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.

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131 thoughts on “Orange Blackout

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  • craig Post author


    Whereas the Orange Order lot were completely peaceful and never killed anyone? Oh wake up, for goodness sake.

  • davidb

    Does anyone Scottish believe that a march by this organisation will make much difference to the outcome of the vote? Honestly?

    It may persuade some soft no’s to vote yes to spite them. Scottish society has moved on in leaps and bounds in the past 50 years. There are few people outside of that particular organisation who have any time for it. I suggest you just ignore them. In Ireland they might matter, but not any longer here. May be important as a boost to the retailers of liquor in the Capital that day, and to some coach hirers, but otherwise? Nothing to see here….

  • Argyll

    One of the reasons that I will be voting Yes is that I want to get away from the tribalism that is represented not only by the Orange Order, but by the British State. We have seen it all this week with the celebrations of the START of WW1. “We must have been in the right. How do we know? Well we are British. No further discussion needed.” Well I don’t agree – I do not subscribe to that sort of prejudiced nonsense. It is as offensive to me as any other type of prejudice – racism, xenophobia, sexism – they are all the same. The prejudice of the Orange Order is based on religion – every bit as bad as the others.

    The Scotland that I want to live in will treat all who live here equally. The only condition is that you want to contribute to society. I don’t care about your ethnicity, your sexual orientation, your religion or any other belief system you might have. I expect you to be equally tolerant of others.

    The right to march is one which I respect, but not if its primary purpose is to intimidate others. That is what the Orange Order is all about. They put a gloss of respectability on their activities but their purpose is to put others down. That is not a part of the Scotland that I want to live in.

    I want the law to be observed, both by individuals and institutions. So I want the police to enforce the law referred to in this article. I want the BBC to observe the terms of its licence to broadcast. I want the individuals who are planning to march on 13 September to not only observe the law, but to treat their fellow citizens with respect.

    If we vote No, I fear that these aspirations will remain just that – aspirations. If we vote Yes, we will have taken the first step towards creating a more civilised country. I want to be proud of my country, not for its military achievements, but because it is egalitarian, compassionate, prosperous and fair.

  • fred

    “Whereas the Orange Order lot were completely peaceful and never killed anyone? Oh wake up, for goodness sake.”

    I have no doubt units associated with them have and I have no doubt if a load of the put on symbols of the UVF and went marching through Edinburgh attacking the police they would get themselves arrested.

    However that is not what they are planning to do on Saturday.

    How can you say things like “I deplore racism with every part of my being, all racism.” in one entry then be doing your best to promote sectarian hatred in another? I’m not for the Orange order I can’t stand them. I’m just against anybody who incites sectarian unrest.

    You wake up.

  • fred

    “BTW Fred see this “peaceful” sporting a uvf armband and his leather bullet pouch, surely he uses it to store his chocolate sank bars.”

    Yes, disgusting, people like that are scum.

    Unfortunately it isn’t illegal, the act doesn’t apply to Northern Ireland.

  • GutterTheQuantifier

    Interesting that Scottish separatists here are so disparaging about their cousins in Northern Ireland.

    If you want to carve everything up according to whether or not it is historically and geographically “Scottish”, then I don’t see how you can ignore the fact that Northern Ireland is a Scottish colony, not an English or a Welsh one.

    Historically, geographically and culturally, it would make no sense at all for the land of the “Ulster Scots” to be attached to England and/or Wales following the dismemberment of the UK.

    If an independent Scotland is going to take sole possession of huge chunks of Britain’s natural resources on the grounds of history and geography, then on the same grounds you must also take sole responsibility for your troublesome colony in the north of Ireland.

  • june

    I’m sure I read that they are not allowed to have the band, they are the one’s that wear a band like uniform and they are separate from the lodge they are hired , also the band can have different religions in it , witch contradicts the whole thing and most of them are not even members of the lodge or go to church and thats the whole point

  • fred

    “One of the reasons that I will be voting Yes is that I want to get away from the tribalism that is represented not only by the Orange Order, but by the British State.”

    And Nationalists.

    Nationalism is tribalism as well.

    How about just getting away from all “isms”?

  • Tony M


    The term Ulster Scots is a misnomer, huge numbers of settlers came from the Northumberland coast as far south as Durham and many from Carlisle/Cumbria, there were even a significant number of Irish from far southern Ireland who settled in the North-West of England originally and then went back to Ireland, increased in number, with the colonists sent. Some were sent, exiled as a judicial punishment, rather like convicts sent to Australia.

    I don’t wish to dwell on this and have no entitlement to an explanation, but my 11:31 comment, which was for a time there, between Craig’s 11:25 and Fedup’s 11:34 and then wasn’t there any more, what happened to it, did others see it?

  • Jives

    One thing you can say about the deep-fried Orange Order though..

    They’re rarely over-burdened by their intelligence and perspicacity.

  • Jives

    Tony M,

    Sometimes i think the spam filter here catches some posts depending on keywords.

    I cant be certain but i think this occassionally causes posting problems.

    I do wish this blog would move to a format where edits etc are allowed.

    But it seems it is what it is.

  • Ethel Cardew

    Can you not stand by and make a citizens arrest? file complaints with the police take photgraphic or video evidence just cause enough of a rammy to make the crimpolen rooled up trooser leg brigade feel just that uncomfortable…Make the polis actually do their job

  • Dale

    I’ve noised up the Scottish Cabinet about this. You see, the Order can march in uniform under very specific circumstances. Firstly, they need to arrange a march in an area with a dolt for a chief police officer. The chief police officer needs to then believe (against all the publicly available evidence) that allowing the Order to march would not be “likely” to lead to “public disorder” and apply for permission from a Secretary of State. Should the Secretary of State grant permission, then a uniformed march by the order can subsequently take place legally. However, separate permission needs to be sought for each event.

    So far I’ve had no response to my questions about whether such consent has been sought from, or granted by, any member of the Scottish Cabinet.

  • Tony M

    They’ve been used and abused over the years. Everyone is entitled to be proud of their family their roots and their background, though if that history is one of sowing division and assumed superiority then that is something they need to look at within themselves as individuals and find other, universal, just causes to embrace. I don’t accept the cop-out that one side is as bad as the other, protestantism in the west of Scotland has an oppressive element both in working-class competition for resources, jobs, housing etc. and it reaches at times disturbingly highly into the old establishment. I hope that in time religiously segregated schooling is eliminated in Scotland, apart from being inherently divisive the duplication of resources, facilities, buildings etc. has senseless extra costs. Of mixed Catholic-Protestant background, neither side at all in the least religious, but irreligious if not atheistic/agnostic, certainly never practising, I respect each side of that heritage, and have friends at one extreme and the other, who’ll always remain so. Any division that was there has been blurred over so many generations that classification on religious lines is near impossible, notions of purity went out with eugenics. I hope a party atmosphere prevails and they can find a respectable place, a new (hopefully quieter) less destructive role in Independent Scotland’s civic society.

  • Tony M

    Jives it wasn’t in moderation, it was there between Craig’s and Fedup’s posts on a reloaded page, and then it wasn’t. It can’t be keywords, it was only three lines and I reposted it exactly as before, but with an extra two sentences on the end (about ww1) at 11:45, and it posted fine. However. Night.

  • GutterTheQuantifier

    Tony M:

    You surely aren’t arguing that Northern Ireland is an English colony?

    You say that “notions of purity went out with eugenics”, but you seem to be calling on just such notions when you argue that the Ulster Scots are misnamed because they have some English and Irish blood in them.

    The overwhelming majority of the settlers were Scottish, the people there today identify themselves as Ulster Scots, and they speak a dialect of the Scots language as recognised by the EU.

    And anyway, most lowland Scots have plenty of English and Irish (and other) ancestry, too. By your odd, racist logic, that means Glasgow and Edinburgh aren’t Scottish either.

    Finally, look at a map. Ulster is nowhere near England, and very close to Scotland. Much closer than the British North Sea oil fields.

    You wouldn’t be so keen to hand your cousins’ land to the English and Welsh if there was oil there, would you?

  • Tony M

    Gutter the whatever. I’ve got no fucking idea what you are talking about. Get help man.

  • GutterTheQuantifier

    Tony M:
    Eh? I was responding to your unhinged historical revisionist comment of 12:43 am when you seemed to be arguing that Northern Ireland was colonised by England, not Scotland.

  • douglas clark

    Dear Fred,

    You say:

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

    I hope that we can all be like that after independence. It is this hinging on to Imperial identities, or, even anti-imperial identities, that is our bane. The only way to get over it is to take complete responsibility for ourselves, well, at least, that’s my honest opinion.

  • Abe Rene

    The law of 1936 says that if the chief of police is satisfied that the uniform in question will not risk public disorder, he may permit it. Presumably the chief of police in Edinburgh was so satisfied, while this was not the case with the Irish republican synpathisers in Hyde park, for (in my view) they would be unlikely to seek permission for such a thing.

    As for the BBC’s decision, it amounts to self-censorship that could adversely affect the organisation’s reputation as a source of reliable information. What if people in other countries started seeing the BBC simply as a propaganda arm of the government and assessing the BBC World Service in the same light? I’ll leave it to others to apportion blame.

  • johnnyrvf

    Much ado about nothing re the uniforms. The BBC passed the mark of being a left wing propagander tool 30 years ago. The bias they show makes the ancient Soviet Pravda a beacon of neutrality.

  • nevermind, it will happen anyway

    I always had the impression that NI was colonated by Norse, Vikings, Celts, Scots and Billy, a bit of a melee, so why these strange urges to invite Irish people/unionist troublemakers to swell their puny ranks in Edinburgh?

    Not one of these NI voters will have a say in the referendum, so why are they even get off the ferry when the resulting march just increases Scottish voters police receipts?
    Has the police and the BBC invited this rolled up trouser meeting?

    I’m not a Scotsman so forgive, but black berets are worn by others than the IRA and I’m sure that when the sun shinesthey will wear raybans.

  • DoNNyDarKo

    Fred: Out of sync with reality and Scotland once again. The Orange order and their marches are very militaristic from their uniforms to their marching songs which commemorate battle and ” the sash their father wore ” which they wear as part of the uniform.
    They are very pro Unionist and have been used by politicians through the centuries to intimidate Catholic’s.Catholics were discriminated against all over Scotland and it was still happening during the 70’s.There are still bars in Glasgow that you wouldn’t be seen in,in green,
    An Orange Walk is quite a spectacle and something you wouldn’t forget as the drums and lyrics make their military point.They still use them in Northern Ireland to remind the Catholics of who is boss.There is nothing peaceful about them.
    They should not be permitted in this century and I have no idea why they think this might help the NO campaign in our Capital.You’ll have a few Hearts supporters nodding their heids,but thats all.

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