Thursday, October 20, 2016

Behind the barricades

Checking the  lie of the land on my approach to the SNP conference I was first greeted by 2 older chaps in bright red T shirts proffering "No to NP" leaflets. I refused their leaflet. They pursued me the length of the Hydro building explaining they didn't want child protection via 'Named Person' because they wanted to protect children... which was all rather odd. 

photo credit: No2NP

My next encounter with loose lobbyists was with the RMT. I spotted Gordon Martin with the loudhailer and headed straight for him to let him know that I was a big fan. I am. 

photo credit:RMT

My next encounter was with the Govanhill Ghetto tour touts. I stood a while to observe them. Loudhailer and home-made poster. 

There appeared to be 3 of them. Once they had positioned themselves, the loudhailer began broadcasting:

"Roll up! Roll up! get your tickets for the Govanhill Ghetto Tour. The bus leaves at 12.15! Don't miss out!
This is Nicola Sturgeon's constituency! We'll take you on a tour of rat infested slums! Pishy mattresses on the street! Crime! Squalor! Rats! Rats! Did I mention the rats? Rats the size of cats! Get your tickets! The bus leaves at 12.15!"

You couldn't help but feel for these guys. They were genuinely highlighting a serious issue with private landlords in Govanhill. A problem that has been building for years despite whole blocks of flats being compulsorily purchased by housing associations using Scottish Government funding, this is a community in dire need of attention. It's in dire need of a new Council.

All these lobbyists and protestors from the RMT and No2NP were free to roam about the entrances to the SECC and the Armadillo. There was no hassle, no separation. You could engage with them.

Later in the day I spotted saltires flying outside. I recognised the signature 17 foot flag pole belonging to a friend of mine and went down to say hello.

Immediately, I was struck by a very different scene before me. Where everyone had been milling around loud-hailing there were now barriers up. Everyone with a saltire or a YES t-shirt had been corralled behind crowd control barriers by the G4S security guards employed at the venue. There was also a police presence which hadn't been there previously. 

A sea of flags fluttering above happy smiling faces. All Yessing away in the drizzle... caged like livestock. 

photo: STV

Within minutes, they had adorned the barrier with the "Red Tories Out" banner that appears at all Yes gatherings in Glasgow. It reminds everyone that there is unfinished business in local government in Scotland. Labour's last bastion: The Councils.

I approached the barrier:

 "Why are you standing behind this barrier? 
  Who told you to stand behind this barrier?"

They told me that G4S security guards had told them to stay behind the barrier. 

"And you're just going to do what you're told?
This is a public space. You're in a public place. You can walk right through the SECC like it was a street - because it was once a street."

Talking to the saltired gathering it was full of SNP members unable to get a ticket to conference (there were only 3000 tickets available). Green Party members were there to remind everyone they were "still yes", and some people were there just hoping to get a glimpse of the First Minister so that they could tell her they were "ready when you are Nicola."

Far from being embarrassed* by this gathering, I was enthused by it's presence. It reminded us that Yes is not just the SNP. There are people of every party 
(and none) who are Scottish independence supporters.

Those who took umbrage at the "Red Tories Out" banner zip tied to the barricade ought to have been more concerned about the barricade.

Do check out why I used the*


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