Govan Free State declares independence from Scotland and UK

Govan Free State declares independence from Scotland and UK

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THE Cabinet of a new "independent state" has made its first communique — from inside a Scottish city.

Just across the river from the Glasgow site where world leaders have gathered for COP26, Govan Free State has issued a declaration of independence from Scotland, the UK and even the city itself. 

Its founding statement says: "We take this step with great reluctance and it is our intention to maintain peaceful and respectful relations with Her Majesty's Government of the United Kingdom, Scottish Government and Glasgow City Council."

Formed in the image of Pollok Free State, the road protest camp set up in 1994 in opposition to the M77 motorway, the southside state is a response to climate change, habitat loss and inequality. 

And it has asked everyone attending COP26 to "declare yourself welcome" within its bounds.

Served by "bambassadors and poeticians", the new micronation was launched at a traditional ceremony marking the turning of the Celtic year on Monday at the premises of respected Govan charity GalGael, which itself was founded "around a protest fire" at Pollok Free State.

The Pearce Institute on Govan Road is a local landmark

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Around 100 people gathered at the charity's Fairley Street base to mark the founding of the fledgeling state, reading a declaration which stated: "We call on all people who share our beliefs, ideals and aspirations to declare their own independence, interdependence and radical dependence; to decolonise their territories, however they may define them."

Several of those present were "passport holders" of Pollok Free State, which declared its independence in the same year that the treaty establishing the Conference of the Parties (COP) came into effect.

Govan Free State aims to mimick the international legal enclave of the official COP26 blue zone for delegates. Its declaration goes on: "It is our view, that the workings and functions of the capitalist state and all its institutions, globally, nationally and locally, mean it is simply not possible to achieve a socially just and ecologically regenerative future within the bounds of these structures.

"We no longer find it reasonable to put our faith elsewhere. There is no one coming. There is only us. And for us that means each other in Greater Govan on Glasgow’s south side."

Whilst it is known to have been continually inhabited since the stone age, Govan, whose famous citizens have included Rent Strike leader Mary Barbour and Manchester United boss Alex Ferguson, was incorporated into the city of Glasgow as recently as 1912.

Gehan Macleod, GalGael cofounder and Pollok Free State veteran, says the split move is grounded in frustration over issues including the continued deprivation experienced by many people in Govan, as well as international "inaction" over the climate crisis.

Gehan Macleod accepts an award from David Cowley of the Scottish Fire and Rescue Service in 2016

The area is home to deep-rooted inequality and men living in Greater Govan can now expect to reach an average of 65.4 years, 17.6 years fewer than those inneighbouring Pollokshields West, according to recent data from the Glasgow Centre for Population Health.

Macleod said: "Since 1994, a span of time in which children have grown to adulthood, far too little has changed. We can no longer put out faith in the status quo.

"When we should be welcoming the world with open arms, we are instead witnessing a moment of terrible exclusion in Glasgow, from hostile police tactics to profiteering by private landlords.

"When so many are shut out, and when all of our futures are on the line, we need to respond to the absence of leadership from above by reclaiming our freedom and collective responsibility from below."