I was at the Scottish Cabinet’s meeting in Renfrew Town Hall yesterday along with some comrades from the SSP. We were there to support the No To NATO Scotland campaign. They are amazing people from the protest movement. I like there way of engaging, never deliberately confrontational, just gently, patiently presenting their point of view. Even when they are arrested, it is non violent just obstructing peacefully. I am learning a lot from them but sometimes it is just too difficult for me and I have to roar out the odd boo or chant. People who know me well I promise will say I am a fairly gentle individual..
When my comrades and I arrived at the protest the first group that we saw. Were a large group of people holding banners and wearing white Tees with purple wedding rings with a slogan about how wonderful marriage is. They were very slick and carrying placards declaring that 60 percent of the population were against same sex marriage. Several of them also carried placards with the covers of books they want to ban and say promote an LGBT “Lifestyle” to children in schools. The thing was they all looked so reasonable. I met a No To NATO protester who I said wasn’t this terrible. She thought they were supporting same sex marriage and was shocked when I told her it was the opposite. So much hate looking so non confrontational. I met one of their organizers and had a chat with him. Some of the blatant propaganda he was used was horrendous. For example in countries where homosexuality is banned, there are less deaths among gay people compared to the suicide rates “in places where it is encouraged like San Fransisco….” I gently had to gently remind him that perhaps onkly a few people were able to come out in such countires due to their concerns of being arrested or even murdered. He had been well trained in propaganda and was obviously not prepared to listen to another perspective or could even find holes in my arguments. I despair that such hatred is still in our society. My greatest concern was their advocating of banning books. I will never back down on my suspicion on any group that burns or bans books it is too shocking and a reminder of evil regimes of the past and even the present.
The No To NATO people were there wonderful selves. A sea of flags and support. Later I was asked to hold The Kids Need Our Ward campaign banner. If you have read my previous blogs you will know I have been involved in this local campaign from the very beginning. It is a community group with the support of politicians from all parties campaigning to prevent the children’s ward in the Royal Alexandria Hospital from closing. We managed to win round one but the Health Board have begun another round of pre consultations again. I held this proudly.Thinking that No To Nato were well supported and it was only myself and one other person there. A another comrade from the SSP came and held the banner too.
I was aware that Douglas Alexander local MP was there and for one minute he held the banner for a photo opportunity I hasten to add. There were quite a few labour protestors around us. I thought nothing of it til a friend told me today that the labour party were claiming to have organised the labour protests from Renfrewshire. I just want to emphasise my stance and the stance of my comrades in the SSP. WE do not get involved for a photo opportunity we are there because it is the right thing to do and we will always support community groups who need us without plugging our own agenda. The SSP locally are working in a number of campaigns and are also supporting the YES campaign. This is what we will continue to do and we were not organised by the Labour Party.
The cabinet walked by us and Nicola Sturgeon and a few others came over to give their support to the No To NATO campaign. Wee Eck sneaked in the back but I am delighted to say at the end both he and Nicola Sturgeon spoke to the No to NATO representatives for twenty minutes. The role of NATO in an Independent Scotland is being debated in the SNP conference in Perth in October. I know so many grassroots members of the SNP who will be resisting this and our role as a coalition is to support them and encourage them to vote against this at conference. So that is my eye witness report of what happened yesterday in Renfrew. Thanks to everyone who participated so gently and dignified. I am learning so much from you all. Scotland Nuclear free and not a member of NATO and I will be a happy woman. A Feminist Republic and I will be in Nirvana. Up and at Them.