Sunday 11 May 2014

Introducing British Together, the no campaign's secret weapon

Meet the Greengairs Flute Band on their recent march and note the large banner that they carry in favour of a no vote in September's referendum. You are looking at a working class, grassroots movement that is campaigning against independence, and one which is grouped around the campaigning group British Together. It might just tip the balance in favour of the union when the votes are counted.

I posted recently about the autonomous, grassroots, pro-independence campaigns that are making the running in the debate, and I assumed that the new style of campaigning that they represent would swing things their way. In doing so I quite forgot the Orange Order and its West of Scotland power base in and around Glasgow. They may seem very old fashioned, what with their marches and Great War era uniforms, but there are thousands of them and they strike a chord in many Protestant hearts. If they turn out to vote in September then the no vote will win handsomely.

British Together is completely separate from the official unionist campaign which is grouped around Better Together. In fact, Better Together make a great show of not wanting anything to do with the Protestant ultras who make up the Orange Order and its British Together offshoot, but that will not stop the lodges from mounting their own campaign for a no vote. In fact it may help, because British Together can run whatever campaigns it wants as the outfit is not answerable to the official unionist body.

Various yes campaigners are not helping their own cause by the way in which they dismiss the Orangemen as mouth breathing retards who have no place in the modern, vibrant, multi-cultural Scotland that those campaigners want to see.

The problem is that so many nationalists really are graduates without much of a future, who only mix with people of a similar ilk, and who regard the West Coast working class as creatures from another planet. Thus these cybernats tell each other that Orange parades in favour of a no vote will only convince the undecided voters to plump for independence. Actually, it may do the exact opposite as nobody likes being called scum, and while the nationalists may say that it is only directed at the Orange Order, from my neutral perch it looks like an attack on every council estate in the country. If I feel that way then heaven knows what is going through the minds of the genuinely undecided voters on those same estates.

The Orangemen plan a march in Edinburgh on Saturday, the 13th September, and hope to attract 15,000 marchers. If they are announcing that figure then what they really want is at least double that number. In the meantime, I expect to see quite a few small Orange marches, all aiming at rallying the Protestant, working class tribe into voting no to independence.

Other than hurling insults, the nationalists do not seem to have an answer to this Orange conundrum, which means that this race is still wide open.

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