There’s an OrangeFest going on today, that will be Rebekka Wade celebrating her ex-boyfriend’s perjury trial collapsing. However when I first heard that there was to be an OrangeFest in George Square in June to celebrate an old Glasgow tradition, I thought “oh good, that sounds fun.” Just imagine, the entire square being taken over to celebrate getting a fake tan before spending a fortnight on the beach in Benidorm. The Square would be full of tanning booths and women with big hair and false eyelashes, and gay men of a certain age clutching copies of celebrity gossip magazines and bitching about Caitlyn Jenner and photo-shopping, but apparently I was mistaken.
It’s not going to be that sort of OrangeFest, the sort that could be fun for all the family, even though it’s bad for your skin and you’d be likely to end up with some seriously over the top nail varnish. This one is just bad on a whole different level.
This isn’t even an OrangeFest about fruit, it’s about fruitcakes. This Saturday, thanks to our supposedly right-on, progressive and forward looking Labour cooncil, the great city of Glasgow turns into a Jaffa Cake. It’s going to have an orangey bit in the middle.
It’s only fair, last year George Square was occupied by exponents of inclusive, migrant friendly, anti-racist, anti-homophobic, anti-sexist civic nationalism, so now it’s the turn of the other kind of nationalism – the bitter, reactionary and exclusionary variety. And only one of them comes with Union flags. Somewhere deep within the twisted recesses of the collective mind of Glesca Cooncil, they think this is going to help the Unionist cause.
The independence movement has the Twitter hashtag #SexySocialism, and now thanks to Glesca Cooncil the Unionists have #SexySectarianism. The Unionists are forever complaining that the referendum has left Scotland divided and bitter, and now they’re going to turn George Square over to sectarian bigots in order to prove it. This couldn’t possibly have anything to do with the Orange Order supporting Better Together last year now could it? Hmmm?
The city faithers and mithers have given the Ludges permission to hold an OrangeFest in George Square because the last time that Unionists took over the Square it turned out so well, didn’t it. Well it did according to the UK media, who reported the assaults and violence carried out by Union flag waving extremists as “disturbances involving independence supporters”. But now the mass gathering of reactionaries has a cuddly new brand image which makes it all terribly progressive and 21st century. OrangeFest sounds like a family friendly citrus based sweet and sickly skooshy drink, the kind that makes your teeth fall out. So it’s quite an appropriate name really, as a well known side effect of Orange Walks is people losing teeth and feeling sickened.
For those people who take fitba seriously, the event was obviously organised to coincide with the return of the NewGers, who’re just the same as the OldGers, to the premier league. So that’s worked out well hasn’t it.
Apart from fans of the completely new fitba team that isn’t a new fitba team at all, oh no, except for tax purposes, the OrangeFest will be attended by the same kind of people who tend to shout things like there’s too many mosques. Yet tell them that you don’t like your city centre being taken over by bigots and they’ll be demanding that religious beliefs have to be respected. At least, their own religious beliefs should be respected, their track record on respecting other people’s isn’t too great. So not so much People Make Glasgow as Bigots Make Glasgow then.
The event has been organised in an attempt to improve the “outreach” of the Orange Order, because they’re just not intimidating and excluding as many people as they used to. Everyone will be welcome to attend and be educated, and Scotland’s Catholics will be welcome to come and be educated about anti-Catholicism. There’s going to be a catwalk display of haut-couture sashes and bowler hats, and workshops on the most stylishly appropriate footwear for when you’re up to your knees in fenian blood. Fashion lovers will also appreciate the styling tips for knuckle hair. For the kiddies there will be games of pin the blame on the Taig, and hunt the Cafflick.
Membership of the Orange Order has been in decline for decades. Their family friendly brand of bigotry, hatred, social exclusion and ill-fitting crimplene uniforms just don’t have the same appeal that they once did. Now they’re trying to claim that they should be allowed to use George Square because they’re an “ethnic minority”. The Orange Order have as little understanding of what it means to be an ethnic minority, or indeed any sort of oppressed minority, as they do of the malign effects of sectarianism.
They’re the cause of the oppression not the victims of it. They’re the problem not the solution. But then it’s most frequently the perpetrators who claim to be the victims. We saw that over the independence campaign when the Unionists tried to claim they were the victims of trollish independence supporters while being blind and deaf to the torrent of hatred and venom pouring out their own mouths. We saw it during the campaign about gay marriage when it’s those who didn’t want other people to have equal civil rights who were the ones complaining that they were being oppressed.
As an independence supporting gay man who is of Irish heritage and who was brought up a Catholic, I’m sure I’ll be welcomed at the OrangeFest with open arms. Thank you Glesca cooncil for ensuring that this Saturday I won’t be coming anywhere near the centre of my own city. There are many thousands of others who feel that we will not be welcome or safe in the centre of our own city on Saturday.
This is the last nail in the coffin of the Labour party in Glasgow, a last Orange hurrah for a party that was founded to oppose and condemn discrimination and sectarianism. Labour has wrapped itself in the Union flag, and has strangled itself with it.
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