British nationalists riot in Glasgow after Scotland’s independence vote

The gathering began as a show of British national pride, but it took a turn for the worse. 


Gavia Baker-Whitelaw


Published Sep 19, 2014   Updated May 30, 2021, 1:33 pm CDT

One day after Scotland voted to stay in the United Kingdom, British nationalists have taken to the streets of Glasgow to celebrate their victory.

Featured Video Hide

The gathering began as a show of British national pride, but it quickly developed into what many witnesses are describing as a riot.

Advertisement Hide

Protesters carrying U.K. flags and banners associated with the pro-Union Protestant Orange Order had to be separated from Scottish independence campaigners by Glasgow police.

Police separating crowds at stand-off in George Square, Glasgow, tonight following #indyref

— The Daily Record (@Daily_Record) September 19, 2014

looks like george square is no go tonight. orange order/pro-union out to cause trouble. even BBC is reporting it

— alex fintoni (@afinto) September 19, 2014

Glasgow has long been divided by sectarian tensions between Protestant and Catholic groups, with the Protestant Orange Order coming out strongly in favor of voting against independence.

As in Ireland, the Orange Order regularly organizes parades and marches as a public show of community pride. An Orange march of around 15,000 people took place in Edinburgh the week before the referendum, with members traveling from around the U.K. to protest against Scottish independence. 

Advertisement Hide

At the pro-Union demonstration celebrating their referendum victory, Orange Order members and other Unionists sang the British national anthem and reportedly let off flares in Glasgow’s George Square. 

George Square. I’m far enough away to be safe from flares that are being thrown, which is why it’s blurry #indyref

— The Hairy Hobbit (@bilbobaggins2k) September 19, 2014

Local religious tensions also tie into Glasgow’s soccer rivalries. Some of the pro-Union demonstrators in George Square carried banners for Rangers Football Club, the team predominantly supported by Protestant fans.

Rangers flags held aloft as shouts of “rule Britannia” go up. #GeorgeSquare

— Chris Green (@cghgreen) September 19, 2014

As many frustrated Glaswegians pointed out on social media, sports rivalries have nothing to do with politics—and many Rangers fans actually voted in favor of Scottish independence.

Advertisement Hide

I’m not ashamed of being Scottish or Glasweigan, what I am ashamed of is the fact tht ppl like those at George square r part of our society.

— 4. 8. 15. 16. 23. 42 (@AngelaConway) September 19, 2014

#Glasgow comes to a standstill. Violent and volatile scenes here in #GeorgeSquare

— Radio Clyde News (@RadioClydeNews) September 19, 2014

One Vine video from George Square shows a young woman with a Scottish flag being dragged on the ground by a man holding a British Union flag.

No Voters Surrounding Young Girls

— Stuart Breadner (@shootbacknews) September 19, 2014

Some photos being shared on Twitter also seem to show pro-Union demonstrators performing the Nazi salute.

Advertisement Hide

Nazi salutes next to George Square war memorial.

— Limmy (@DaftLimmy) September 19, 2014

Several of the George Square demonstrators were members of the far-right Scottish Defence League, which is widely perceived to be a neo-Nazi organization. However, many Scots following the protest on social media were quick to point out that this is hardly representative of the average “no” voter.

George Square tonight has nothing to do with any normal Yes or No voter! Mindless SDL scum who have no place in society! #donthatenovoters

— Gordon McKechnie (@gordonmck_26) September 19, 2014

One eyewitness described police trying to rescue people holding Scottish flags from some of the U.K. nationalists in George Square.

Police trying to rescue people draped in Saltires from the mob #georgesquare

— Thomas Mackintosh (@T_Mackintosh) September 19, 2014

Advertisement Hide

#GeorgeSquare crowds dispersed now. Police tell us 3 arrests but full investigation underway which could lead to more

— Radio Clyde News (@RadioClydeNews) September 19, 2014

Prior to the referendum on Thursday, many U.K. news outlets expressed concern about the possibility of rioting or violence from those who voted for independence. One source from the anti-independence Better Together campaign even predicted “absolute carnage” on referendum day.

However, it looks like the main source of trouble in Glasgow is coming the opposing side: British nationalists celebrating Scotland’s decision to stay in the Union.

Photo via j_faulkner/Twitter

Share this article
*First Published: Sep 19, 2014, 7:27 pm CDT