The Better Together campaign is unenthusiastic about the prospect of UKIP and Orange Order activities in Scotland just before the referendum vote on 18 September.
The Orange Order is an inclusive name for a number of Protestant, pro-Union “lodges” with their base in Northern Ireland. They have also some representation in South-west Scotland, from which region many of their ancestors moved to Ireland after it was subdued by British forces during the seventeenth century. The values of the Orange order has been the major cause of the “The Troubles” that culminated in Northern Ireland from the late sixties until the end of the last century – although sporadic clashes still occur. It wants Scotland, like Northern Ireland to remain in the United Kingdom. To the rest of the world the Orange Order tries to promote an image of Protestant cultural affinity with Britain but most observers see it as a bunch of provincial bully boys who use religion as a cover for preventing Roman Catholics from enjoying equal rights and opportunities in Northern Ireland. This takes the outward form of provocative marches with orange regalia and music through Catholic areas, to “commemorate” the arrival and continuance of British rule. On September 13 the Scottish lodge will march in Edinburgh (http://www.theguardian.com/politics/2014/sep/03/scottish-republicans-orange-order-parade-yes-campaign). The republican grass-roots James Connolly Society has asked its supporters to stay away from the coming march in Edinburgh and to ensure that they are not involved in any violence with the Order (http://107cowgate.com/2014/09/02/jcs-statement-on-orange-orders-independence-referendum-march/).
This blog has previously reported how the United Kingdom Independence Party (UKIP) has made major political gains in the election to the European parliament and how the Conservative party is being forced into a more Eurosceptic position by Conservative MP defection to UKIP. Only one has done so so far but there are speculations that a number of others are only waiting for the right opportunity (http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/politics/ukip/11065058/Eurosceptic-Tories-accuse-Douglas-Carswell-of-betrayal-after-his-defection-to-Ukip.html). Although UKIP has a strong base in England, as shown by recent European parliament electoral returns, this is not the case in Scotland, (23 MEPs from English constituencies, 1 from Scottish). None the less the UKIP leader Nigel Farage plans a UKIP rally in Glasgow in support of the Union on 12 September (http://www.heraldscotland.com/politics/referendum-news/concern-at-farage-scottish-visit-before-orange-march.25192378), bringing in people from other parts of the UK. Better Together have officially denied any support for the rally. If it helps tip the currently delicate balance over to a Yes result then in 2016 Westminster will lose a block of 40 out of the current 257 Labour MPs. This could create space for UKIP to fight a head-on battle with the Conservatives for the Eurosceptic vote in rUK.
Yes or No for Scotland, there are big changes ahead in British politics.