Glasgow Violence: When Media Bias Goes Too Far
On Thursday, 85% of the Scottish population turned out to cast their votes in the referendum on independence following days of peaceful demonstrations by Yes voters in the heart of our largest city, Glasgow.
On Friday, Glasgow was gripped by fear as pro-union fascists rushed George Square, determined to engage in violence and hatred; the loyalists of Glasgow joined by members of the Scottish and English Defence Leagues, and all partly encouraged by Britain First.
Young girls had their Scottish flags torn away from them, women with Yes badges were spat at and called scum, nazi salutes and red hand of Ulster salutes were seen, flares were thrown, and the sectarian edge was on full display with “No Surrender” signs. Assaults were made on those carrying Saltires.
These are not the scenes reported by the BBC news or a number of newspapers who assure us that this was a “clash” between Yes and No voters, following their portrayal of Yes voters as Scottish nationalist mobs who intimidated No voters, despite little evidence to the contrary.
In truth, the police had the events of last evening well in hand. Glasgow is no stranger to sectarian trouble (a number of this mob wore Rangers tops), quickly surrounding the group and acting to restrict violence as far as possible as they departed the square and moved elsewhere. Six arrests were made and after a few hours the city was calm once more.
But what there was a disturbing lack of was information. News. People in the city and those in the rest of Scotland with friends and family in Glasgow had no idea what was happening. Those on twitter could find no information on whether things had escalated or calmed down, on where was safe and where was not.
The police described the situation as “handbags”. They’ve dealt with much worse. But to write this off as sectarian violence alone excuses those fascists who travelled to take part. To write it off as only fascists excuses the local loyalists spoiling for a fight.
While the identity of the perpetrators is unknown, the one Scotland newspaper that supported independence – The Herald – had their generator set alight. The Sunday Herald is currently collecting evidence from the night to make a full report in their next edition.
Glasgow is a complicated city with a troubled past, but the level of political engagement across Scotland and within the city during this referendum was unprecedented. And almost entirely peaceful until now. Scotland had shown the world what democracy without war looks like, but while the UK media ignores the dark side of both Glasgow and the union, the international media has carried the most information on events.
That people in Glasgow, Scotland and the UK had to turn to twitter to get the real information of what was happening is incredible. And while photographs and videos were helpful in illustrating the events, there was no control on validity of information. #GlasgowRiots trended through the night despite the situation being over, while many seemed under the impression that it was Yes voters at fault.
Invoking the spirit of sectarianism there was no doubt trouble on both sides of that particular divide, but the swelling of ranks from fascist groups ensured that it was those bearing the Scottish flag or Yes badges that were in danger.
This was no celebration. This was no representation of No voters. These bigots represent no one but themselves. But the media turning a blind eye to this, or insinuating it is no worse than Scottish nationalists throwing an egg is irresponsible. I had friends hiding at home because they were terrified to go out on the streets without the safety of having white skin, with no idea of when the trouble was over.
There are Orange marches planned today in the city. Hopefully these idiots will stay at home. Please stay safe.
(Photo credits L-R: Jon Brady via Twitter @jonfaec; Cathal Mcnaughton / Reuters; PA; Reuters; Reuters; Herald’; Herald; Reuters; Reuters)
(My apologies that none of the media wants to embed)