Orange Blackout 131

My mole at Pacific Quay tells me that there will be no BBC coverage of the Orange Order No campaign march in Edinburgh on 13 September. It has been decided that this would “present an unfairly negative image of the No campaign.” I find that fascinating, as the BBC has certainly never shirked from portraying an unfairly negative image of the Yes campaign. Apparently BBC Scotland have taken the decision “in consultation with” their bosses in England.

The proposed Orange for No march appears plainly to be in contravention of the Public Order Act 1936. This act makes it illegal to wear a uniform to promote a political cause:

Section 1 (i)

Subject as hereinafter provided, any person
who in any public place or at any public meeting wears
uniform signifying his association with any political
organisation or with, the promotion of any political
object shall be guilty of an offence :

For the Orange order to march through Edinburgh in uniform to support the No referendum campaign seems to me as blatant a contravention of the Act as can possibly be imagined. The Act remains in force, this section has not been modified by subsequent legislation and it does apply to Scotland. The specific provisions for Scotland at Section 8 relate solely to the mechanics of administration.

Orange marches in Scotland are not normally prosecuted on the (frankly weak) grounds that they are a cultural not a political manifestation. But that cannot be said of the September 13 March which is being undertaken by the Grand Orange Lodge as a registered participant in the referendum campaign. If they march in uniform they are very plainly indeed in breach of the Public Order Act.

The Act is not a dead letter from the 1930s. It was used to arrest and convict Irish Republicans in the 1980s demonstrating at Speakers’ Corner in Hyde Park for wearing black berets. Its breach of the peace provisions were used against pickets in the miners’ strike.

There is therefore a key question here – is the law applied impartially, or is it only applied against political demonstrations opposed to the Westminster Establishment? Is the law ignored for political demonstrations in support of the Westminster Establishment?

It is not a case of whether you support the existence of this particular law. It is an essential attribute of a democracy that where the law exists it is applied impartially. That appears not to be the case in Scotland.

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>

131 thoughts on “Orange Blackout

1 2 3 5
  • Hetty

    Should we YES people stand on the sidelines, biscuit tins and drum sticks in hand, or completely ignore it? I
    I suggest ignoring it and for anyone wishing for and working towards a fairer, more forward looking positive country, just to act as if it is not happening, march, what march?

    I wonder how the Irish republicans were treated in the 1930’s when they were arrested, probably not very nicely.
    The law works for the rich and establishment, and against those who have a conscience. That has to stop, world over, injustice is an ugly human trait, very ugly.

  • BrianFujisan


    Great Legal info there i had just no ideal all…Thank you

    its actually illegal for this march to go ahead ( if in uniform) Wow

  • recluse

    What you’ve outlined is something any hack would surely see as a potential news story worth covering. Would have, in my day.

  • craig Post author

    Hi Hetty

    The Irish Republicans were actually arrested in Hyde Park for wearing berets in the 1980s! should have been clearer.

  • JimmyGiro

    So, when the Police units prance about at Gay-Pride demonstrations, in the hope of winning some gong regarding how gay-friendly they are, we should arrest them!

  • Kempe

    There is of course a let-out clause:-

    “Provided that, if the chief officer of police is satisfied
    that the wearing of any such uniform as aforesaid on
    any ceremonial, anniversary, or other special occasion
    will not be likely to involve risk of public disorder, he
    may, with the consent of a Secretary of State, by order
    permit the wearing of such uniform on that occasion
    either absolutely or subject to such conditions as may be
    specified in the order.”

    As the march is taking place in Edinburgh I would assume that the decision to allow it rests with the Scottish government or the local authority and not with Westminster. Do you not think that the arrest or banning of a “No” demonstration by an administration closely associated with the “Yes” camp might seriously backfire?

  • Kempe

    ” So, when the Police units prance about at Gay-Pride demonstrations, in the hope of winning some gong regarding how gay-friendly they are, we should arrest them! ”

    Them and the Girl Guides who have protested against sexism in the media and the school children who attended demonstrations against university fees. Lock ’em all up! It’s democracy!

  • fred

    “its actually illegal for this march to go ahead ( if in uniform) Wow”

    Well no. Craig is just being as silly as the stupid farts in the Orange Order.

    I don’t think anything they would be wearing would be considered a uniform for the purposes of the act. I don’t think the No Campaign would be considered a political organisation in the sense the act intends and I think the Orange Order will have had a word with the Chief Constable and told them what they intend to do, if it was illegal he would have been obliged to tell them it was illegal and if he tells them it’s OK for them to go ahead then it isn’t illegal anyway.

    Don’t see any point in giving the sectarian bastards any publicity, the BBC got it right, ignore them. Why the hell Craig wants them on the front page of every newspaper I can’t imagine.

  • Peacewisher

    LOL, Kempe. Surely not a “let out” clause!

    In this case, though, I’d have thought there would have been a risk of disorder. Indeed, it might be suggested that some might see it in their interest to cause disorder. I’m sure the police presence would be considerable, just in case. Wouldn’t be sensible for the impartial and good taste BBC to broadcast any of that…

  • craig Post author


    Sometimes you are a total arse. Look at this picture of an Orange Order march in Glasgow

    “I don’t think anything they would be wearing would be considered a uniform for the purposes of the act.”

    Remember seven Irishman were arrested for wearing just a black beret. As for the argument that the No campaign is not a political organisation, I fear you have taken leave of your senses. have you ever seen an Orange march? Twit.


    An exemption has to be granted in advance by the chief police officer – not the government – on the grounds that there is no threat to public order. Plainly there is.

  • David Wilson

    Right Fred,

    so this is not a uniform ?

    And the Orange order, which has registered with the Electoral Commission as a campaigning under the No banner, is not political !

    Isn’t it also odd that last year BBC Northern Ireland covered the events of the 12th in a live tv programme of the parades in Belfast along with celebratory interviews from the Orange community extolling the virtues of their order. Think Huw Edwards covering the wedding of William and Kate and you’ll get the idea of the celebratory nature of the broadcast.

    Kempe – that provision you mention is speculative. Orange order marches in Edinburgh are very rare, averaging 4 or 5 per year and never anywhere near the city centre nor in any great numbers. Compared to Glasgow which allows some 300 marches per year. That alone provides a good case for concerns over public disorder I would have thought, especially with the referendum vote taking place only a few days later.

  • Argyll

    There are two stories here. First, the planned march in uniform in apparent contravention of the Act. Second, the apparent decision of the BBC not to cover it.

    On the first point, it would appear that the Orange Order will be in breach. If Kempe’s point is valid, and I have no reason to doubt it, this begs the obvious question “Has (or will) the Secretary of State give(n) consent to the relevant chief officer of police?” As the legislation pre-dates devolution we have to translate the officials specified in the Act into today’s equivalents. So presumably “chief officer of police” means the Chief Constable of Police Scotland. A “Secretary of State” I think in this context means the Secretary of State for Scotland – Alistair Carmichael. I am not a constitutional expert, but I do not think that Scottish Ministers (of the Scottish Government) can be described as Secretaries of State. (Perhaps if anyone knows more than me about this they could enlighten us.)

    So we expect that unless the Chief Constable has, with the agreement of Alistair Carmichael, consented to this parade, then it will be prevented. We await developments with great interest.

    On the second point, the BBC’s apparent decision not to report the parade, this is completely disgraceful and illustrates what many of us have been saying for months – the BBC has been acting as a branch of the Better Together No Thanks campaign. It is the job of the BBC to impartially report the facts. If the facts show either side in a poor light – then so be it. If a bunch of thugs, who happened to support a Yes vote, planned an illegal demonstration, would the BBC report it? Of course they would. And I’m sure they would give it all a good spin as well. And the irony is that the BBC is not slow to report media manipulation and bias in Putin’s Russia. Ha!

    Of course, maybe Craig’s mole is wrong. Or maybe the BBC will change their mind. Who knows? Either way, after independence, they will be cleared out.

  • fred

    Yes Craig, the Irish Republicans had a military wing who blew people up and berets are uniform soldiers wear in action not ceremonial uniform dick heads dress up in to go marching up and down.

    Some of us don’t want sectarian tensions to reach the same levels in Scotland as they did in Ireland. Some of us don’t want any sectarian tensions at all.

    So let the stupid farts prance around in their silly uniforms and ignore them. Nationalist Republicans picking fights with them will just lead to more fights, more anger, more resentment and more hatred.

  • Tony M

    This isn’t a ceremonial, anniversary or other special occasion, and given events in Glasgow a few weeks ago at the last march, when a teenage girl was ‘bottled’ there is more than a risk of public disorder, it is a certainty, from urinating in the street to drink-fuelled fights amongst themselves and there will be few Scots amongst the marchers, though the ferries from Northern Ireland will be doing a roaring trade. These marches having no relevance whatever shouldn’t be tolerated anywhere in Scotland at any time. Sadly though they are one of the bitter legacies of union, which the unionists have seen fit to sustain through the years. If they wish they could march round a remote field all day to their heart’s content, but choose instead to paralyse towns in lowland Scotland, and are often provocatively routed, simply because they can and do get away with it. Anti-Irish and anti-Catholic bigotry did not arise spontaneously but in its present form was imported from Northern Ireland and carefully stoked and tended, exploiting useful idiots, to flare up as and when the British state wished to sow some divide and rule discord. Such as now when the unloved union is already a goner. It little known fact that membership in the Communist Party in Scotland at one time was predominated by and thought to be limited only to orange order members. The saying was red on the outside and orange within. That controlled-opposition thing again. I would say ignore them and it, these people are just too ridiculous to merit even amused contempt, throwback dinosaurs with a drum making some noise, they’d be just as happy quietly at home with some colouring-in books and fat crayons.

  • Fedup

    IRA in Hyde park were enacting French onion sellers and got lifted, but here we have the long line of the orange Sashes, the stupid bowlers (always seem to be two sizes small) boozed up Orange men marching to the beat of the drums of menacingly scary tattooed rabble, scaring the dickens out of all and sundry, oh well that is not a uniform and it is only bit of lads letting off a few goose steps!

    Orange men are as good a scum as the zionist scum and they are as welcome in any decent society as any fart in the lift. In fact if they are in the no campaign the Scots should all watch them marching on the telly and the fisticuffs that invariably follows any such marches, should be put on the telly too.

  • kathy

    Fred, I can hardly believe you live in Scotland as you allege, if you think they are just like a bunch of boy scouts and have no involvement in the violence in Northern Ireland. This is an organization that is proud to carry the banner of the Ku Klux Klan among other things. Stop posting complete garbage troll.

  • Fedup

    World according to Fred,

    Evidently bowler hats, Orange sashes, and white gloves are everyday apparel worn by eccentric bunch of chums playing …….. a kind of ….. fancy dress game!

    Although silly google is out of step with Fred

    Best drop a line to google and put them right Fred.

  • guano

    Tony M

    At the demonstration in Birmingham against Moazzam Begg being locked up, some of the idiot socialist workers twisted the chants to ‘Racist police’. Moazzem Begg was arrested because of his exposure of UK rendition in Syria.

    After that I conclude that these idioiks were neither Socialist, nor Workers, nor anti-rendition, but just sent there to confuse the issues and let the UK government off the hook.

    The War on Terror and the current War by Terror, wherever that will lead us to Uzbekistan or the back streets of Birmingham, are both Wars against the true religion of Islam. Absolutely nothing to do with race.

  • craig Post author

    If Fred does not object, I would say that I understand he is a very decent bloke, an Englishman moved to Scotland and living a simple crofting life, well-integrated and respected in his local community. His unionism seems to be founded in an idea that an independent Scotland will cease to welcome people like him, or become otherwise unpleasantly nationalistic – I think he is very wrong, but he is entitled to his view.

    I suspect he has never seen an Orange march. If you haven’t it is difficult to explain how very nasty and threatening they are.

  • Fedup

    independent Scotland will cease to welcome people like him, or become otherwise unpleasantly nationalistic

    I have always thought that Scottish Nationalism is a backlash against the oppression that union has wrought upon the Scots. Given their independence, I hazard a guess that they would be far more welcoming of foreigners than they currently are. I don’t know if I am being sentimental, but that is the vibes I get from various Scots I have come across.

  • fred


    Yes I do live in Scotland, in the part of Scotland I live we don’t have any sectarian hatred like you have.

  • fred

    No Craig, I haven’t seen an Orange march and I don’t want to. We don’t have them in the part of Scotland I live we have more sense.

    No reason why they shouldn’t not have them in the other parts of Scotland as well if people just learnt how to get on with each other instead of bitching all the time.

  • Tony M

    Reposted as comment vanished after successfully posting, what’s with that?

    I think the rationale of the security services who must have controlled the orange order might have been that by having orange order members take over the nascent Communist Party, no-one would join the Communists for fear of being tainted by association with the orange order. We are talking though of an era just before during and after ww1. But gives an example of how this organisation was and is used for somewhat dubious purposes.

  • lysias

    To see an Orange march, you need only watch the movie Hidden Agenda. Excellent movie, by the way.

  • Ba'al Zevul (With Gaza)

    No reason why they shouldn’t not have them in the other parts of Scotland as well if people just learnt how to get on with each other instead of bitching all the time.

    That’s a big If, Fred. Divers wouldn’t need big clumsy air tanks if they just learnt how to breathe water….

  • fred

    “IRA in Hyde park were enacting French onion sellers and got lifted, ”

    Don’t be fucking stupid. Black berets and sun glasses were the recognised uniform of the IRA. The protests were not peaceful among other things live ammunition was thrown at the police and just a few years later the IRA planted a bomb in the same place, Hyde Park, which killed 11 people.

1 2 3 5

Comments are closed.