In A World Of Anti-Immigrant Hostility, Celtic Is Rightly Proud Of Who We Are.

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This week, Glasgow City Council announced that they had turned down the UK government’s “request” to host a barge for immigrants on the Clyde. The disgust with which this suggestion was received was obvious. The idea is actually viewed here with loathing. I am proud of that, I am proud that Glasgow is an immigrant friendly city.

Or some of it is at least. The Daily Record article on the council’s decision was polluted – a word I choose carefully, and deliberately – by some of the most racist bile I’ve had the misfortune to read outside of certain Ibrox fan forums.

It’s at times like this when I feel especially glad to be a Celtic supporter, and yet even that doesn’t seem to offer complete immunity from encountering muppets.

There is a section of our support which appears to have forgotten where we are from, or so grotesquely misunderstands what it means to be an immigrant club that you wonder sometimes how they manage to survive day-to-day living.

As the conditions facing people fleeing war, famine, persecution and the early effects of global warming continue to worsen – and by government fiat more than anything else – Celtic’s background and foundation story becomes ever more important, and so too are the way in which we embrace and support and fight for them.

People from all over the world look to our club as a beacon. We represent hope, we represent what is possible, we represent the ultimate success story. How many of us are from Irish descent? The Irish were spread across the globe by the horrors and setbacks and disasters which blighted their native land, and everywhere the Irish have gone they have dug in, endured and then finally overcome. Everywhere, they got organised, educated and thrived.

Here’s something that isn’t widely discussed, but let’s for a minute get real. Sevconian fears of the Unseen Fenian Hand are not entirely groundless. They are not entirely without foundation. Catholics, and particularly Irish Catholics, were locked out of almost of Scotland’s heavy industries and much of the professional class as well.

But we went out and got super-educated. And we organised. Everywhere I went in the trade union and Labour movement during my teens and twenties I found guys like me busying away, and people above them in the ranks from the same background, making sure that we were supported and given encouragement and pushed on forward.

The Labour Party once reached out to the Irish diaspora in Scotland, and made a point of promoting itself as their defenders and protectors. It was largely bollocks, because they also maintained strong links with Orangeism at the same time, and they were always happy to play the sectarian card, and in particular against the SNP when it was still a useful weapon.

The SNP itself had a sordid anti-Catholic history. Which changed when the modern leadership took over and transformed it into a non-sectarian political movement. Much of the credit for that has to go to an unlikely figure; Alex Salmond. He was the guy who most prominently reached out to the Scottish Catholic community, and gave them the assurances they needed on schools and on our civil rights and our constitutional future.

And so Catholics rose to the highest ranks of both parties, and in pushing for a broad and inclusive social agenda we’ve effectively make discrimination illegal in all the ways that matter. We’ve marginalised racism and sectarian attitudes. We’ve outlawed some of the more corrupt practices such as the old “and which school do you go to?” questions. The political weather in Scotland is much changed from what it was, and it is vastly different than that in England, and to some degree the Peepul feel this acutely … and with their inbuilt advantages gone, competing against people who are both smart and organised, they do feel a bit downtrodden.

Their attitudes and social customs are out of fashion and grossly at odds with the direction of travel for this country of ours. But as long as those attitudes exist, and continue to harden in certain parts of the country, Celtic’s relevance only grows and our power as a force for good only continues to grow. And with that, our global footprint gets larger.

Celtic’s stance on immigrants is one of the most welcoming in the country, and this country is more tolerant than other places. Never doubt that this club is a beacon, and as more and more people flee the horrors of this world, so will our club become ever more important in it. Glasgow is an open and welcoming city, and at its heart is this open and welcoming club.

Celebrate that. And don’t let that small handful amongst our number who just don’t get this ever think that they speak for anyone but themselves.

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  • Sara Haughian says:

    ? spot on

  • Bawsman says:

    My experience of sectarianism and what the Labour Party did for me has shaped my life. Brought up in a Lanarkshire mining village as the almost solitary Catholic in the place gave me much unwanted fighting practice. The Labour Party in the village was full of miners, some of whom went and fought Franco and almost to a man were highly intelligent self taught warriors, they welcomed our family as their own. I was in the 1st year of comprehensive education, the o levels I got gave me a great life outside Scotland as they were attained at the the wrong kind of school to get a decent job in Scotland. I’m a comfortably happily retired aircraft engineer who owes everything to the Labour Party.
    As I was about to leave home at 17 the SNP started to blossom, it gained many many members deserting Thatchers Tory party which was a difficult sell in Scotland. I went to an SNP meeting to listen to prospective SNP MP McAlpine telling us of his proposed socialist plan, I was asked to leave when I questioned him as to why he prohibited union representation for his company workers. He had arrived at the village hall behind the Orange Floot Bawn.
    The Labour Party was my protector and route out of the mines and Ravenscraig.

    • Clachnacuddin and the Hoops says:

      A decent enough point Bawsman – But… The Labour Party are still supporters and wavers of The Butcher’s Apron…

      If The SNP cannot bring about independence then I’d say we need to be thinking of starting a SSF – Scottish Sinn Fein !



  • jrm63 says:

    Well said. They used to have barges on the Thames where they would house prisoners awaiting transportation to Australia. There are the moral issues you outlined but there are huge logistical problems as well. This will prove be a very expensive option as well as an inhumane one.

  • Bunter says:

    St Pauli, Athletic Bilbao, Barcelona. This is the company Celtic keep. Makes me so proud of our club and our support.

  • Michael McCartney says:

    Good article James, agree with everything you say. The song says “If you know your history” unfortunately there are a few among us who don’t know their history. It’s important that you guys with the blogs keep trying to educate them.
    As a guy who supports Independence for Scotland and as an ex member of the Labour Party and retired Trade Union activist I recognise that the modern SNP are most definitely not a sectarian party. The Labour Party isn’t a sectarian party but in the past for election reasons, courted the Catholic and Orange vote depending where they were canvassing. You just have to remember the behaviour of the Orange Unionist Rabble in George Square after the referendum of 2014 to see where their political support lies.

  • Johnny Green says:

    I was the first Catholic apprentice in the Engineering office of a Construction Company in Cambuslang in 1989. Like now when all sorts of race and ethnic minorities are forced into jobs, there was a government directive to employ RC’s. I did my apprenticeship, but others who had started after me were getting promoted in front of me and it was time to leave. My next job, whom a Rangers friend had got me’ lasted 3 months because they had no work. My buddy who was working constant overtime met me in the chip shop one night and told me the truth, Johnny they got rid of you because you are a Tim supporting a successful team. It was that simple, so no more staff jobs for me, I went contract and travelled further afield and I have never looked back since. I have been very pro-immigration since those days and I still detest the PEEPUL for making me so bitter.

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