them into suppressing the miners strike. They no longer play any sensible part in keeping the peace or, as they are wont to trumpet, “Keeping people safe”.

  5. Andy Smith says:

    Very well said!

  6. David McGill says:

    I think you’re being unfair to David Hamilton.

      1. David McGill says:

        Mike, I thought it was illegal to gather in a public place under the current Health Protection Regulations regardless of the reasons for doing so.

        1. Jo says:

          David

          It is.

  7. Devine says:

    This says everything I could or would say about the matter. That the main civic square of our largest city, one of Europe’s great cities, can be held hostage, in the modern democratic age, to the threats, intimidation & violence of this group of racist fascists is a complete disgrace to Scotland as a nation. Its a total embarrassment. These thugs and moronic bullies are swaggering around George Square with absolute impunity to spew out their sectarian invective’s and bigoted slogans- you can see a change in their demeanour- they’re collectively buoyed by the callowness of civic Scotland as a body politic, they openly scorn the police and mock ordinary Glaswegians who support basic decency- we all witnessed them shouting ‘Fenian bastards!’ at asylum seekers and belting out ‘Rule Britannia’ to the ‘Green Brigade’. But lets get down to the brass tacks of it: who is to say the Police are not sectarian and racist? Why are we making the assumption they are on the side of decent ordinary Glaswegians? They may in fact, like their counterparts in America, be more ideologically attuned with the political sympathies of the Right, such as White Supremacist or the Protestant foot-soldiers of the OO Klanbase. For me, personally, I can only assume that from David Hamilton’s statement, that barters in ‘Trumpian false equivalence’, that he does indeed sympathise with the Far-Right Stella Stormtroopers. The Irish-Catholic population of West Scotland has always been aware of the Police Forces relationship with Masonry, its close relationship with ‘Queen & Country’, and its various blue-tinted affiliations- its a fairly open secret. As for the BBC and the rest of the Scottish MSM, they really are a total disgrace- are they so terrified of these sectarian neanderthals or is it again a case of sympathising with some of their Unionist convictions? It could be a mixture of both, maybe. My biggest worry is if the Green Brigade do actually turn up at one of these protests, under the guise of ‘protecting innocent protesters from the gallant defenders’, and the inevitable carnage ensues and people end up seriously hurt- how will the city deal with that? How would that look to international audiences across the world? This pandering to the indulgences of the Loyalist victim-culture has to stop now before it goes too far. And what of its violation of the democratic right to protest and assembly- will this swastika crew roll up and intimidate every group they find offensive and bully them into silence? Who would that benefit- other than Loyalists and various darker factions of the Unionist community?

    1. Eddie mcp says:

      100 %.
      No more words required.
      .

    2. Michael Charrier says:

      “if the Green Brigade ever turn up”!? The GB were in attendance on Sat and Sun and were just as guilty as the Unionist/Rangers thugs. The rioting was wholly due to these factions wanting a rumble. Antifash groups were no where to be seen and regrettably The Asylum seekers march had to be dispersed for their own safety later in the week. I am a great supporter of Nicola, SNP and Independence but I’m afraid the police in Scotland are being restricted by the Governments softly, softly approach when it comes to demonstrations like this. This I know for a fact.

      1. James Mills says:

        ”This I know for a fact ”. Really , Michael ? Do tell !

  8. SleepingDog says:

    Maybe, but it could just be the police saying that they will break any heads they find in crowded space without asking questions first, to give themselves operational leeway and the ability to say “We warned you!”. In practice, I expect the police will show some discrimination, but maybe the pandemic has somewhat blinded them (masks, contraints to infiltration by politicals etc.).

  9. Charlie F says:

    This is not a statement by the police, but rather a statement from the chairman of the
    Police Trade Union, the Police Federation.

  10. Mark says:

    Anyone who has studied the origin of the police, and studied the rise of fascist movements could have seen this coming. If you are on the left, even if you are just poor, THE POLICE ARE NOT YOUR FRIENDS. THE POLICE WILL ALWAYS SIDE WITH THE STATE. FASCISM RISES TO PROTECT CAPITALISM IN DECAY. No one is offering an alternative and the liberal politicians in Holyrood, no matter how “left” leaning will do fuck all because their main duty is to run the national capital. I wonder how many polis drink in the same pubs as the NDL members, or if they we’re in the same flute band as youths?

    1. Allan MacDougall says:

      We’re not all bastards mate.

      1. Allan MacDougall says:

        Apart from that, really good article.

      2. Mark says:

        Sheku’s killers are still at large and yous have done fuck aw about it. Seems like yer aw bastards tae me. Whit’s the point in yees if ye cannae even catch murderers when we aw know who they are? 🙂

  11. Josef Ó Luain says:

    Yes, the old False Equivalence Follies is hitting the street yet again for one more tired performance. All the players know exactly what positions they must occupy and their so predictable lines will be delivered in a wholly unaltered form. The sorely tried audience will have nothing new to say having witnessed the same performance far too many times before. The theater management, meanwhile, vaguely aware that there’s a problem with the show, as of yet, seem disinclined to talk about any fresh, new, innovative production to replace the good old, tried and trusted False Equivalence Follies.

  12. James Stratton says:

    Personally I have no time for the Police. I think the policing of the pandemic has been at best woeful.

    This however is from the Police Federation, the police ‘union’. It is 100% nail on the head if you ask me? You cannot expect the police to let one set of protestors flourish while the other set are ‘policed’ correctly?

    To police by consent you must remain focused on the total protection of life and property. It shouldn’t matter who is attacking what, who is creating unrest or who is defending against the unrest.

    The federation statement here is open and honest. ANYBODY breaking the law should be treated in a similar fashion. Are you telling me you disagree and that we should have a police force focused solely on attacking one set of thugs and let the others flourish? I fear you may display a certain bias?

    It would however be interesting to hear what perhaps ACPOS says or maybe even the Chief Constable?

    Quote: ‘This klan emerges from a particular subculture associated with Ulster loyalism, British nationalism and a subset of Rangers football hooliganism’

    as opposed to the republican irish based hatred which fuelled the IRA and the likes and festers within the Celtic side of the city?

    I abhor both clubs and religion and fear it has no place in modern society. It is the cause of many a problem.

    I am about to attend my dear mothers funeral and we are restricted to 20 people when hundreds wish to pay their respects. I dont see why anybody should have the right to break the rules, it is disgusting!

    This statement by the Federation is about police dishing out levelled and unbias ethics and legal action. This is about the difficulties you create when you are lenient to one side, when you favour one group it makes policing incredibly difficult. You also need most officers to have a view which errs to the side of one group, otherwise it is difficult to motivate officers to attack their beliefs. This is the reason officers should be impartial, what you are saying is they shouldn’t be impartial? They let the previous protests for BLM attack at will and failed to police UK wide. So you will create a resentment!

    Don’t be fooled and push a narrative to suit your political agenda, it may not be everyones cup of tea. The biggest fail I have seen in a very long time:

    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YdsmxzaHtSQ&feature=youtu.be&fbclid=IwAR1WSoEBI9WHgCvzGIqW8hmUHohP3Ys6Lgayfdce78ljZ10oHVSLLVHU7pY

    LIKES AS OF 19/06/20 – 726
    DISLIKES ON 19/06/20 – >37,000

    That to me is an overwhelming vote that the police are no longer policing by consent? The narrative being pushed by BLM is a narrative most are not accepting? Nor should the police and they should be coming down hard on these protests! Not just one side of it!

    1. Arboreal Agenda says:

      Thoughtful post and a legitimate perspective.

      Re the video link. I had not seen this and watched about 10 seconds of it. I don’t think it has been so overwhelmingly voted down because people are turning against BLM but because of the utter cringeworthiness of the video. Many of the comments say they are just hamming it up, they’re actors and don’t sound very sincere and even if they are, so what? It’s a you tube video of people saying sorry, but for what? It makes little sense – there is something so egregious about white middle class guilt which is what that video is all about, it helps nothing and re-focusses the attention on the individual feeling guilty. I don’t actually doubt people’s sincerity so much but the video does as you say, fail, big time.

    2. Gashty McGonnard says:

      My condolences.

      You make some fair points. Of course the police are expected to enforce rule of law impartially, without fear or favour towards any cultural or political affiliation. It’s also true that they’re in an invidious position, being asked to maintain social distancing while dealing with protests or even riots. Their association is entitled to comment on matters pertaining to their members’ welfare.

      There’s an argument, perhaps, that all protests could be dispersed at this time – which would at least be even-handed (but draconian and anti-democratic in my view).

      However, what has been reported is peaceful and orderly demonstrations from BLM and Anti-Eviction – with maybe some minor vandalism. This contrasting with what seems to have been significant violent mayhem from the ‘Monument Protectors’, over several days – including attacks on journalists, with racist and sectarian aggravation.

      Rule of law doesn’t mean “a pox on both their houses”. When the police response is not proportional to the nature of the offence, public confidence in them can only be undermined.

      (In complete agreement about that YouTube video … we have enough problems of our own without importing syrupy US hashtag politics).

  13. Colm says:

    Powerful article that highlights the NEWSPEAK truth shared by Police Scotland and mainstream media. It is so alarming that these fascist thugs seem allowed, with total impunity, to congregate and physically attack anyone they regard as their enemies.
    This statement by the Police Federation is not a mistake or ‘gaff’. It is a deliberate attack against the current goverment and it apportions the blame for any disorder on their politicians. Hamilton regards himself as representing the true voice of the establishment. His statement reeks of Masonic influence wrapped up with the Union Jack. The question is whether this is the true representation of Police Scotland’s viewpoint or is it the voice of some old school revisionist mouthing off from the sidelines. The lacklustre police response to the growth in right wing thuggery suggests the former and that Hamilton, from the luxury of his non corporate position is expressing accurately the viewpoint of Police Scotland.
    If this is not the case, then a statement of disassociation is imperative.

  14. Tommy says:

    The Scottish Left has consistently let themselves down on this. Orange and Loyalist marches are allowed to go ahead completely without protest because “it’s only Catholics they’re against” or “two sides of the same coin”.

    The most significant racism in contemporary Scotland remains anti-Irish Catholic racism.

    It is hidden by the media, swept under the rug by the Government and Councils, and a blind eye is turned to it by those who fondly imagine themselves part of the progressive Left.

    1. William Davison says:

      I’m Irish, I went to university in Glasgow, perhaps you could provide us with some evidence that anti-Irish Catholic racism remains the most predominant form of racism in Scotland. You know, figures relating to discrimination in employment, education, allocation of housing , etc, etc. I await with interest. Other than that the “debate” seems to have deteriorated into a tedious “Old Firm” tit for tat : pot, kettle, black is my response to that argument.

      1. Gashty McGonnard says:

        Hi William, I’ll respond to your questions to Tommy, if I may.

        Discrimination in education, housing or employment are not the only indices of racism, I’m sure you know. To the extent that those still exist, they are illegal, and difficult to measure with any accuracy.

        The sparse data available does point to there still being a problem. Men with surnames identifiable as “Irish Catholic” have a disproportionate chance of being imprisoned. The same community is most often victim of racially or sectarian aggravated offences. The disparity in measures of social deprivation relative to the general population is significant – despite the bulk of Irish Catholic immigration being nearly 200 years ago. This is in stark contrast to how descendants of Irish immigrants have fared in America or England. Each of these factors is a marker for implicit, systematic racial/ethnic bias.

        It’s true that, per capita, a Black or Pakistani-origin Scot is more likely to suffer discrimination than an Irish Scot (or a non-religious Scot who others read as ‘Catholic’). So, in an important sense anti-BME racism is the more acute issue. However, anti-Irish racism is still most prevalent, most widespread, and most acceptable.

        I won’t add a pile of links to the relevant data. You can confirm what I’ve written with two minutes on Google… or a straw poll of the dogs in the street.

        Yes, issues of football, social class and other politics confuse the issue. And yes, no group of people is faultless. That doesn’t make it acceptable to ignore something that is so toxic and self-sabotaging to Scottish society as a whole.

        1. William Davison says:

          A short list of properly researched academic data would do, if there is widespread discrimination against people of Irish Catholic origin then I presume there is a plethora of material proving that thesis. I must admit anything that I’ve read recently would tend to suggest the opposite.
          This is all very well, but a bit off the point of Mike Small’s article, which while accusing Mr Hamilton of making a political statement, essentially calls for political policing. If I agree with the political cause of the demonstrators (B.L.M.) then it is perfectly permissible for them to break Covid-19 regulations, even engage in violence, as in London and Bristol, and the police should take no action. If I disagree with the political viewpoint of a demonstration, as in the case of the R.W.L. (right wing loonies) in London and Glasgow, then the police should arrest them all. Er no, the police should deal with anyone breaking the law on an even-handed basis, their political beliefs should be an irrelevance. You can’t excoriate Cummings, beach parties, VE day celebrations, then have another rule for yourself. Covid-19 can’t distinguish between B.L.M. protestors and right-wing thugs, but, of course, in a strange way, it does, as BAME people are more susceptible to it, which makes any B.L.M. demonstration that spreads a virus that disproportionately takes black lives a deeply problematic activity. In the modern world you can make your point perfectly easily without milling around in the centre of cities, endangering the lives of the very people you seek to help.

          1. Hi William, thanks for your comment. I dont argue for political policing, I argue for moral policing that is able to make a distinction between violent fascist thugs and other activists.

            To argue – as David Hamilton does – that all sides are the same is Trumpian. ‘Fine people on both sides’ is appeasing fascists.

          2. Gashty McGonnard says:

            Yes, this is (somewhat) off-topic for an article about policing.

            Here are some results of a brief web search made yesterday before responding to you, William. There are some government statistics in the public domain, and a great deal of more qualitative academic research, easily found. The stats all pre-date the general resurgence of xenophobia that seems to have happened since around 2016

            https://www.gov.scot/publications/examination-evidence-sectarianism-scotland-2015-update/pages/4/

            http://www.parliament.scot/S3_PublicPetitionsCommittee/Submissions_07/Researchaspublished-24-12-10.pdf

            https://scholar.google.com/scholar?hl=en&as_sdt=0%2C5&as_ylo=2016&q=racism+scotland&btnG=

  15. Devine says:

    Last year, we witnessed a full-scale riot break out in the Elder Park area of Govan after an Irish unity march– was met by hundreds of Far-Right Loyalists- which the media in Scotland choreographically described as “disruptive” counter-demonstrators. Very creative description.
    Riot police, mounted officers, a force helicopter and dog units were used to quell “significant disorder”.
    Two men – aged 37 and 21 – were arrested and charged with public disorder following the ‘incident’. Nothing to see here.

    The year before, July 2018, a priest was spat on as an Orange Walk marched past his church in the city. Bradley Wallace was jailed for ten months for the attack on Father Thomas White during the annual Boyne Parade outside St Alphonsus Church on London Road. Wallace was caught after his DNA was found on the vestment worn by Father White.

    In April last year, a number of arrests were made as protesters clashed with militant republican group Saoradh in George Square. And in May, four loyalist groups failed to overturn a council ban preventing them from marching past St Alphonsus Church. The marches – which were held during the first weekend in June – were also due to pass St Mary’s Church in the Calton area of the city. At Glasgow Sheriff Court, Orange Order lawyer Neil MacDougall claimed that the local authority’s decision was “a breach of the European Court of Human Rights”. The irony. This is how the Supremacists role now: play the victim card when you can’t bully them into submission. The processions affected involved… the Apprentice Boys of Derry (Bridgeton), Dalmarnock No Surrender Branch Club, Dalmarnock Orange and Purple District 50, and the Orange and Purple District 37. The good guys. Really stand up citizenry.

    Rangers Football Club, are continually drawn into the spotlight, despite the best efforts of their good friends at the SFA to turn a blind eye and a deaf ear, mostly due to sectarian complaints from UEFA. Last year the club was ordered to close a 3000-seat section of Ibrox for a second European match. UEFA issued the punishment after supporters sang sectarian songs during the first-leg of their Europa League play-off with Legia Warsaw in Poland. Rangers faced the same sanction during a second-leg victory after offensive chanting by fans against St Joseph’s earlier in the competition. A section of Ibrox was closed for the club’s first home Europa League group stage game against Feyenoord on September 19. No surrender. Ibrox is akin to the Opera House of Bigotry where the Supremacists dramatise their Sectarian ideology in the form of Song and Cheap Wine. In the same European campaign two men, Croatian football fans, were stabbed and taken to hospital after a mass brawl before Rangers’ Europa League clash with the Croatian side Osijek. Police Scotland said the “large-scale disturbance” in the Govan area of Glasgow resulted in the two men, aged 24 and 40, being wounded. No arrests were made.

    And in March 2018 fan representatives The Union Bears called for fellow supporters to march in a procession from Kinning Park to Ibrox on Sunday morning ahead of Rangers’ clash with Celtic. The MARCH (surprise surprise) started at the Louden Tavern, self-proclaimed Best Pub in The Whole Wide World, with flyers for the march advising fans of ‘wearing dark coloured clothing is encouraged’ and decorated with the image of a Celtic fan lying on the ground with an Ultra kicking them in the head , alongside the phrase ‘Good Night Green and White’. No arrests were made. Nothing to see here. And of course there is an Old School ‘Classic’ Rangers song that goes by the title of ‘Kick a Fenian in the Head’. And then of course with Rangers we had the infamous scenes in Manchester. But according to various Scottish journalists that was Chelsea fans. Or the Scottish Cup Final with Hibs when they ran on the pitch to confront the celebrating Hibee fans ‘in order to protect the Rangers players’- and now they’re protecting the statues. They are after all the true and staunch defenders. The good guys in this narrative. In CELTIC’s 5-1 win over Rangers at Ibrox 2017 a Rangers fan it was ‘claimed’ aimed racial abuse at Hoops star Scott Sinclair. Nothing to see here even though we all seen it with our own eyes. No arrests. The same match seen a battery thrown onto the pitch and a bottle and a Rangers fan came onto the pitch to confront Scott Brown. No arrests. These events were largely ignored by the media. Can you see a pattern emerging? And we also had Rangers super-fan Neil McKenzie jailed for five years in April 2012. McKenzie sent explosive devices to Neil Lennon, threats to Celtic’s Irish players Niall McGinn and Paddy McCourt, to former MSP Trish Godman and the late QC Paul McBride, as well as the office of an Irish republican group. McKenzie was freed from jail after serving two years in prison. And a the Hearts fan John Wilson who was cleared of assaulting Celtic manager Neil Lennon after it was ‘claimed’ he called Lennon a “Fenian bastard” at the Scottish Premier League game. He was cleared of making the sectarian remark during the incident after jurors deleted the allegation from the breach of the peace charge. Instead he was jailed for eight months for a breach of the peace and deemed ‘not proven’. And of course you could go on and on regarding the leniency and latitude afforded to the Stella Storm-troopers and the Brownshirt Bigots of the Loyalist Scottish Branch here in Scotland and you might begin to excite a certain amount of paranoia that the authorities appear to favour a certain side of the great divide- is it then any surprise when we all witness the strutting arrogance of these flute gorillas in George Square?

    An advert, posted on social media by the group, stated: “The Union Bears have organised a fans march to Ibrox before Sunday’s game against the fenians.

    1. John Learmonth says:

      Rangers and Celtic should be merged into 1 club by law. Those fans that don’t like it can ‘meet up’ at Hampden Park to sort out their ‘differences’ without the intrusion of the emergency services. Once the bloodshed is over the vast majority of decent fans of both clubs can move on together and those of us without the slighest interest in bloody football can look forward to peaceful weekends in the great city of Glasgow.
      Bollocks to the lot of them…..

  16. Devine says:

    Apologies for the last part of that post- I was going to supply links to various sources but I’m too tired this morning…did anyone else notice the dizzying array of leg tattoos among the Loyal follow followers at GS? Is this a 21st C form of the ‘secret handshake’? Is this how they identify each other now- outside the snarling coupons, staunch demeanour and bad dental hygiene- with shorts and leg tattoos?

    1. Connelly says:

      Devine: thanks for listing the many pieces of evidence ( sad that it needs to be recounted yet again) confirming the real issue in Scotland is anti-Catholic/Irish racism.
      Which after three hundred years of British colonial rule, exacerbated by extreme right nascent fascism over the last 40 x years, has manifested into a hybrid racist sectarian self loathing social disease.

      You could have also noted the sinister ‘settlement’ of Ulster loyalist killers in the S.W. of Scotland. Protected to the point that the most notorious one had a bungled ‘plot’ against him stymied by a sting employed by Police Scotland. One on a level normally only utilised to protect V.I.P.s. Also, the willingness of the Scottish Government to provide 300 x cops to support N.I. in the case of civilian disorder in light of Brexit.

      The issue of George Square is also partly historical: a carbon copy of events happened in 2014. Ragtag loyalist bands turned up for days prior to the Referendum to barrack and jeer with racist/sectarian abuse the larger peaceful ‘YES’ crowds. Then on the 19th a concerted invasion of the Square took place with hundreds of loyalists in Rangers regalia and UJs attacking mainly young, female isolated ‘YES’ supporters. The Police were a disgrace that day, Disorganised, ill -prepared and more importantly, no one individual was arrested for conspiracy to create a riot, despite it was organised via well publicised Loyalist sites.

      The Scottish Cup Final in 2016 was won by Hibernian against Rangers. At the end, the Hibs fans , after waiting for over a hundred years to achieve this feat, came on the pitch. Some committed vandalism, such as breaking the crossbar, some gestured to the opposition fans.However, the Rangers fans, as they have been notorious for over a hundred years, as bad losers, came on to the pitch. Fortunately, the disorder was minor and shortlived. However, Police Scotland spent countless hours and manpower seeking out dozens of fans to prosecute. The loyalists in George Square can all be identified. The question is: are Police Scotland going to prosecute the troublemakers?, but more importantly, are they going to arrest the leaders who initiated these disorders?

  17. grace dunn says:

    sounds threatening to me

  18. Robert Cormack says:

    All under one banner, have organised, many thousands of demonstrators, I have never seen the police more relaxed with good humoured banter. Everyone understands those thugs supposed to be “protecting the statues” are looking for a fight. Ask your London colleagues.

  19. florian albert says:

    Mike Small quote Jonathon Shafi as saying that, if you are a Catholic, the centre of Glasgow is not safe. That has never been my experience. I wonder how many Catholics either Jonathon Shafi or Mike Small spoke to before making this statement ?

    As Professor Tom Devine has written, ‘with the old monster in its death throes, sectarianism has spawned a new growth sector; a well financed anti-sectarian industry. A delicious irony.’

  20. florian albert says:

    With regard to the idea of ‘equivalence’, the Scottish Police Federation approached this from a legal standpoint. From this standpoint, it is very difficult to disagree with what has been written.

    Mike Small approaches from a moral standpoint. He plainly feels that those he sympathizes with should be allowed to demonstrate but not others.
    I am sure there is almost zero support for the ‘unionist’ numpties and their thuggish behaviour. However, I suspect that there is not much support – from the public in general – for demonstrations which take place at a time when such gatherings have been banned – as a public health measure, during a pandemic.

    He ends by writing that it is ‘highly unlikely that the police can regain public confidence’. This assumes that the police have lost public confidence. I see no evidence that this is so.

    1. Its not a question of people I sympathise with, its a question of people involved in peaceful assembly versus people who organise with violent intent (and action). This isn’t very hard.

      The idea that you put forward that the police have the public’s confidence is quaint.

      1. Jo says:

        You’re being dishonest, and worse.

        Mass gatherings are illegal under the measures passed to deal with the Covid-19 pandemic. It’s that simple and whether they are peaceful or otherwise is irrelevant. They are illegal in every part of the UK. Sturgeon acknowledged this as did Patel in England. It doesn’t say anywhere that you can organise marches if they’re peaceful. It says mass gatherings are currently banned, no exceptions.

        1. I dont think that’s really the point at all

          1. Jo says:

            It’s the only point I’ve made here, Mike and, actually, it’s the whole point.

            This legislation was put in place to combat a deadly virus for which we have no vaccine. Tens of thousands of people throughout the UK are dead. You have not once acknowledged that. The legislation was introduced to stop the virus spreading. You haven’t acknowledged that either.

            These are not normal times.

            You are therefore on a sticky wicket indeed when you argue that some gatherings are acceptable. All are illegal and for you to simply say, “That isn’t the point.” is a weak position to adopt, to put it mildly. It’s also very irresponsible considering the lives already lost.

            I fully support the BLM movement. I cannot, however, support the view that any group can be exempt from legislation introduced specifically to protect everyone from this virus.

          2. It’s not the whole point. Activists were socially distancing before they were forced into a kettle by the police. That is disgraceful.

            We live in ‘unprecedented times’ in more ways than one.

          3. florian albert says:

            ‘I don’t think that is really the point at all.’

            It is and, until Bella Caledonia ‘gets it’, Bella will be stuck in a ultra leftist ghetto.

            There has been an irrelevant ultra leftist sub-culture in Scotland as long as I can remember – back to the mid-1960s. Around the time of the 2014 referendum, there was the possibility of it becoming mainstream and worthwhile. It has now regressed. It applauds demonstrations which should be discouraged. It has earned the opposition of the Scottish Government and the local council, both of which went some way to avoid confrontation. All in the name of gesture politics.

            Entirely predictably, when I point out that you produce no evidence of the public lacking confidence in the police, you label my opinion ‘quaint’ and still produce no evidence.

          4. Dear Florian, I cant really engage and do research with every right wing fruitcake that comes on my comments so obscured by their own confirmation bias that they are blissfully unaware that their own views arent held by the rest of the universe.

            Far from being a leftist ghetto Bella is expanding, hiring staff and our readership is growing. Sorry to disappoint.

            The world you have grown up is changing rapidly. That must be upsetting but you’ll have to face up to it. Change is hard.

        2. Colm says:

          Jo, if you are the same jo who was recently accused of being a dilettante I would suggest that the accusation is quite accurate. Your concern about the required etiquette for public assembly seems to me a bit skewed, given the fascist threat on our streets.
          As a white person, I would not make the blanket assertion that I am anti racist and therefore empowered to adopt a morally superior position. Myself, I marched in anti nazi league demos in the 1970s, big deal. Unfortunately, I am conditioned by the society that I live in, but unlike yourself I do not hold myself impervious to its effects. Also unlike yourself, I knew that my understanding of the black experience within white society was limited, but further understanding was afforded after reading tony morrison’s brilliant ‘Beloved’ and hearing a bob marley song on the radio, ‘Redemption Song ‘, almost immediately after finishing the novel. This was a song I’d heard many times before but it had previously had limited effect upon me. This particular hearing strenghthened my sense of empathy towards those whose experience of exclusion and distrust was by definition outside my spatial/temporal world of immediate experience. I continue to strive towards refining my sense of solidarity with brothers and sisters of of whatever race and beliefs , even dilettantes.

          1. Jo says:

            Colm

            Your “assessment” of me is nothing more than a disgraceful attempt to smear me despite knowing nothing about me at all. It is anything but “accurate” I assure you and, in fact, reveals more about your character than my own.

        3. We’ll be publishing an investigation today which shows the extent of the National Defense Leagues violence and expect them to be banned from social media and possibly outlawed. I strongly suspect you’ll change your view.

          1. Jo says:

            “I strongly suspect you’ll change your mind.”

            I don’t see why.

            My comments here were about temporary legislation governing all mass gatherings, nothing else.

            Just to be clear here, Mike, you are the one in absolute denial about what that legislation says and the reasons behind it. You’re refusing to acknowledge it at all. That’s pretty shocking given the upheaval and disruption and death Covid 19 has brought.

          2. Hi Jo – I readily acknowledge the laws about assembly Jo.

            But we’re in a complex situation where people are resisting fascism and in dire circumstances (asylum seekers). So I don’t think its a simple as you are making out.

            Sometimes breaking the law is the right thing to do. I know some of the organisers and they were scrupulous to organise around social distancicng and with masks.

        4. Me Bungo Pony says:

          Hi Jo. My take from the article was that, though both gatherings were illegal under current legislation, they could not be considered “equivalent”. One was a peaceful demonstration in support of those adversely affected by racism; the other was a gathering of right wing loyalists intent on violence on the mendacious pretext they were “protecting a statue” that was never under threat. For the Police Federation to consider peaceful protesters the same as violent thugs is problematic to me, no matter what other factor is in play.

          It brings back memories of UK media “reports” from 15/9/14 that described a “clash” between Unionists and Indies in George Square that sought to make both sides equally to blame, when in fact it was entirely right wing , loyalist thugs intent on violence that were the sole cause of the disgraceful scenes (it should be noted that only the UK media sought the “false equivelance”, the rest of the World reported the facts).

          In short, though I would prefer neither side to break the law on gatherings during the pandemic, to consider peaceful protesters the same as violent rioters is just wrong. If somebody is using your back garden as a short cut and is mugged by another person while doing so, both are trespassing, but it would be harsh to consider the victim as equivalent to the mugger. To do so would render anything that happened after the initial “trespass” irrelevant. It would allow the defence that “as they both broke the initial trespass law, the victim was as complicit in their assault as the thug”. That, to me, is the point of the article.

  21. Sheila Connolly says:

    So sad these people are doing this shameful carry on on my city they are nothing but thugs

  22. Vicki says:

    I’m wondering where the quote from Luke Devlin comes from?

      1. Vicki says:

        I was wondering if it was taken from an article or longer piece that I could read?

        1. No it was a comment on Facebook that i askd him about. He’s a Glasgow based community activist.

          1. Vicki says:

            Thanks. I agree entirely with his points.

  23. SleepingDog says:

    Reflecting more on the framing, I would have to say that mass protests during this pandemic that flout not just the temporary legislation but widely-accepted science-based contagion-prevention advice, amount to a breach of the peace: therefore (at least collectively if not individually) this cannot constitute a peaceful assembly. Furthermore, insisting that these demonstrations are peaceful threatens to undermine progressive narratives which use more sophisticated models of violence (structural, say). When your body is a short-range delivery system for a potentially-lethal viral pathogen, deliberately gathering in close proximity cannot, in my view, be fairly described as peaceful (it is not just the people at the assembly you may infect, it is the whole web of after-infections you have no control over).

    It would not be sensible to expect advice from police on appropriate methods of social protest, and the onus is on protestors to find alternate ways of disseminating their messages without violating the bodies of others. Surely we can expect more creativity from progressives than reactionaries.

  24. M McCartney says:

    If the Holyrood government haven’t the courage to call out these British right wing fascist thugs then quite honestly if Scotland ever gets independence I hate to think of the reaction of this group. We saw their violent reaction after the 2014 referendum in George Square and that was despite the Yes supporters losing, if they are not
    sent the message at this time then if the Yes side win the next referendum they could attempt to turn Scotland into another Northern Ireland with their sectarian and racist hatred.They have to be shown by the Scottish people and Scottish government it isn’t on, and Police Scotland need to be ordered to carry out the law in an unbiased way. The police federation rep should be informed as to his duties in protecting peaceful demonstrations, by his logic if anti orange lodge protesters attacked orange walks then one side would be as bad as the other,somehow I don’t think the police would look at it that way.

  25. Phill says:

    What’s bizarre is the Police Federation seemingly endorsing vigilantism by calling them statue “protectors” isn’t it the police’s job to protect property?

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