Around 100,000 people joined a march for Scottish independence through Edinburgh last Saturday. It was the largest ever march about the issue and shattered the myth that support for independence is ebbing away.
Called by the All Under One Banner pro-independence group, it was the culmination of a series of six marches this year.
The Scottish flag was everywhere. But many taking part were also motivated by a determination to win social change and banish Tory policies.
Some of the best-received speeches touched on that feeling. Scottish National Party (SNP) depute leader Keith Brown was cheered when he said, “We have the cheek of Theresa May saying that austerity is over.
“Well she can come to my constituency and tell the parents that are going to food banks to feed their kids that austerity is over.”
A handful of SNP branches arranged transport to the march, which they have not done previously. But it wasn’t an SNP march.
Instead it was driven by the sort of activists who delivered the massive Yes campaign at the 2014 referendum.
The Tories will not easily deliver another referendum. And the SNP is holding back from demanding one immediately.
The march came as delegates were gathering for the SNP annual conference. Neither independence strategy nor the SNP’s economic independence blueprint—the neoliberal Growth Commission—are on the official agenda.
Instead the party concentrated on Brexit, announcing it was for a “People’s Vote”.
SNP Westminster leader Ian Blackford used his speech on Monday to hit out at May's government, saying it was on "a reckless mission to trash our economy". He added that "self-destructive policies on Brexit, austerity and immigration threaten serious and lasting harm".
But his strongest denunciation was over the "turmoil and terrifying damage" that he claimed leaving the European Union (EU) will bring to Scotland.
He said the SNP would not vote for any deal that took Scotland out of the single market—the EU’s set of rules than enshrine neoliberalism.
Alyn Smith MEP said that support for independence in Europe was the SNP’s “North Star”.
All of this wrongly links independence to the EU, alienating some pro-independence voters and, more importantly, limiting the change it could bring.
However, in a more positive development a resolution calling on the Scottish government to empower local authorities to block the transportation of Trident nuclear materials through Scotland was passed overwhelmingly.
Moving the motion, East Kilbride branch member George MacDonald said, “Capitalism needs war to flourish” and argued membership of Nato was incompatible with the SNP’s opposition to Trident.
“I want to see Scotland free of nuclear weapons and not only that, to realise all the wonderful plans we have for independence. But for that, we have to stay alive," he added.
Backing the European Union won’t win independence or change Scotland. The call has to be firmly linked to a programme of fighting austerity, racism and scrapping nuclear weapons.
Thanks to Raymie Kiernan
Holyrood should decide
Nearly 60 percent of people in Scotland believe the Holyrood Scottish parliament should decide on holding a referendum on Scottish independence, according to a new poll.
Respondents backed Holyrood over Westminster by a ratio of two to one with 59 percent choosing the Scottish Parliament, 30 going going for the UK Parliament and 11 percent undecided.
More than half of those polled who voted Labour at the 2017 general election backed Holyrood having the final say—but Labour has explicitly ruled this out.
Where's the justice for Sheku Bayoh?
Outrage has followed the decision by Scotland’s lord advocate not to prosecute any police officers over the death of Sheku Bayoh in 2015.
Sheku died after being restrained by several police officers in Kirkcaldy. There was no evidence that he initially offered any resistance.
He was held face down on the ground while CS gas, batons, leg and ankle restraints and handcuffs were used.
A postmortem revealed he had sustained facial injuries, a fractured rib and bruises to his body.
In a statement last week Sheku’s family said, “People said to us that that the police are above the law and because Sheku was black, we would never get justice. That is exactly what has happened.”
Policing is a matter for the Scottish government, not Westminster. The SNP should immediately call a full public enquiry and ensure that justice is done.