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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  • Leslie

    I have never seen an Orange Order march, other than on TV. There the uniform seems to be little more than an orange sash and a bowler hat. I think there is also an OO tie. Personally, I’m not bothered either way. The BBC not covering the thing is possibly more interesting. The march must surely count as a piece of cultural trivia – though again there might be tensions around covering it.

    More interesting, is the presence of such a baroque event in the 21st century. From what cultural corner of Scotland does this group come? Do they have a place that Scotland recognises? Clearly, they exist – rather in the way that there is a UKIP MEP. Does any contemporary account of ‘Scotland’ have a place for these groups? Or have they been edited out of Scotland’s story. And if so – by whom? Are they ‘unpersons’?

  • Argyll


    Like Fred, you are getting a bit silly. Just because you say my arguments are sophistry does not make it so.

    It is true, and I agreed, that there has been over the years a great deal of migration between Scotland and Ireland and in particular the North of Ireland. That is not in dispute. That does not make Ireland or any part of it a colony of Scotland.

    Ireland was invaded by the Normans (from England) in the twelfth century. Things came and went a bit until Henry VIII (of England) re-invaded Ireland in 1536. Elizabeth I (of England) completed the process and by the time of the union of the crowns in the early 1600s Ireland had been subdued by England.

    Ireland was therefore an English colony and was formally integrated into the United Kingdom in 1801. At that time it was no longer a colony, but was part of the UK.

    These are the facts and you can make whatever assertions you like, but you cannot make Northern Ireland a Scottish colony. Your arguments, such as they are, do not amount to sophistry – they are just wrong.

  • Gutter

    What you say is true about Southern Ireland, but not the North. There’s a reason the people there are called the ‘Ulster Scots’ not the ‘Ulster English’, and that reason is the Plantation of Ulster. A century before the Union, thousands of settlers, overwhelmingly Scots, were sent from Scotland to colonise the, at that time, very sparsely populated North of Ireland. Ulster was colonised by Scotland. It is a Scottish colony. I don’t see how any rational person could honestly deny that. But I can quite see why a nationalist might dishonestly try.

  • Herbie


    Thanks for that.

    I’ve heard that there was what historians call The Plantation of Ulster. 1600s, I believe.

    Can you please confirm that no Irish plants were harmed in this process.

    AND, if not, that no Scottish plants were involved.

  • Herbie

    The Irish colonised the west of Scotland, the Highlands and Islands.

    Gave you your name.

    Your language.

    Trade routes to Rome.


    And finally united you.

    You gave us the Orange Order, The Black Watch, and sundry other unnecessary bigotries.

    Where did we go wrong


    There’s a bigger enemy, beyond the sibling squabbles.

    Daddy is old and dying.

    Vote YES.

  • Jives

    A sash and a bowler hat…

    A very clockwork Orange Order.

    They are deep-fried throwbacks to ignorance,on the whole.

  • nevermind, it will happen anyway

    My missis and myself walked out of Queens St station into St George square right into their annual unionist march, two years ago, only to take a right turn and walk away for the next hour just to get away.

    We took the bus back to the station later, with two of the most drunken, shaved and tattooed individuals using half of it as their pub, with beer bott;les rolling around the bus and loud noises to be heard, don’t ask what they were sayin’ I could not understand a word. After managing to get to the doors, they rolled out of the bus two stops before Queens street never to be seen again.

    Luckily we had a delightfull meeting with Suhayl later on, I hope he’s happy and healthy, so everything has its balance.

  • OldMark

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

    Fedup- the leather bullet pouch and uvf armband look like WW1 relics to me, and hark back to the original UVF subsequently incorporated into the British Army which in 1916 fought, and sustained massive losses, at the Somme.

    Both George Galloway and the Ulster Prods are ‘unionists’ in the Scottish context, but GG has given the main political voice of the latter a withering put- down here-

  • Argyll


    My final word on the alleged “Scottish Colony” of Northern Ireland.

    No part of Ireland has, or ever has had, the status of a “Colony of Scotland”. That is just a fact. You might put an interpretation on the migration of Scots to Ireland and you might think that what happened is tantamount to colonisation, but that does not make Northern Ireland a Scottish colony. Being a colony is a legal status given to a territory, declared by the colonising power. No such declaration has been made by Scotland at any time. Therefore Northern Ireland is not and never has been a Scottish Colony. It was however part of the English colony of Ireland and is now part of the UK.

    End of.

  • doug scorgie

    12 Aug, 2014 – 9:02 pm

    “You would weep, weep, Llywelyn/ Weep blood if you saw this./ Our heart with a foreigner/ Our crown with a conqueror/ And a populace of favour-seekers/ With meek smiles, where once were men.”

    A wise man.

  • Alan

    David Wilson – for your info both UTV & BBC cover The Twelfth demo`s in Northern Ireland – with live feeds and then half hour programmes in the evening. It is a public holiday. It is also promoted by the likes of the Ulster-Scots Agency and the Tourism Ireland body which is part funded by the Republic of Ireland, it being a North-South body. Most demo`s also receive funding from councils including majority Sinn Fein councils such as Cookstown, Dungannon, Londonderry/Derry.

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