“It’s not often that you beat Priti Patel”: Will Glasgow be a wake-up call?
Indeed, the UK Home Office showed no contrition, with a source saying: “It is totally unacceptable for a crowd to stop the legal deportation of people living in our country illegally. We support 100% the front line by removing those who are not allowed to be here. “
Some have said much worse. George Galloway, once a radical left wing who challenged the British state and championed anti-racism as well as Scottish self-government, marked his long descent into a tough Unionist stance. In the midst of last Thursday’s protest, and having just stood in the Scottish election under the ‘All for Unity’ banner to ‘stop separatism’ which resulted in a paltry vote, he commented: ‘The immigration and asylum are the business of the UK government. A decentralized assembly openly and illegally challenged the implementation of a decision by the British government. It is an act of rebellion.
Scottish Tory MSP Murdo Fraser, a longtime Rangers fan, made the connection between Thursday’s peaceful and respectful protest on Kenmure Street and the looming Rangers celebrations on Saturday, when the club received the trophy for winning the Scottish Premiership . “I hope all Rangers fans celebrate tomorrow responsibly, especially given the surge in COVID cases in Glasgow,” Fraser tweeted, “Unfortunately, I’m concerned that such calls will be undermined by some politicians who actively encourage yesterday’s street protests. This may not be one rule for some and another for others. “
It was a bad comparison as the events unfolded. Kenmure Street involved nonviolent direct action, no one drank alcohol or fought, and after the community protest, local people cleaned up and tidied up the area. No such statement could be made on how a section of Rangers fans chose to celebrate the title victory. Unable to watch the game, they gathered in the city’s iconic George Square in the heart of downtown and engaged in hooliganism, violence and brutality for the second time in as many months. And what condemnation did he bring from Rangers or Murdo Fraser? Nothing but the most general and superficial statements.
Iain Martin, who runs the right-wing news and commentary site Reaction UK, tried to make the protest synonymous with the SNP and senior politicians, tweeting: “Demonstrations against immigration: we must resist the SNP attempt to delegitimize the British state.
In reality, the protest was a spontaneous reaction from the local community and supported across the political spectrum, with prominent Scottish politicians calling for solidarity including Nicola Sturgeon, Justice Secretary Humza Yousaf, Scottish co-leader from the Greens Patrick Harvie and Scottish Labor leader Anas Sarwar.
Some saw Kenmure Street as having nothing to do with the constitution, others wanted direct action to be done more explicitly on independence, but the protesters struck the right balance: putting their community and neighbors first plan. At the base of our action there was something deep which is the nature of power and our collective action against the British state. And in Scotland, these questions are intimately linked to the question of self-government. Who sets our rules as a society, in whose interests do they set those rules and how are they held to account?