"What do you do if a UK Government refuses to accept democracy? The fact I can't come up with a soundbite answer is no reflection on me." Nicola Sturgeon was speaking on the Andrew Marr programme about the latest Indyref deadlock. But she could just as easily have been describing the deportation deadlock that’s developed in her own Glasgow constituency.

It wasn’t the First Minister’s fault that a botched dawn raid by Home Office staff prompted resistance by locals and the sudden need for Police Scotland involvement.

But since both parts of the scenario look set to be repeated, which side will the SNP leader take?

Will it be the Pollokshields community that won’t tolerate Priti Patel’s hostile environment or the UK immigration officials who have every legal right to return and force Scotland’s police out beside them for the maintenance of order?

It’s a difficult Catch-22 situation.

But any reluctance to take the side of local campaigners might reflect badly on the First Minister, as refugee support networks gear up across Glasgow with the same vigour as protesters who stopped poindings and warrant sales on those self-same streets, 30 years ago in the days of Thatcher’s Poll Tax.

The Kenmure Street protesters may not have devolved powers on their side – immigration is unquestionably reserved to Westminster. But they are upholding Scotland’s settled will about the treatment of refugees and asylum seekers – many of whom were able to vote for the first time last week, at the behest of the Scottish Parliament.

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That right to vote doesn’t create a right to avoid Home Office interrogation – agreed. But it does represent the outlook of the Scottish Parliament towards asylum seekers and refugees – an outlook that’s light years more humane than anything radiating through the scandalously brutal Home Office.

Of course, cynics will dismiss refugee voting as mere virtue signalling. But if the move didn’t resonate with Scottish voters, no party on earth would have proposed it and no parliament would have backed the move.

Yet they did.

So, this is roughly who we are.

Folk who want to integrate not demonise refugees.

And that means the crowd on Kenmure Street – and especially the bold "Van Man" who lay under the Home Office transit for hours – acted with the grain of parliamentary and public opinion, even if they acted against the letter of British law.

It’s not an easy circle to square and the crowd was apparently understanding of the dilemma faced by Police Scotland and Nicola Sturgeon. But next time they may expect the First Minister to come off the fence and explicitly defend their actions.

Because Kenmure Street was community empowerment in action – though not as Scotland’s professionals know it.

Everyone loves the plucky, long-suffering community activists who spend years jumping through hoops to buy vastly over-priced bits of land or (increasingly) libraries and halls that councils cannot afford to run. But the smiles freeze somewhat when communities stop waiting and start acting spontaneously – even though peaceful direct action is so embedded in the history of Glasgow and Scotland, it’s in our genes.

Think of the trade union and Labour movements which began in the west of Scotland. Think of the suffragettes and 1915 Rent Strikes by the women of Govan. Think of the Holy Loch protests against Polaris nuclear submarines by "the Eskimos" 50 years ago. Think of the Scottish factory workers who blocked the supply of Rolls Royce engines to the Pinochet regime in the 1970s – whose story has been powerfully retold in the film Nae Pasaran.

Think of poll tax protests against warrant sales in the 90s, the women’s peace camp protesters at Faslane, protests at Dungavel against indefinite detention, and the petition signed by a third of the Shetland population 15 years ago that stopped the deportation of Thai national Sakchai Makao. An asylum appeal hearing back then rejected the Home Office’s deportation bid as "unhesitatingly" wrong – just as three-quarters of deportations are rejected on appeal today, if asylum seekers are able to contact lawyers in time.

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Think about the sit-in that stopped the demolition of Govanhill Baths (yards from Kenmure Street) 20 years ago when a dozen locals chained themselves to the cubicles and occupied the building for 140 days – the longest occupation of a public building in British history. It’s been the venue for countless community campaigns and aims to re-open as a local wellness centre.

Think about the seven pupils at Drumchapel High School whose successful campaign stopped the detention of their friend Agnesa Mursela in 2005, produced a musical, a film, a temporary halt to dawn raids and almost a new chapter in Scottish political history last week, when Roza Salih – who arrived as a 12-year-old Kurd without a word of basic English – narrowly missed becoming an MSP.

There’s nothing unusual about Scots acting to prevent injustice and protect threatened minorities.

Indeed, such peaceful intervention is a vital life sign in any democracy. It proves the rule of law is maintained not through indifference or fear – but by consent. In fact, violent disorder is extremely rare in Scotland (a small but rampant minority of Rangers fans notwithstanding) and it’s important to remember that fact.

There’s a long-established, easily fed but highly inaccurate historical narrative that Scots are barbaric folk, prone to mindless feuding. It’s a convenient way to keep the middle classes wary of fellow Scots, even though the peaceful resistance of working-class communities has produced almost all the social and workplace gains of the 20th century.

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Demonstrations are generally the preserve of those without institutional clout, so "the street" is essentially a working-class political domain. Couple that with the pervasive belief that “proper” democracy happens only in parliaments and Scotland’s broadcasters are uncertain how to describe a street protest like Kenmure let alone whether to screen it.

Alison Thewliss MP and lawyer Aamer Anwar helped resolve this stand-off. But popular acts of defiance challenge the SNP – a party that’s long managed to be both a champion of the underdog and a respectable government.

When push comes to shove next time, which side will they take?

Our columns are a platform for writers to express their opinions. They do not necessarily represent the views of The Herald.