Orange March IS Illegal 123

The great Orange March in Edinburgh will be the only occasion on which the No side have managed to gather more than 300 people in one place in the entire campaign.

pm in glasgow uni

The average turnout for David Cameron’s big speeches of the campaign in Glasgow and Perth was under 200 people. On my own recent speaking tour we substantially beat that in Dundee and equalled it in the small town of Insch! Not to mention the 70,000 people who have watched my St Andrews speech online. Gordon Brown’s speaking tours have been strictly ticket only – and a fair number of the invited have declined the opportunity.

Search online as much as you like. There are no substantial No gatherings of any kind, no No flash mobs or mass canvasses. There is no speech for the No campaign that has a fifth of 70,000 views online.

But they do have the Orange Order and their grand March in Edinburgh on the 13 September. This parade of knuckle dragging Neanderthals, many of them off the ferry from Northern Ireland, is the only show of popular enthusiasm for the Union ever to be mustered by Better Together. Unfortunately it is illegal.

As I posted on 11 August, this proposed Orange March is plainly in contravention of the Public Order Act 1936, which bans any demonstrations in uniform for a political object.

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 :

Normally, the Orange Order in Scotland are allowed to march on the (dubious) grounds that their object is cultural not political. But on this occasion they are marching as a registered participant with the Electoral Commission in the Referendum campaign, and with the avowed object of promoting a No vote. There is therefore no doubt whatsoever that the march is political and, if in uniform, illegal. Orange Order sources confirm they will be marching in uniform.

The march can be carried out in uniform with the consent of the Chief Constable and the Secretary of State for Scotland. But an assiduous reader of this blog has received confirmation from the Scottish Government that the Orange Order do not have this permission:

Dear xxxx
Thank you for your email. Following a search of our records I can advise that the Scottish Government has neither received nor granted an application from Police Scotland under the Public Order Act 1936 to permit the wearing of political uniforms by members of the Orange Order. As I stated in my previous email, I am unable to provide legal advice interpreting whether or not the Act applies in this situation.
Yours sincerely
Mathew West
Police Powers Unit
Safer Communities Division
Scottish Government

What is at question here is not whether it ought to be illegal to march in uniform for political objects. The fact is that plainly it is illegal. The law is not moribund – it was applied for example against Irish republicans in London in the 1980s.

The real question is whether the law is applied impartially to all, or are those who have the support of the Establishment allowed to break the law flagrantly and massively?

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123 thoughts on “Orange March IS Illegal

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  • Kempe

    A pro-indpendence Scottish government using an 80 year old anti-fascist law to prevent an opposition demonstration.

    I can’t see anything wrong with that.

  • craig Post author

    Al Milliner

    Aah yes, those nearly 400 NATO bombing raids on Sirte actually did very little harm at all. I stand corrected.

  • Iain

    ‘A pro-indpendence Scottish government using an 80 year old anti-fascist law to prevent an opposition demonstration.

    I can’t see anything wrong with that.’

    Using anti fascist laws to prevent a march , by a fascistic , sectarian and racist organisation seems fine to me . Kempe , you obviously don’t have a problem with fascists breaking the law , wonder why that is ?

  • craig Post author

    Benny Spiro

    If you read the act, the phrase “political uniform” does not appear. Nor does it appear in my article. What is banned is the wearing of uniform to symboliser their association with a political cause. Which in putting on uniforms to march in a Vote No demonstration they plainly will be doing.


    You really are a silly man.

    a) It is nothing to do with the Scottish Givernment. It is the Secretary of State (named in the Act) the police and the judiciary.
    b) Nobody is opposing them holding a demonstration. They are absolutely welcome to. What is illegalis their marching in uniform for a political cause.
    c) The law on murder is a lot older than this one. Your argument that as the law is 80 years old it should not apply is just silly. And do you condemn its use to convict Irish republican sympathisers in the 1980s?

  • craig Post author


    Yes it is. And it is even more favourable if people realise they are being allowed to do something illegal.

  • Al Milliner

    Oh look, another comment of mine deleted! Obviously some clamping down is necessary as the referendum nears.

  • craig Post author

    Benny Spiro

    You could try Google. An example here

  • Muscleguy

    Unfortunately I suspect that if you approached the officer in charge of policing the march and made that point the prospect of arresting several hundred, often drunk, orangemen would mean pragmatism would trump the letter of the law.

    Maybe we could crowdfund a private prosecution after the event and bankrupt the lodges?

  • J-Lo

    Hi, Craig. Although the phrase ‘political uniform’ isn’t used by you, it is used in the reply from the police. I suspect they are confused about the law. There are many ways in which existing laws could be used to prevent any Orange Walks at all, but it’s seen as too dangerous. I know many people from outside Scotland (well, Glasgow even) who point-blank refuse to believe that the police tolerate outright criminality on these walks until they witness them with their own eyes, turning a blind eye to assaults. Of course the SNP’s anti-sectarian laws should eliminate them completely, but they tend to only be used on Catholic sectarians, due to fears of a backlash. I’m sure if we saw ex-soldiers on anti-war marches wearing their old uniforms we would see it enforced. Although this is precisely why I’m actually not in favour of this law, though obviously I agree it should be applied while it exists. Plus, banners saying ‘The Orange Order says no to separation’ have provided me with the biggest laugh in a while. Any more obviously ironic and it’d tip into tedium, like the Blair thing. Great speech by the way.

  • Frankie

    “Plus, banners saying ‘The Orange Order says no to separation’ have provided me with the biggest laugh in a while.”

    Yip it’s hilarious!!! No to separation except in Ireland!

  • Juteman

    As a Yes voter, I say let them march.
    I hope Fred leaves his sash at home though. I would hate to see the old boy getting arrested. 🙂

  • Kempe

    It’s entirely up to the Scottish Government to decide whether or not the act applies in this situation.

    The 1936 act was introduced after the Battle of Cable Street to curb the BUF. It was used against pro-IRA marches in London during the 1970’s simply because there was nothing else. I’m not sure fining a dozen or so blokes the maximum then allowed, £50, for wearing black berets had much effect on the troubles overall.

  • Al Milliner

    Craig places a lot of faith in the empty halls of the No campaign. He hasn’t twigged yet that the excitement on Twitter and elsewhere for the Yes campaign is because they offer something radical and new. So every blog of his is full of the vigour and activism of the Yes camp. He’s never known anything like it he keeps telling us. They make a lot of noise.

    But I’m afraid boring and dull will prevail and if you want to know the outcome then just look at the bookies’ odds.

  • Juteman

    Unfortunately, I wasn’t there, Craig. Current health issues mean that I am missing all the fun at the moment. A once in a lifetime chance to be part of something big, and i’m laid up. 🙁

  • Tanganyikans for NO

    Oh Craig, don’t be a stick in the mud, it’s just tradition. It’s the British cultural heritage to manage its colonies with tribal politics! Let’s be inclusive and have some and Sikhs and Kakwas marching about!

  • Ben

    ” what does it look like so I can keep an eye out for it.”

    That’s the problem with insurgencies; no uniforms except maybe a balaclava.

  • Mark

    The sectarianism hanging out of the yes voters here is plain to see. Plus could someone point out to me the racism in the orange order?

  • Republicofscotland

    I know someone who attends the O/O and he told me Henry Dunbar has ordered his foot soldiers to vote no. The Orange Order are akin to Better Together, as ISL are to Westminster, they’re a useful tool that can be denied in the blink of an eye.

    The problem with upcoming O/O march is one of identification, no one really knows who’s marching,and where there from, and as we’ve seen in the past,with other marches,BNP,EDL,SNLA, a group of trouble makers could pose as a yes group, to instigate violence, to make yes appear in a bad light.

    I think Nigel Farage is due to appear in Edinburgh sometime this month before the 18th, the next two weeks will if nothing, be very interesting.

  • Mark

    Yeah blame the trouble on everyone else, republicanism have never used violence before. Plus the actions of yes voters who’ve been rallied via social media to attend better together stalls, has already shown their knuckle draggers will stoop to any level & violence isn’t below them.

  • Tim Zymurgy

    To be fair, it is rare that you would see a drunk Orange man at any demonstration.
    It is usually the supporters that hang on, it is a bit like there being a drunk at a football game. (Well I hope the players aren’t) 😛

    But I see your point.

    Let them walk and promote the Yes vote.

  • Republicofscotland

    From industry recruitment website today:

    “Scotland could be sitting on more than double the amount of oil and gas reserves currently predicted, a new independent industry investigation has found. The investigation reveals that the scale of Scotland’s untapped frontier West Coast or Atlantic Margin has been underestimated.

    The investigation was undertaken by, the world’s largest oil and gas industry jobs board, and independent North Sea oil and gas industry experts. The investigation included interviews with industry experts and collated seismic and expert evidence from a range of independent sources such as the British Geological Survey, DECC, oil and gas companies, the Institute of Petroleum Engineering and the Energy Institute.

    The findings show that the current predictions of extensive untapped reserves of oil and gas could be underestimated by 100%. The West Coast alone could provide oil and gas for at least 100 years with an estimated value of more than £1 trillion.”

    Taken from Wings over Scotland.

  • Al Milliner


    “Aah yes, those nearly 400 NATO bombing raids on Sirte actually did very little harm at all. I stand corrected.”

    No one is saying they did very little harm, Craig. I’m asking where you got your 15,000 figure from and on what basis you believe the BBC is covering it up.

    You said:

    “We killed 15,000 people when NATO bombed Sirte, something they never tell you on the BBC.”

    Furthermore, you are using this as an argument in support of Scottish independence from the UK. And you tell us 70,000 people have watched your speech and therefore have absorbed your lie.

    You can carry on deleting my posts and trying to ban me but I will keep on asking.

    Where did you get the 15,000 from , Craig?

    [Note to readers: on the past three occasions Craig has posted a reply that doesn’t answer my points at all and then deleted (or had one of his mods delete) my original post.]

  • Benny Spiro 2

    Left wing fascism’s alive and kicking.Get used to the fact the OO have as much right as any leftie Irish Republican groups too hold a march in Edinburgh. We’re not going away ha ha.

  • Muscleguy

    @Al Milliner

    The odds are not to do with the number of people betting either way. Instead they are about the chance of the bookie having to pay out more than taken in. The odds in fact reflect the amounts waged respectively. There have been a serious of six figure bets on a No vote vs a plethora of small bets for Yes at a variety of majorities. William Hill released figures showing the percentages in various places. In nowhere in Scotland were there more bets for No vs Yes. In two places including here in Dundee 100% of bets with WH have been for Yes.

    Only in English cities were No in front in number of bets. Those statistics tell you what you need to know. Scottish residents, much closer to the referendum and each other are, in droves, betting on Yes winning.

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