7th September 2019
The omens for another great march of independence came early that morning, first with the weather forecast, then an encounter with a guard heading for his train in Inverness Station. “You’ll be looking for the Perth train,” he said, with a glance at the YRS t-shirt and bag. “No, we’ve got a bus going.” He was surprised, seemingly unaware of the scale of numbers heading from all the airts – the bus itself had Yessers from Elgin to Ullapool to Thurso, for whom Inverness was only half way. “Well, I’ll be on the march too, once I get to Perth and am out of this uniform!”
The good news had started even earlier, with the announcement a couple of days before that one of the marchers and a rally speaker was to be none other than Deputy First Minister John Swinney. Here was a very public acknowledgement of the grassroot indy movement and its massive marches, from the top of Government. Will this endorsement be repeated, or even bettered, at the next march, on 5th October in Edinburgh? (Why not join us on the two YRS buses going, and help make the march the biggest ever statement of the demand for independence.)
Massive, but aye peaceful and indeed joyous marches. And though it is galling that the so called BBC Scotland said not a peep about the march, while paying attention to sectarian violence directed the same day at two small Irish marches in Glasgow, our mix of pacific and terrific reached out to far more people than violence ever could or should. And we would hardly have gone unnoticed, with about 20,000 going past well-populated areas, down into the centre and through to the North Inch by the Tay, and no doubt into the all-important local media. It has been suggested that there were more police than usual, but if so, they weren’t intrusive. The regular shouty counter-huddle of Yoonies has, to be fair, never presented a danger; though notably this time they were placed back from the marchers. But any increased police presence may have simply been down to caution stemming from the Westminster tensions or from the presence of a senior Government minister.
The march was previewed by The National with a stunning front cover; rather, two covers, flipping the paper round for mirrored Scottish and Welsh banner headlines, and a sea of Saltires or, the other way up, of Red Dragons, marking Perth and a simultaneous Welsh indy march in Merthyr Tydfil. The National was being handed out in Wales, but as seen in Oban, folk in Perth had also been busy handing out Yes.Scot scrolls and posters in advance along the route of the march, and these were being held aloft by many appreciative onlookers on the pavement and at open windows. Yes there were a couple of Union Flags stuck up; but no-one looked out of those windows. And as ever the marchers bore much more than just Saltires, but one small group of Basques celebrated the passing march holding flags of their own national banner.
We’d arrived an hour early at the gathering point on the edge of the giant corrie that is the Letham area of Perth, to what seemed a worryingly small number in the park. But first the park, then the road, quickly and smoothly filled to bursting as the mix of folk of varied lilts and languages, clothes and costumes, kept their tryst with the common cause. Welcoming facilities and emerging sunshine eased the wait, then we were off, the start of the Highland hills to be seen on the horizon above the trees and houses and the Lowland flats. Leading the way and the volume was the Saor Alba Pipe Band, including some YRS members; spotted was the band’s Saltire-bedecked support van (number, SP07RAN). And with pride of place in the YRS contingent taken by none other than Hamish himself, the diminutive lion that directly inspired the indy cartoon of same, the Ross and Sutherland roar was always going to be heard.