Accusations fly as foodbanks become embroiled in a row over a rally staged by a disgraced politician
Foodbanks have been drawn into a bitter row over a pro-independence rally fronted by disgraced politician Tommy Sheridan.
Glasgow’s Needy has been organising collections at George Square in Glasgow ever since unionist-inspired violence broke out there following the 18 September referendum.
Father and son team Andrew and Darren Carnegie – the principal organisers of the foodbank – say they approached the organisers of the Hope Over Fear pro-independence rally due to be held in the square on Sunday (12 October).
Darren Carnegie said they wanted to use the meeting to ask for donations and to speak to the crowd to describe their experiences of working among the city’s poorest communities.
Carnegie claims he was fobbed off by organisers who told him making an appeal would not be logistically possible.
He was astonished when, days later, he heard that Denis Curran’s East Kilbride-based Loaves and Fishes foodbank project had been invited to make a similar appeal.
Carnegie – who says he has no problem with Curran and his group – claims there were heated exchanges between himself and the rally’s organisers, including threats being made against Andrew Carnegie. He claims that “lies” have been told about him.
In a video statement, shared widely on Facebook, he said: “I asked if I could speak and do a food drive at it as I realised the potential that was there. He told me it would not be logistically possible because of the number of people who would be there.
“We asked if we could do a speech and a food drive and we were told it wouldn’t be impossible only for them to then contact a third body, someone who doesn’t even know about the food drives in George Square.
“This must be about ego. They don’t want me to speak in case I steal their thunder, in case someone wants to listen to me rather than someone else.”
The Hope Over Fear rally has been organised by a fringe section of the pro-independence movement based primarily around Sheridan, who was jailed for lying in court over claims he attended a seedy swingers’ club.
Its main movers are Sheridan’s followers and two small socialist groups – the Committee for a Workers International (CWI) and the Socialist Workers Party (SWP) – both of whom supported Sheridan when he broke from the Scottish Socialist Party.
Although they haven’t billed its as a party political rally, the CWI and the SWP have prominent members lined up to speak at the rally alongside Sheridan and Sweet Sixteen actor Martin Compston.
Sheridan organised a series of Hope Over Fear tours during the referendum after being frozen out of the official campaign by the leaders of Yes Scotland. Other prominent pro-yes groups, such as Radical Independence and Women for Independence refused to share platforms with him.
A statement on the Hope Over Fear Facebook page read: “We would like to make it clear to everyone attending that the charity that will be receiving your donations on the day of the rally is the well-established Loaves and Fishes.
“There is a group called Glasgow’s Needy, who have announced that they will be at the rally to take the donations off people attending. For clarity this group is no way a part of the Hope Over Fear rally and will be operating for themselves and not as part of our campaign. We are not in any way associated with this group or the organisers.
“We invited Glasgow’s Needy representatives to a meeting with us where, it is unfortunate to say, they were verbally abusive and made threats to the people in the meeting, many of whom were women and some with disabilities.
“They had no interest in sitting with us to discuss how best to co-ordinate the food bank drive, instead their focus was to demand that they were on the platform speaking. We have since been contacted by other people who will be attending the rally saying that they too have been abused by the group over our decision to raise funds and donations for the Loaves and Fishes charity.”