In Scotland as in China, a snake is a little dragon

In Scotland as in China, a snake is a little dragon

by Jonathan Stanley
article from Monday 2, September, 2019

FRIDAY'S UGLY DISPLAY in Govan would come as no surprise to anyone with a memory longer than five minutes.

One thing that can be relied upon from peaceful civic joyous nationalists is that when times are desperate they are never shy to show a bit of leg to political violence. Just a tease of course, nothing too openly vulgar.  Posing with a republican outfit linked to terrorism was always just about manageable.

The First Minister posing with a declaration of the Irish republic waved at the Easter Rising? Oooo I say!!  That was a wee bit cheeky.

The James Connolly flute band marching through Scotland's biggest and most divided city? Opposed by locals who find glorifying Irish republicanism appalling? Well, was that really such a shock?  

One thing I have found in my own life is that having a Chinese family teaches you how every culture has its good and bad characters and when a bad character befalls you there are ways of making it seem not quite so bad. There was a concern my first child would have been born in the Year of the Snake. Very upsetting. What an omen to start life with!

Grandmother came to the rescue and reassured us a snake is, if you think about it, just a little dragon and dragons are great!  Problem solved.  If you see a snake simply as being a little dragon you can easily disguise its true nature.  With the SNP so eager embrace Ireland and its recent history as a roadmap to independence has it been guilty of the same pleasure of ignoring the true nature of so much of Irish republicanism?

It is a situation beyond the belief of most Europeans that sympathisers of an all-Ireland republic not only seem to like living in the UK but believe marching in the UK will somehow help the cause of their brethren – when the rest were convinced the entire issue is now one of a vote by consent, as stated so clearly by the UK and Irish governments in the Good Friday Agreement.

So why are we now seeing the SNP, who run our largest city council in Scotland, being light on inflammatory marches in the city?  Why then is the response that perhaps now Scotland needs to make it harder to hold marches and parades?

It is almost as if while embracing Irish republicans they cannot let their own authoritarian tendencies go. Why let a little failure like a sectarian march in Govan go to waste then a big success of curtailing civil liberties can be wrung from it? Why let any crisis go to waste?

Maybe then as I wrote three years ago here, the SNP is more than happy to leverage the threat of Irish republicanism to further divide the country, to create a sense of crisis in the run up to Brexit and to aid the demonisation of the UK by facilitating marches by some of its most intolerant and violent opponents.

Unionists should also not this little failure go to waste. Nationalist violence and the threat of it is a snake. It is devious and it is venomous and at times seems so docile as to fool people to pick it up and bring it indoors.

Al Wilson penned a song about a snake that has since been much used but it worth reconsidering here,

"She clutched him to her bosom, "You're so beautiful, " she cried

"But if I hadn't brought you in by now you might have died"


She stroked his pretty skin again and kissed and held him tight
Instead of saying thanks, the snake gave her a vicious bite
"Take me in, tender woman
Take me in, for heaven's sake
Take me in, tender woman, " sighed the snake


"I saved you, " cried the woman
"And you've bitten me, but why?
You know your bite is poisonous and now I'm going to die"


"Oh shut up, silly woman, " said the reptile with a grin
"You knew damn well I was a snake before you took me in"

Are we really so far off the mark here?  A snake is a little dragon if you wish it to be. It can anything you wish it to be. It is above all these things still a snake and it will bite us all the same.  Let this week be warning to return it to the grass it has been lurking in. Better it stays there.

Image of Govan: Mark Anderson

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