It’s official, independence will bring blue skies and glorious sunshine to Scotland!
The sun was beating down on us as we massed below the castle, and it was easy to believe that greater forces were aligning themselves with our cause. The Yes Ross & Sutherland banners flew proudly in a light breeze as we stood amongst our countryfolk, awaiting the 1pm start. Johnston Terrace was crammed full. We were packed in between the castle cliff on one side and the steep drop to the Grassmarket on the other, while a look forward or back showed only more of the same until the road bent out of sight in either direction
1pm came and went. Word arrived that the march was underway and we prepared ourselves, excitement building. Standing next to us, a small band of three small pipe bagpipers and a drummer added great music to an already fantastic atmosphere. The fact that we didn’t even begin to move until it was nearly 2 o’clock didn’t faze anyone, and each slight shuffle forward was greeted with cheers. Shortly after 2 we heard that the front of the march had already reached Holyrood Park and around 2:30pm we crested the rise and stepped onto the High Street. It was simply sheer weight of numbers that had held us up, with many thousands of marchers having to set off before we could arrive below the gates of the castle.
In front, as we set off down the Royal Mile, the march stretched away as far as the eye could see and the sound of pipes, drums and chants for independence echoed from the tenement walls to either side. As always, the Saltire was ubiquitous among marchers and watchers on the sidelines alike, while flags from many other nations flew in our midst. England, Wales, Ireland, Catalonia, Germany, Canada and Australia to name only a few. Street performer Yoda had a Saltire, as did the statue of Robert Fergusson on the Canongate. Someone wearing a huge papier-mâché Theresa May head held a sign saying “Don’t Dance with the Devil”. The atmosphere was incredible! A sense of hope and confidence pervaded all, and there was a smile on every face. Even the police were clearly enjoying themselves.
At some stage we passed the inevitable pathetic handful of Unionists. Barely a dozen of the misguided individuals had shown up. Nobody cared. And no-one could hear what they had to say anyway. We left them quickly behind, our chants drowning out their feeble protest. They don’t see it yet, but it’s a good thing for them that we’ll win our independence in spite of their efforts.
Voices hoarse, we approached Holyrood. Now it was the turn of the bairns to lead the chanting, and they went to it with a will. As soon as one chant ended, a child would yell out, “What do we want?” and it would begin again. At last we burst out of the Canongate, exploding onto the square in front of the Parliament to be greeted by the sight of Salisbury Crags, bathed in sunlight and festooned with flags. On reaching the park, many marchers had climbed the hills to enjoy the spectacle and the glorious weather. In the distance, to the east, a large crowd had gathered at the stage to hear the speeches and listen to the bands. Many others chose to find a spot in the sun and buy an ice-cream from the van, watch the comedy croquet team or check out the massed ranks of bikers who had made their way along a different route.
Marchers continued to pour into the park for a good half an hour after we arrived, and we were to learn later that the estimated total number was 100,000! A truly astonishing figure. And they say in Westminster, “There’s no appetite for independence”. Well we saw on that Saturday that there is more than appetite, there is a gnawing hunger and a raging thirst for Independence that will never be satisfied by meaningless platitudes like, “Now’s not the time”. While Theresa May dances, the rich receive their tax cuts and the poor go to food banks. David Cameron’s money sits safe in his Panama account and the NHS crumbles. The UK, shackled to May, lurches towards a Brexit catastrophe as she prances. Across Europe and the World we see right-wing politics taking root as Project Fear sows division. Now most certainly is the time. Time for Scotland to stand up. Time for Scotland to have a voice on the world stage. Saturday’s march gives us all hope for the kind of nation we could be. If one hundred thousand can come together and demonstrate with passion but peacefully, forcefully but friendly, proudly but inclusively then perhaps the world – and the rest of Scotland – needs to hear what we have to say.
And so, having given us its blessing and gracing us for the whole event, the sun finally set on what was truly a momentous day. In the days and weeks to come we will be free to say, quite literally, “Vote Yes for a brighter future”.
See our favourite pictures from the day, visit the gallery
We don’t know who to attribute this to, and hope they don’t mind us posting but it is brilliant and would be a real shame not to be seen and heard by all.