George Square the Referendum Square

Some flagging waving, chatting and singing. Then back across to Wetherspoons. This routine only punctuated by a visit to Greggs. This seemed to be the well trodden path across George Square for many a YES campaigner in the run up to the vote.

George Square was the referendum campaign in a microcosm. Festive and fun for most of the time but sickening and scary for some of it. The square was at the heart of the revelry in the lead up to the vote and the cathartic centre afterwards.

Food Banks in George Square Taken by @jamesh_oneill
Food Banks in George Square Taken by @jamesh_oneill

The square was the backdrop for news stories before and after the vote. It made the mainstream news feeds (although when was some simple thuggery in Glasgow at the weekend actually news?) and it is still creating stories as a pop up food bank. It was also the backdrop for some ill advised political point scoring via Twitter:

Eric Joyce - Labour MP

Yes Eric. Have a pop at the location of food backs. Why are they popping in places where people can actually see them and easily donate?

But let’s go back in time. To the day after the vote. I sought out the warmth of the square on the Friday.  I needed its solace. I needed to know that my feeling of loss was shared. By late afternoon the square was busy. International journalists looking for an angle on the city that voted “yes” and forlorn individuals coming to terms with the heart wrenching realisation that Scotland had voted No.

What's going on here?

Everyone’s square

One fella had climbed the Robert Burns statue and donated a tartan tammy and scarf.  Tourists milled around taking pictures of the wake. The Socialist Workers Party‘s stand was busy. This is everyone’s square after all. Their boisterous megaphone man sucking in passersby. “We have to fight for the working man. Just look round this square, it’s surrounded by multinational corporate companies……” What like Gregg’s and Wetherspoons I thought?

In the middle of the square a small PA system sat on the ground. A compere – playing political songs – filled the space between various members of the public who had something to say. Various grief stricken Glaswegians took the microphone with varying degrees of hand and upper lip stability. One after another they let the audience know how they felt about the result.

The cathartic process begins in George Square post referendum
The cathartic process begins in George Square post referendum

One old guy, shaking like a bartender’s cocktail arm, told of his pain, “knowing that I will never see my country as an independent nation” I felt for him. We all did. He then suggested that a missile sent from Faslane to Downing Street would show them what evil they had placed in Scotland. I moved on.  Settle down there old boy settle down. Controversy comes hand in hand with this square.


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