Saturday, 6 June 2015

Orange, red, white and blue

Today sees an event taking place in Glasgow's George Square which has been nicknamed 'Orangefest' by supporters of Scottish independence.  It is intended to be a celebration of the culture of the Orange Order in Scotland, although the scale of the event has had to be reduced in view of the high winds and rain which are forecast for today.

A petition to have the event banned has had 30,000 signatures, and the originator of the petition has received various threats which have led to her having to close down her Facebook and Twitter accounts.

While I appreciate the sentiments behind the petition, I think trying to have the event called off is a mistake.  We live in a democracy, and while I disagree with the philosophy of the Orange Order, they have as much right as supporters of independence to express their views and to hold events in George Square.  We who support independence can avoid the event, just as Unionists can avoid our events.

This morning I was reading Derek Bateman's blog in which he republished a comment by one of his contributors who said that
While it is extremely unlikely that any supporter of an independent Scotland will be swayed from their belief by the gathering, marching and proselytising of the Orange Lodge, there is always a chance that a change can occur in even the most fervent unionist.
He then went on to outline his family's story, showing a shift from the Orange background of his parents' generation to the independence-supporting younger generation.  Some of the comments below the article were discussing how their view of the Union flag has changed, and I knew exactly what they meant.

When I was a child I was a member of the Brownies, then the Guides, where allegiance to the Union flag and the Queen was a given.  At that time the Union flag was our flag.  Sure, we knew about the Saltire, but it was a minor thing, of no real importance.

Evidently the indoctrination I was given the the Brownies and Guides didn't take.  Gradually over the years my Scottish identity has become stronger and the Saltire more meaningful.   Since the referendum I find I am seeing the Union flag flying in Scotland an alien thing, something which has an essential 'wrongness' about it.  It brings home to me how the Union now seems to be something which is imposed on Scotland.

I have no doubt that the Union flag will be much in evidence at the'Orangefest' event.  I suspect it will be this, rather than their religious bigotry, which will be seen as provocative.

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