The Punishment of Manny Singh

Prison is just the place they keep you
while they get your real punishment ready.

In May 2019 there was an All Under One Banner march from Kelvingrove Park to Glasgow Green. You might remember it. You might have been one of the marchers. I was. The thing I remember was that a lot of the people I talked to were not from Glasgow. They had come from all over Scotland, and beyond, to demonstrate their belief in an independent Scotland. A few days later Manny Singh was arrested and charged under the Civic Government (Scotland) Act 1982. It seems that each and every one of us had taken part in an illegal procession.

In March 2019 Glasgow Council’s public processions committee requested that the start time be brought forward by 2½ hours to 11am. With the reluctant agreement of Police Scotland, AUOB decided not to change the start time. Manny Singh was the named organiser and he knew what he was doing. At the time he said, “Worst case? A heavy fine and three months custodial sentence.” He pled guilty in the Sheriff Court and was sentenced to prison for 72 days.

Manny Singh served his sentence and was released but Glasgow’s Councillors were not finished with his punishment. In March 2020 the Licensing and Regulatory Committee suspended his private hire driver’s licence depriving him of his livelihood. The reason reportedly given by the committee convener was, “We expect our drivers not to get imprisoned.” This strikes me as the vindictive behaviour of small-minded bullies with a little bit of power who feel themselves slighted by someone who should be more respectful.

I do not know Manny Singh; but I do know the councillors involved, and so do you. You may even have campaigned for them and next year they are going to demand that you do it again. I do not tell people what they should do or how to behave. I will only tell you what I am going to do. As far as I am concerned, councillors standing for re-election in 2022 can stuff their leaflets into envelopes by themselves. They can canvas the streets by themselves and they can chap on doors by themselves. They deserve no help from me. If that means they lose votes then so be it.

Manny Singh was wrong and he went to the jail for it. Nobody is suggesting he is a threat to society or to any passengers in his taxi.

Further Reading

My apologies to Christopher Brookmyre for mangling the quotation at the top. It’s in ‘Country of the Blind’ somewhere but I can’t find it in time. However, it is a book that anyone who cares should buy and read.

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