Huge numbers of people joined a march for Scottish independence in Glasgow on Saturday.
It was organised by the All Under One Banner group, which said over 100,000 took part. It kicked off a series of marches to push the Scottish government to call for a second independence referendum—and to force the Tories to concede one.
“I’m here as part of the movement to show that there is a real feeling for independence,” marcher Ann Hollies from Inverness told Socialist Worker. “We’ve had enough of Westminster Tory government, and enough of not feeling part of a real democracy.”
The march was boisterous and confident and featured a sea of Scottish Saltire flags.
People chanted “Independence”, “Freedom now” and “Tories Out”. A minority chanted “Labour Out”.
Many marchers were content to campaign to win independence now and debate the future shape of Scottish society later.
One marcher told Socialist Worker, “I back the left but I think we all have to come together as the Scottish people to break away. I’m confident that in any case the new Scottish nation will be much better for working people and for refugees than the UK.”
But others see the need to bring the fight for the break up of Britain together with battles over nuclear missiles, climate change and austerity.
“We won’t get independence unless we fight the powerful people,” said Jane Hammett from Aberdeen. “Unless we are doing something over climate change and Trident and taking to the streets we aren’t going to win.
“I don’t want an independent country that is part of Nato or is subsidising the fossil fuel companies.”
She added, “I have been really inspired by Extinction Rebellion. We should shut down Glasgow or Edinburgh like they did in London—for the climate and for an Indyref.”
Many marchers were frustrated by the Scottish National Party’s (SNP) slowness in moving towards independence. Nicola Sturgeon, Scotland’s first minister, said recently that a new independence referendum should be held by May 2021 if Brexit went ahead.
John MacLeod, a civil service worker from Glasgow, said, “The SNP have been dragging their feet. They talk about Indyref2 but it’s all very careful and very cautious. We won’t get freedom without being bold.
“We should demand a referendum and if the Tories won’t allow one then we have to rise up. Or perhaps we should hold our own and if it’s for independence then we should declare it and get on with it.”
Lots of marchers gave the chaos over Brexit as a strong reason for independence. The SNP, instead of going all out for the demo, was holding the first of its “super Saturday” leafleting sessions for the European elections. It hoped to hand out 500,000 “Stop Brexit” leaflets.
“A vote for the SNP is a vote to stop Brexit,” said SNP depute leader Keith Brown.
But Scotland will never be able to make radical change if it is tied to the neoliberal and racist EU. And saying that you have to be for the EU to back independence makes it harder to win.
It is a real mistake for Labour to cut itself off from the radical energy of the independence movement by its rigid pro-unionism. It even opposes the right of the Scottish parliament to decide when a referendum should be called.
That puts it in the same place as the Tories over the issue.
An All Under One Banner spokesperson told Socialist Worker, “The Scottish people have shown just how hungry the appetite for independence is. This is a clear and present declaration of the demand for self-determination, which we are now unstoppably hurtling towards.”
Overcoming the obstacles to independence requires breaking from the mainstream methods and raising struggle in the streets and workplaces.