|Evening Times Column 24th July 2012|
24th July 2012
A few Saturdays ago I was invited by Strathclyde Police to observe how they policed the annual Boyne Parade in Glasgow, as I have done a lot of work on city parades. I was at the parade with the police and a number of councillors of different parties from Glasgow City Council in order to observe the policing of the event.
When we reached the city centre the police were diverted to an incident where disruption had been reported. The Scottish Defence League and the BNP, knowing that police resources would be already stretched due to the parade, had decided to set up a stall just 30 metres away from a regular Friends of Palestine and CND stall, which has been at the same spot each week for many years.
I attended the incident with the police, and as soon as I was spotted by the SDL and BNP a torrent of vile abuse was directed my way, including phrases such as ‘go back home’ and ‘enemy of Scotland’ and other comments too offensive to be repeated.
In politics you quickly develop a thick skin, and can expect to be at the receiving end of people’s anger at times. However, it is never a nice experience to be singled out and attacked for your race or faith.
The bottom line when it comes to the BNP and SDL is that they are pure and simple racists. They hide under the values of ‘protecting their country’, but they are nothing more than bigots. It always pleases me that whenever the SDL and BNP turn up, they are always outnumbered by the good and tolerant people of Glasgow and driven off our city’s streets.
Glasgow takes pride in being a multicultural and diverse city, and is steeped in many identities. You only have to look at the cuisine offered in the city’s many restaurants and takeaways; where Glasgow’s two favourite dishes are chicken curry and spaghetti bolognaise.
Last week, as Nelson Mandela celebrated his 94th birthday, we were reminded of Glasgow’s pioneering decision in 1986 to show support for the campaign to free Mandela by naming a city centre place Nelson Mandela Place. It saddens me that racists and fascists attempt to intimidate the people of Glasgow so close to a place named after such a great man.
Scotland’s reputation for friendliness and hospitality, and its values of tolerance and compassion, are intrinsic in our nation, and people like the SDL and BNP who rally against these values are completely and utterly anti-Scottish and unpatriotic by attempting to divide us.
Since hearing about the BNP and SDL’s racist outburst over the weekend, the messages of support from people of all political persuasions, friends and well-wishers have been flooding in. People were sympathetic, but also disgusted that the SDL claimed to represent them, it is why they say time and time again: “Not in our name!”
I greatly appreciate people’s kind words, and it once again demonstrates that the good and tolerant people of Scotland vastly outnumber the peddlers of hate.
I am proud to have been born and bred in Glasgow, this is my home and Scotland is where my heart will always be. Perhaps the next time these thugs tell me to ‘go back home’, they’ll pay for my train fare back to Glasgow’s Southside.