Friday, 11 November 2016

St Andrew's Day is Our Day- Let's Use it to March Against Racism

The STUC Black Workers’ Committee is once again proud to be at the centre of organising the 2016 St Andrew's Day March and Rally against racism and fascism. We encourage you, your friends and your families to all participate this year and contribute to making it another successful event.

It is worth taking a few moments to reflect on the origins of this event, since the reasons why it originally took place are as relevant today as they were the very first time we marched. 

The March and Rally began in 1989 as a counter-demonstration against the British National Party, who tried to defile Scotland’s national day by claiming it to peddle their hatred. A broad coalition of trade union and community groups rightly decided that there was no place in Scotland for racists and fascists. A counter demonstration was quickly organised. One that successfully dwarfed and overshadowed the efforts of the British National Party. Recognising that Scotland needed to be continually vigilant to the far-right in all its guises, the STUC has been involved in organising the St Andrew's Day event each year since. Over ensuing decades the STUC Black Workers’ Committee has been pivotal in making sure that the St Andrew's Day event has remained a positive focus for community cohesion, a vehicle for welcoming the diversity of all of Scotland’s citizens and for celebrating our shared humanity. 

Since then, by organising and taking to the streets each year, wonderfully supported by an enviable range of like minded groups, we have prevented further efforts from the far right British Nationalist Party and the English/Scottish Defence Leagues from getting a foothold in Scotland.

Unfortunately the rise in racism and xenophobia resulting from the EU Referendum here in the UK and more from the US Presidential election campaign further afield has made the St Andrew's Day event especially relevant in 2016. Frustratingly and perversely, democracy seems to be promoting division, bigotry and prejudice instead of unity and acceptance. In too many instances, what was in 2015, the most unacceptable and offensive racist language has become overt and normalised in 2016. Hate crime is clearly more prevalent - here in Scotland as well as in the rest of the UK. The right wing media have become more bold with their extreme and all too often abhorrent views on EU and non-EU nationals alike, propagating myths and lies on migrants and migration. An unpleasant climate of intolerance is undoing so much of our good work and taking us backwards.

The STUC commends the leadership shown by the highest levels in Scottish Government, who always stand shoulder to shoulder with the trade unions to condemn racism and hate crime. Unfortunately Government leaders elsewhere in the UK are, at best slow with their condemnation, and sadly in too many cases are contributory parties. 

All of these are compelling reasons for firmly uniting to challenge the divisive developments of 2016. We have successfully countered this before and we must do so again. Each year and every year until we have consigned racism and fascism to history. 

St Andrew's Day is our day. A day which celebrates Scotland as the nation that we would all wish it to be - united, welcoming, accepting and thriving because of our rich and varied communities. In our Scotland there will never be any place for racism and fascism.

Satnam Ner
STUC Vice-President,
STUC Black Workers' Committee and

For details of the St Andrew's Day Anti-Racism March see the STUC Website or the St Andrew's Day Facebook Page