A Force For Good attended the "Maintain the Union" march in Glasgow on Saturday 18 May 2019. It was organised by "British Together", the political campaigning arm of the Grand Orange Lodge of Scotland.
We Live Streamed the event on our Facebook page and counted the march in at around 1,400 (1,383 to be exact).
Prior to the event, the main issue raised was:
"We don't Need to March. We show our Voice at the Ballot Box"
We understand the sentiment, but it is not necessarily correct.
The fact is, too many unionists do not vote; nor remember to vote; nor can be bothered to vote!
For example, the central belt of Scotland is replete with SNP councillors in areas which should be solidly pro-UK. However, far too many people who support the United Kingdom have not realised there were council elections on that day; or they had forgotten about them; or couldn't be bothered to vote in them!
That's a real weakness in grassroots unionism and loyalism, and it is essential that it changes.
3 REASONS TO MARCH
1. A March helps us to Politically Organise, Mobilise and Energise
In the face of apathy, a pro-UK march like this helps us to organise, mobilise and energise supporters. It helps us to get thinking about elections, as well as referendums.
Such events can help contribute towards an essential "culture of voting" among unionists and loyalists – which needs to be developed. It helps us to realise that "Our Vote Counts!"
Please don't ever think there is no point in voting!
Indeed, there is an SNP MP in power at Westminster today who has been elected on 2 votes over the Lib Dem! (North East Fife).
And don't bother about the fact that your pro-UK candidate or party is not perfect. If you're waiting around for the perfect candidate or party, then that day will never come.
It is a fact of reality that voting, in our imperfect world, is often about making compromises in order to select the least worst!
Remember to vote in the Euro Elections this Week!
In that regard, the next elections are this week, Thursday 23rd May, for the European Parliament elections. The constituency is the whole of Scotland and we elect 6 MEPs by proportional representation. So, everyone in Scotland will have a candidate to vote for.
The SNP is looking to get the 6th seat. You can help deny them it by voting for any pro-UK party of your choice. But please do remember to vote. You don't need a polling card. Just turn up at the polling centre. You'll be asked for your name, address and post code.
And remember that the Scottish Cabbage Party – the soggy Greens – are a separatist and virulently republican party, so please don't vote for them!
2. A March Creates Visual Imagery for the British Union
What people see determines how they understand reality.
Think about how many times you see an article in a newspaper or on the internet about the Scottish independence debate. The newspaper or website almost always uses a picture from a ScotNat event. It is really depressing!
Looking at that visual imagery makes one think that Scotland is awash with SNP and Scottish Nationalists.
Over time, this is demoralising to those of us sympathetic with the unionist position. It makes us think we are in the minority.
Seeing this, over and over, makes most people presume that Scotland must want separation.
However, if we see pro-British imagery then it helps us realise that there are people in Scotland who want the UK to stay together.
It's all about perception.
If we only see Scottish Nationalists, we think they are dominating the scene. We forget that the other side exists. We feel, psychologically, that nobody is speaking for the other side of the argument. We retreat from the scene, and give up...and lose.
Indeed, until AFFG arrived on the scene with our Thin Red Line, that was exactly what was happening. But our regular counter-presence, at their events, is now transforming that perception in the public mind.
3. These Events give Reassurance and Heart to our Side
So this is crucial: Unless the pro-UK side is seen visibly and colourfully – either at our counter-demos, or at unionist marches – then people will come to believe that the other side are the winners.
That is how life and politics works.
The human brain will tend to submit to what it unconsciously perceives to be the dominant side.
If groups like ourselves were not doing what we are doing, it would appear to all intents and purposes that the ScotNats ruled the streets, and that would make most people, unconsciously, just fall for them.
So events such as these, and A Force For Good's Thin Red Line events at the SNP/ScotNat marches are boosting the morale of our side and helping to maintain the union in the hearts and minds of people.
People see such events, and sit up and think "Hello, good to see the pro-British people out there. I had forgotten they existed!"
As a result, this imagery re-invigourates their desire for the Union.
One of our supporters wrote to A Force For Good recently on this matter.
He said: "By maintaining a Unionist presence during the marches of the SNP, and others, and by offering credible alternative statistics to counterbalance the outlandish claims of the separatists regarding their level of support, you are providing valuable reassurance to the silent majority who believe strongly in our Union that they are not alone.
"It is important that those who would wish to destroy the Union are not allowed to present their politics of intimidation, division and polarisation as the predominant political movement in Scotland, or anywhere throughout the Union."
3 MORE POINTS FOR DISCUSSION
1. The Matter of the Grand Orange Lodge
Some people may have been reluctant to get involved because "British Together", the organiser of this march, is the political campaigning arm of the Grand Orange Lodge of Scotland.
Firstly, there is absolutely no other organisation in Scotland which could organise such an event, at this stage. There is no political party who would want to do so – and if they did, that would be a polarising event from the get-go!
Our organisation, A Force For Good, does not have the reach, nor the resources to pull off something like this, not at this point in time at least; nor does any other pro-UK campaigning organisation in Scotland.
So it is left to the Grand Orange Lodge to use its network to form the basis of the supporters on the day. That is perfectly understandable.
Secondly, the organiser made clear that no Orange banners or regalia were to be carried, and that the event was open to all people who support the British Union. It was intended to be an inclusive event for all.
Thirdly, the Grand Orange Lodge has experience in these matters. There was the requisite high number of stewards, and everybody on the march behaved impeccably. The route and time was chosen to provide maximum convenience for the authorities and passers-by.
The Lodge proved themselves worthy organisers! They performed with excellence.
2. Make it an Annual Event!
From small acorns, big things one day come.
To our knowledge, this was the first time in Scotland that such a political pro-UK march (not a band and banner event) had been tried.
Around 1,400 was a respectable turnout, especially considering that it had very little advertising on social media. So, this number will only grow, if it is done every year.
And grow it must!
Consider this: Imagine if we don't do this ever again...
The SNP/ScotNats now have two big annual events each year in Scotland. One in Glasgow in May and one in Edinburgh in October (as well as smaller ones in between).
The Scottish Nationalists have already planned 8 marches for 2020 – next year! So they are not giving up or slowing down.
Now imagine that there is a second IndyRef, say 5 years down the line. If we do nothing, then 5 years down the line, our attempted "unionist march" will not have many more on it than were there last weekend!
However, if this is made an Annual Event, and known to be "the big unionist event of the year", then there could be thousands on it. It would prove a worthy match for any SNP/ScotNat marches which were attempting to give the mis-impression that Scotland wanted separation.
Unionists need at least one major march each year.
In our view, this needs to become an Annual Event!
3. The Importance of Glasgow
Furthermore, it's important that the march is held in Glasgow. Glasgow was the Second City of the Empire. It is a Great British Union City and it will be so into the future. We have to recover it from the Nationalists. An Annual March can be part of that strategy.
"We should Concentrate on Convincing via Reason and Facts"
Of course we should do that too!
Some of our people are extremely good at that. They write letters all the time to the papers. Others produce research papers which are helpful. Many people concentrate their efforts on Social Media outreach. Their work is so important.
But only some of us can do that kind of intellectual work! Most of us can't. We need things to do as well! And for lots of us, that means physically waving a flag and joining with others on the streets.
Each of us has to do what we're good at. The AFFG counter-demos, and things like marches, provide that opportunity.
And if we are unable to march, or join AFFG's Thin Red Line – and of course we understand that many people don't want to, or are not able to, for various reasons – then we can at least, financially support those who are able to do them.
We have a very modest Crowdfunder running at the moment and we need your help to ensure we can continue our work through May and June. Please donate what you can here. You don't need to give your name and it will take 2 minutes of your time> crowdfunder.co.uk/maintain-union-2019