Events in Kenmure Street make me proud to be a Glaswegian - and I’m not even from there
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When far-right political no-hoper Jayda Fransen approached Nicola Sturgeon in the street on election day in the Southside of Glasgow, the First Minister gave her and the louts she was with short shrift.
“You are a fascist, you are a racist, and the Southside of Glasgow will reject you,” she said, coolly, before walking away.
She was right, as it turned out. Fransen picked up a laughable 46 votes.
I know from the reaction of Scottish friends and people on social media, that this show of clear opposition to the racism and xenophobia espoused by Fransen and her ilk stirred a sense of pride in Scotland’s political leadership, even among many non-SNP voters.
I also know that many of us in England looked from that clip, to our political leadership, and back again, sadly contemplating what Boris Johnson’s reaction might have been in a similar circumstance - or even if someone like Fransen might have been cheering him, rather than heckling.
Yesterday, I and many others in England again found ourselves looking almost enviously toward events in Glasgow, at a display of solidarity and anti-racism which prevented two refugee men being ripped from their community, and on a day of great religious significance.
Videos showing dozens, then hundreds of people chanting, “these are our neighbours, let them go,” and “refugees are welcome here” began to fill up social media timelines, each one inexplicably causing me to get something stuck in my eye.
There were individual tales of heroism - like the man who spent eight hours wedged under the Home Office’s van to prevent them from leaving - but this was a story of a community coming together and speaking clearly with one voice; a win for collective action and peaceful protest.
I haven’t spent much time in Glasgow, but a couple of days in the city for a work-trip a few years ago means that, according to the definition set out by Chris Stephens, the SNP MP who spoke at yesterday’s demonstration, I’m an honorary son of the city, twice-over.
“To qualify as a Glaswegian you only need to stay in Glasgow for 24 hours,” he said into a megaphone, captured by my NationalWorld colleague Jenna MacFarlane, “and you’re a Glaswegian for the rest of your life.”
And it’s the values this sentiment speaks to, clearly signalled in the actions of everyone who stopped yesterday’s immigration raid, of openness and hospitality, solidarity and community, that make me proud to be a Glaswegian - even if I’m not from there.