Holyrood Park – ‘Not a great place for a campsite’

“Not a great place for a campsite” Some crazy people had set up 5 tents and a caravan. The weather was incredible. Only an idiot would camp in that weather! Toilet and bathing facilities seemed to be absent so maybe the strong wind was fortunate.

 – TripAdvisor review 4 December 2015: 1 star

I don’t know who wrote the latest TripAdvisor review of camping in Holyrood Park but they’re on to something.

If you haven’t followed the saga of campindy or campstupid, depending on your point of view, here’s the short version.

Some pro-independence protesters set up a camp a week or so ago in Edinburgh’s Holyrood Park in a sort of repeat of the protest at Calton Hill before devolution. They said they were going to stay until Scotland was independent. If you incline to one point of view they’re heroic patriots, if the other they’re daft as brushes.

I incline to the daft as brushes view, which won’t surprise anyone, and I watched with some amusement as people with a better sense of humour than me, and perhaps closer powers of observation, made sport with the new heroes of a free Scotland.

Photos emerged of the first hardy souls pitching camp in the sort of tents that you buy for a fortnight in Spain or three nights at T in the Park. Some of them seemed to be having a problem with one tent: did you put the flat side on the grass and tie it down, or thrust the pointy bit into the ground? Then there was speculation about the, er, hygiene arrangements. Which the TripAdvisor review deals with.

At first, some seemed able to tweet and blog. It turned out they were camping in the lee of Dynamic Earth and leeching off their free wifi. Then some real travellers were rumoured to have turned up, in proper caravans of course. And someone found out that park regulations said very clearly ‘No camping’ and Historic Scotland was on to their case.

Scarcely had this been noticed when the so-and-sos nipped across the way and re-emerged on land controlled by the parliament:


Source: STV

You’ll probably recognise the terracing, not to mention the Catalan separatist flag. It’s called solidarity (‘Cata-fit min? Far’s ’at an’ a’? Aww, they’re oppressed too are they? Jeez, those bloody Brits get everywhere’). Perhaps they thought their activism would find more favour on parliamentary land. Meantime, someone noticed one tent pitched separately from the others. The theory of a passing tourist was soon discredited and it turned out the loner was a splitter or a splittist (I can never follow the jargon of the far left).

The tricky question for the parliamentary authorities was how would they deal with the campers in a parliament with an SNP majority, an SNP government, SNP committee chairs and an SNP presiding officer? The party is often remarkably ambiguous (or forbearing if you must) about manifestations of the desire for separation that are not always wholly rational, or polite. I half expected some of the backbenchers to troop out for photo opps and delivery of food parcels. But so far I’ve seen nothing and to be fair to the parliament they’ve now issued a legal notice instructing the campers to leave within two days.

And that’s precisely as it should be. I would say the same whoever was camping next to the parliament to make whatever point, whether from left, right, centre or bampot tendency. There may be some, like out-in-the-cold-at-the-moment SNP MP Natalie McGarry, who believe in community action and community ‘justice.’ But we elect a parliament and they should be able to meet to do their business on our behalf without any interference or intimidation.

Maybe there’s a wealthy nationalist somewhere nearby who could offer the rag-tag-and-bobtail group a pitch in their garden.

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