Marching on Holyrood

It’ll be a long time before a Scottish sun shines again upon the European flags so radiantly as it did at Holyrood, on the EU’s 60th birthday.

A mostly greying Euro-faithful halted their march against Brexit outside the Scottish Parliament and gave justifiable applause to a series of heartfelt speeches from politicians of every party. Their keynotes varied from the eternal brotherhood of Europe to the unanswerable economic case for the Single Market. One can only hope that all the oratory was not nobly futile.

The placards brandished by the marchers were pithy: “ Fromage, not Farage” read one.

Another banner said: “Tomorrow the clocks go forward one hour. On Wednesday, they go back 40 years”. Yet another poster questioned why telling lies was criminal in every profession except politics.

One speaker referred to the perfidious manipulation of the media in securing the Brexit vote and loud boos rolled across the Holyrood lawns when the Daily Mail was singled out for especial opprobrium for its relentless propaganda.

Back home in front of the TV, there were continuing questions about the key role of EU coverage – one had to question why STV’s news chose to totally ignore the event, and why nervy old BBC Scotland sought to ward off the wrath of the Leave zealots by squeezing into their coverage some Brexiteering bravado, just to be on the safe side and even things up.

But the only cloud gathering on this golden occasion was one of dark doubt, not about the utter commitment of those who spoke, but whether they, or anyone else, had the power or strategy to outdo Canute and halt the inexorable tide bearing the UK out of the EU.

The afternoon’s token Tory address ran impressively counter to current party orthodoxy on Europe. But it came from the engaging John Purvis, a retired MEP of the Heseltine generation who is as remote as Hezza from Conservative corridors of power and the Leave-at-any-cost approach favoured by the present heirarchy.

Former Edinburgh North MP Mark Lazarowicz also spoke agreeably well.

But with Labour lacking so much credibility with its Remain voters, no-one present at the rally could feel that they offer a way out, with the party’s record on the Brexit process to date close to total complicity.

Lib Dem resistance at the beleaguered anti-Brexit parapet is as stirring in its way as the dogged defence of Rorke’s Drift in Zulu. So MSP Alex Cole Hamilton ran true to type in challenging Theresa May with defiant drama:  ”If you’re coming for my EU citizenship, bring a scalpel, because I keep it close to my heart”.

The imposing backdrop of the Salisbury Crags and nearby Holyroodhouse Palace doubtless added romantic weight to the SNP’s contributions.

First came Tommy Sheppard, eloquently insisting that Scotland should have its say.

And he was echoed by Joanna Cherry, recalling how Commssion President Jean-Claude Juncker considered Scotland had earned the right to be both heard and listened to.

The thousand marchers left even more confident of the legitimacy of their cause than before. But more than a few among them were perhaps persuaded today that it will require the break up of two political unions to achieve their aim.


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