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


    Exactly. As I said in an earlier comment, it is very had to explain just how aggressive and threatening an Orange march is to somebody who hasn’t experienced one.

    “I have no idea why they think this might help the NO campaign in our Capital.” They don’t think it will. They are convinced it is a walkover and this is all part of the unionist triumphalism.

  • Gary

    I didn’t see if anyone else has said this but I am led to believe that this has already been raised with the OO and permission was granted subject to them marching without uniforms. Getting around any problems that could have been raised against them. The ‘unfairly negative’ idea has already been put into practise with the non coverage of the Monsanto march, Occupy actions, Austerity protests etc. Complaints have been brushed aside and appeals allowed to time out.

  • craig Post author


    Another commenter has also suggested that they agreed to march without uniforms. But I cannot find any source for that. I am sceptical.

  • Clark

    fred, 11 Aug, 11:41 pm

    “We don’t have [Orange marches] in the part of Scotland I live we have more sense

    But you told me that you often encounter another prejudice, just as strong, that affects you quite directly. So maybe the “we” you refer to doesn’t “have more sense”.

  • Argyll


    “Nationalism is tribalism as well.” No you are quite wrong about this. The “blood and soil” nationalism (which Darling infamously agreed was a valid description of the SNP) could be said to be tribalistic in its nature, but civic nationalism – the type of nationalism espoused by the SNP – is the very opposite. It is inclusinve in its nature not exclusive. Civic nationalism recognises the fact that we live in a place which is a nation and seeks to build within that nation a society which is non-discriminatory, egalitarian and tolerant.

    The Nationalism that I and most Yes voters support is welcoming to people of different ethnicity, tolerates a wide range of opinion and expects others to be tolerant as well. That is why the Orange Order will be tolerated in an independent Scotland even although many of us find it distasteful. But they will be expected to obey the law.


  • Ba'al Zevul (With Gaza)

    Orange march routes invariably pass Catholic churches, and the tension tangibly increases when they do so. It’s nothing to do with religion, though. Just hatred, maintained assiduously for centuries.

  • passerby

    While on the subject of sectarianism and inherent racism thereof, and recollecting the “Trojan Horse” letter and operation of the same name (the emotive fake letter that departed Gove used as a pretext to shut down all the Islamic schools in Birmingham and get rid of the lot of the governors and those “sympathetic staff”) Then the new Ed. Sec. came along and held a consultation and decided that “British Values” are to be taught everywhere and in the absence of that the school will be shut-down and instead a new “independent” school will be put in its place. (so far so good only Muslims are getting kicked around and marginalised)

    However apparently British Values leave no room for “mother”, “father”, as well as other:

    requiring teachers to remove traditional and gender-specific terms such as husband, wife, mother and father from the curriculum.

    That is coming from the Christian Institute

    Christian charity threatens judicial review over Trojan horse plans.

    Plans for independent schools following row could lead to ban on words such as husband and wife, claims Christian Institute

    But hang on until certain other parties get involved in, then perhaps there will be a wholesale rethinking of the “British Values”, and we may even find matza to be our nation bread yet.

    Although strangely the Quilliam Foundation is bemused; what is all the fuss about?

    Ghaffar Hussain, managing director of the Quilliam Foundation, told the BBC Radio 4 Today programme: “I really don’t understand [Hart’s] concerns at all to be honest.

    Clearly a well trained bunch of bubas, the hand maidens of one Tony Lynton Miranda Blair.

  • Iain Macmillan

    I live in Perth, which is not exactly a place usually associated with the obnoxious bigots of the Orange Order and sectarianism, yet still we have to tolerate them strutting around our streets. I suggest that before commenting on Orange marches perhaps Fred should actually go and see one first hand?

  • Tristan

    Point 1: The BBC not covering it because it might harm the No campaign to be associated with such idiots… That seems typical of the bias the BBC has been displaying.

    Point 2: Of course pro-establishment protests are going to be allowed – laws are not there to be universally enforced, they’re there to be enforced for the benefit of the ruling class.
    Look at the way the powerful have been getting away with sexual abuse, be it Jimmy Saville or members of the Lords (or probably Commons).
    If you’re a young black working class male, laws are going to be enforced as harshly as possible. If you’re at Eton then they’ll overlook the same indiscretions.

  • fred

    “Fred: Out of sync with reality and Scotland once again.”

    Actually I’m not. Scotland is not Northern Ireland and Glasgow is not Belfast no matter how much some here would like to be.

    Sectarian crime is actually very low in comparison to NI and what there is is mainly football related. Marches are only responsible for 2% of what sectarian crime there is.

    Don’t get me wrong, sectarian crime is deplorable and what there is should be stamped out but the fact of the matter is that the majority of Scots are not football fans and of those that are the majority don’t support Rangers or Celtic and of those that do the majority are not religious bigots. The small minority of trouble makers need dealing with but they do not represent Scotland as how much you would like them to.

    The census data shows almost a third of married Catholics are married to a Protestant. The numbers tell the reality. You peddle the myth.

  • Brendan

    “It has been decided that this would “present an unfairly negative image of the No campaign.””

    With journalists\PR shills, you have to parse the language. The key word here is, of course, ‘unfairly’. They are saying that this Orange March does not represent the tenor and tone of the larger ‘No’ campaign they espouse. Which is interesting. I rather think that this Orange March precisely represents the bullying, dishonest, hectoring, vaguely bigoted, tone of the ‘Better Together campaign’. Perhaps some people don’t want us to discern this?

    As a nuetral, I’ve become increasingly startled at the tactics of the ‘No’ campaign. Open question: is this within the realms of normal political campaigning, or has it crossed over into actual sociopathy? Assuming there is a different. I suspect the latter …

  • fred

    “Point 1: The BBC not covering it because it might harm the No campaign to be associated with such idiots… That seems typical of the bias the BBC has been displaying.”

    Oh for fucks sake. If the BBC cover it then the whingers accuse them of being biassed and if they don’t cover it then the whingers accuse them of being biassed.

    Haven’t you realised yet that whatever the BBC does the whingers are going to be accusing them of being biassed?

  • fred

    ” No you are quite wrong about this. ”

    That’s what every nationalist throughout history has said.

    The clue is in the name.

  • nevermind, it will happen anyway

    Just to make sure that this march is not being reported by the BBC, although this edict does not exclude RT or the ARD or Rai or France 2 covering it, it would be ebst for some dedicated people to attend with poster of the NO campaign to show support for their unionist relics.

    I think that would be essential, one would not want to leave them without the no borders blessing, would one?

  • MJ

    According to the latest poll Yes is on 35%, No 55%.

    You can always tell when Craig finds himself on the wrong end of an argument because he starts making wild and lurid accusations. In the past week or so he has attempted to suggest that No voters are Zionist, Orange Order Protestants who support bombing Gaza and are probably paedophiles too.

    The SNP are uncompromising Unionists when it comes to currency matters but that particular little march is going round in circles.

  • Argyll


    Do your comments also apply to Britnats? What you are doing is effectively just name-calling. It does not really merit a response, but I will try.

    Why don’t you look at the policies of the SNP government? There is not a hint of the unsavoury exclusionary policies that are associated with the blood and soil nationalists. Just because the SNP share one word in their name with some organisations which could be described as disreputable does not mean that they share their policies. It is intellectually bankrupt to suggest that they do.

    As for your comments on BBC bias, two academic studies have concluded that there is bias on the part of the BBC. And there have been many more instances since those studies were published. I suppose the academics were just whingeing as well?

    Could it be that you are adopting an emotive hostility to anything and anyone who supports Scottish independence and that you are just letting rip with ill-thought out rants?

  • DoNNyDarKo

    Fred: Get a grip !! The main problem is that the BBC censors News by ommission and make the electorate pay for the pleasure.Orwell would’ve loved to have thought of that for his book.
    Fancy an Englishman wi scabby coos calling people who want what the BBC charter promises “whingers”! You do nothing but whinge here. Awa n bile yer heid.
    It is also plain from reporting that the BBC do present news in a biased form, whether it be from Parliament or Israel. You are deaf and blind if you think otherwise!
    And in a world where Corporations are trying to have more power and muscle than Nations, I think Nationalism is more about protecting what you have from greedy faceless organisations.
    Of course they dont want borders !! Free trade ?? It’s an excuse to exploit and steal.
    I don’t suppose you’ll realise that until you’re sick and can’t pay for your doctor,because you spent all day on your laptop instead of feeding that scabby coo of yours.

  • fred

    “Do your comments also apply to Britnats?”

    Just which part of “the clue is in the name” didn’t you understand?

    If they are nationalist then they are tribalist.

  • Brendan

    “As a nuetral,”

    Yes, we can see how neutral.

    @ Fred

    Point of order. I’ll take some stick for my posts, that’s ok. But I have posted several times on this particular subject, and have maintained neutrality throughout. Other posters can back me up on this, if they’ve read anything I’ve posted. I’d actually just about vote ‘No’, though not with any conviction, because I’m not big on nationalist movements in general.

    Craig has made me reconsider my ‘no’ vote (I can’t vote as it happens), but your comment is misguided.

    As you were.

  • kurtan

    So which Tribalists are the worst?
    Westminster Tribalists that distribute Union Jacks and have all TV stations promoting their Tribal argument,or the SNP Tribalists with no TV stations or Newspapers?
    Westminster Tribalists had a major display of military might at a sporting event.SNP none.
    My opinion is that the military Tribalists are the Nazi’s and the SNP are small time just looking to disengage from an unfair and corrupt warmongering Union.

  • Argyll


    This is getting interesting.

    If I have a set of liberal, progressive and inclusive policies which I want to implement in my “nation” and I choose a name for my organisation which includes the word “nationalist” does that make me tribalist?

    If I have the same polices, but choose a name for my organisation that does not include the word “nationalist”, does that mean I am not tribalist?

    Are you really saying that the organisation is defined by its name?

  • nevermind, it will happen anyway

    Thanks for that Link Ken, the knuckle dragging video is appreciated, what a prospect.
    I think the BBC should cover the march and all the thousands of people attending with No posters.

    Sadly I have not found any link as to were you could download one and share, but there are amny for the Yes campaign. Does the NO campaign hand them out personally? only to ‘special people’?

  • fred

    “But you told me that you often encounter another prejudice, just as strong, that affects you quite directly. So maybe the “we” you refer to doesn’t “have more sense”.”

    There are racists and bigots here just as there are everywhere else. Children learn it at the dinner table same as everywhere else. I don’t think you’ll find anywhere in Britain it doesn’t exist and I think all those more enlightened should be doing their bit to convince people it is socially unacceptable.

    But they are not organised into groups and their energies channelled for political ends. They don’t get together and go marching down the road proclaiming it to the world. The people have not been split into two opposing factions feeding off their hatred for each other.

  • fred

    “If I have a set of liberal, progressive and inclusive policies which I want to implement in my “nation” and I choose a name for my organisation which includes the word “nationalist” does that make me tribalist?”


  • Gutter


    “… I have a set of liberal, progressive and inclusive policies which I want to implement in my “nation” …”

    …So you define who belongs to your “nation”, and you want the best for them, while the rest of us can go to buggery. That is surely the very definition of a tribalist.

  • Juteman

    It’s the Scottish National Party, not the Scottish Nationalist Party.
    Like the ANC.

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