“More than 200,000” people accumulated on the streets of Edinburgh for the pro-Scottish independence march on Saturday 5 October, according to the organiser and Scottish nationalist group, All Under One Banner (AUOB). The march began at the Scottish Parliament, ending at the Meadows, where Edinburgh MPs such as Tommy Sheppard spoke on stage.
The march was brimming with saltires, led by pipe bands, and followed by families, groups of friends, dogs in saltires, and those representing their organisations and regions. A saltire was also draped around the statue of Greyfriar’s Bobby, to commemorate the event.
The chant: “What do we want? Independence! When do we want it? Now!” could be heard throughout the entire march. Many regional Yes groups were present with signs, such as ‘Yes Isle of Arran,’ ‘Yes Carnoustie,’ ‘Yes Ullapool & Lochbroom,’ ‘Yes Bearsden & Milngavie,’ ‘Yes North Berwick,’ ‘Yes Moodiesburn, Chrysto, Muirhead and Stepps’, and ‘Yes Clydesbank.’ Many Catalan flags were seen, because of the long-standing Scottish-Catalonian solidarity with regards to independence.
During the march, Ben Macpherson, SNP MSP for Edinburgh Northern and Leith, was interviewed by The Student: “I’m delighted to be here with so many others campaigning for Scotland’s rights to be an independent country and an equal member of state in the European Union. It’s great to see such varied and diverse support here out in favour of Scotland having the democratic means to make its own decisions as an independent Scotland.”
DJ Arnott, who came with her friends from Leith, expressed: “It’s about time [Scotland] looked after our own business, without Westminster interfering. I just wish Scotland became independent. It’s not Nicola, the First Minister, who needs independence, it’s the people of Scotland.”
Sean, a 19- year old man from Leith who came with his uncle, an organiser with the Edinburgh James Connolly Society, said: “We’re marching today to get our independence, to get away from Westminster, get away from London, determine our own future.”
Ben, a 29-year old Edinburgh-based Irish anarchist, represented Misneachd, a “radical anti-capitalist Gaelic-language activist group,” when he said: “We believe that Gaelic is being killed by the capitalist economic system and we can’t possibly save the language until we deal with that fundamental issue. We’re here today because we think that Scottish independence, while in itself wouldn’t solve this fundamental tension between the working class and the capitalist class, is still nonetheless a progressive step fundamentally that we support broadly, but we argue that it should be as left-wing as possible […] Independence is just one step in the revolutionary struggle.”
Mathias Hamitouche, Minister of Kabyle Provisional Government-in-exile, Paris, told The Student that, as an advocate for Kabylian independence, he’s in solidarity with the Scottish independence: “Independence is important because we have the same problem as Scotland and Catalonia. So we go to marches in both of those countries to support their independence.”
Vroni, an Edinburgh-based German woman who was marching with her Scotland-raised daughter, said: “Have you seen how Westminster made a mess of politics recently? That would be my reason for wanting to get independence from that. We need to stay with the EU, that’s really important [but] they’re pulling us out of the EU, it’s atrocious. Their austerity politics have been terrible for the last ten years, which is very bad for all the little people, they only care about people with money. Scotland isn’t like that. Scotland wants to be good to all their people.”
The first Scottish Independence Referendum was held in September 2014, with 55% voting against the proposal. In the June 2016 EU Referendum, 52% voted to leave the EU, which did not reflect the majority of Scottish people, as 62% of them voted to Remain in the EU. The perception that Scotland is being forced into decisions against majority opinion within Scotland led to discussions about a Second Independence Referendum. Currently, the Scottish Government is negotiating with the British Government that needs to consent to a legally binding Second Referendum through a Section 30 order. The turnout on Saturday seemed to suggest that “more than 200,000 people” are already in favour of voting ‘Yes’ for Scottish Independence if there is a Second Referendum in the future.
Image: Shinwoo Kim