It seems that the British Nationalist campaign to “save the Union” is quickly reverting to type (not to mention historical precedence) by yet again playing the Orange Card – this time in Scotland. In recent years the Labour Party north of the border has become openly sympathetic to the Grand Orange Lodge of Scotland (the Orange Order to most folks), after many decades of socialist snobbery.
Now there’s a surprise.
From the Scotsman newspaper:
“It was the moment the police officer had been dreading. As the Orange Order parade passed by the Catholic church, the band struck up, The Sash My Father Wore. “There was a funeral mass going on inside, and I’d made it clear there was to be no playing of music, so I gave the instruction for people to be arrested,” he recalls. “There were complaints lodged against me later, but I was adamant there was no grey area – that kind of behaviour could not be tolerated.”
Later that day, on the last leg of the parade, the same officer found himself bombarded by missiles as the marchers were ambushed by anti-Orange protesters. “It was like the exit scene from Black Hawk Down,” he says. “They were coming at us from all sides, we were penned up in this narrow street in the east end of Glasgow.”
For many years such scenes were, if not commonplace, then at least unexceptional.
It was to offset such disturbances – and reduce the £1 million plus the marching season costs the police – that Glasgow City Council drew up its Code of Conduct on Public Processions, a pioneering document which aimed to balance the rights of all groups to free assembly with the rights of ordinary people to go about their daily lives.
Though at first criticised as “an affront to human rights” by the Grand Orange Order of Scotland, which believes its members’ freedom to celebrate their Protestant heritage is being systematically destroyed, it was lauded by Strathclyde’s Chief Constable Stephen House as a template for other local authorities.
Yet now, as the marching season begins once more, the code is the focus of fresh controversy. Glasgow City Council leader Gordon Matheson stands accused of currying favour with the Orange Order by pledging to review its provisions, and concerns have been raised that parades might once again be allowed to play their music outside places of worship.
The controversy began in the run-up to the council election – which some predicted would see Labour lose its grip on Glasgow – when Matheson appeared at an Orange Order hustings. To loud applause, he is said to have told members he was prepared to “hold his hands up” and admit that the code – brought in by Labour – was “flawed”. He stressed he could make no promises about specific outcomes. But, if Glasgow voted Labour, the council would look at it the issue afresh.”
And guess who turned out in droves to vote Labour in Glasgow?
Of course this is not the only evidence of Labour making common cause with that most extreme of anti-Catholic, anti-Irish, anti-Scottish Nationalist organisations. The recent Jubilee celebrations in Britain witnessed 9500 official street parties in England (and Wales). However just 60 were held in Scotland, and 20 of them were organised by the Orange Order in co-operation with the Labour Party.
Despite the Orange Order’s deplorable sectarian and racist history, and it’s continued advocacy of fundamentalist Protestantism, it seems the British Nationalist and Unionist parties will sink to any low in order to protect the territorial construct of Greater England.