Socialist Worker

Huge independence march in Dumfries

by Raymie Kiernan
Issue No. 2607

Part of the mass march in Dumfries, in the south of Scotland, last Saturday

Part of the mass march in Dumfries, in the south of Scotland, last Saturday (Pic: Raymie Kiernan)


Thousands marched through the town of Dumfries in the south of Scotland last Saturday in the latest of a series of marches for Scottish independence.

Local police “estimated 10,000” people marched and, unusually, even tweeted a picture of the protest. 

Many locals said it was the largest protest over any issue in living memory.

Some protesters travelled over a hundred miles to join the demonstration.

Among the Yes groups marching were those for pensioners, trade unionists and many from the local area. They were joined by the English Scots For Yes group.

Contrast

The large turnout locally stands in stark contrast to the 66 percent and 67 percent vote to reject independence in the areas that border England.

One local Tory politician said the march was “an affront to voters here”.

The Tories currently hold all three Westminster MPs, and all three Holyrood MSPs in the respective constituencies that straddle the border regions.

Independence has started to dominate politics in Scotland again. Among the debates is the timing and circumstances of a second referendum, “legal” or not.

Last month organisers of an upcoming series of demonstrations, All Under One Banner, said over 50,000 people marched through Glasgow.

An official Scottish National Party (SNP) presence was hard to spot there but in Dumfries the support from the local party leadership was clear. The publication of the SNP’s “growth commission” report has been pitched as a strategy to win over No voters to independence.

Right wing and business commentators have welcomed its pro-EU,

pro-market prescriptions as “mature” and “responsible”. John Kay, a member of the first minister’s standing council on Scotland and Europe, wrote in the Financial Times newspaper on Saturday.

“Watching the progress of Scottish nationalism is like watching a teenager grow up,” it said.

Kay added, “The report belies the leftist image of Scottish politics with a strong pro-business focus, recognising that the success of small economies depends on the ability of strong domestic industries to sell specialised products in global markets.”

SNP leader Nicola Sturgeon wants keep Scotland’s bosses onside while taking recent supporters of independence for granted.

Triangulation

This kind of triangulation—with its echoes of Tony Blair—saw one former SNP minister brand the party “New SNP” last week.

A mass movement from below in 2014 nearly won the vote. Support grew when the campaign focussed on social issues such as the NHS.

What brought the British state close to breaking up was an active campaign of working class people fuelled by a desire to break from

Westminster austerity, not narrow nationalism.

The independence movement needs the opposite strategy to that which Sturgeon’s leadership is offering if it is going to win.


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