Sean Clerkin to stop campaigning for independence in Growth Commission protest

He is one of the best known street campaigners in the country, a man notorious for staging a variety of small-scale demonstrations at venues ranging from a South Lanarkshire confectionary factory to the Spanish consulate in Edinburgh.

Sean Clerkin, in his familiar Scottish Resistance tshirt, during a protest at George Square in Glasgow. Picture: John Devlin

But Sean Clerkin, the public face of the self-styled Scottish Resistance movement, has claimed he will no longer agitate for independence following the recent publication of the SNP’s Growth Commission report.

The 57-year-old, who made headlines in 2011 after forcing then Scottish Labour leader Iain Gray to seek refuge in a Glasgow sandwich shop while out canvassing, described the document as “the worst thing to ever happen to the independence movement”.

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Nicola Sturgeon has insisted the commission had set out an alternative to Westminster’s “austerity” and “Brexit spiral”.

But it has faced criticism from opposition parties as well as left-wing independence supporters, including the Scottish Socialist Party.

Mr Clerkin told The Scotsman: “I cannot campaign for Scottish independence at this time. The Growth Commission report is a right wing, neoliberal document. If its recommendations were followed we would not have real independence. We would not control monetary policy.

“The whole report is about serving the needs of the London money markets. An independent Scotland would require its own currency from day one. Our central bank should have the ability to print money when required.

“This report offers no incentive for working class voters to go out and campaign for Scottish independence.”

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Mr Clerkin, from Barrhead in East Renfrewshire, stressed he was speaking in a personal capacity and added he had not quit the Scottish Resistance, the group which has held several attention-grabbing protests in recent years.

The informal collective has attracted a mixture of scorn and amused interest from across the political spectrum for its events, which generally take place mid-afternoon at an unlikely destination in front of bemused passersby.

In January 2016, Clerkin and two others picketed the Tunnock’s factory in Uddingston with a lion rampant flag and handed out tea cakes made by rival Scottish firm Lees.

They accused Tunnock’s of severing its Scottish roots with the launch of its latest marketing campaign in England, which advertised its best-selling biscuit as the Great British Tea Cake.

Last year six members of the Scottish Resistance entered the reception area of the Spanish consulate to demand the country recognised the Catalan regional government’s right to hold a referendum on independence.

Mr Clerkin has now called for an alliance of left-wing, pro-independence groups to stand against the Growth Commission.

“The SNP leadership are trying to foist this document on the Yes movement,” he said. “I am not ruling out a return to campaigning for independence in the future. But the left has to get its act together first.”

He added that he is planning to publicly destroy a copy of the report at 2pm in Glasgow tomorrow, although this would be a personal protest and not linked to the Scottish Resistance.

Mr Clerkin was convicted of wasting police time in October last year after claiming he had been assaulted at a Tory party election event in April 2016 at New Douglas Park, home of Hamilton Academical Football Club.