This is the speech I made at the rally against the SDL this time last year, when Edinburgh Council gave them permission for a short march from Abbyhill to the East End in May 2012.
“We’re still here – Catholic, Protestant, Jewish, Muslim, of all faiths and none – we’re here, lesbian, gay, bisexual, straight, and transgender – young and old, Scots of all ethnicities and cultures, against the SDL. Some Tories have been telling David Cameron that the reason he’s slipped in the polls isn’t the cuts or unemployment, it’s the reform of the House of Lords and gay marriage. We’re here because we believe in working peacefully, democratically, respecting differences, to get equality and human rights.
“One of the Equality Network supporters of this march was telling me as we walked along about how years ago he and his boyfriend had gone to a BNP march in London, dressed in lumberjack shirts and mini-skirts, to dance in front of the BNPers and taunt them.
“We know what they’re like. They cannot bear difference. They cannot bear diversity. They want their rigid and cold ideas enforced on all of us.
“Say to these white nationalists with their notion of ‘defending Scotland’ against diversity: WE are Scotland. WE are our nation’s own defense against them. Goodbye!”
The march against the SDL was hundreds of people – the SDL were dozens, all white, all men, many of them bussed in from England.
The EDL are trying to pretend this is about Lee Rigby, rather than about their hatred and bigotry. But this is what the real hero of Woolwich said:
“I looked at the body and he didn’t look like a soldier to me,” she says. Rigby was wearing a Help for Heroes T-shirt, although she couldn’t tell this at the time. “Instinctively, and through my scout training, I like to keep calm and be respectful. So I thought, OK, let’s listen to what he has to say. I tried to engage him in a conversation.”
Talk soon moved to the subject of British foreign policy. “I said to him that I’m sorry that this happens in the countries that he was naming – Afghanistan, Iraq, etc – and I agreed with him that it shouldn’t happen. He was saying that women and children were being killed just because they are Muslims and they drop their bombs and no one cares. I said: ‘I know, it’s very sad.’ But I said to him: ‘Yes, it’s happening, but what do you want now?'”
Loyau-Kennett asked if he needed a car or money to help him flee: “But I really didn’t want to influence him in any way. ‘I want to fight,’ he said. ‘In London?’ I asked. ‘Yeah, I want a war in London.’ I said he couldn’t do that and why didn’t he just join a proper army in those countries and kill as many as he wanted there. That would be a bit more useful than just being in London doing this. He told me he wanted to do it in London. I told him the police would arrive soon. ‘I don’t care,’ he said. ‘I’m going to fight them and shoot them.'”
What she said next was picked out for particular praise as an inspiring riposte to terrorists: “‘OK,’ I said. ‘Do you know what? It’s only you and there are many of us. What do you expect out of that?’ ‘I don’t care,’ he said. ‘I will have my war here.'”
Today at the Scottish Parliament at 1pm we meet again to say to the racists who are using the tragic death of Lee Rigby as an excuse to parade their hatred of diversity:
“WE are Scotland. WE are our nation’s own defense against you. Goodbye!”