Last week, we watched in admiration as a community in Glasgow prevented UK Border Force officials from their attempted deportation of 2 men by blocking a Home Office van. Hundreds gathered on Kenmure Street, demanding the men were released to the chants of “let our neighbours go”.
As someone born and raised in Glasgow, this is why I’m proud of where I come from.
The Scottish Refugee Council cites a poll showing that 74% of Scottish citizens believe it is important to make refugees feel welcome in Scotland. The power to deal with immigration lies with Westminster, and 59% of Scots would prefer it became a devolved power.
The Chief Executive of the Scottish Refugee Council noted that: “people in Scotland are ready for a more fair and humane approach to refugee protection.”
We hope to see these views and this tolerance represented in our elected Parliament.
Glasgow Southside is one of the most diverse and multi-cultural constituencies in Scotland. It is the place where a man lay underneath the immigration van to prevent it from moving. But this isn’t the first time in just a few weeks that this community stood against racism and fascism.
On the day that we went to polling stations across the country, independent candidate Jayda Fransen (formally of the English Defence League and Britain First) confronted Nicola Sturgeon outside a polling station. Fransen accused the First Minister of “flooding” the country with immigrants. Nicola Sturgeon called her “a fascist and a racist” and said that the Southside would reject her. And they did reject her - Fransen received only 46 votes.
We need to take a stand against candidates like these. Not only did we have Fransen, but Liberal Party candidate Derek Jackson was suspended with immediate effect after he walked into a Glasgow counting hall wearing a yellow star and doing Nazi salutes. Jackson, and 5 others, we escorted from the building by Police Scotland.
Combined, Fransen and Jackson received less than 200 altogether. Both were rejected by Glasgow Southside.
We must continue to come together as a tolerant country and come together to stand against the far right. We elected what is hailed as the most diverse Scottish Parliament to date. 45% of our MSPs are women, with Kaukab Stewart and Pam Gosal being the first women of colour to be elected to Holyrood. We see Pam Duncan-Glancy as the first permanent wheelchair user and my friend Paul O’Kane as the first openly gay male Labour MSP.
While we still have work to do, this gives me hope. We might not be perfect, but there is hope that we can continue to unite for the better and for change in our communities.
Kirsty, who has worked in Holocaust and Genocide education and commemoration since she was 16, believes we all have a role to play in fostering a safer society for all. She has extensive experience in project management, outreach, communications and human rights activism. She is the Co-Executive Director and Head of Outreach for Yet Again and currently works in community outreach.
Cover Photo Credit: "File:165-189 Kenmure Street, Glasgow, Scotland.jpg" by Michal Klajban is licensed with CC BY-SA 4.0.