A 25,000-strong march for Scottish independence filled the streets of Edinburgh last Saturday—more than double last year.
A variety of pro?independence groups were present including trade unionists, students, artists, farmers, veterans, environmental and peace campaigners.
There was much flag-waving. But the overwhelming mood was of anger against austerity and inequality. The biggest cheers were for speakers who attacked cuts, the rich and Britain’s nuclear weapons.
Leading Yes Scotland campaigner Elaine C Smith opened the rally with a tirade against the Tories and the bankers.
She spoke of “an attack on the working class” and said politicians should “hang their heads in shame” for allowing poverty and inequality to reach the point where men in Shettleston, Glasgow, can expect to die before their 59th birthdays.
Ross, a council worker from Aberdeen, told Socialist Worker that the independence movement is “largely driven by anti?austerity”. He also wants to leave the Nato military alliance.
Fife oil worker Mick Bell joined the Scottish National Party 18 months ago. “In 300 years there are few countries in the world the UK hasn’t invaded,” he said. “Breaking that state will be a positive thing.”
Mick also sees independence as an “opportunity to renationalise industries and reverse privatisation”.
Edinburgh care assistant Michelle was “sick to death” of seeing the impact of public sector cuts—and said independence is about “getting something better than what’s on offer”.
Scotland’s first minister Alex Salmond promised a “ban on nuclear weapons” and to “abolish the bedroom tax”, as well as to keep Royal Mail public.
The postal workers’ CWU Scotland no.2 branch is the first trade union branch to affiliate to the Yes Scotland campaign.
Branch secretary Willie Marshall explained, “We’re sick of successive governments’ attacks, their privatisation, and doing nothing about getting rid of the anti-union laws. Independence is a chance to change that.”
Many of these demands would still have to be fought for in an independent Scotland—and there is nothing to stop workers fighting for them across Britain today.
But the independence campaign can score a victory against the British state and the Tories—if it gives voice to the anger of working class people.