Socialist Worker

Tens of thousands on the streets for Scottish independence

by Raymie Kiernan
Issue No. 2603

As well as Saltires, there were Catalan flags

As well as Saltires, there were Catalan flags

Tens of thousands of supporters of Scottish independence marched through Glasgow on Saturday.

The organisers, All Under One Banner, said over 50,000 took part in the demonstration.

It was over two miles long, snaking through the city from west to east, as people of all ages travelled from all over Scotland to take part. A sea of Saltire flags, some with the stars of the European Union (EU), some with Yes2, while others combined with Catalonia flags, filled the streets.

Chants of “Tories out” rang out from a working class crowd, alongside demands for “independence now”. Some had placards in solidarity with Windrush, against racism, Trump, the Tories and Trident. One simply proclaimed, "The union is dead."

Remarkably, it had little official Scottish National Party (SNP) presence, although some of its MPs, MSPs and councillors were there.


The march was about as grassroots as it gets. The organisation came from local Yes groups still active since the 2014 referendum working together to mobilise. Yet it was clear from the little flashes of yellow badges throughout that many marchers were SNP members.

“I'm only a member because I want independence,” said Jake, who had travelled from the town of Dalkeith, near Edinburgh. He added, “It's a means to an end for me. I don't agree with a lot of the leadership's politics, to be honest.”

The turnout on the demonstration was over double that of last year, which itself was double the year before. There is a movement growing in confidence, and it's becoming clearer that it needs to be independent of the strategy of the SNP leadership.

SNP leader Nicola Sturgeon gained a mandate for a second independence referendum at the 2016 Scottish parliament elections if there was a “material change in circumstances” to those in which Scotland had rejected independence in 2014.

Sturgeon argued that Brexit was that change in circumstances.


Fourteen months ago she sought and won, with Green Party support, a majority vote in the Holyrood parliament to seek an agreement with the British state for another referendum.

But last summer Sturgeon shelved those plans and said she would come back in autumn 2018 with her view on a timetable for indyref2 once a deal on Brexit was clearer.

Pressure is building on the SNP leadership.

There are signs that a drastic decline in membership and votes could easily be on the horizon if it does not follow through on the radical rhetoric of the last few years.

Since the high water mark of 120,000 members after the 2016 EU referendum the SNP, according to the number of ballots for its current deputy leader contest, is 20,000 members fewer.

And in the 2017 snap general election, according to Ashcroft polling, 12 percent of those who voted SNP in 2015 backed Jeremy Corbyn's Labour Party last June—that's around 170,000 votes.

For many, independence is about fighting for a better society in the same way people in England and beyond are looking to Corbyn. The lesson for both is not to wait for politicians to bring that change but to forge united struggle to bring it about ourselves.


Click here to subscribe to our daily morning email newsletter 'Breakfast in red'

Mobile users! Don't forget to add Socialist Worker to your home screen.