FORMER MSP Tommy Sheridan has remained unrepentant over plans to broadcast the Oscar-winning movie Braveheart in Glasgow’s George Square, ahead of a pro-independence rally.

The big screen showing of the 1995 blockbuster directed by Mel Gibson, who stars as legendary Scots freedom warrior William Wallace has received criticism in some quarters.

Two Twitter polls attracting over 2000 votes asking about the showing of Braveheart in advance of the Hope Over Fear rally found the majority are so far showing a wave of opinion against it.

One poll found 72% either said it should not go ahead or answered "are you kidding me?". Another found 42% thought it was a bad idea, 22% a good one and 36% not bothered.


SNP councillor Mhairi Hunter was one of the dissenters saying: "People will be put off voting Yes by seeing folk cheering Braveheart and then cheering Tommy Sheridan. That will absolutely put soft Nos off."

Mr Sheridan was jailed for perjury in 2011 in connection with his successful defamation case against the News of the World.

Scottish Tory chief whip Maurice Golden said “reasonable supporters of independence will cringe at the prospect of this ridiculous spectacle.

“It's quite obvious Tommy Sheridan is using this campaign as a way to rehabilitate his image from convicted perjurer and failed politician."

MSP Colin Beattie, the SNP's national treasurer who was one of five from the party due to speak at Saturday's rally withdrew citing a diary clash.

But Tommy Sheridan, the ex-Scottish Socialist Party and Solidarity leader was not having any of it when talking about the Hope Over Fear rally in George Square saying the movie was not a documentary.

HeraldScotland: GLASGOW, SCOTLAND - JUNE 10: Former MSP Tommy Sheridan lodges documents with the SCCRC in a fresh attempt to secure an appeal against his perjury conviction on June 10, 2014 in Glasgow, Scotland. (Photo by Jamie Simpson/Herald & Times) - JS (39116135)

Mr Sheridan who is fronting the rally said: "As an added bonus for those who want to come early to get in the mood we are going to have an edited version of the cinematic classic which is Braveheart.

"Some people like it. Some people don't. I love it.

"If you don't want to see Braveheart, just come at 11am at the time the rally starts."

Responding to the claim that wavering independence voters might be put off, he said: "I would need to advise anyone who is worried about waving of flags, or painting of faces or wearing of independence t-shirts, don't bother coming to a Hope Over Fear event because that is what we are all about.

"We are proud of our heritage. We are proud of the country that we want to be free and we are not frightened to wave our flags or wear our t-shirts or paint our faces and we are certainly not frightened to screen a film that is not a documentary.

"It's a film. What it did in 1995 when it won five different Oscars, what it did is encourged people to find out about the history of our nation.

"It never set out to be an accurate portrayal of Scotland's history. But it encouraged people to find out more."

The movie told the story of how Wallace led the Scots in the First War of Scottish Independence against King Edward I of England in 1296.

When the movie came out some historians decried the film for being little more than a heavily fictionalised romp.

One, Alex von Tunzelmann pointed to several inaccuracies, one of the most glaring being that Wallace never even met Princess Isabelle, who married the Prince of Wales three years after Wallace's death. Gibson's version, however, has her impregnated with Wallace's child.

Also kilts, that were prominently worn had yet to be invented.

Controversy around the movie was heightened when a sculpture of William Wallace was erected in Stirling. The 13-foot statue was in the guise of Mel Gibson as the Scottish hero.


For ten years, it stood on display at the entrance to the Wallace Monument in Stirling - attracting scorn and compliments. It also became a target for vandals, who daubed it with paint and gouged its face.

Since being returned to the artist Tom Church in 2008, the 12-ton sandstone piece has been on display at his studio and workshop in Brechin.

Mel Gibson himself admitted he received hate mail for making of the movie that went on to win five Oscars including best picture. Some claimed it was anti-English.

Many at the time felt it had boosted pride and confidence in Scotland and reinstated Wallace as a Scottish hero. Even the word Braveheart became part of everyday speech, used by activists to describe valiant and heroic deeds.

In 2014, Gibson admitted there were people who "really hated the idea you were maybe glorifying this guy".

He added: "People would write you hate mail. What? It's a centuries-old feud."

Mr Sheridan predicted that thousands would gather in George Square, renamed Freedom Square, for the rally which he said was backed by The Proclaimers who had put up £1000 "to make sure this rally takes place".

"We are declaring for Indy Ref 2 and we are absolutely convinced that we are going to win," said the 54-year-old, who is preparing to host a TV show on pro-Kremline news network Sputnik UK.

Mr Sheridan said it was the rally was a "day of celebration to call for a new and a better Scotland, to say loud and clear, that independence is not a destination. Independence is only the start of the journey."