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Big Brave Men

10414897_4476922456776_8517505969334397777_nAt this very moment, in a dank, dirty boozer somewhere, amidst beer bellies and bald heads, exposed arms and jail tattoos, a man stands on a cruddy floor surrounded by the right wing propaganda covering the walls like cheap tat.

He is gripping a pint of lager, like he’s holding a broadsword, and his clogged arteries are pumping like mad to a heart that swells with pride as he talks to the world’s ugliest barmaid, who keeps picking a spot on her chin.

He’s telling the story of how he and twenty other half jaked heroes of the Empire charged into a group of students, middle aged suburbanites and old ladies in Glasgow’s George Square.

Later, his mate will tell the courageous story of how he and six of his friends punched and kicked a kid on Buchanan Street, because he was wearing a Yes badge. This already drunk warrior of the flag his father wore will finish his story by telling the assorted horde of how they continued to rain blows on this kid even as he was lying on the ground.

The pub will applaud, cheer, and then perhaps they’ll sing one of their party songs. God Save The Queen is a popular one, although more than likely it’ll be Rule Britannia. They really like that one, especially the part about how Britain never, ever shall be slaves. It always gets the old heart going and the feet tapping, especially whilst you are sitting in the dole office waiting to be seen.

They are the Pride of the Isles. They are the foot soldiers of the union. They are the No campaign’s dirty little secret, but it’s most vocal supporters. Last night we saw how they celebrate victory and how they and their kith and kin put the Great into Britain.

They are Big Brave Men, legends in their own bath-times. Heroes in their own minds.

To the rest of us, they are repulsive, drunken, bigoted cowards and thugs. They are one of the many, many, many reasons 1.6 million of us voted for independence. It would not have rid this country of their awful, diseased mind-set but it would have left them one less patch of ground on which to plant their flag.

It would have given them one less place to call home.

Their natural home is the gutter, as anyone who saw the pictures and the video footage from last night can attest. These people, to paraphrase Gene Hackman in Mississippi Burning, crawled out of a sewer. In fact, they are little different to the poor white trash of that film. The mind-set comes from the same place. There is no better sticking plaster over your own insecurities than creating an “out” group and lording it over them.

Watching them though, listening to them, it’s not hard to come away with the view that even the flies on their most recent shit are better than they are, and more advanced on the evolutionary scale.

It takes a certain kind of mind, after all, to stand in front of a World War 2 memorial, with a Union Jack wrapped around you, making a Nazi salute. The sheer lunacy of the act itself is compounded by the fact that not one person amongst the group of them understands how wrong, how terribly, tragically, sick and wrong, that act is. They are of One Mind, like some alien species where each individual organism is incapable of thinking independently, relying on some Other to give their thoughts and actions order.

Yes, somewhere there is probably a fat guy farting into a Union Jack cushion with his eyes tightly shut and a can of Super Lager in one hand, directing their thoughts …

I mean seriously, how else do these people manage through day to day life without choking themselves on their cornflakes?

I am sick of these people and sick of the mentality that drives them on. As a Celtic fan I’ve had a keen interest in them for a long time, as many of them follow the club that plays out of Ibrox, and for decades now they have brought shame and despair to the many, many decent supporters there, who would love to be rid of them once and for all.

As a political activist and observer, I have watched their rise in England in various, awful, forms, like that of UKIP, Britain First and Combat 18, and the other assorted manifestations of hate and ignorance that pop up like clusters of Ebola every once in a while. They’ve latched on to football clubs down there too, like parasitic barnacles, and they tend to follow the national football team with a special fervour and passion.

I can sort of understand them, up to a point. Imperialism and militarism go hand in hand, and they always have, but where my mind literally locks up is when you get past the Union Jacks and their outward Britishness to the core of their identity; a perverse fascination and affinity with Nazism, eugenics and racial superiority.

You look at them and you cannot help notice that many of them are not exactly fine specimens of humanity. Their average IQ hovers at around room temperature (in the winter. When the central heating is broken), and when they try to explain their twisted views you can’t help but snigger, and finally bust a gut laughing.

But strip it right down and these Big Brave Men are no laughing matter.

I know people who voted No. Some of them have what they regard as good reasons. They harbour genuine fears about the economic prospects of Scotland going it alone. This is understandable when we live in a nation with a broadcast media which was pumping out fear and intimidation on a 24 hour cycle for months on end. Some of these people were cowed, and others were cheaply bought. Others still are just self-interested swine for whom there is no redemption except Hell.

But only a few, a very, very, very small few – and none amongst my wide circle of friends – have any sympathy or affinity with the gutter rats of unionism we saw in Glasgow last night. They are not from the other side of the political debate in as much as they are from the other side of sanity, the other side of decency, the other side of a line on which stood 4.3 million Scottish voters … the side of democracy and engagement through peaceful means.

These people do not represent either the Scotland I want or the Britain I want to leave behind, but the Union Jack is the fig leaf they wrap around themselves and so one cannot be easily separated from the other.

I want no part of anything they “believe in”, no matter how twisted and darkly contradictory their belief system is.

In the end, they are the enemies of everyone who believes in the power of the ballot box. They have no real friends amongst the greater swell of the movements on either side of a Yes or No, but their tactics of intimidation and resort to occasional violence perfectly mirror the state who’s flag they carry and who’s dark side they clearly represent, for this is an island nation still wallowing in past victories, still living off the fatty sustenance of previous glory and incapable of weaning itself off the drug of celebration of war.

I woke up yesterday with a deep sense of shame at my countrymen and their rejection of the responsibility for making their own choices. I was heart sick, and ready to quit.

By the time I went to bed, I remembered what we were fighting for and what we were fighting against. I was re-energised and ready to start anew.

I was proud, once again, of the things for which myself and all of you strive, for the 1.6 million who voted for freedom, and driven to free from the fear and the despair those amongst the 2 million who will very soon regret their own mistake.

Because the alternative is to accept that the ugly face of unionism which we saw last night is the one I’ll have to live alongside for the rest of my natural life.

I won’t do it. I refuse to accept that. Not in my name.

They are not my countrymen. The place they call home is not my country.

They are not Scottish. They are not even British. They are gutter rats and they will not win.

Back to the planning rooms. Back to the meeting points. Back to the coalface. This fight has only just started.

In 1776, George Washington’s Continental Army fought it’s first major battle against the British, in New York. They were smashed, and he retreated, and feared that the war was over. Three years later, they took Yorktown in the final, decisive, battle of the war. By 1783, the United States had its independence.

So let us not be downhearted. We are not cowed by the sight of Big Brave Men terrorising old ladies and student activists. We are better than that, and stronger than that. Let’s show this shower of cowards the meaning of real courage.

Let’s show them the meaning of Scotland the Brave.

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36 comments to “Big Brave Men”
  1. Excellent article. I posted a photo of George Square last night and a friend reprimanded me for saying This was the face of the No voters.
    He was correct and so are you. But where have they been hiding all this time? Why are they so angry? They did win after all. Why are they not jubilant? Where have they been.?? During all the Yes gatherings and the demos at the BBC, no sign, no sign before the 18th, except a tiny showing in George Square one evening outside the City Chambers. To me it smacks of animals being kept on a tight leash then released– no joy, just anger and a need to hurt someone, anyone. I seriously believe they were told to do nothing until after a No vote. I have been told they were not even Scots, does anyone know the truth.

    • well said wilma agree with everything you say i am a protestant and i am totally sick of this scum most protestants just humor this mob we never really noticed their antics they make a big mistake because their own kind as they like to put it will turn on them and we wont miss ! their whole carry on marches etc has no place here even we don’t want them now we used to enjoy the colour and bands etc but this has a dark ugly side we don’t want and won’t tolerate

  2. Sweetie – bravo for saying what has been mulling around my brain all day. I too spend a day in despair – then saw the videos of George Square and realised that the goal of our freedom is not gone it can only be deferred.

    I got up and plunged full on into bringing a better Scotland than the one I witnessed into fruition….. one where the seeds of hate find no space to flourish.

  3. I too was absolutely disgusted at the behaviour of these sewer rats. I was at George Square on 17 September and there was only a handful of Union supporters but all was well and the banter was flowing. What I saw on Friday 19 September made me sick to the core. Edl and the likes shaming the decent people of Scotland. I wish no part of this and neither do the decent people of Scotland. Independence has only been deferred.

  4. Sir

    I am a Rangers supporter and sadly, I have to agree with every word you say. Half of my family is Roman Catholic and I don’t know how I can look my nieces and nephews in the face ever again. The behaviour of certain NO supporters has simply been beyond the pale; there is not and never can be any excuse for such behaviour. I am a disabled ex-serviceman and I can say this in all truth I am mighty glad that none of these Neanderthals were never by my side because I am prepared to bet right now that, to a man (sic), they are cowardly scum.

    • You have nothing to be ashamed of. You see it for what it is. Mindless bloody thuggery and you and I have no part in it. I would imagine most no voters want no part in it either but they didn’t see what they signed up for until it was too late. You have nothing to prove here and deserve nothing but respect.

    • Kenzie,that mob on friday night don’t really support the gers, it’s a deep hatred of anything and everything Scottish,these cowardly bigots were burning the national flag of Scotland!! and looked very happy doing so,this shite belongs in ulster and not the streets of Glasgow or any where in our country,we are the 45% and between now and the 2016 election i believe it will be 60 to 70%,no this fight is not over it’s just began.SAOR ALBA. PS: RULE BRITANNICA ? THAT SHIP SAILED ALONG TIME AGO.PEACE OUT

  5. They haven’t been hiding around here Wilma (cambuslang). Without the help of the orange order and their flute band members there’d have been next to no activists for the better together/ ukok/ no thanks / whatever they’re called today.

  6. Kenzie:

    You never need to worry about looking people in the eye my friend. You have served your country, and doubtless with distinction.

    Your neices and nephews knows that mate. I am sure that everyone who knows you knows it too.

    They are proud of you. You’ve given something back.

    Head up fella.

  7. Wow! There’s as much prejudice and bigotry on display in this semi-literate and rather juvenile article – and a few of the comments- as there was in Glasgow last night. You seem to want to portray an awful lot of people as some crude form of sub-humanity with all sorts of prejudices that you never prove. Out of all footage and still shots sent to me by my journalists, there appears to be a handful of idiots doing Nazi salutes on occasion. Yes, that’s unacceptable but it’s not as though that was true of everyone in George Square and the surrounding streets and far less so of NO voters or your rival fans.

    I do wish you’d stuck to what you could justify on the basis of evidence, but instead you shoot off on all sorts of tangents with a crude and simplistic “us-good, them-bad” narrative. As a lifelong socialist, I am uncomfortable with your prejudiced analysis.

    I could counter your assertions with examples of bigoted and prejudiced conduct by your fellow YES voters indulging in flag-burning and racist abuse against non-white NO voters, or your beloved Celtic players and fellow supporters with their long history of racism(including some of the worst racism seen in these isles), but where would this get us?

    Anyone committing acts of violence or racism on either side is unacceptable and this pathetic attempt at point-scoring may earn you some brownie points with your fellow-travellers, but it will also add to the unnecessary friction around the last few days. Burning Union Jacks or Saltires is equally offensive and achieves nothing, except an increase in hatred. Labelling people traitors or bigots because of their vote is pathetic and it actually chips away at democratic discourse, dragging the debate down into a gutter of abuse.

    I can sense that you’re frustrated at the referendum result and I can understand that, but long rants involving imaginary scenarios and false events designed to perpetuate stereotypes won’t move society forward. Criticisms of violence and intolerance are valid, but I urge caution in your own use of stereotypes.

    In the end you’re only fanning the flames of intolerance with such bitter fictional prose. Voters of either persuasion and supporters from both sides of Glasgow football divide share a very similar demographic to the general population and point-scoring with such divisive language misrepresents the reality and leaves you looking more like one of the Nazi-saluting idiots or violent thugs, rather than a progressive voice of reason and common sense. In short, do grow up and use your head, rather than your heart when it comes to such matters. If you can take such advice on board, you’ll benefit both as a writer and a human being.

    • cant be bothered reading the rest of your rant patric you’re just here trying to justify morons and a stolen referendum “YES” stolen by the media and the “NO” lot by scaring the shit out old people well done better together aye right friend thank god this lot won could you imagine the mayhem if they had lost

      • There were scare tactics on both sides- two Project Fears, if you like. The YES side were never ahead beyond any margin of error which exceeded statistical probability. So you can’t say it was “stolen”. It’s not a valid position to hold.

  8. Patrick:

    All I read there was blah blah blah.

    I did not resort to stereotypes. I made a clear distinction between those creatures from last night and the rest of the country.

    I don’t need, or want, your advise on “growing up” or becoming a “human being.” Your own words damn you as you’re CLEARLY trying to make this article say something it does not say.

    Your comment will stand as testament to your own blinkered views. It will stand as testament to your own crude attempt at point scoring – Celtic players and racism section and all.

    You are everything you CLAIM I am. An intolerant fool.

    • Your simplistic “No I’m not! You are!” response was expected, as was your crude dismissal. The personal insult was also no surprise. Your opening seven paragraphs are a fiction based on your own prejudices.

      Your explanation of NO voters’ reasoning assumes that there was no valid reason for voting NO. That’s as preposterous as it is ignorant. There are many who voted NO out of concern for the more vulnerable members of society, fearing a right wing backlash as the economic difficulties hit the poorest in society. History teaches us this lesson repeatedly

      As for last night, having spoken to several journalists on the scene, it appears there is a consensus which differs greatly from your diatribe.

      If you can’t accept that and merely wish to disregard criticism whilst appearing touchy on certain matters, then fair enough.

      If you don’t want to engage in serious debate and would rather indulge in a simplistic and narrow minded analysis which panders to your own ego and prejudices, then go on, perpetuate the errors of your way.

      Should you wish to engage in a sensible, mature and constructive debate, then great. However, you really don’t look like you have that in your locker. I await your response with interest, but very little hope.

  9. Irene and I left Britain and returned to Ireland in 1978 in the certain knowledge that Thatcher would be elected in ’79. In 1973 our first Edinburgh Fringe play had been “Emily and Space” – about casualties of the National Front. In 1984, in response to Thatcherism and the Miners’ Strike we brought our “Orwell’s Boudicca” over from Wexford to the Fringe – it was a pastiche combination of Orwell’s “1984” and the Boudicca Independence War of AD 61. Although developing the ideology and practice of pacifist resistance, it was branded, in The Scotsman, as “…blatant provisional IRA propaganda….”. The bigot responsible for this was removed from the panel of adult reviewers the next day, further to our representations, and placed on Children’s Shows duties. I am proud of being English but do not accept the tag of “British”. which attempts to insist that I buy into monarchy and Westminster rhetoric as a substitute for the culture and sense of identity which I am entitled to enjoy as an individual through choice, freewill, childhood and upbringing. I love to distraction the independence of Ireland and the fact that it is a people’s republic hard won and despair for all in the “United Kingdom” that State manipulation is so readily accepted, that the English People, the Welsh People, The Scottish People and the Northern Irish People are homogenised into politico-economic units where the lowest are manipulated through their poverty, the middlings are manipulated through dependencies on standards of living which clearly differentiate and ‘protect’ them from the povertarians and the uppers are manipulated through the reward system which sustains power lust. James, I have read so much clean good sense from commentators on and advocates for ‘Yes’ in the last few days that I trust Scotland will now continue to revolutionise society in the name of culture (with a small ‘c’) and broad and general decency. I think Scotland can do this. I think Scotland should do this and if just one of the cess pool parasites you describe above stops breathing whatever orange poison they depend on and gets a life, it will be worthwhile. As the campaign drew to a close I had this wonderful image of a free Scotland where the air, the landscape, the mutual respect, the industry, the culture were so much in evidence that the word ‘freedom’ became synonymous with Scotland – but – it can still happen – the shackles of Westmister are invisible, maybe Scotland can also make them impotent. Best wishes to all of Scotland – Michael

  10. If you really hate the UK and British citizens so much, why don’t the 1.6 million of you club in with a few quid each and buy your own island? You can create your own utopia free from the restraints of the British benefit system and go crazy with your own currency.
    Apparently, if you send the EU and NATO a letter they’ll let you join immediately, and your health service will be superb as there’s bound to be a whole load of your inhabitants who are doctors, nurses and dentists as the British NHS’s mistreatment from Westminster has driven them all to demand independence too.
    The only trouble I can foresee is what to call your island, after all, Ireland is taken.

    • Well said Joe. This article smacks of sour grapes and belittles the ‘no’ voters opinions. A ludricrous rant. Although I also condemn senseless violence.

  11. Patrick:

    Is that your excuse? You voted No to protect the vulnerable? I bet you still vote Labour, don’t you? Idiotic to say the very least.


    Only your own narrow mind thinks that voting Yes equates to “hating Britain”.

    The rest of your diatribe is utterly bone-headed.

    • Why then would you be so selfish as to leave the rest of Britain behind? As a British man would your efforts not be best placed repairing Britain?
      As to your snide “boneheaded” comment (it doesn’t require a hyphen) it was no more than a satirical view gleaned from reading the slaverings of over eager and under educated nationalists who believed the hype and added their own fantasy 25%.
      There are numpties in all walks of life, until you see that, and accept it, and engage with everyone outside your wee club, you and the rest of the ’37’ (it wasn’t 45%, it was 37% of the electorate) will go nowhere.

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