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.
Filed under Politics, Racism
One of these things is not like the others? After all, Thatcher’s sole political merit was that she was pro-choice. Let me explain.
Ding Dong the Wicked Old Witch is a jolly song. As Angry Women of Liverpool note in their feminist analysis of how to discuss Thatcher’s death “there are so few songs you can sing joyfully about the death of somebody thoroughly deserving”:
Tough one. The history of witch persecution is fraught with the very foundations of modern capitalist and patriarchal oppression, as anybody who’s read Silvia Federici knows. But there are so few songs you can sing joyfully about the death of somebody thoroughly deserving.
You want a proper argument in defence? Give me a minute. Continue reading
Margaret Thatcher was born in Grantham and died in the Ritz. In another world, she might have become a chemist, following in the footsteps of Dorothy Hodgkin and Rosalind Franklin. Instead we may owe her for Mr Whippy ice-cream. Among her other achievements, in what is still today a male-dominated party, Thatcher first stood for election in 1950, and became the MP for Finchley in 1959 – which seat she held for the next 33 years.
During that time she destroyed much of the heavy industry in the UK, especially in Scotland and Wales, primarily because she didn’t like trade unions: she set the trend to privatisation going which led to the high prices and inefficiency in our public transport, our gas and electricity, our water, our post-office, and our health service. She supported Section 28, the cold cruel legislation which made it unlawful for teachers to stand up against homophobic and transphobic bullying. She abolished the rates, fattened landlord’s pockets with the poll tax, and said bluntly that she “didn’t believe in society”. The only thing I can think of she did that I ever liked her for was voting pro-choice (and causing lots of Tory MPs to trot after her like lambs into the No lobby) whenever anti-choice legislation was proposed.
This is what a “Scottish Defense League” rally outside the Scottish Parliament looks like.
You know how the police usually halve the numbers of any protest: with the SDL I think they double them:
Around 60 members of the Scottish Defence League gathered outside the Scottish Parliament and held a static protest for approximately 45 minutes.
At the same time, 250 members of the Unite Against Fascism group took part in a march from High Street, down St Mary’s Street and along Holyrood Road before holding their own demonstration at the south side of Parliament.
I saw two white minibuses in the car park just outside Holyrood. If those are what the SDL came in, they could have fitted sixty in – but I doubt it.
What I said:
Whether we vote Yes or No in 2014 is less important to me than whether we can stand up as Scottish together and say to these white nationalists with their notion of “defending Scotland” against diversity, that we are Scotland, and we are our nation’s own defence against them.
Today at 1pm the “Scottish Defence League” will be holding a static rally outside the Parliament.
Now, it is truly difficult for me to see how SDL could be prevented from doing this. The space outside the Scottish Parliament was meant for people to gather and express their views peaceably: I would oppose any law curtailing peaceful protest there or that lets the police presume in advance that a protest will not be peaceable. What we can do is make their rally visibly irrelevant by showing up to peaceably protest against it.
We met in the Grassmarket at noon. It was already hot. There were a lot of us. The news services without exception (that I saw) described this as
A march by the far-right Scottish Defence League (SDL) was opposed by a group called United Against Fascism (UAF).
Both marches approached St Andrew’s House by different routes.
Hundreds of officers were placed between the two groups. The SDL marchers were driven away by bus.