What Cannot Be Forgiven 97

Thirty thousand orangemen marched in Belfast yesterday to the statue of Sir Edward Carson. He was the vicious lawyer who hounded and destroyed Oscar Wilde for his homosexuality, as well as a thug who openly promoted violence in politics.

The effects of history on today’s politics are fascinating, and dangerous when perceived historical injustice or heroism becomes an obsession, as with the Orangemen. I had not fully grasped the significance of the fact that the largely Scots Oramgemen called their pledge of 100 years ago a Covenant. Which reminds me of another anniversary, next month is 300 years since the birth of Montrose.

The Unionist campaign in the Independence referendum has seen a continuing wooing by New Labour of the Orange Order in Glasgow, which occasionally emerges into the mainstream media. BBC Scotland is completely New Labour controlled and a bastion of pro-Unionist propaganda. I found this tendentious report particularly amusing. Note how is skates round the fact that Matheson was at the Orange Order meeting, instead allowing him to spin on precisely what he had said about relaxing restrictions on Orange parades. Note the total lack of difficult questioning. New Labour even went on to give public money to Orange Order parties for the Jubilee – while peaceful young student protestors I know personally were violently arrested for holding anti-monarchist placards in a park.

New Labour in Scotland have not only reached out to the Orange Order, but decided to adopt neo-con policies and attack the SNP from the right. They are greatly approved by The Daily Telegraph and the Tory think-tank, Policy Exchange. The policy appears to be for New Labour to join the Tories and Lib Dems in blaming the SNP for the strain in public services caused by Tory cuts to the Scottish government’s services.

As a strategy to build a united Unionist coalition it make sense, except it is a coalition entirely of the right. I am not sure New Labour can any longer count on tribal loyalty in Scotland’s cities for their voters to follow this neo-con lurch. Of course, the Orange Order are big on tribal loyalty. Maybe that is why New Labour feel so comfortable with them at the moment.

Allowed HTML - you can use: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <s> <strike> <strong>

97 thoughts on “What Cannot Be Forgiven

1 2 3 4
  • Suhayl Saadi

    Craig, at 1:34pm, yes, I agree. Similarly, while Labour (Old and New) remains relatively attractive to many people of South Asian origin living in Scotland, equally, in recent times, the SNP has been very successful in wooing both voters and those with political ambitions to its corner.

    ThatCrab, at 2:39pm: as Craig said, things change. I agree that the origins of C17th Orangeism – the ending of the Divine Right of Kings, the supremacy of parliament, the direct reading and interpretation of religious texts and the ending of the priestly class, and so on – were indeed progressive.

    But in the West of Scotland, overwhelmingly, on the ground, on the factory floor and in just about every sector of work, Orangeism – often established by Protestant Irish immigrants from Ulster – became about keeping (mainly Irish) Catholics down.

    Growing up here in the 1960s and 1970s, I witnessed this at first hand. In many ways, we ‘Asians’ were grateful for the Prostestant-Catholic tribal feud, as it took some of the heat off of us. Similarly, my Jewish pals tell me that they were grateful for the arrival of ‘coloured immigrants’ during the 1960s, as it took some of the heat off of them! I do remember when we lived in Hull, some Jewish friends – including some Holocaust survivors, for God’s sake – used to get excreta shoved through their letter-boxes every Easter. However, while it seems like common sense, I’ve always thought the ‘moving target’ argument to be a false argument, since bigotry and hate simply multiply and poison interactions for everyone.

    Overt discrimination against Catholics is much less now, in spite of composer, James MacMillan’s tirades, and of course, tribalistic prejudice works both/all ways. But sectarianism – again, both ways – remains a major issue in terms of public order and violence and probably also at the lower end of the social scale, in terms of individual bullying at work and so on. I also realise that it can be facile for middle-class people to knock what is in effect a working class organisation.

    The Orange and Hibernian Orders need cleanly to separate themselves from all of that bigotry and hate – officially, they do, but really, beneath the surface and on the ground, I’m not so sure. Watching these marches – and it’s mainly Orange Marches here in Glasgow – is not like watching carnival, it’s scary, and one always tries to walk away when one hears massed drums and flutes. I once saw, from a distance, Orange banners and heard drums and flutes and then spotted lots of Asian women in the march and thought, hey, that’s weird, maybe the Orange Order have gone all multi-culti! Then I realised that of course, it was Sikh march!

  • craig Post author


    It was certainly a tragedy of history that Ireland was divided, and as a result Eire missed out on the proper representation of other political and religious strands that might potentially have made it healthier, I agree.

  • thatcrab

    I wish Ireland could have been united, i dont know that we could have been if it were not for a few divisive leaders. The only way i can see it being united, is through some reconciling movements/personalities.

    Carson was a name I heard of but dont remember being taught at my working class belfast ‘grammar’ school, which was mixed religion but mostly protestant, ‘all boys’ euch.

    It sounds unsightly that Carson was the lawyer who destroyed Oscar Wilde, but as a man in less sexually enlightened time he would have been working against what was considered by protestant and catholic leaders alike as sexual depravity. Wilde’s literary genius soars besides his personal adventures, but did Wilde go too far in his sexual adventures, by todays standards even? I dont know this either, but Carson had only to establish the truth of whether it was libelous that he had been called a “posing sodomite”

    Suhayl thanks for your reply. Im lucky to not mind that sound of flutes and drums, and prefer bagpipes. I think they would be the most terrifying if they were associated with a group of dangerous opponents on the prowl.

  • 21st Scent Tree

    @ thatcrab 30 Sep, 2012 – 6:21 pm

    Bagpipes? When I am dictator of the world, the first to face my machine-gun firing squad will be the busking bagpipers.
    The chanter has such a limited set of notes you can’t even play the simplest melody on it, and the drones go out of tune with every hot breath blown into the bag.
    One piper in a hundred gets a decent tune out of them. They can only be musical when a skilled piper plays a tune especially written for the pipes.
    Preferably on a distant hilltop in the gloaming.

  • MerkinOnParis.

    I am currently sirring in a bar in Eastern Europe drinking a beer.
    I am wearing a Brazil football top which was given as a present from a friend in Brazil.
    First time I have worn it. I would never take the chance where I lived before in the West of Scotland. The colour could be mistaken for a Celtic strip.
    The Landlord of my local pub – a Lodge Master – accused me of being an IRA sympathiser because I support a free Scotland. Neanderthall thinking.
    A few years ago I won a trip to Brazil as top salesmen for a large American mutinational. I subsequently won a substantial out of Court settlement after being sacked 1 hour before my two years at that firm.
    I queried with the receptionist why I had had such difficulties over a period of time. She told me that I was the London choice and I was one of only two people in that branch (55 staff) who was not a member of a Lodge or Order of The Eastern Star.
    Things made sense.
    On the first day, I was told that my choice of company car should not include the colour green.
    Later, I was looking to fill a staff vacancy and we had 600 plus applications for this particular job. I asked how a choice would be made and was told that the first thing was to look at the names of schools attended – any with the words Saint/St. would be binned!!!! Shocking, but true. In the 20th Century?.

  • Mary

    Interesting Merkin. I was looking up Medinah, the subject of the previous thread!, to see the origin. Medinah was the name of a Chicago mosque which was taken over by the Shriners, an offshoot of freemasonry. They establised this large country club with a 54 hole golf course.

    The Medinah building is now a Bloomingdales.


    Branches are all over Yankeeland according to a map.

    This is the Wikipedia entry for Medinah and for the Shriners. The latter has nothing to do with Islam. Weird or what?


  • Guest

    “Only the SNP want to bring independence to Scotland which will lead to Trident being moved out of Scotland and threaten it’s existance.
    These facts are major differences between the SNP and all the 3 major westminister parties.”


    I don’t think so..


    The truth is that there is no real difference between the SNP and New Labour, what is the point of “independence” (at the end of the day) when nothing really changes. I am a scot and think that independence will make no difference to the scottish people, its not independence that the scottish people need its as “Phil 30 Sep, 2012 – 11:10 am” said “Step away from the system”, the SNP are part and parcel of that system.

  • Phil

    Clydebuilt 30 Sep, 2012 – 11:54 am
    “Craig , notice how the first person in with comments after the article is anti SNP…It’s an attempt to devalue any pro independence pro SNP article”

    That’s a tad defensive. My comment was anti SNP as much as it was anti Labour, anti Conservative, anti Liberals.

    I believe in far greater decentralisation than you are currently being offered and am unimpressed by English or Scottish nationalism.

  • Phil

    Clark 30 Sep, 2012 – 3:48 pm
    “However, I advise just posting whole, bare links, as that enables other readers to see what target you’ve linked to.”

    Oh, ok.

  • Vronsky


    “their primary historical foe was Irelands Elite Priesthood ”

    I see Mary has spelled out my comment on NI elite priesthoods. Thanks, Mary, I’m too lazy myself.

    Orangemen have been the archetypal useful idiots and it appears that the Westminster judgement is that they still are. Idiots I’m sure, but still useful? Not so clear. Vamos a ver.

    The narrowness, isolationism and intense conservatism of de Valera’s Free State has utterly no counterpart in Scotland, although it has its gloomy echoes. We’re not squeaky clean, but we know we mustn’t vote for rich boys. We’re learning that some of those we thought were our own kin are just arse-lickers for rich boys, so they’re in trouble too.

    Incidentally, the old IRA (the Laughin’ Boys – read Brendan Behan) was just as unenthusiastic about the RC church as the Orange Order but of course their political aims were entirely different: on the one hand a socialist republic, on the other – uh – what you’ve got. Parallels with the Spanish Civil War are tempting.

  • Vronsky


    “Step away from the system”

    Terrific, with you all the way. What are your thoughts on how we do that?

  • thatcrab

    “I see Mary has spelled out my comment on NI elite priesthoods.”

    You both seemed to just slip sideways off.

    Would you say that sexual and psychological abuse was as endemic and widespread amongst Protestant Churches in northern ireland, as it is revealed to have been in Catholic Churces in Eire?

    – Home/Rome rule for the south alone, did not result in a very tempting socialist republic by many accounts. But any deficencies in Eires goverment, are connectable to the orrible orderlies refusal to provide the natural balance.

  • Commesick Commesuck

    The referendum will be decided on the timing of the first release of Satanyahu’s collaborative cartoon series with Obomber over Iran.If it happens before the 2014 vote and with the expected participation of HMG, the Royals may be finally freed from wearing kilts forever.

  • nevermind

    Indeed Thatcrab, it is. Organised religion, which is purported to form the ancient and relevant moral backbone to society, has shown up religions to be devious, false and far from moral.

    It looks like mankind is not made for celibacy, endless contemplation and emptiness, nor does it believe in Armageddon or Truth movement, its tribal and prissy and it likes to enforce power over children, punish them with sexual abuse for their normal little misdemeanour’s.

    Lets face it we barely managed to walk straight. We also have an innate drive to fight each other, because our systems are build upon consumption, false morals, lying and profits, if sustainable values would underpin what we do, whether its finance energy or self sustaining markets, we would half our need for expansion and profits.

    We have trusted our children to these people, for hundreds of years, listened to their moral guidance, took their absolution, prayed with them, trusted them with life, body and behests. What value next time a monarch gets ordained by hypocrites?

    Ratzinger, can you hear us?… you knew, and so did other church elders, same within the Prostestant’s as well as Jehovah’s witness, but no doubt other religions had their fair share of abuse scandals, slap me if I’m wrong.

    Result? Total moral breakdown, childish accusations and denial of justice. The people have been wronged, morally, financially and politically, the latter for a very long time.

    Lets write a bit more about it, raise awareness, as you so prefer, and watch the fucking Golf, its so fascinating.

  • Mary

    Thatcrab I think you have a misunderstanding. I am against ALL abuse of children and young people, whether it is carried out by Catholic, Protestant, Muslim or Jew, male or female. It is one of the most heinous crimes second only to murder along with rape.

  • Mary

    O/T Always thought he was ultra smarmy.


    Secret police investigation into Labour MP’s £500,000
    A police investigation into Labour MP Keith Vaz discovered that he apparently held hundreds of thousands of pounds in a series of bank accounts.

    The ‘Teflon’ MP who counts leaders among his friends Met applied for orders to look at accounts held by MP’s wife


  • thatcrab

    I dont normally begrudge or attack peoples religions but i think some of you otherwise great folks talk dirty about Ulster Unionists and ‘protestant culture’ etc, so I can talk basic dirt about Republicans – who are/where much characterised by special loyalty to the vatican: The catholic church has these special qualities of celibate priests, who also hear the faithfuls naughty confessions. There has been particular investigation and discovery of widespread institutionaly protected abuse in the catholic church, and you guys dismiss it, ‘all religions are essentially the same’ .. ‘protestant churches will be just as bad’

    I have childhood experience of presbyterian and methodist churches, – i didnt encounter any sexual abuse or rumours of it. Worst was when i got kicked around at good news camp for defending someone who ‘might be gay’ – I said ‘so what i might be gay?’ rhetorically!
    I did hear the odd rumour about RC priests.

  • craig Post author


    I think that the Catholic Church has had particular problems with sexually predatory priests targeting children is well documented, though of course there is no monopoly on such behaviour. You are probably right in saying that it (the Catholic Church’s particular problem) is linked to the strange notion of celibacy. But why do you say all this as if it were not something we already know?

  • Nextus


    “Would you say that sexual and psychological abuse was as endemic and widespread amongst Protestant Churches in northern ireland, as it is revealed to have been in Catholic Churches in Eire?”
    Sexual abuse is relatively rare in Protestant churches, I agree. But lack of affection can be equally damaging. I’ve counselled students from both communities, and those from the Protestant community showed a pattern suggesting a lack of emotional attachment and an excess of discipline, rather than sexual abuse. Some stories were shocking: rebellious sons having their hands held over burning candles until they relented and let Jesus into their lives; children being locked away until they straightened themselves out (resulting in suicide in some occasions); daughters being exiled for courting someone from the ‘wrong’ denomination … and on it goes. Most stories involve some kind of punishment according to cultural values. Some children were forced to watch videos of Orange parades and listen to tapes of sectarian songs; it left an impact on their ability to engage with people outside that community.

    I agree that sexual abuse is more prevalent amongst the RC community. It teaches kids to bottle up and repress their objections, and damages their relationships as adults. I’d suggest the Protestants tend have more of a problem with recognising their personal needs. Both are forms of repression, of course.

    I’d recommend that the Pope should sanction marriage *between* priests. That would mean he’d either have to recognise gay marriage or admit women to the priesthood. Unlikely, perhaps, but the world would be a better place…

  • Nextus

    Oops! My bad. Fix the blockquote, please, mods – after the closing quotation mark. Ahem.

  • anders7777


    It was certainly a tragedy of history that Ireland was divided, and as a result Eire missed out on the proper representation of other political and religious strands that might potentially have made it healthier, I agree.

    Well the good news is that Ireland sucked down the EU 13 pieces of silver, and thanks to Europe is now a barren bankrupt ghost own.

    As Nuid will affirm,

  • Mary

    A psychopath employed by psychopaths.

    1 October 2012

    G4S ‘warned’ over killer security guard Danny Fitzsimons

    In a statement, the foreign Office said it was vital to work in partnership with the industry to effectively prevent abuses by private security companies abroad.

    BBC Scotland Investigates: Britain’s Private War, BBC Two Scotland on Monday 1 October at 21:00

    Why only shown in Scotland???? Too shocking to see for a wider audience?

    The ArmorGroup contract was worth $half a billion and counting I bet.


  • Mary

    What a wicked evil man.

    Published on Sunday, September 30, 2012 by Common Dreams
    President of Yemen: I Pre-approve All US Drone Strikes

    In an interview with reporters in Washington, DC this weekend, President Abed Rabbo Mansour Hadi of Yemen made public admission that he gives personal consent to each and every US drone strike that takes place in his country.

    “Every operation, before taking place, they take permission from the president,” Hadi said in an interview with reporters and editors from The Washington Post. He praised the program and the capability of drone aircraft generally, adding, “The drone technologically is more advanced than the human brain.”


    In the week I saw a filmed piece on hunger in Yemen.

    Yemen sliding into hunger crisis- UN
    Updated: 20:39, Tuesday September 25, 2012

    Yemen is descending into a humanitarian emergency situation, with almost half the country’s 24 million people facing hunger, the UN’s food agency has warned in Geneva.

    The Arab country is affected by rising international food prices because it imports nearly all key staples like wheat and sugar.

    ‘Yemen is facing a deteriorating humanitarian crisis with high food and fuel prices, rising poverty, a breakdown of social services, diminishing resources, internal conflict and political instability,’ the World Food Programme (WFP) said on Tuesday.

    Nearly half of the country’s children below the age of 5 suffer from stunted growth due to malnutrition.

    The WFP said it was planning to provide aid to 5.5 million people in Yemen by the end of the year.

  • thatcrab

    “But why do you say all this as if it were not something we already know?”

    I restated it a few times only because it was first batted aside as an abberation.

    I brought it up to substantiate the orange/unionist claim, their reason for being perhaps, that the RC organisation which was so powerful in the south.. was an immoral and corrupt one – overall so undesirable for those of a differing faith to get tucked as deep into bed with as it is possible to go. But yet the wedding party just feel it is a tragedy that they wont do their duty to the romance of the green isle.
    There is just no sympathy here for Unionist position, because they barged their way in 350 years ago.. because they cling to the british monarchy.. because Carson thrashed Wildes libel case.. because of bad taste in music and dress.. Whatever might stick.

  • John Edwards

    Not sure if anyone has pointed this out already but Montrose will be 400 not 300 this year

  • thatcrab

    Good tap John. A bit of golfy blether why not? I dont relish the possibility of weighty follow ups.
    I’ve had a little read about ‘the Great Montrose’ anyway – a mighty fine character by many accounts.

1 2 3 4

Comments are closed.