At 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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