SIF are delighted to be supporting today’s St Andrew’s day rally against racism.
Here’s my notes in the programme:
I once again congratulate the STUC for organising the annual St Andrew’s Day rally against racism, an essential part of the calendar for all progressives.
Since the last one we now have a black man in the White House, something many people thought would never happen. But it did, not by accident, because of people acting to bring down the barriers. The hiphop artist Jay-Z put it thus: “Rosa Parks sat so Martin Luther King could walk. Martin Luther King walked so Obama could run.”
Race relations have also improved significantly over the decades in Scotland. I recently attended the 25th anniversary celebrations of the Scottish Asian Action Committee who organised the first St Andrew’s Day march in the 1980s. They did so in response to the BNP’s attempts to highjack Scotland’s patron saint for their own ends. I was fascinated by this history, not least because it seems unthinkable that the far-right would be able to plan this now.
That does not mean however that we can be complacent. There still also remain significant challenges in social conditions of minorities, and the BNP’s focus on faith, particularly that of Muslims.
The message of the inclusive Scottish identity is one that needs to be mentioned again and again. In the recent debate on whether Nacho Novo should play for Scotland, I was alarmed at some of the talk ruling him out because of his “bloodline”, and radio phone-ins even questioning whether the player would be “loyal” to Scotland.
People born outside this country, but who have citizenship, can run for political office and even become Prime Minister or First Minister. They can join the army, fight – and die – for this country. It is absurd to argue that someone saying they are Scottish should be ruled out of playing for the country just because they were born elsewhere.
All that is required to be Scottish is to feel Scottish, and the evidence shows that ‘New Scots’ have this identity even more than ‘Old Scots’.
My best wishes to all at the rally today.
Posted by Osama Saeed