SNP MSP James Dornan writes in the National:
We Scots played a central role in the British Empire, providing it with much of its managerial class. As we come to terms with that stain on our history, we also must strive to be better. We’ve applauded the English football team for taking a stand against racism toward its players and fans. But how many of us look the other way when our invisible minorities are abused?
I agree with much of that which James goes on to write. As he correctly points out sectarianism has been a stain on our history. I’ve written here, several times, on the lack of a policing response to violent ‘Loyalist’ groups connected to Rangers who have rioted in George Square or the discriminatory ‘kettling’ response when a group connected to Celtic tried to march in the same place in peaceful support of Black Lives Matter. Like many others, I wrote to Police Scotland to protest that wholly unacceptable operation. I agree entirely that we need to deal with that.
As for singing songs that celebrate or encourage violence against any group, of course, arrest and sanction.
Where I think we diverge is on just how we deal with it.
First, on the marches and minimising or stopping them. Back in the 60’s, my only theoretically protestant family lived near a community centre car park where they would rehearse loudly in the early hours before a march. We knew no members personally and resented them then as a noisy alien presence. James does not, of course, recommend banning them. I wouldn’t either. It would only make them stronger but we can insist they pay for the (heavy) policing out of their own diminishing funds, come down hard on all criminal behaviour and, seriously, do something about Labour councillors diverting public ‘cultural’ funds to subsidise their costs. Surely, they would wither on the whatever?
Second, James proposes a forum to discuss the benefits the Irish community has brought to Scotland. Sure, forums/fora, have as many as you like but, as someone who left school with a Higher History (B pass) in 1968, knowing SFA about what Britain did, of the horrors of Empire in India, Africa and, shock, right ‘next-door’, in Ireland, and as a long-time teacher and teacher-educator, I have a far better idea.
‘Deal with’ the teaching of history in Scottish schools. Just as German kids must learn of horrors of what their forebears did less than 100 years ago, across Europe, so let our kids learn of the extreme racism, genocidal attitudes and behaviour at the core of the British Empire, across the globe.
If they knew only a fraction of what an awful past we have in Britain, surely few could then go on to march with these groups, support the Tories or take Anas Sarwar’s Unionism seriously.