Twelve months on from the march in Glasgow that signalled the starting point for a year of demonstrations in support of independence, All Under One Banner (AUOB) brought us back to the streets of our largest city to demand our freedom from Westminster rule. Two YRS coach-loads of campaigners, and many others under their own steam, made their way down from various parts of the Highlands to join with folk from all over Scotland (and beyond) in Kelvingrove Park. Enormous numbers turned the park white and blue with flags as they awaited the 1:30pm start. The YRS banner was held aloft amongst the crowds and when we eventually reached Kelvin Way it was almost an hour since the front of the march had left.
The sun was shining and spirits were high as we marched towards the centre of town. The bands playing at the front of the march were too far away to be heard, but music was playing from portable speakers carried by marchers or blaring from the windows of flats lining the route. The atmosphere was fantastic as we chanted our support for Indy, chatted and laughed with onlookers at the roadside and enjoyed being a part of another momentous event in Scottish politics. As always there was a multitude of flags from different nations in evidence. The George Cross flew proudly alongside the Saltire while other flags from the likes of Germany, Ireland, Catalonia and even Tibet illustrated the inclusivity of the Yes movement.
The view as we turned the corner onto West George Street was awesome. Downhill towards Nelson Mandela Place was nearly half a mile of flags, banners and Yessers, disappearing around the corner in the distance and as far as the eye could see behind us. A seething mass of hope and inspiration for a better future ‒ one in which Scotland is the master of its own fate and not tied to the reprehensible, neoliberalist policies of the Westminster agenda.
In George Square we came across a meagre handful of unionists ‒ the so-called counter-demonstration. This paltry few were ignored if they were even noticed, completely drowned out as they were by chants and singing from the marchers. Soon, with the sun beating down, we passed the Trongate tower, and from there it was a short trek to Glasgow Green where the rally was already well underway. It was nearly half past four. Sheer weight of numbers had turned a forty minute walk into a three hour epic and for us in the YRS coaches this meant it was home time.
After a long day of travel, marching, flag-waving, chanting and singing the homeward journey was a good opportunity to reflect on the events of the day. A day with Scotland once again showing its colours. A day of cheerful but steely determination that Scotland can and should make its own way in the world. For too long now has our wealth been pillaged for the privileged few. For too long has Scotland been forced to mitigate the obscene austerity politics of Westminster, forced to bow its head to the wishes of Prime Ministers who stash their wealth in tax havens while their citizens use food banks. On the 4th of May, marchers gave voice to the feelings of independence supporters everywhere: Enough is enough. Scotland can do better and Scotland will do better. Our resolve has not gotten weaker in the year since we last marched in Glasgow, it has become stronger. We are not going to sit down and shut up. Westminster rule is the biggest barrier to Scotland achieving a fairer society for all so we’re sorry, but we are not going to take no for an answer on this.
One week on from the Glasgow march and there are rumblings in the belly of the independence movement. Those rumblings signify a hunger for change, but it is also true that there is disquiet and impatience with politics on both sides of the border. Several well-known Indy authors have expressed anger at what is perceived to be a lack of support by the SNP for the grassroots campaign and suggested uncomfortable motivations behind this. While it is unfortunate that all elements striving to achieve independence cannot maintain a united front on absolutely everything it is, perhaps, inevitable that there will be disagreement from time to time, given the diversity within the movement. Perhaps a grown-up, honest conversation about what independence means and how to achieve it, with respect shown to all viewpoints, is what is needed right now. It’s just possible that such a conversation might go far in convincing undecideds that there are many good reasons why Scotland could and should be independent.