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Resist, persist, ’til the militarists desist

July 6, 2014

The UK Government’s relatively-new celebration of all things military was marked by events across Scotland. As the Army, Navy, and Air Force rolled out to encourage blind loyalty to flags and uniforms, so too did the peace movement to show that not everyone is in love with the morbid machinery of militarisation.

Winning hearts and minds
In Stirling, around 40 picketed the national Armed Forces’ Day event. The counter-demonstration was mostly made up of affiliates to the nascent Scottish Peace Network, including a sizable delegation from the Peace Camp. Concerns about possible ill-will from supporters of the military procession through the city proved largely ill-founded, and protestors had few problems dispensing a considerable number of leaflets with the prominent, and promising, heading of ‘NO MORE WAR’.

The text highlighted the massive cost of the whole-day Armed Forces event, estimated at £500,000 to the local authority and corporate sponsors, as well as its timing – 82 days prior to the referendum on Scottish independence and coincidental with a two-day event in Stirling commemorating the 700th anniversary of the Battle of Bannockburn. The insensitivity of celebrating warfare in the context of ongoing campaigns and their bloody fall-out was also noted. These messages were sympathetically received by nearly all those who deigned to comment, showing that what seems superficially to be a token presence can in fact be an important reflection of unspoken sentiment. Altogether, this first sortie for the Scottish Peace Network as a group boded well for future joint operations.

Crane on their parade
Meanwhile, there was high drama in Glasgow as four members of the hitherto-secretive White Feather Collective overcame both vertigo and a newly-installed steel door to adorn the Finnieston Cran with a succinct rejection of warfare and capital. Banner dropped, the four remained in situ for around twelve hours, subject to close police attention whilst soldiers advertised killing machines to kids in George Square. On their descent, the team was taken into custody and held until late on Monday to appear in court. Despite an attempt to ban them from the city of Glasgow for the duration of the Commonwealth Games, they’re now free until trial in October, unless they breach bail by going within 50 metres of the crane in question.

Cross stitches
Edinburgh saw the exposure of months of work as a patchwork pink scarf was unrolled over 900 metres of the Royal Mile. Knitters from around the country contributed to Wool Against Weapons, which easily upstaged a low-key Armed Forces’ Day event in the city. Impressive as it is, this scarf represents a mere component of the full seven-mile train which will stretch between Atomic Weapons Establishments Burghfield and Aldermaston in August. There’s still plenty of time to get involved in this project, and make space in your summer for the couple of days around August 9th you’ll need free to ensure that Scotland is duly represented at its culmination. It’s likely to be the best-attended anti-nuclear event of the year, apart from local stuff in September of course.

What would John MacLean do?

The next big date on the agenda is August 4th, which will see both the closing of the Commonwealth Games and the opening of a four-year onslaught of First World War revisionism. The exact proceedings are a bit unclear at the moment but the Queen and heads of state from the Commonwealth nations will be involved, as will George Square and Glasgow Cathedral. We’re hoping for a good turnout to show that the mass slaughter of a generation of working-class men has not been forgotten, and resist the abuse of their memory to promote the values which murdered them. Get your affinity group ready and equipped, or meet at the statue of Donald Dewar on Buchanan Street before 10am on the 4th (kettle warning!).

Pictures robbed from the groups named above, apologies to any other credits due.

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