VIOLENT mobs spewing anger and racial abuse in the heart of our city is a cancer that can and must be cured.

The scenes over the last couple of weekends have been compounded by the breathtaking dishonesty of the self-proclaimed “statue protectors”.

Let’s be clear. We have the usual suspects, fuelled by drink and hate, who would otherwise be looking for a fight after an orange march or football game. Lockdown has put that on pause. Sadly, for too many the sectarian divide continues to run through our city like the River Clyde.

It’s an anachronistic poltergeist from a distant past that serves no meaningful purpose in 21st century Glasgow, other than forming an expedient hook to hang an assortment of vile, bile hatred.

Religious hatred is an ugly justification for self-provocation – but now this excuse has morphed into a ridiculous response to the Black Lives Matter movement.

No-one has suggested pulling down any statues in George Square. Even the statues are embarrassed with this nonsense. One can imagine Sir Walter Scott looking down from his plinth in George Square and repeating the insightful line from his great novel Ivanhoe: “I envy thee not thy faith, which is ever in thy mouth but never in thy heart nor in thy practice”.

Indeed, one can hear the words of Scotland’s national bard Robert Burns, who also stands aloft in George Square: “O wad some Power the giftie gie us. To see oursels as ithers see us!”

To witness thuggish racist behaviour in our city centre is truly shameful. Especially so as those shameful words reverberate around Glasgow’s merchant city buildings and street names built on the back of a murderous slave trade.

I prefer the George Square which Nelson Mandela addressed in October 1993 before thousands of Glaswegians when he accepted the keys to our city. He had been bestowed the Freedom of the City in 1981.

Some years later, Glasgow had renamed St George’s Place Nelson Mandela Place while Mandela was still imprisoned in Robben Island off Cape Town. Apartheid was raging across South Africa and the Conservative UK Government had considered Nelson Mandela a terrorist.

I prefer the George Square of 1960, where the May Day parade left the square for Glasgow Green. The crowds at the green heard songs and speeches from the great African American civil rights activist Paul Robeson.

At that time racial segregation was an evil disease that gripped the United States of American. Black Americans were being lynched by racist mobs. Paul Robeson spent his life fighting racism. The fact that the Black Lives Matter movement (BLM) is necessary all these years later is a grim indictment on the present political leadership of the USA.

All is not well in Scotland. The brutal police murder of George Floyd in Minneapolis last month ignited a worldwide BLM movement.

This weekend, peaceful campaigners organised a socially distanced demonstration in George Square on World Refugee Day. It was vital and right to stand up for the shocking treatment of asylum seekers in Glasgow – corralled into cheap shoddy hotels with no subsistence allowance.

Those campaigners maintained social distancing for an hour before being kettled together like sardines by the police. Meanwhile, loyalist and far right thugs roamed the square looking for people to attack.

No-one would disrespect the cenotaph. We need to put an end to the falsehood that thugs are protecting anything other than their right to spew hate, racism and violence.

Racism thrives and prospers because it is tolerated. There can be no blind eye turned to this evil. Our city needs to cleanse itself of this menace.