What Have We Become? 286

My friend and mentor the much-missed Gordon Wilson used to run Radio Free Scotland, a pirate radio station supporting Independence. It was broadcast entirely illegally, a crime the state took very seriously in the 1950’s. Some of the others involved were of the group that liberated the Stone of Scone temporarily from Westminster Abbey. That was a serious crime too. One of the most enjoyable evenings of my life, one I remember 40 years later, was a boozy dinner with this whole group at Gordon and Edith’s home in Broughty Ferry.

At the time, the state’s arguments against “pirate radio” included national security and interference with emergency services. The entirely illegal Radio Free Scotland actually gave its address as SNP HQ!

This criminal tendency did not prevent Gordon from becoming leader of the SNP and a very respectable solicitor. So how did the SNP morph from being a party that had a very elastic attitude to obeying the laws which suppressed Scotland, to being a party whose leadership cheerleaders are today, in their scores, defending on social media the imprisonment of a working class, ethnic minority Independence activist for organising an entirely peaceful and successful pro-Independence demonstration that passed off entirely without incident?

A party in government naturally has a different perspective to a party of protest. But how those in authority deal with protest, and particularly protest which does not conform to the neat template authorities may wish to confine it to, is a fascinating study. It is the difference between authoritarian government and liberal government, on a continuum. But broadly speaking deprivation of liberty for peaceful protest is acknowledged as the hallmark of a very authoritarian government.

Thus the Extinction Rebellion protests, which deliberately made no effort to conform to regulation around protests and which were deliberately designed to cause maximum disruption to ordinary traffic in London, resulted so far in no prosecutions pushing for imprisonment for protesting or blocking streets unless criminal damage was involved, and even then I am struggling to find examples of imprisonment. Friends of mine who deliberately participated in avowedly illegal Extinction Rebellion protests have been tried and received small fines.

Similarly, a great number of the Black Lives Matters protests, in the UK and elsewhere, were illegal in the sense of not being pre-planned and following police and council regulation. Some caused deliberate damage to statues etc. Again, I am not aware of any cases of people being imprisoned for organising Black Lives Matters demonstrations.

As a young man, I took part in the Occupation of the site of the Torness nuclear power station which disrupted its build substantially. Again, nobody was imprisoned. Looking at my own history, I gave speeches to illegal gatherings at Occupy London, both at St Paul’s and at Parliament square. When the Occupy movement took over universities to protest against tuition fees, I spoke to an illegal occupation at Cambridge university. The university hired security staff to prevent my speech, so the students gathered and sat in the foyer and I gave my talk from the public pavement outside the building, over the heads of a row of security staff, projecting through the double doors of the foyer. Again, nobody got imprisoned.

People do however get imprisoned for organising “illegal” demonstrations. Not in western democracies so much, and I think I have demonstrated until now not normally in Scotland nor England in recent times. But I have witnessed people get imprisoned for “illegal” political demonstration, in Uzbekistan and in then dictatorship Nigeria. It happens quite often in China. Alexei Navalny himself has been imprisoned before in Russia for organising demonstrations without a permit, as have many other opposition groups. Bureaucratic violation is the entirely common tactic against the opposition in Russia, where demonstrations are allowed but there is often some “hitch” with the paperwork.

The imprisonment of Manni Singh is inexcusable. The demonstration he organised was joyous, massive and caused zero damage and zero violence. Over 100,000 people took part coming from all over Scotland in an absolutely determined effort to express their desire for Scottish Independence. The large majority, however, were Glaswegians and represented a significant chunk of the population of the city. It was very much a family occasion.

I spoke at the event, as at the identical demonstration the previous year, and was in touch with Manni throughout the organisational period. Manni is very much an auto-didact in politics. There are aspects of his eclectic beliefs, including for example a fondness for the work of Douglas Murray, which are pretty well the opposite of my own beliefs. But Manni is a good man and, as I have frequently explained on these pages, I have never chosen my friends on the grounds they agree with me about everything. It is also true that Manni has since fallen out with All Under One Banner and its current leadership. Personally I like, as in actively enjoy the company of, all of those involved and have been saddened at my inability to bring them back together. None of which should bear any relation to jailing Manni for organising a political demonstration, but all of which has been thrown up as chaff on social media to obscure the issue.

The 2018 AUOB march was massively successful. I was the first speaker, and I have never had such an exhilarating political experience, not even when addressing the massive Stop the War rallies in London. The 2018 Glasgow march introduced AUOB as a massive political force in Scotland, and particularly in Glasgow.

Tens of thousands of SNP members take part in AUOB demonstrations. I have marched on them beside Joanna Cherry, Chris Law, Ivan McKee, and other SNP worthies. But behind the scenes, all is not the harmony that it may seem. Peter Murrell and Nicola Sturgeon are extremely wary of any part of the Yes Movement they do not control. Nicola Sturgeon has been invited again and again to speak at AUOB demonstrations, and has always refused. Even when promised by AUOB that she could choose the other speakers, and ne’er-do-wells like Tommy Sheridan and myself would be rigorously kept away (to which I had agreed).

The official explanation is that as First Minister, Nicola has to represent the entire nation so may not take part in partisan political events. Yet strangely, that did not stop her attending and speaking to either anti-Brexit demonstrations or gay rights events. That an SNP leader can speak at political events but not for Scottish Independence is, ahem, counter-intuitive.

I suspect Nicola finds the company at anti-Brexit demonstrations more to her taste than she would the company at an AUOB march.

What happened with Manni is that Glasgow City Council looked to try to change the start date of the demonstration and bring it forward from 1.30pm to 11am. This was explicitly to reduce the size of the demonstration – there is no doubt about this, they directly said so, and Manni was keeping me informed in real time. And this is the simple truth – the move to hamper the demonstration and limit its size was absolutely initiated, led and followed through by the SNP group on Glasgow City Council. The SNP Glasgow city councillors are very much directed by the Sturgeon inner coterie, particularly commissars Mhairi Hunter and Rhiannon Spear. The SNP was looking to hamper the impact of AUOB in Glasgow, for its own political reasons.

The AUOB marches attract Independence supporters from all over Scotland. People come down by ferry and coach from the Highlands and Islands. I have met people on them who travelled all through the night. At the time Glasgow Council decided to bring forward the start time, it was already too late; coaches, ferries and advance train and bus tickets were already booked. We are talking about a march that took nearly three hours to pass any one spot. The chaos and disorder from trying to change the starting time would be greater than the disciplined march proceeding as planned by the organisers. That is the decision Manni took. He started the demo 150 minutes after the Council approved time.

I knew of all these problems in real time, and I made a point of speaking with the senior policeman in charge of the march. Amusingly, I recall they really were “Gold Command” or some such TV thriller designation. “Gold Command” was entirely happy and had no complaints. It had been a peaceful, orderly and very good humoured event. I was told directly.

It was the SNP group on Glasgow City Council who insisted that council officers report Manni Singh to the police and demand action against him. It was not an initiative by the Police, who had been quite happy with the demonstration.

This is a photo of an “illegal” demo in Minsk:

This is a photo of an “illegal” demo in Russia

This is a photo of an “illegal” demo in Hong Kong

This is a photo of an “illegal” demo in Barcelona

and here is a photo of the “illegal” demo in Glasgow organised by Manni Singh:

Have we seen protests from the SNP leadership about the jailing of Manni Singh? No. Yet we have seen vociferous protests from them about the restriction of demos in Russia, Belarus and Hong Kong. What we have seen, throughout Twitter and Facebook and below the line at every Scottish newspaper and pro-Independence website, is dozens and dozens of SNP Sturgeon loyalists lining up to justify the jailing of Manni Singh, indeed in some instances to salivate over the jailing of Manni Singh.

I am not going to post individual examples, but you can find them very easily if you Google search for Manni Singh on Twitter, look through the replies to this tweet from Angus Brendan McNeil, or look through this thread in the National.

It is a simple fact that, on Twitter in particular, the SNP loyalists who are tweeting that Manni Singh should be jailed for “breaking the law” are exactly the same accounts that massively retweeted Dani Garavelli’s articles denying the innocence of Alex Salmond. They also bear an extremely high correlation with those whose primary focus is on issues of sexual or gender identity, in which I include the broad range of feminism, sexual identity and gender rights.

What has happened to the SNP? It has become very comfortable with authoritarianism. It has a claque which operates both on social media and at party conference, which pursues Clinton style identity politics allied to neo-con policy. They have adopted a focus on foreign policy which accords entirely with the NATO agenda. You hear a very great deal from the party leadership about the rights of people in Belarus, Russia and Hong Kong. Yemen, not so much, and Palestine is entirely off the agenda. In fact, among the claque, enthusiastic support for the Israeli Defence Force appears to be a badge of honour.

If you look through the Twitter replies to Angus Brendan MacNeil above, you will see a prominent member of the online claque call Angus Brendan a “Tory” for opposing Glasgow City Council over the jailing of Manni. These are precisely the same people who are ardently pushing for the Hate Crime Bill and criminal enforcement of politically correct speech in Scotland. I have seen them attack great Independence supporters like Brian Cox and Elaine C Smith for pointing out the dangers of the Hate Speech Bill for the arts.

Those who cannot see the jailing of Manni, the Hate Crime Bill, and dare I say the prosecution of me for reporting the defence evidence in the Salmond trial, as symptoms of a serious underlying problem with civil liberties in Scotland today, are closing their eyes. There is a nasty intolerance about the claque running the SNP.

The reasons for jailing Manni being put forward by loyalists all over social media – he started the demo late, he didn’t have insurance, there were not enough licensed bouncers as stewards, he didn’t fill the right road closure form – are PRECISELY the reasons authorities and their loyalists put forward for banning all the protests pictured above. It is what Putin’s supporters say about Navalny.

The vast majority, 99.5%, of SNP members remain very decent and humane people who just want to see Scotland a normal free country. A very great number are realising that something is badly wrong in the party, even if opinion polls are great. Power is not an end in itself. It is only of value if you do good with it.

At the moment, power in Scotland is being abused.


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286 thoughts on “What Have We Become?

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  • Royd

    It seems that the direction the UK is moving in is that the only legitimate means to use one’s voice is at the ballot box. And we all know how that usually turns out.

    I listened with amusement the other day to Edwina Currie who stated that the lesson learned by those adolescents who were protesting about the ‘exams fiasco’ is that if you make enough fuss you can change things. She said it as though it was a ‘bad thing’. Her assertion did not surprise, she being a Tory and, it seems, a fan of authoritarianism and accepting one’s lowly place in life (so long as it isn’t her, no doubt). I would say that those adolescents have learned a very valuable lesson. Long live peaceful protest.

    • Giyane


      Since this government knows it is wholly illegitimate and illegal having been assembled by rogue algorithms by a privatised Tory electoral company, they have been bending over backwards to please everybody, to make people finally love the Tories.

      You can’t buy love. Especially not with oodles of QE.
      I tried to make this point before in relation to the vast amounts of Westminster cash that has gone on purchasing Gravielli and now Wark to write quasi journalistic copy with a strong Unionist agenda.
      But alas it was deleted by rogue mods. C’EST la vie.

      The idea that money can change people’s opinions shows the Tories’ absolute contempt for democracy.
      I’ve no idea whether Sturgeon is naive enough to be persuaded by fame and fortune to support the Unionist Tories. But it does seem that neither the English nor the Scottish public are. Both understand that is just some kind of celebrity disease.

    • Goose

      Did those protesting make the difference though?

      Afaik, the exams regulator is resisting calls to publish the details of the algorithm used to calculate grades in flowchart form, the algorithm in question was developed to ensure those from poor areas weren’t deliberately marked down. This pissed off the Telegraph & Mail and in turn Tory MPs because they immediately suspected this algorithm may have discriminated against, downgraded, their privately educated sons and daughters, i.e., the only reason there was a u-turn was because the posh folks were getting upset.

  • N_

    Regarding the Stone of Scone, is it true that it has been confirmed to have originated in Perthshire? That’s what an unpleasantly-mannered guide told me in Edinburgh Castle when I asked about the possibility that the Scots brought it with them from Ireland. Given the patronising way she said “It’s Scottish, not Irish,” I was less than convinced.

    I thought it was generally considered by those who know a lot about it that it had at least been in the part of Dalriada that is nowadays in Scotland.

    What’s the latest thinking as to its origins?

    Let’s hear it for the suffragettes who bombed the coronation chair in Westminster Abbey in 1914 when the stone was under it.

    • Moine

      Yes – geologists have identified the slab called the Stone of Destiny/Stone of Scone as consisting of Lower Old Red Sandstone which has been quarried locally around Scone. Most of the rocks in the area called Dalriada belong to the Dalradian and are metamorphic or igneous, unlike the stone to which you refer, which is made up of sedimentary rock.

      Of course whether the stone taken away by Edward the first was really the Stone of Destiny is a different question.

    • Cubby


      There is no evidence that the Scots came from the island of Ireland never mind bringing the Stone.

      • Shatnersrug

        Ah but is the Stone of Scone buttered or does it have raisins in it.

        Would it be called the Stone of Biscuits if it was taken to the American south?

      • stumac

        This is a silly – and ignorant – comment. In the centuries during which Scotland developed from several Celtic ‘nations’ (and a small Anglic controlled area, plus Norse controlled islands) there was constant coming and going between the north part of Ireland and the west area (including western isles) – this involved trade, intermarriage and settlers – it’s how Gaelic, which developed in Ireland spread into Scotland eventually replacing the Brythonic Celtic dialects (related to Welsh) which dominated earlier.

        Dalriada – one of the kingdoms later to become part of Scotland was a Gaelic speaking area which spread from the north Ireland all along the west coast of Scotland; this is where the stone is said to come from but whether you consider Dalriada part of Scotland or part of Ireland is moot. The concept didn’t exist in the early days. Later when Scotland did exist, some clans lands stretched across Ireland and Scotland – e..g the McDonalds/McDonnells and this situation existed up to the times of the plantations in the 17 century.

        • Cubby


          I will pass on your offensive first sentence as the moderators will probably be on my case if I replied as I would like to.

          I was referring to the very early days of the first inhabitants of the land now called Scotland; your comments all refer to much later times. So no my comments are neither ignorant or silly.

          • intp1

            I think the first inhabitants of the land now called Scotland were from the Homo heidelbergensis clan.

        • Julia Gibb

          All you have to do is picture these lands 1000-1500 years ago when sea travel WAS the main communication and trade route. The “highways of the sea” determined trade, shared myths, marriages, alliances and much more.

          Modern thinking is clouded by road, bridge, ferry and rail travel ( and speeds).

          You can sail from Ireland to the Mull of Kintyre in hours on the right tide.
          The Vikings were dragging small boats overland at Tarbert and Arrochar.
          The Lochs of Scotland shaped our history.

          However Scotland formed and has a long history and deserves an Independent future once again.

      • Cynicus

        “ There is no evidence that the Scots came from the island of Ireland”
        Do you believe the Gaels of Dalriada in modern Argyll were kin to the Gaels of Dál Ríata in modern Antrim?

        The Romans did; they called them “Scoti”.

        • Los

          There hasn’t been a legitimate government in Britain since the Gallo-Belgic migrations usurped the aboriginal ancient Britons of Time Immemorial !

  • John M Rudkin

    I think the yes groups should start looking at the snp to see if the snp are up for independence the jailing of manni singh is just one example of the snp standing against independence the snp members at glasgow council wanted blood against their own kind what kind of party allows that the nec stopping joanne cherry from standing in edinburgh is another example,the trial of alex salmond should have warned the yes groups that all is not well at snp hierarchy,nicola sturgeons statement of she is not doing politics has allowed johnson gove and cummings to make the running in changing the rules of brexit with the permission of the snp.the yes groups must start thinking if not the snp then who can take us the last mile to independence

    • Shatnersrug

      It’s quiet fascinating to see though, that as a party goes from an ideological formation to a party of power it moves towards to ideology of the state it wishes to command rather than dare to change the state. With a nationalist Independence Party with very clear demarcations as to its beliefs the rot is never clearer.

      The old Clintonion adage supported by Blair is to get your base In a position where they have nowhere to go and then move towards the establishment. Nicola has done this extremely skilfully. New Labour a busted flush and the Labour right doing their best to keep it that way The liberals being little more than a revival club the SNP is the only vote for a proud Scot therefore she can keep moving towards the establishment and towards more international power

      That’s why Alex, Manni and Craig must be disgraced and marginalised they public must think that there is no alternative

    • Pauline Boyd

      Do you agree with Auob cutting corners on safety by not using trained stewards or having public liability insurance? They don’t even have toilets at the marches.

      The reason manny is in jail is because of his refusal to accept a curfew.

      His refusal to adhere to the march start time.
      He didn’t apply to get the roads closed either.

      Police had to do that. How many excuses are we going to make for all under one banner?

      It’s wheesht for Indy on a grand scale. They don’t even publish proper accounts.

      I’ll march again when an organisation that knows what they are doing and cares about the safety of marchers take over from this lot.

      What does this have to do with Salmond or Cherry? It’s just snp bad and it’s tiresome.

      I’m not even an snp member but I’m sick to the back teeth of Nicola getting blamed for all sorts of stuff that has zero to do with her.

      Manny was asked to start the march 2 and a half hours later and he refused

      He’s now in jail. This was unnecessary from start to finish but at some point he needs to take a bit of responsibility for his own actions and choices. Not everything is a conspiracy against the yes movement

  • Marmite

    The very idea that a protest or demonstration or occupation should have to conform to police and council regulation strikes me as laughable. That in itself should be something worth protesting, since it can only be a slide into fascism from that point.

    While we might take some reassurance in the fact that the anti-fascist movement is growing around the world, I think that it is actually much more terrifying to see that such a movement exists at all.

    I would venture that there are two problems here, probably many more, but two that are significant.

    One, the so-called West no longer has an ‘evil’ enemy against which it needs to be constantly proving itself to citizens that it is morally superior. Rather the opposite now. We simply point East, and applaud ourselves for not being so bad. Obviously, those in the East do the same thing looking West.

    Two, and more importantly, democracy is a dead fish unless the job of a politician is made as uncomfortable and as financially unrewarding as possible. All the regulations and rules seem to have eroded since the 70s, meaning that most of those going into politics today are there for nothing more than personal gain. It should never be the case that one is allowed to serve their country with a view to private gain of any kind. The reward for serving (and this should always be very short-term and rotational, so as to check the accumulation of any power) should be simply knowing that one has served a common good.

    Of course, the likelihood of this being instituted is grim, but one has to know what is needed before any step in the right direction can be made.

    Alas, it is easier to blame a migrant for all one’s troubles.

    • Blissex

      «One, the so-called West no longer has an ‘evil’ enemy against which it needs to be constantly proving itself to citizens that it is morally superior.»

      President Putin and Chairman Xi have been volunteered for that role. There is a huge investment in anti-Russia and anti-China “branding”, and it is being re-cycled now.

      «Two, and more importantly, democracy is a dead fish unless the job of a politician is made as uncomfortable and as financially unrewarding as possible.»

      That’s just unthinking populism: a politician can be paid well either by other citizens with public funds or by private interests, and citizens paying badly politicians (or bureaucrats) with great power and influence over private interests usually has only one outcome. Citizen paying them well does not means that all politicians (or bureaucrats) will reject higher payments from private interests, but it makes that less frequent.

      There are a few politicians of independent and conspicuous means but often they represent private interests too, as those are usually of people of conspicuous means.

      Paying *elected* politicians too much is also a mistake, because that means giving them a huge advantage in campaigning against unelected ones, unless the unelected ones are paid by private interests “so remember us”.

      «The reward for serving […] should be simply knowing that one has served a common good.»

      Good luck in finding that many just and fair “philosopher kings”.

  • Cubby

    It is worth noting that the Scotgovs stated policy is to reduce the number of short stay prison sentences. Glasgow council have obviously failed to assist in this policy by referring the case to the police. An absolute disgrace and the people involved in the council should be ashamed of themselves.

    Both the sentence offered in the first place and the alternative sentence then imposed are totally over the top for the offence involved. People carry out acts of violence and get much lighter sentences.

  • Nickle101

    First off, I find the SNPs recent actions despicable, and I support self-determination.

    However, I am skeptical of the perspective that none of this would happen with independence. While i believe this is NOT a reason to discourage independence, the path to establishing a stable, positive state may take a long time. While it is unlikely this move may lead to civil war, it is unlikely it will come without significant strife. The recent events are a taste of things to come.

    I wish the people of Scotland the best of luck on their journey.

    • Goose

      Didn’t after the 1990 Slovenian independence referendum. But tbf, 94.8% voted in favour of independence on an 88% turnout. Point being tho, it is possible to have a smooth transition. And I think what would happen is all those who were passionately opposed to independence would suddenly become huge advocates, if only to avoid political irrelevance. Look at the screeching Tory u-turn over devolution, which, as they don’t like being reminded of, they opposed tooth and nail..

      The main reason for this kind of thinking is the adversarial English mindset imho , which infects everything ; we see everything as a contest, black or white, for or against us, and as if a war. The Scandinavians are clearly far more enlightened.

        • Goose

          True, but the ethnic and religious allegiances tensions aren’t analogous.

          Don’t see Ruth Davidson commanding a tank platoon.

          • Nickle101

            Commander Davidson is certainly an interesting image, perhaps a figment of an adversarial mind?

          • Shatnersrug

            Ruth Davison is irrelevant. It should be clear that Westminster is not prepared to give up Scotland, and there is quite a concerted effort, including a nicely controlled opposition to prevent it from ever becoming more than a pipe dream. Given the history of the British state and here and allies and the significant number of extremely powerful Brit Nats Scots in Westminster I can not see Scotland escaping the clutches of perfidious Albion with at least some kind of direct action against property

            This may seem doom laden or far fetched, but consider the state of the (un)UK 15 years ago.

          • Goose


            Yep, I think a velvet revolution is too much to hope for. The British establishment (note. not the people) have too much to lose in terms of diminished status, loss of soft power and possibly even the P5 UN seat. Then there’s the nuclear subs relocation issue, away from Faslane base, it’d be asbsurd to keep them in what would be a different country. The MoD has evaluated alternative sites along the English south coast and found serious drawbacks in all, plus there’d likely be local opposition etc.

  • Christopher Barclay

    Extinction Rebellion demonstrations are clearly supported by the authorities as are the BLM demonstrations. Demonstrations demanding action on the huge number of children who go missing or on the abuse of children in care or on the sexual abuse of underage girls by a Prince or on the neglect of veterans do not. They are therefore smeared as ‘far-right’ and the police are given the credit for these demonstrations being peaceful.

    Manni Singh is being punished for embarrassing the SNP leadership by exposing them as fraudulent and in their response the SNP leadership exposes themselves as tyrants. Nationalists are naive to assume that independence solves everything. Unless addressed, Scotland will still be ruled by corrupt and incompetent elites.

    • Mist001

      ‘Nationalists are naive’

      Best quote of the day and which I would like to use for my own ‘project’ if you don’t mind.

      • Marmite

        Of course Scotland would still be ruled by power-hungry rodents, but it would then be up to Scottish people to deal with them, as is only right, and far more manageable than having to deal with the more vile rodents in Westminster.

        The point is that Independence would be a step toward dismantling an empire built on theft and slavery, and that can only be a good thing. I don’t suppose anyone in their right mind cares about the nationalist motive. That is just the way that the hypocrites at the BBC paint things, so as to manipulate all the would-be intellectuals of the world into denouncing support for it.

        • U Watt


          Spot on. Whenever you hear somebody claiming to be appalled by “the entire principle” of nationalism you know you are listening to a fraud.

        • Shatnersrug

          Hi Iain, yes I did think of Iceland, but I was out there recently and it seems the old ways returned the banking sector is doing very well and the government passed a law to prevent the public overthrowing them again, but I will say that Scandinavian counties like the idea of making things work unlike here!

          By the way my awesome Stone of Scone joke was made with you in mind 😉

          • Iain Stewart

            I should be flattered, but really can’t approve of our national pastry being treated with such levity.

        • FlakBlag

          Good call.

          Iceland has a population smaller than Edinburgh. I believe it is a function of size. As political entities (or any collection of human beings) become larger the scope for corruption and the available pool of self-serving power-hungry charismatic liars increases. Elites aren’t incompetent nearly so much as they are self-serving. They only seem incompetent if you believe their purpose is to administer in a rational and beneficial way. They only seem competent when it aligns with their own aims or it is absolutely required to maintain a veneer of legitimacy and public support.

          With apologies to Conan Doyle: “Never ascribe to incompetence what can adequately be explained by greed or a lust for power.”

      • Tom Welsh

        “Chris, name me a country that isn’t ruled by incompetent elites?!!?”

        China. Ruled by extremely competent elites.

    • Alf Baird

      “Scotland will still be ruled by corrupt and incompetent elites”

      Contrary to popular opinion the mere 12 SNP MSP’s who form the Scottish Cabinet do not really ‘run’ Scotland; Scotland and its institutions is run by an ‘establishment’ comprising a couple of thousand ‘meritocratic elites’ (those on say £100k+ pa) which remains mostly privileged, unionist and Anglophone. It might well be more of a worry if the latter remained in place after independence, though we can be fairly sure the ‘establishment’ will seek to do whatever they can to prevent ‘separation’, and protect their positions of course. Fowk cannae ser twa maisters, thay aye luive ane an laithe the ither.

    • pretzelattack

      since blm demonstrations in the united states are clearly opposed by the authorities, why would those in the uk receive such support?

  • Joe Mellon

    I think this is the first serious test of whether Scotland can develop the institutions of truly democratic politics and independent judiciary.
    If the Scottish people are prepared to accept this behaviour by the Scottish government, then Scotland is not ready for, or capable of, independence.

    • Goose

      Well, what options do the politically clued-up supporters of independence have?

      The SNP represents the only vehicle to independence, as Craig himself has admitted. Wrecking that vehicle within touching distance of the finish line would be a complete joke. Sturgeon is polling very strongly, as are the SNP, even if you think she’s the worst politician in the world (I don’t btw) trying to drag her down at this critical juncture is about as sensible as drinking bleach to cure covid.

      • Nickle101

        The SNP should be made feel the heat for behaving like idiots. Swaddling then in blue and white flags because we think they are only option is a dangerous game. Power must be held to account.

      • Mist001

        “The SNP represents the only vehicle to independence”

        You’re wrong. There’s another vehicle which not one single independence supporter seems to have cottoned onto which is why in general terms, I don’t think they’re all that smart.

        My view is the SNP represents the wrong vehicle to independence.

          • Joe Mellon

            Nicola’s SNP is all about the power of a small clique with a pretty strange agenda which doesn’t necessarily include independence. They are prepared to persecute old friends and cast allies into the darkness, even subvert the rule of law if they threaten that power. They are not suited to politics in a democratic environment.
            Achieving independence with such people in control is both unlikely and would be a disaster if it did happen. Required? A new independence party with the politics of the likes of Joanne Cherry, Elaine Smith, Leslie Riddock or Craig Murray.

          • Iain Stewart

            Right vehicle of proletarian freedom is double decker omnibus of general strike on lower deck and armed revolution upstairs, hold very tight please, ding ding!

        • Cubby


          I was smart enough to mark you out as a Britnat when you used to pretend you were an independence supporter.

  • Ken Garoo

    You should be a little more careful with your parallels to the Scotland ‘illegal’ march.

    The first three, Belarus, Navalny-Moscow, and Hong Kong are all US regime change actions (based on initial legitimate protests but redirected to US-friendly outcomes).

    The leader of the opposition initially moved to Lithuania and then Poland, thanking the Polish Foreign Minister for his assistance with the protests. The manifesto of the opposition is a straight replay of the Ukraine system – full neo-liberalisation, sale of national assets (~80% of industry / agriculture is still national), integration into NATO, etc, etc. Belarus is currently the richest of the ex-USSR states, and Ukraine the poorest with its labour force servicng as cheap labour in Poland (the cheap labour centre for Europe). Incidentally, the red and white flag flying in the photo is that of the Kollaborants, pro-Polish collaborators with the Nazis in WWII. I suspect the regime-change plan includes partition of Belarus with the western part going to Poland and a northern part going to Lithuania.

    The West claims Navalny is the Russian Opposition. He is not. The Communists are. He group of neo-liberals get about 1% of the vote. Russian media love to show them on TV etc – they damn themselves with what they say eg Ksenya Kobchak repeatedly says Crimea is Ukraine. As for an illegal march/protest, the Russian system requires prior notice for provision of policing etc (like the UK). The opposition know this but tend to go ahead without permission. Again nothing like the Scotland march.

    The leaders of the Hong Kong protests were closely linked to the US State Department, and the leader was given a place in Harvard shortly before the Coronavirus outbreak. The initial legitimate protests were expanded into violence, using Uigher,s probably with experiance in Syria, and neo-Nazis from Ukraine. They resorted to actions such as burning police alive.

    • Shatnersrug

      All these leaders meet up for G8, g12 G whatever. What do you reckon they talk about? It ain’t world peace that’s for sure, these buggers all have far more in common with each other than they do with us. I reckon a lot of those secret talks are about keeping us Plebs down.

      • Blissex

        «All these leaders meet up for G8, g12 G whatever. What do you reckon they talk about? It ain’t world peace that’s for sure, these buggers all have far more in common with each other than they do with us.»

        A wise french journalist, Robert de Jouvenel, expressed this over a century ago as: “There is more in common between two deputies, one of whom is a Communist, than between two Communists, one of whom is a deputy.

    • Goose

      Good points.

      It’s very difficult to know which protests around the world are truly organic, i.e., natural, spontaneous, and genuinely grassroots/ people powered, and which are initiated and managed from Langley, or indeed Moscow in the case of countries bordering Russia. Scottish nationalism and marches in support of independence certainly meet the criteria of being organic; people in Scotland don’t need foreign prompting to tell them to march or to want independence.

      As for those other countries/regions/ cities you list ,many clearly have deep-seated problems: Belarus, Hong Kong, Russia genuine democratic choice seems lacking, transparency and human rights leave much to be desired too. Real change seems like something I’d demand were I a citizen of any of those countries or region(in the case of HK). However, the idea of outside imposed change and meddling is abhorrent. Western support imho, should be limited to condemnation of mistreatment of protesters, not funding and certainly not on-the-ground demo coordination and/or direct interference.

      • Goose

        And… in the case of the despots we support in the ME. Why on earth isn’t so-called ‘Security Aid’ linked to human rights and democracy progress and improvements? Egypt seems to be going backwards with no incentive to improve the situation.

        • Johny Conspiranoid

          “Why on earth isn’t so-called ‘Security Aid’ linked to human rights and democracy progress and improvements?”

          Er, is it because the West isn’t interested in those things?

          • Goose

            Let’s be honest, the only reason Egypt gets so much US security aid is because if Egypt were democratic and truly free (including press), the huge 100m plus population would probably elect people who don’t particularly like Israel as they did with the Muslim Brotherhood and Mohamed Morsi. So, for the 9m people in Israel the US, outrageously, is prepared to keep the 102m in Egypt under brutal oppressive rule.

            The same is true in Bahrain, where pro-democracy activists were attacked by Saudi forces and the US and UK provide all sorts of support, keeping a brutal minority monarchy in place against the majority’s wishes.

            The US has many religious ‘bible bashing’ red states; if we were to be judged I’m afraid it’d be a thumbs down from the Almighty.

  • 6033624

    On the one hand I have sympathy for going the slower road on independence. We lost last time because, despite JUST having enough public support, the leaders of the party used last minute scare tactics and breached purdah with ‘The Vow’ to steal just enough votes. Although, having started from a base of around 30% or so it was a MASSIVE move towards indy. We have to ensure support is massive enough to withstand the (I can’t think of another word for it) cheating by the British state machine. We got devolution with around 75% I think? Support for Indy has to be embarrassingly high for govt to have to grant a s30 and for us to win despite their cheating – again.

    BUT – all that said it does very much look like some people have ‘drank the Kool-Aid’ in the SNP. If you wanted a party to fight among itself then the perfect issue is that of trans-gender rights. Even the most ardent feminists are split on it. As for opinions on Palestine and Yemen tying in directly with the NATO playbook it seems as if some people have been sent on one too many courses, doesn’t it? If you wanted to deliberately stymie the SNP and Indy you’d do exactly what has been done. The problem is that AUOB marches BUILD support for the SNP, they’d build it more if the SNP supported them officially too. The SNP are in danger of becoming like Labour. Labour didn’t realise it but when we (I mean me and all the other Lab voters who then became SNP voters) voted Labour it was because there was no other party to vote for. We weren’t Tories and the Liberals stood no chance of getting into office (neither did the SNP) Labour took us and our votes for granted and did little to nothing for us when in office – they too had taken the Kool Aid after ridding themselves of their right wing they allowed entryists to pull it to the right again and change the direction of the party completely. But the tide turned, as it had against the Tories half a century earlier and as it will against the SNP when the new kid on the block nudges them out – will it be the Greens?

  • Squeeth

    Robust good sense as always (except about Russia) but you should take more care with your affixes. You can’t post-plan something, can you.

  • Willie

    Cubby makes a very significant point when he notes that Scot Gav’s policy is to minimise short stay prison sentence.

    Regardless of Manni Singh saying he would resist a curfew, the Court has once again shown that the legal system is corrupt and that it, together with the Police and Prosecution decide who is to get pursued, who is not, and who is to be made a political example.

    Ordinary folk can no longer have any faith whatsoever in the Rule of Law in Scotland. It is corrupt.

    • Pauline Boyd

      He was offered a tag and refused it. Given that fact I don’t see how anyone can complain that he was jailed. It’s the sensible thing to do when you are offered an alternative to custody you accept it.

      I believe that police have discussion with the fiscal prior to making the decision to charge someone.

      Given that fact I can’t understand why some people seem to think it’s the fault of GCC and the SNP.

      As for police officers, I’ve met decent ones, not so decent ones. And there are also fiscals offices that I think are more engaging with the public than others.

      Sometimes it’s a matter of who might be hearing a case and what they might think is an appropriate punishment, this sheriff offered Manny a curfew. Another one might have given him a fine or community service.

      Of course corruption exists. But it won’t exist across the board. Police and fiscals don’t always get it right but they won’t always get things wrong either.

  • Willie

    And whilst folks, ordinary folks are waking up to realise that the Police and the Prosecution Service are corrupt and being used to suppress political expression, we must also realise that there are highly detailed plans in place for the deployment of troops to support the Police should political demonstrations arise after we exit the Brecit transition period which is due to conclude at the end of the year.

    With the jailing of one independence march organisers already it becomes crystal clear how the state is now in conflict with wider society, and that Westminster is now pursuing a physical force strategy to suppress democratic process.

    • Pauline Boyd

      Except Manny was offered an alternative to custody and refused it. There are few people who are offered an alternative to custody or prosecution who would turn that down.

      He chose to go to jail. I think people are forgetting that.

      His jailing has zero to do with Westminster. He refused a tag. It’s as simple as that.

      If he had complied with the march start time he wouldn’t have been reported to the fiscal at all.

      The issue was safety. The council were concerned about numbers attending and the effect on traffic with the proposed number of marchers. He chose to start the march at 1.30pm. So he’s in jail because he wouldn’t start the march 2 and a half hours later?

      He also apparently didn’t apply to have the roads closed. If you can’t be bothered doing something as basic as that then why should you be given the task of organising it at all?

      • Stonky

        “So he’s in jail because he wouldn’t start the march 2 and a half hours later?”

        He refused to start the march two and a half hours earlier.

        If you’re going insist on trumpeting your inanities on the subject could you at least get this one salient fact correct.

      • Cubby

        “The issue was safety.” It wasn’t a problem the previous year. So with all the evidence from the previous year at the later time start time why did it take them all that time to decide it was a safety issue and want to change the time at the last minute.

  • Tatyana

    I imagine your state as follows: at the head of the system is the extra-rich, aristocracy, lords, the queen and everything else Her Majesty’s. For the common people, an area in which they can exercise democracy is fenced off – like a sandbox. The rules of the sandbox are set by the ‘top’, e.g. the rule describing how you are allowed to express your dissent.
    It is the ‘top’ who decides which violation of the rules is dangerous for the existing order and therefore is strictly suppressed, and which violation does not undermine the system and therefore is used to illustrate “look how many rights and civil liberties you have here.”

    The difference between Britain and Russia/Belarus/China and other non-monarchies is that we have no ‘top’ outside the sandbox. Our society is more homogeneous, while yours is noticeably divided into social groups. The needs and goals of different groups of your society hardly coincide, too few of those overlapping social expectations. What is the most important, the ‘top’ of your country seems immune to the legal penalty. The ‘top’ never gets jailed like in Russia, or even executed like in China. The public “boo” or a fine is the maximum punishment, which is unlikely to seriously scare them.
    Therefore, a protest in our countries may easily lead to a change in the state system, but in your country it is just another protest, a cute non-violent event. Festival.

    Mr. Singh threw sand and hit the eye of the playground manager.
    The real question here should be: is it Mr. Singh who should be isolated, or is it better to isolate the manager (for humanitarian reasons, of course, just that he is not injured again)? The latter is cheaper btw, because Singhs are many and managers are few.

  • La Parisienne

    Is the First Minister gay? She appears happier to be linked to gay rights events than to some in support of independence.

    Do I care what the First Minister’s preferences are between the sheets? Not even slightly. However, if she prefers girls to boys – I have been told there is an unusual amount of traffic between Bute House and the French Consulate these days – and is being dishonest about it I’m bound to wonder if there is anything else about which she is not being candid.

    • Julia Gibb

      …and your point is?
      No political content just a childish nudge, nudge smirk.

      Grow up!

      • La Parisienne

        My point is: “However, if she prefers girls to boys – I have been told there is an unusual amount of traffic between Bute House and the French Consulate these days – and is being dishonest about it I’m bound to wonder if there is anything else about which she is not being candid.”

        • La Parisienne

          Apart from being entirely in context of the article. So I’ll be explicit because that’s clearly necessary. If the First Minister is being dishonest about her sexuality is she being dishonest about her commitment to Independence?

  • Republicofscotland

    Extinction Rebellion have organised disruptive demos for Scotland next week, lets see if any of them receive 72 days in the slammer for their troubles. Of course it should be a longer sentence for actually wanting to cause disruption.

    Sandra White SNP MSP won’t seek reelection next year,the Glasgow Kelvin MSP is one of the longest serving MSPs at Holyrood.

    In my opinion decent SNP MSPs who see a negative change in the party are leaving in numbers. Probably to be replaced by young careerist wokists, with agendas other than independence.

    Who else will desert the SNP at Holyrood before May next year.

    • Marmite

      I’m not sure the XR comparison is valid. First of all, it is infinitely more important than any kind of thing that strikes at the heart of domestic politics, as it is a global issue, and therefore easy for dim-witted national leaders to ignore. Second, I don’t think one should be trivialising it by saying authorities support it, as one commenter above did; that is not entirely accurate, though I get the drift, that nations can ‘use’ these protests that go beyond national borders to take attention off all the incompetency and crime that is happening inside borders.

    • Marcus

      Westminster and Whitehall did not enjoy uncontrolled broadcasting into the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland. Every silver lining has a cloud though. We got Tony Blackburn from it.

    • Iain Stewart

      At first I thought you meant stuff like fifteen men on a dead man’s chest yo ho ho and a bottle of rum. Although even that is better than Doris Day.

  • Julia Gibb

    Rhiannon Spear is NOT on the side of the Independence movement. She has a very different agenda. She is currently trying to get selected for Mike Russell’s seat of Argyll & Bute. The good news is she hasn’t a chance!

    Glasgow SNP councillors should be deeply ashamed of their actions.

    • P Boyd

      It’s the fiscal who makes the decision to prosecute. Not GCC. Manny chose to refuse the curfew.

  • Godfree Roberts

    But I have witnessed people get imprisoned for “illegal” political demonstration, in Uzbekistan and in then dictatorship Nigeria. It happens quite often in China.

    No, it doesn’t happen quite often in China. They have upwards of 100,000 demos each year and the unarmed cops are fine with that because, guess what? demos are protected by the Constitution.

    • Kempe

      The Chinese must be a pretty unhappy and disgruntled lot to have that many demos.

      From what I read a good number are protests against government land grabs; land is bought at knock down rates through compulsory purchase and sold to private developers for 40 times what was paid for it.

      • Stonky

        Kempe, it’s just the usual stupid lying nonsense you read in the Western MSM about China. If by “demos” you mean large-scale protests, they don’t have anything like 100,000.

        • Kempe

          No more like 180,000.

          Are you saying that Godfree is wrong and that the Chinese aren’t free to protest?

          • Stonky

            No. I’ve lived and worked in China for much of the last 12 yeas as a writer and a journalist. And I’m saying that when the Western MSM started plastering their front pages with “180,000 mass incidents!” stories, I went and did a bit of what would be called “due diligence” in business, of “basic research” in journalism.

            And as has always been the case in my experience, the whole story melted away like a non existent dogshite.

  • Sean Clerkin

    Craig I have organised a demo outside Barlinnie Prison Glasgow at 12 noon this Wednesday calling for the immediate release of Manni Singh at 12 noon. You are very welcome to attend.

  • nevermind

    Should ‘what we have become’ not be a positive notion such as’ what we will become soon’?
    All those around progressives like Joanna Cherry, Leslie Riddock, Elaine Smith, Craig Murray and Manni Singh could/should pen down a definitive road map to Independence, put it to the people at elections and at the same time publicly persuade unhappy SNP candidates to stand aside in support of this roadmap.
    An unambiguous plan that seeks support with other countries that eventually support a move to Independence before the UN. It needs to have a reforming character that seeks a new accessible justice system that works for all, it also has to distance itself from the unionist establishment clique that holds the strings of current SNP politicos, one could suggest to adopt a scissor logo for that campaign.

    The roadmap must have a time frame for when dragging negotiations with banks and commerce are replaced with actions that reflect the needs of society and not banks immense assets.

    As for those who are advocating heavy fines for XR activists who are planning to disrupt societies/Governments polluting practices and challenge ignorant ‘s who want to carry on as usual, be aware that this protest is non violent and peaceful, just as Manni Singh’s march was.
    XR is beyond politics and it is not concerned with whatever party political power addicts are feeding on, but they will try and stop it like many before them have tried to stop the tide of environmental destruction, it does not matter whether we reached peak oil or have past the point of return to a world that will sustain human life, nor are they concerned with the pitiful small ambitions, such as eradicating straws and or shopping bags.
    Once they decide to disperse, not plan actions on social media, instead of being marshaled/controlled in easy to police areas in just a few cities, we will see that their actions have more effect in ALL areas of the country. After 47 years of campaigning, trying to change the policies of uncooperative Governments of all hues, I have decided to change my attention away from wasting my time, to persuading the public, with any means possible and under no banner whatsoever.
    If they can’t see that their lifestyles and actions are destroying their children’s future, and I believe they have an inkling by now, then it does really not matter whether they are in support of further as yet unspecified actions, but their children will be.

  • Lorna Campbell

    From the facts surrounding Manni Singh’s decision to go ahead with the march at the time first agreed, it appears that the council left little time for people to re-organize. If people are coming from all over, many will want to spend the night, perhaps two, at least, in the place they are travelling to, in order to be fresh for the march itself and for resting after the march. That would mean booking hotels, etc.

    In any case, if you advocate civil disobedience – and many of us do, bloggers and activists and folk just following – then you have to be prepared to not obey certain constraints that are placed upon you. It is actually the reporting to the police that gets me more than anything else: how could an SNP-led council do that? I am so sick of the ‘whiter-than-white’ attitude of the SNP government now. Perfection is not a state that any human being can achieve, at least, not in this Earth-bound life, although I appreciate that it is the aim of the afterlife in most religions. It is turning us all into flouncing prigs and Holy Willies – but we still haven’t a prayer, according to the Unionists who are the only ones who benefit when we all fall out over trivial details.

    I think Manni must have decided to ‘martyr’ himself, anyway, by refusing any less onerous ending than a jail sentence, but he is following in the footsteps of many giants of civil disobedience. It’s not for everyone, of course, but I know what you mean about the Gordon Wilsons and the rest who refused to toe the line. No example of any country gaining its independence in the way that Scots are chided into doing, exists. None. It’s not just around the corner. It is as far away as it has ever been. We are deluded to believe otherwise. We need to make it happen, not sit back and wait for it to happen. Manni Singh, love him or hate him, is at least doing something.

  • Pauline Boyd

    I’m actually not in the snp Craig. One thing I’m absolutely not is an snp loyalist whatever that is.

    I left because an snp member threatened to put me in hospital and HQ did nothing about it. Another man who is in the snp threatened to kill me and posted photos of my house on twitter and my address and again crickets from snp hp. I refuse to share a party with trash like that. That’s the very bottom line here.

    I wasn’t a member of any political party in 2014 when I campaigned for yes and I’m not now.

    I did comment on the National pages about stewards not being licensed. That’s because I’m a trained steward myself and if you dong have your SIA badge if there’s trouble at any march you are not legally allowed to break up a physical fight.

    I also commented on the start time. But it’s quite clear. Manny was offered a curfew and refused it. It’s an alternative to custody and he took the jail time.

    He’s actually going to have a longer mark on his record because he took the jail time. Two years as opposed to one. He made his own choices. The fiscal is the person who decides whether or not to prosecute. Not the council.

    It’s about time these marches were run by people who publish full accounts. Who think using trained stewards is priority, who have liability insurance and basics, such as toilets.

    And who treat activists with respect on social media. Something that AOUB seem to struggle with.

    Gary Kelly laughed at me when I suggested that auob used trained and licensed stewards. They might not be laughing if there were a fight at one of the marches and someone ended up hurt.

    The ratio of stewards to crowd is also important. I’ve worked far smaller gigs with more stewards than steward at AOUB. Crowd control. It’s something you are taught when you do your badge.

    If Auob take in cash in the form of donations then they surely have money to either train people up as stewards or pay a company to come in and steward the marches.

    If manny had accepted the curfew he wouldn’t be in jail just now. If he had run the march the way the council wanted it run he would not have been reported to the fiscal in the first place.

    It always seems to be someone else’s fault. What about taking responsibility for your own choices and actions?

  • Morag

    “The vast majority, 99.5%, of SNP members remain very decent and humane people.”
    Humane is a pretty low standard to meet.

    98% of online statistics are made up.17.2% of consenting adults know this to be true.
    An active participation in politics is an active participation in telling other people what to do.
    Which along with genocide, self preservation and avarice is a fundamental element of the definition of the human condition known as humane.

  • Neil Munro

    Much sympathy for Manni Singh but what would it be like if the Orange Order were to decide it’s own start times and routes? There has to be one law for everyone!

    • Stonky

      Your analogy is crap. There is every likelihood of violence around an Orange Order march because essentially its very purpose is to create conflict. There was zero likelihood of violence around the auob march. The simple fact is that no matter how many Sturgeonites seek to defend the indefensible, the sentence was draconian in the context of the “offence”.

      • Cubby

        Well said Stonky.

        The previous years (2018) march in Glasgow started at the later time and there were no issues (apart from Britnats not liking that thousands of Scots do not want to be ruled by Westminster). So a precedent was in place for the later start time. So why change the time at the last minute for the 2019 march?

        In the absence of a reason people will consider the reason might be to reduce the numbers attending by sowing confusion over the start time.

    • Cubby

      Neil Munro

      “There has to be one law for everyone!”

      How many of the orange order/ Britnat thugs who rampaged around George sq Glasgow have been charged? Who gave them authority during the virus restrictions?

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