There's a thin blue line between Policing and Participating and photographs from the ScotNat Bannockburn Rally on 23 June 2018 show that some Police Officers have become confused about the difference. We help them to understand.
BREAKING Sunday 24 June 18: Stirling's Forth Valley Police Division removes Facebook Report on ScotNat March after A Force For Good takes Issue!
On the afternoon of Saturday 23 June 2018, the Forth Valley Police Division Facebook page posted a report of the Scottish Nationalist Bannockburn march (immediately below).
For the record, the address of the Post was: facebook.com/ForthValleyPoliceDivision/posts/1771676789536898
This included 2 photographs of Police Officers on bicycles (below) appearing to endorse this highly controversial event, as well as a surprising claim that '15,000' had attended. A Force For Good entered the Thread and highlighted the inappropriateness of the photographs. We led the complaints and the Nats weighed in to attack us. On Sunday 24 June, within 24 hours, Forth Valley Police had removed the entire Post. We discovered it had been removed around 4pm. We include a screenshot of it here.
We congratulate (someone in) Forth Valley Police Division for having the sense to realise the inappropriateness of the photographs. But we now have a lot more to say about what happened yesterday, as follows...
Firstly...Why do the ScotNats get Photos taken with the Police?
It's a deliberate political strategy. It makes it look as if their political message is endorsed by authority.
Why do the Police allow Themselves to be Used Like This?
We always want to be fair to the Police and so we will say this...
The (modern) Police will often participate in photographs because they want to be seen to be friendly, rather than antagonistic towards the public. That's perfectly understandable.
Even just 10 years ago – before the advance of mobile phone and photo technology – it would have been considered somewhat undignified, as well as highly inappropriate to behave like this at a political rally.
However, today, mobile phone and photo technology has given rise to the 'Selfie' phenomenon. This has driven new forms of social behaviours to the point where some Police Officers might feel it is churlish to refuse.
Nevertheless, the Police must walk a fine line because there is such a thing as participating in, and thereby endorsing, an event.
We believe the 3 photographs of Police Officers which we've highlighted on this page clearly demonstrate that this line was crossed at the Bannockburn March on 23 June 2018.
They crossed the line (probably unintentionally) and have directly participated in, and endorsed, the event itself.
Why is this a Bad Thing?
The SNP-supporting people in these photographs represent a political ideology that at least half the country doesn't actually agree with.
Yet these are images of the country's Police grinning alongside these people and their banners, as if they are all best buddies together; as if they're having a big laugh at some kind of Butlins Holiday Camp!
For many of us, Scottish 'independence' is not a grinning matter. Everything about it is a very serious matter.
For many of us, looking on, these images clearly say: "The Police of our country support the separatist political view."
People think that, because – on its face – that is exactly what the pictures show.
Don't believe us? Look at the above pic.
These Police Officers are not being neutral. They are literally standing behind a Yes Banner!
Or take this picture. It shows 3 grown-assed men – who call themselves 'bikers' – who have actually gone up to the Police to ask for a picture. Think about how sad that actually is!
Of course, they are doing it deliberately because, as we say, they are seeking to acquire a perceived 'endorsement' of their message from these authority figures, and in that sense they have been successful.
Their behaviour is matched only by the unprofessional behaviour of the Police, who have allowed themselves to be used as nationalist Political Props (although the woman in the middle looks like she is thinking this is probably a mistake).
By publishing the photograph(s) – now removed – on its Facebook page, Forth Valley Police Division also endorsed the message of the March.
That is the way that politics works...
Photographs are Endorsements!
Are the Police really so naive that they don't realise that a photograph equals an endorsement?
For example, politicians will duck out of a photo if there is someone in the frame they don't agree with. They'll avoid getting their picture taken sitting beside someone they don't like.
They'll even try to avoid getting their picture taken if there is a compromising banner or slogan in the background. In politics, a photo means an endorsement.
The Police in these photographs are endorsing the March. Unwittingly perhaps, but they are endorsing it.
There is no getting around that fact!
Police Endorse 'Tory Scum Out'
This March included a very prominent banner saying "Tory Scum Out".
This banner was a central and unmissable Message at this event. By having their pictures taken with the attendees in this manner, these Police Officers were endorsing this undemocratic and aggressive statement.
That is a serious political matter which Conservative MPs and MSPs should have something to say about. Stirling has a Tory MP, after all.
Some ask: "Are you saying the Police are biased?"
No. A colleague wrote to us today and summed it up:
"The key point here is that whether or not the Officers actually are acting in a biased way or not, the perception is that they are. And the perception is, to a large extent, down to sloppy PR and unprofessional behaviour at best, and political bias at worst. The very least we expect is a recognition that Scotland is politically divided on this matter. The Police should therefore have strict protocols as to how these events are handled."
Some say: "Oh no, this is a non-issue. You're making too much of this."
People who say that don't realise that politics is as much about imagery as it is about argument. If you get your imagery right, you don't even need to make an argument!
ScotNats understand this very well. Many unionists do not.
Some say: "Regardless of how often they march, the only thing that matters is the vote, and we'll vote to stay together?"
Oh really? You think?
Here's how it works: The more the numbers attending these marches are inflated by a combination of Nat Lies, Police Scotland incompetence, and General Confusion; and the more pictures of Police Officers appearing to endorse these events are published; then the more our reality here in Scotland is going to become warped into the nationalists' view of things.
Normal people – which is to say, many people who don't have much of an opinion one way or the other – are going to start to see the ScotNat position as 'the norm'.
They're going to begin to wonder why we are not actually independent after all...which means...if it comes to a vote, we would lose!
If we are now to be faced with a country where, every month or so we are going to be subject to countless photographs of Police Officers grinning with the Nats – and thereby endorsing the Nat message – as well as inflating the numbers into ridiculous figures, then this will affect the overall collective political mind of the country. There is no doubt about that.
That is why the work of A Force For Good at these events is so important.
We have to provide alternative imagery. We have to stand up for the fact that there is another point of view. If we don't, then who will? Nobody is the answer!
We were not at Bannockburn yesterday because we did not have the financial resources to attend (yeah, we know that is a pretty sad state of affairs, which speaks to the potentially fatal complacency of 'unionism' generally)!
So if you can help us, then we really do need your help. If not you, then who? Nobody is the answer!
You can help from £2 a month here.
What Else Can We Do?
Our MPs and MSPs need to start asking questions at both Holyrood and Westminster.
What is going on with Police Scotland?
Why is Police Scotland allowing its officers to be photographed in positions which endorse this ideology and these events? Are they even aware of what they are doing?
Are the Divisional Commanders in these areas even aware that Scottish nationalism is a divisive political issue in Scotland?
At Stirling, why did Forth Valley Police Division allow its Officers to be seen to endorse a March which has a banner saying "Tory Scum Out"?
Do they have any Protocols when dealing with such political marches? What are they? Should they revise them in the light of political circumstances?
And how does Police Scotland justify these numbers? How did they calculate '15,000' in Stirling? How exactly do they make these estimations? How did they calculate '10,000' in Dumfries when all evidence suggested 3-3,500?
Also, our media needs to start asking questions of Police Scotland.
Sure, we know that the news media is struggling these days. Indeed, it seems to be struggling so much that there are no newspapers in Scotland who can even put one person on the ground to give an alternative estimation of numbers! That's why we need to do it ourselves.
How to Take a Count of Numbers
Taking an accurate count is very easy. Anyone can do it. We need people on the ground who can self-motivate to do these things, and then report back to us.
If you don't want to stand with A Force For Good, then you can at least help the Unionist cause by taking a count. Here's how:
Stand in one place where you can get a good view. Note down the time the March starts to pass you. Count, in your head (you don't even need a Clicker because the March will be slow enough), the numbers passing in 1 minute. Note it down. Do this again, at least 5-10 times. Note the time the March ends. Then find the average of your count. Multiply the average by the number of minutes the March took to pass. Hey Presto, you have a pretty good estimation. This estimation will be at the high end of the scale because there will be more people at the start of the March when you began to count, than at the end, where it will be more dribs and drabs. Nevertheless, you'll be in the ballpark.
Finally, our Advice to Officers of Police Scotland (which you don't appear to be hearing from your Divisional Commanders)
We know that there are many good Officers within Police Scotland and we utterly support your work in often difficult circumstances. However, we are concerned that the Force has become so politically driven – which is not your fault, but the fault of the SNP having deliberately centralised it for the purposes of control – that many Officers appear confused as to how to remain professionally impartial.
Here's our Advice:
1. As a Police Officer, you should be seen to be neutral on all issues, and especially on the controversial ones which involve politics, or any matter upon which people have different and divergent views.
This is because people disagree about things and those of us who do not have a political agenda do not want, or expect, officers of the law to be seen to be endorsing any position on any controversial matter.
This means you should politely avoid being photographed in any position where you could appear to be endorsing the message of the event (Parish Bake Sales, excluded, of course).
This is really obvious, but clearly has to be re-stated for the present time.
As a Police Officer, you should not be seen to give the impression that you are supportive of anything other than maintaining the law.
2. If you are a Police Officer, please understand that the Scottish Nationalists will attempt to use you as a Political Prop for their propaganda. They even write about their intention to do so here: http://indynation.scot/harnessing-social-msm
To allow yourself to be used in this way is unprofessional and demeaning and you should politely refuse.
3. Remember, it's fine to be friendly, but please don't try to smooch anybody, including ourselves! Please concentrate on what you do best and what you do well – which is making sure the law is obeyed and things progress peacefully.
And thank you for all the work you do!