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.
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.
Edinburgh Council were calling it an Alternative Business Model, but in plain English it was privatisation of public services.
The plan to privatise began two years ago, and continued with maximum discretion and minimal consultation until a small group of concerned locals and trade unions started a campaign to save our services. At two previous council meetings in 2011, the SNP had been moved from pro-privatisation to anti- and joined Labour and Green councillors to vote down the plans for privatisation.
Update: For more about the campaign, see Alyson MacDonald’s blog about it at Bright Green Scotland:
It might feel as if this doesn’t happen very often, but sometimes we win. And when we do, it’s amazing.
One interesting aspect of this was that the same man who was involved in developing the “alternative business model”, the former head of corporate property, Bill Ness, was suspended at the end of 2011 over the repairs scandal – and apparently he has since left his post. I wrote about this ten days ago as the Edinburgh tenement council tax. The investigation into that bit of dirty business is now costing the taxpayer £1.8M.
The last tranche of public services that had been slated for privatisation was to be voted on today.
I wrote to my councillors:
I see that the council is minded to privatise (1) schools meals, (2) commissioning services, (3) the Council’s helpdesk and (4) the elected members enquiry service.
To deal with them all in turn: