Like hundreds of like minded souls, we made our way to George Square on Saturday to attend the Bairns Not Bombs: Scrap Trident demo.
We might have been there a bit early…
…but that was okay. It was good to feel the crowd build up around us, and to meet fellow Greens from nearby branches near (shout outs to Glasgow Central candidate for the General Election Cass MacGregor) and far (apologies to the Greens from Ayrshire and Fife whose names I didn’t quite catch).
We also managed to secure a fairly central spot for our banner, which means that you can see it in the background if you squint a bit at photos in the mainstream press:
Not exactly the most important part of the day, but I’ll allow myself a little bit of pride at seeing our logo as part of the grand mess of the movement given that this sensation (of being part of something massive without having to swear allegiance to the SNP) is one that I’ve missed in the aftermath of the referendum on Scottish Independence.
Speaking of the SNP, while they’ve been the subject of a couple of squiffy smear stories since the election campaign officially started, nothing’s really stuck. Until now:
Yes, that’s right, you heard it here first: the majority of the SNP’s four billion new members are dogs. You might not believe me, but if you’d been there on Saturday with waves of yellow-clad pooches crashing around your feet you’d know the horrible truth about their recruitment by indogtrination (this terrible pun brought to you by East Ren Green Jimmy Higgins).
The event also gave our branch’s two candidates for Holyrood 2016 (Fiona Clark and Ciaran Roarty, pictured above) a chance to speak to curious punters and converts alike, and they seemed to be in their element from where I was standing. A particularly fond memory involves Ciaran jumping in and rescuing my frankly waffling attempt to talk to a young girl who told us that she’d received a fairly rude response from Labour when she put the following simple question to them: “What do you do?”
I hope Ciaran did a better job of answering that question than Labour managed. From where I was standing, he made a good show of talking about how we’re trying to get a feel for the issues affecting our fellow constituents, highlighting our involvement in the campaign around the lack of transport to the new Southern hospitals from East Renfrewshire. Let’s just hope she was as convinced as I was!
Fiona, meanwhile, was busy putting across one of the day’s more resonant slogans with the sort of passion and pride that comes from actually working the healthcare sector:
The march itself felt properly big and pleasantly disruptive as it made its way around the city centre. Winding down through Union Street and Argyle Street, it placed the issue of unilateral nuclear disarmament right at the heart of the consumer cycle: if this was annoying to some, it was no less necessary for it.
When the demonstration reconvened at George Square we were treated to speeches from a range of politicians and activists, from the SNP’s Nicola Sturgeon (who
said that David Cameron was a great bunch of lads reaffirmed that Trident renewal would be a red line in any post-election negotiations) and RIC/The Scottish Left Project’s Cat Boyd.
I felt a bit sorry for Katy Clark, the Labour MP whose speech was met with heavy boos and cries of “Red Tories Out” as it went on. Clark handled it well given that no one either in her party or outside of it was probably thanking her for being there, and her presence and reception highlights the fault lines in Scottish Labour at the moment. To encourage Labour politicians who share the values we (Greens? Socialists? Pro-independence activists?) hold to try to stand-up for those policies within that party, or to confront them with the harsh reality of Labour’s standing in Scotland in the hopes they move on like their voters? This dog-eared old question was at the heart of a recent debate between Scottish Green Peter McColl and Labour’s James McAsh on the Bright Green website – if you’ve not read it already, I suggest you do so as soon as you’re finished with this post!
Scottish Green co-convenor Patrick Harvie did his “leader of the irresponsible left led anti-family gay wales against the bomb” routine to good effect, and made the most important point of the day when he said that this wonderful gathering wouldn’t be enough, and that the argument needed to be made in living rooms across the country, and won at blockades and in parliament.
Not for the first time, I found myself agreeing with him. It was a great day. Now let’s see if we can make it more than that!