Activist Saturday 81

On Saturday we try to put Hands Around Parliament in opposition to the extradition of Julian Assange. Human chains are being formed in support internationally in many different countries.

It is more important than ever that we stand up for human rights, freedom of speech and the right to oppose US military hegemony and expose its crimes. Threats to the right to protest are multiplying at home, and the war in Ukraine has driven to an extreme degree the regimentation of the entire state and corporate media behind a single and extremely partial narrative.

The total destruction of Julian Assange as a demonstration of the untrammeled hegemonic power of the United States is very much the aim of the political establishment.

We are gathering at 1pm on Saturday at Westminster. Because the Houses of Parliament border the river, a human chain around them involves crossing two bridges of the Thames and a distance of several miles. It is therefore a logistical challenge that will require many thousands of people and a fair amount of patience and getting into position.

There is a real worry that transport strikes – which I fully support as workers have been exploited too long and too easily – will reduce the numbers, so I absolutely urge everybody who can get themselves to Westminster to make a special effort to do so.

Sadly I will now have to miss the simultaneous Yestival event in George Square, Glasgow, which had been rescheduled due to the Queen’s funeral. I do urge everyone in Scotland to get to that; the AUOB event last Saturday in Edinburgh showed the attendance for Independence campaigning is starting to grow again, and it is important that we retain the momentum.

This week saw the death of the great Ian Hamilton KC. I have written before that one of the happiest nights of my life was a dinner at Gordon and Edith Wilson’s home in Broughty Ferry forty years ago, when I sat next to Ian Hamilton and he retold the story of liberating the Stone of Scone from Westminster Abbey.

They had become adept at smuggling around large heavy broadcast equipment as they ran the pirate radio station Radio Free Scotland, which in those days needed a lot of bulky and heavy gear. They frequently had to shift from tenement to tenement as the police were searching for them to close the station down. So they had lifting harnesses and tackle and were adept at smuggling around boxes much the size, if not the weight, of the Stone of Scone.

The aim, of course, was publicity for Independence, then a fringe cause. None of them particularly believed Westminster housed the real Stone of Scone, which all the early sources describe as black rock and not sandstone. King Edward had been sold a dummy.

The daring and audacity of Ian Hamilton should be an inspiration to us. It is not wrong to break the laws of the colonial power. The London Supreme Court will shortly rule that Scotland has no power to hold an independence referendum. The only correct reaction to that is – well they would say that, wouldn’t they?

No London court can deny the Scottish people their inalienable right to self-determination.

I have spent the entire week in bed with an absolutely horrible cold, and now all of me hurts. This is the first time for four days I could look at the screen to blog without an unbearable headache. I shall however get to Westminster on Saturday, just to be one link in that chain.

I will be flying (which I generally avoid where possible) very early on Saturday morning after with Nadira seeing the Royal Scottish National Orchestra perform Saint Saens Symphony No. 3 on Friday night. This is one of my favourite pieces of music. It requires a large orchestra, concert organ and two pianos so is not performed that often.

I have never seen it live. I have been trying for fifty years. On about eight occasions I have had tickets to see it and not been able to get there. I seem to be fated. This has happened to me all round the world including in London, Edinburgh, Warsaw, Vienna and Paris. Funnily enough it has generally been something urgent cropping up in work/activism, rather than illness or family crisis, that has kept me away.

The last time was in Edinburgh, and it was some large Independence event I was invited to speak at, I think during the 2014 referendum, that stopped me using my tickets. I recall telling my friend Hugh Kerr, who was unsympathetic as he’s not a Saint-Saens fan, and infuriatingly he was going anyway!

I don’t generally have this problem. I must have seen Bruch’s first violin concerto, possibly my very favourite, a dozen times. This problem is peculiar to Saint Saens third symphony.

So this Friday nothing is stopping me, even though it means a 6.00am flight the next morning.

When I started this blog it used to be much more personal. Nowadays, with a vastly larger readership, some people don’t enjoy it when I tell something of myself. But I think it is important to emphasise that these articles are the thoughts of a very ordinary person, at this moment feeling pretty rotten, who has a life outside thinking about politics and society. We have, after all, to live in society.


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