They may take our lives ... but they will never take our sunbeds!
The MoS takes a wry look at Tommy Sheridan’s rally backing Indyref2
IN Braveheart, Mel Gibson’s heavily fictionalised retelling of the battles for independence, William Wallace drives the English back through a heady mix of swagger and swordsmanship.
Sure, he met an unhappy end, but Nationalists don’t have to watch the film to its conclusion.
In fact, in Glasgow’s George Square – or Freedom Square as yesterday’s pro-independence protesters like to call it – they turned it off after less than half an hour.
Whether this was because organisers Hope Over Fear – and host Tommy Sheridan – had been unable to get the sound working, or because of concerns about showing a 15-rated film to youngsters, was unclear. But they did show enough for the crowd to witness the moment Wallace’s wife Murron’s throat is cut by an English soldier.
Grievance, after all, is the most important thing.
Then a brief burst of piping – ‘This one’s called Scotland Forever’ the piper announced at about 11am. But after what certainly seemed like forever, it was time for Sheridan, firebrand socialist, to take to the stage.
He appears to imagine himself as a modern day Wallace. Like Mel in the film, he never says anything that can be shouted instead.
And although neither he, nor his troops, had managed to acquire woad paint, the sunbed tan is never far from his face.
‘Welcome everyone to Freedom Square,’ he shouted, in the least welcoming tone imaginable. Sheridan – a perjurer jailed for lying under oath during a libel case involving allegations he was an adulterer who visited a swingers’ club – invited the crowd to join him on his moral high ground.
‘We’re going to stand for a new and just society, a nuclear-free and independent Scotland,’ he said.
And on the subject of a second independence referendum, he had a direct message for the First Minister: ‘We can go in March next year. Please Nicola, sound the bell, fire the starting pistol.’
But if Sheridan imagines Ms Sturgeon could act as Robert the Bruce to his William Wallace, she almost certainly has other ideas.
The SNP logo was in noticeably short supply, vastly outnumbered by Saltires and Yes Scotland flags, even Catalonia banners.
Perhaps irked by the snub, Sheridan turned his fire on the SNP-run Glasgow City Council.
‘I think Hope Over Fear has been a bit remiss,’ he shouted crossly at the Union flag, flying up above the City Chambers.
‘We’ve not created enough controversy, because it seems Glasgow City Council was not aware we were coming. Why the hell have they got the butcher’s apron flying instead of the Scottish flag? We ask humbly that you fly our flag, and not someone else’s.’
It seems unlikely humility ranks high among the Sheridan traits.
But the self-styled man of the people, who took to the stage to deliver largely the same message in between every other singer and speaker on the roster, frequently described himself as ‘humble’.
Buy one of the singers’ CDs, he would humbly urge, as they were there at their own expense.
Visit one of the stands selling Celtic jewellery, bookmarks, and cupcakes with Saltire-shaped icing, he implored. Did Wallace care this much for local traders? Some of the SNP’s more maverick politicians defied the party and joined Sheridan on stage.
Sandra White, MSP for Glasgow Kelvin, had her own message for the First Minister.
‘We want another independence referendum,’ she said. The difference between a referendum and an election, she clarified afterwards, is the latter does not need a Section 30 agreement with Westminster. But her revolutionary ideas did not end there. ‘We’ve got to make sure we have international observers who understand the proper way it’s done,’ she said.
Ms White had served as an international observer in Venezuelan presidential elections, and was apparently unconvinced the 2014 independence referendum had been as above board as polls in the South American dictatorship.
She said: ‘I do have concerns about 2014. I’m saying do it properly, with international observers.’
Western Isles MP Angus MacNeil suggested independence may be closer than many realise – especially those burdened by facts.
‘Friends, we are at a great moment in Scotland’s history. Support for independence is over 50 per cent,’ he claimed.
Polling website What Scotland Thinks shows backing for Yes has actually been consistently well below 50 per cent.
But such trifling realities do not dim Mr MacNeil’s optimism. ‘We’re going to win easily,’ he crowed.
Like Wallace, Alex Neil’s aspirations did not appear limited to the Scottish border.
‘Not only can we run our country better than them. We can run their country better than them,’ the MSP for Airdrie and Shotts claimed.
Maybe someone should check the Northumberland defences.
Although as the crowd dispersed, the Yes bikers gunned their engines and the folk singers packed up their guitars, it appeared such ideas may be too far-fetched for Hollywood, let alone Holyrood.
MORAL HIGH GROUND: Tommy Sheridan, above, lasted longer in ‘Freedom Square’ yesterday than the abortive attempt to screen Braveheart, left, at the event