Party leaders unite against Scottish Defence League march

Four of Scotland’s highest profile politicians have urged councillors to block moves by the far-right Scottish Defence League to march in Glasgow.

SNP deputy leader Nicola Sturgeon, and Scots Labour, Conservative and Lib Dem leaders, Johann Lamont, Ruth Davidson and Willie Rennie are backing the move. In an open letter, they say such a march would bring “vile, toxic hate”.

The Scottish Defence League (SDL) has applied to the council to hold a march on 25 February. The SDL is an offshoot of the English Defence League (EDL). Both groups have been associated with violence at previous gatherings.

Ms Sturgeon, Ms Lamont and Ms Davidson are among 24 signatories to the letter which opposes any SDL march in Glasgow.

The letter states: “We the undersigned express our extreme concern at our streets being used for the peddling of hatred. We vigorously oppose giving the Scottish Defence League, or any of their offshoots, permission to hold a public procession through Glasgow.”

The letter urges Glasgow City Council to reject any application for the SDL to march “on the grounds of public safety and moral decency”. It states that previous SDL and EDL processions have seen “mindless thugs attack shopkeepers, business owners and taxi drivers”.

The letter ends: “While we passionately defend freedom of speech – regardless of how unpleasant it may be – we do not believe vile, toxic hate should be given free rein in our streets.

“Glasgow has a proud history of fighting fascism and tackling racism. We are proud of our multicultural diversity and as such we wish to send out a loud and clear message that racism is not welcome in our city.

“We seek your assurances that these concerns will be taken on board and that any application for the Scottish Defence League to march in our city’s streets will be rejected.”

Other signatories to the letter include Green MSP Patrick Harvie, the Scottish Council of Jewish Communities, the Muslim Council of Scotland and the Church of Scotland.

BBC News, 3 February 2012

You can sign the petition “Oppose the Scottish Defence League procession in Glasgow” here