As part of the Queen's 60th Jubilee the Protestant, pro-monarchist Orange Order staged numerous parades and held street parties to commemorate the day.
The Orange Order has its origin in Ireland, where in the 18th century Protestant and Catholic farmers banded together in defense of each other in secret societies and informal militias. The structure of the Order was modeled after the Freemasons, and the name was chosen to show support for William of Orange, the man who had replaced James II in 1690. Early in their history, the Order was mostly an agrarian movement, and was not particularly popular with the gentry. They were seen as a potential problem. It was feared that they would turn on the aristocracy. This changed when the United Irishmen entered the scene in Ireland in the 1780s, with their revolutionary ideas, and posed an even greater threat to the gentry. The reality was that the Orange Order became a counter-revolutionary institution to target not just Catholics but also "disloyal" Protestants. It's formation and spread was encouraged by the British state in order to drive a wedge between ordinary Catholics and Protestants. The 12th of July was picked as the key date to provide an alternative attraction to the marking of Bastille day and in itself to mark the sectarian massacre that led to the formation of the Orange Order.
The Orange Order was born in Armagh in 1795 as part of an armed terror campaign to deny full citizenship rights to Catholics. This was in the context of struggles between landlords and tenants in the area of which the Anglican Archbishop of Armagh said "the worst of this is that it stands to unite Protestant and Papist, and whenever that happens, good-bye to the English interest in Ireland". Specifically the penal laws forbade Catholics from bearing arms, but radical (and mostly Protestant) volunteer companies in the 1780's had been recruiting and arming Catholics with the "the full support of a radical section of Protestant political opinion". Catholics were driven out of Armagh by Orange Order pogroms but many expelled Catholic families were sheltered by Presbyterian United Irishmen in Belfast and later Antrim and Down, and the (mostly) Protestant leadership of the United Irishmen sent lawyers to prosecute on behalf of the victims of Orange attacks. They also sent special missions to the area to undermine the Orange Order's influence. The Orange Order probably played a key part in ensuring the failure of the 1798 rebellion. At the time General John Knox, the architect of this policy described the Orange Order as "the only barrier we have against the United Irishmen" after the failed rebellion he wrote "the institution of the Orange Order was of infinite use".
The strategy was simple. In order to prevent Protestant workers identifying with their Catholic neighbours the order offered an anti-Catholic society, led by the wealthy Protestants that offered all Protestants a place in its ranks, and the promise of promotion and privilege. The annual parades were a key part of this strategy, they filled two roles. They allowed the working class Protestant members a day in the sun to mix with their "betters" and lord it over their Catholic neighbours. At the same time, they exposed radical Protestant workers to accusations of being "traitors" for refusing to take part in the events. Much of the imagery of loyalism, the bonfires, the bunting and the painted kerbstones provide an opportunity to demand of every Protestant worker in a community "which side are you on". The lodge was also a place where workers could meet employers, and formally or informally receive job offers. While in rural areas employers would be aware of who was a member and discriminate in job applications against those who were not.
In the relevant stability after the defeat of 1798 the British and local ruling class felt they no longer needed the Order.The Order was banned in 1825, because the British government in Dublin Castle did not like the idea of another armed presence that was not under their control. Its survival during these years shows that the institution cannot simply be viewed as dependent on Britain or local Protestant rulers. It also fed off the historical legacy of sectarianism and annually offered a chance for the "little man" to feel big. In this sense the psychological attraction of Orangism for poor Protestants is similar to the attraction described by William Reich of poor workers/unemployed for fascism. The Orange Order's complex nature is also shown by later events in 1881 when it was possible for the Land league to hold a meeting in the local Orange hall at Loughgall. Micheal Davitt told the crowd that the "landlords of Ireland are all of one religion - their God is mammon and rack-rents, and evictions their only morality, while the toilers of the fields, whether Orangemen, Catholics, Presbyterians or Methodists are the victims".This danger of class unity saw the ruling class and British conservatives rapidly returning to the Order and the Grand Orange Lodge of Ireland responded with a manifesto claiming that the Land League was a conspiracy against property rights, Protestantism, civil and religious liberty and the British constitution. When the question was put this way the Orange Order fulfilled its role and went on to provide the scab labour which attempted to harvest Captain Boycott's crops.
There were other occasions when the Orangemen organised resistance to certain events, such as when Daniel O’Connell organised a march in favor of Catholic Emancipation to Belfast, but for most of the period from 1860 to 1886, the Order had little significance. That changed in 1886 when fear of the Home Rule Bill became a factor. Henry Cooke, the leading voice for the conservative Presbyterian Church in Ireland, managed settle intra-Protestant problems between the Presbyterians and the "Anglican" Church of Ireland. The Presbyterians joined the Orange Order and it became the popular voice of Irish Protestantism. From here on, the Order was spread throughout the British Empire.
The Orange Order was first was brought to Scotland by soldiers who had been posted to Ireland to help out against the 1798 United Irishman's rebellion that had been inspired by the French Revolution. Scottish soldiers serving with Fencible regiments, as well as the Regulars, were sent to Ireland to assist in suppressing the rebellion. In this task they often served alongside Orange Yeomanry. Ex-servicemen formed the first Scottish Orange lodges around 1807. However, early growth was very slow. Indeed, the first recorded Scottish "Twelfth", held in Glasgow, was in 1821.There is no record of any civilian Lodge warrants being issued for Scotland by the Grand Lodge of Ireland in its first register (1798-1819), and the Lodges known to be working in Ayrshire, Glasgow, and Argyllshire all had military origins. In 1835, Scottish Orangeism also fell upon hard times because the Loyal Orange Institution of Great Britain and Loyal Orange Institution of Ireland were "dissolved" for their part in the "Orange Conspiracy". This was a bizarre yet treasonable plot to place the Duke of Cumberland (Imperial Grand Master of the Loyal Institution of Great Britain and the Loyal Institution of Ireland) on the throne in place of Princess Victoria. In addition, the reigning monarch, King William IV was to be deposed for sanctioning reform! Civilian Lodges composed mainly of Ulstermen came in a later phase of development during the 1830s with the transformation of Scotland’s industrial landscape. The modern textile industry replaced handloom weaving, and the coal and iron industries developed, as did shipbuilding which brought Irish migrants to Scotland, including many Protestants. This scale of industrialisation ensured the survival of Orangeism. Indeed, it has often been noted that Scottish Orangeism is essentially a by-product of the Industrial Revolution. Membership of the Orange Order was popular with the Lowlands' Protestants because it gave them a mechanism for personal success and fulfilment: membership could secure better jobs, and made up for a hard and unrewarding life with flamboyant titles like Grand or Worshipful Master. The Orange Order has 800 lodges in Scotland and probably 50,000 members today.
Politically, the Scottish Orange has been very active.Their 'Use and Wont’ campaign – to keep bible study in Schools, when in the 1872 Education Act a “conscience clause” allowed withdrawal form religious instruction. – saw many Orangemen being elected to school boards in 1873. During the Home Rule agitation, around 6,000 heard Carson at a meeting in Glasgow – where seven UVF companies were raised. During the inter-war period, anti-Catholicism grew increasingly prevalent in many areas of Scottish society. Protestant bosses told their foremen to give jobs to Protestants first. In the 1920s and 1930s this got to a point where Catholics knew that if Protestants were competing for jobs, they did not even need to apply. After the Great War there was even Protestant political parties in Scotland. The "Orange and Protestant Political Party" in 1923 defeated the sitting Communist MP in Motherwell and Wishaw to win its one and only seat. Ramsay MacDonald's cabinet had two Scottish Orangemen, Gilmour as Home Secretary and Scottish Secretary Sir Godfrey Collins. Protestant Action, an extreme group led by John Cormack, gathered followers in Edinburgh during this time. While in Glasgow a similar Protestant extremist group, with Alexander Ratcliffe at its head , the Scottish Protestant League, managed to gain support. Ratcliffe was an anti-Semite and becaame a follower of Hitler. Another factor in the Protestant-Catholic relationship in the 1930s were the street gangs in Glasgow. The best known of these are the Bridgeton “Billy Boys”. Billy Fullerton, their leader, was awarded a medal for strikebreaking in the 1926 General Strike. The Catholic equivalent were the Norman Conqs. Glasgow in particular was full of poverty and rife with gangs. Men who feel a lack of identity sought it out in the Orange Order (where they could all be Protestant together). Then there were the football rivalries. Rangers and Celtic, Hearts and Hibs (Dundee Hibernian in 1923 dropped its Irish connections and became Dundee United).
With the growth of the labour movement and the Left, the Orange Order warned of a conspiracy of "Popery" and "socialism". Whenever radicalism Protestant workers linked up with Catholic workers and acted in their own class interests this threatened the unity of the Order. When in 1932, the Falls and Shankill rioted together against unemployment, the Order warned "loyal subjects of the King, the vital necessity of standing guard against communism".
The differences between Catholics and Protestants have declined in significance. A survey of Glaswegians of both faiths showed a negligible one per cent could claim to have experienced employment discrimination first-hand. Catholics do not appear to be discriminated against in employment, education, the provision of public goods, and most of Scotland feels very strongly that prejudice is never justifiable. In fact, religion in Scotland really doesn't matter that much at all. Faith itself matters little to the secular people of today's Scotland.
Stuart Waiton of Abertay University in Dundee writes: “... that there are no real differences in the lives of Catholics and Protestants - and any differences that do exist are dying out fast...” Research by Gillian Raab of Edinburgh's Napier University found evidence that intermarriage between Protestants and Catholics had largely eroded the causes for sectarian discrimination.
No-one is arguing that sectarianism is non-existent but these days Orangemen are of less significance. No-one would claim that Scotland was a hotbed of neo-Nazis and Holocaust deniers, but you can find a few. Likewise, you can still find the die-hard Orangemen, but they are a dying breed. Crimes motivated by racial/ethnic or sexual orientation origin are far more a problem in Scotland than crimes of any religiously motivated nature. Members of both Protestants and Catholics communities are now increasingly reserve their xenophobic hatred for newer migrants to Scotland
Socialists have no time for either the Union Jack or the Irish tricolour.
The Anti-Irish Church of Scotland
The national church in Scotland today is the Church of Scotland, which is legally recognised as such. The Church of Scotland is the largest religious grouping in Scotland with 36% of Scottish population nominally as members. The second largest religious grouping in Scotland is Roman Catholicism, with 16% of the Scottish population, most of which are of Irish descent. Between two-thirds and three-quarters of the immigrants from Ireland were Catholic. From the 1960s, when almost everyone claimed a religious label, the “no religion” identity has grown considerably and people who profess no religion actually outnumber either those in the Roman Catholic church or Church of Scotland in Scotland.
In 1922, incited by a kirk minister, a Protestant mob stoned and bottled buses carrying Catholic women and children to the Eucharistic Congress in Morningside, Edinburgh. In 1923 an official Presbyterian campaign against Irish immigration not only demonstrated the anti-Catholicism present in the Presbyterian churches at this time, but also emphasised race and tried to portray differences as national, not just simply religious. This campaign has later become known as “the Kirk’s Disgrace”. It was about singling out an ethnic minority whose presence in Scotland was to be regarded as an evil, polluting the purity of the Scottish race and culture The campaign started at the Church of Scotland General Assembly, with a report called "The Menace of the Irish race to our Scottish Nationality " which protested that Catholics had “most abominably abused the privileges which the Scottish people had given them...Already there is a bitter feeling among the Scottish working classes against the Irish intruders. As the latter increase and the Scottish people realise the seriousness of the menace to their own racial supremacy in their native land, this bitterness will develop into a race antagonism which will have disastrous consequences for Scotland." At the same General Assembly, it was warned that the presence of “Irish Catholic aliens … would soon bring racial and sectarian warfare to Scotland”.
The expressions "racial supremacy" and "aliens" makes the report sound like it could have been written by Hitler's Nazi propagandists or white supremists of the American south. Yet this report by Rev. John White's Church and Nation Committee was accepted by the General Assembly and a sub-committee formed to promote the anti-Irish cause
Restrictions on immigration from Ireland and the revision of the Education Act were proposed and passed. As the campaign was adopted by more senior church figures, more emphasis was put on what was meant to be “respectable” arguments surrounding race and national character. In 1928 the churches presented their case to the government. They complained that Scotland had become a “dumping ground” for Irish immigrants after the USA had reduced their quota, and that 70% of parish and other relief funds, were spent on the Catholic Irish. The Church of Scotland's Church and Nation Committee called for the deportation of unemployed Catholics to Ireland - a country most of them by then had never seen. Scottish Catholics from the Highlands and Irish Protestants, however could stay, because "they are of the same race as ourselves"
Attempts to get government support collaped when first the Glasgow Herald demonstrated that the immigration was not at all as high as was claimed, and when the government after an investigation of their own refused to have anything more to do with this campaign. The campaigners then decided to redirect their efforts and the 1930 General Assembly decided that the church should instead focus its attention on businesses and have them “employ Scottish labour where such is available”. Now that the Kirk understood that no government would halt Irish immigration then they would appeal to the patriotism of Scottish employers to practice job discrimination in their hiring.
In 2002 the General Assembly formally apologised for its actions and statements.