There is an iconic photograph taken at an Irish solidarity demonstration in Glasgow in 1971. It shows a young man armed with a cut throat razor attacking a Police Officer who had gone to arrest him after he had tried to slash one of the people on the demonstration. The young man was a violent loyalist counter protestor who couldn’t accept that any opinion other than his should be heard on the streets of Glasgow. It is a picture of hatred in action. The mind-set which creates such hatred is sadly still with us. We saw it in the appalling murder of Celtic fan Mark Scott in 1996. His father, showing remarkable dignity in the circumstances hit upon a profound truth when he said…
‘There are two victims in all of this; my son and another young man who has been raised among such hatred that he could do such a thing.’
I consider myself to be a rational man devoid of hatred and prejudice. I may hold a bias of sorts when writing about Celtic but that’s to be expected in the polarised world of football. However the scenes witnessed last night in the centre of Glasgow were simply disgraceful. All of my life I have shared my city and country with the lowest form of bigoted bully you will find on these islands. We have seen them in action in many places over the years and their shameless bigotry marks them out as being the antithesis of the friendly, welcoming Scot. To see the flag of Scotland dragged from the hands of a young girl by the bully boys was sickening. To see others burn the Scottish flag and hear them call their fellow Scots ‘Nationalist scum’ and worse was depressingly typical of these people. The Police looked on as the Nazi salutes were given beside the war memorial of those who died defeating Hitler and the racist ‘famine song’ echoed of the fine buildings of George Square. The irony is that their sort of British nationalism is far more pernicious and aggressive than anything we witnessed from the followers of the yes campaign. Make no mistake about it these thugs are the heirs of that brand of brainless nationalism and racism which in other times we called fascism.
Of course these people don’t represent any of the decent Scots who for whatever reason voted no. Nor do they represent the decent followers of that football club in Govan which seems to attract so many of this type. It didn’t go unnoticed that many decent fans of Rangers, yes, they exist, stated on social media that they had been sickened by the scenes they witnessed and wished to disassociate themselves from those responsible. One fan said that he had had enough of these morons and was never returning to Ibrox. I for one have seen them in action for more years than I care to remember and would be happy if the club they attach themselves to never returns to the SPFL. The bile they spout with such impunity is a stain on any decent society. Those who lament the absence of the ‘Old Firm’ games from the football calendar should think carefully about the likely outcome of the next time the two clubs meet. The hospitals of Glasgow certainly don’t miss the fixture and those who do should be careful what they wish for.
It’s only right that I state clearly again that most Scots despise and reject ‘the People’ and their abhorrent world view. Whether yes or no voters in the referendum, the vast majority would be ashamed to see the Square, so full of friendliness and positivity during the commonwealth games, turned into a bigot festival. These people represent no one but themselves and much needs done to educate those journalist Graham Spiers once called the ‘white underclass attaching itself to Rangers.’ Some may be beyond redemption but we owe it to future generations to try to educate our children that such attitudes and behaviour is unacceptable. Of course home is the prime teacher and some still learn to hate at their father’s knee. Until that ends, such people will remain in our society and they will continue to be Scotland’s shame.