Socialist Worker

Marchers on Glasgow demo demand Scottish independence and end to Tory rule

by Charlie Kimber
Issue No. 2687

Marching in Glasgow for Scottish independence

Marching in Glasgow for Scottish independence (Pic: Andrew McGowan)


Tens of thousands of people marched through Glasgow on Saturday in support of Scottish independence, despite torrential rain.

Organisers All Under One Banner (AUOB) said that 80,000 took part. Others who had pledged to be there were stopped by transport disruption due to floods.

Organisers were forced to cancel a rally planned for Glasgow Green after forecasts of high winds resulted in safety concerns.

The size and spirit of the march underline that there is a growing movement to challenge Boris Johnson’s refusal to grant another independence referendum.

The Scottish National Party (SNP) took 48 of Scotland’s 59 seats at the recent election. SNP first minister Nicola Sturgeon has requested another independence vote. But the Tories won’t grant one for fear it might be successful.

The march was overwhelmingly made up of working class people. For many a central reason for independence is to leave a British state that seems to be dominated by right wing politicians and rule by the rich.

The two most popular chants among marchers were “What do we want? Independence!” and “Boris, Boris, Boris, Out, Out, Out!”

Trapped

Margaret Rennie, a marcher from Inverclyde, told Socialist Worker, “The election just confirmed it for me. We need to get away from being trapped in a country that doesn’t respect us and has very different views about society to most of us in Scotland. 

“We shouldn’t have to beg for the right to decide our future. The Yes to independence party won, so it’s time for us to have that vote.”

Mohamed Asif said, “As the US and Britain contemplate another illegal war, this time in Iran, Scotland has to part company from the imperialist British state. And the time to do that is now.”

Keir McKechnie, chief steward for AUOB, told Socialist Worker, “The 80,000 on the march represent many more. After the election of Boris Johnson this movement is serving notice that we are not asking for indyref2, we are demanding that it happen this year.

We are not going to put up with another five years of Tory austerity and a hostile environment towards refugees and migrants. We want Trident missiles scrapped, and the climate change criminals driven out.”

He added, “If we don’t get indyref2 we need to make Scotland ungovernable. We take inspiration from the struggles in Chile, France and many other countries.”

But Sturgeon and the SNP have shown no sign of being willing to launch the militant action that would be needed to overcome Johnson’s refusal to budge. That would mean struggle in the streets and workplaces.

AUOB’s next march is in Arbroath on 4 April. It has a programme of marches throughout the year, culminating in Edinburgh on 3 October.

The Labour Party, reduced to just one seat in Scotland at the election, is belatedly reconsidering its outright opposition to independence and another referendum.

Bitterly

Large sections of the party remain bitterly hostile to another vote or independence.

But Monica Lennon, a Labour MSP who sits on the Scottish executive and shadow cabinet, and Grahame Smith, the outgoing general secretary of the Scottish TUC, both now back a referendum.

So do Ged Killen and Paul Sweeney, former MPs who lost their seats in Glasgow at the election.

Scottish Labour leader Richard Leonard has said he wants to hold a special conference in May to decide the party’s position on a fresh referendum.

He was expected to propose that Labour backs a federal Britain with enhanced powers for the Scottish parliament, but not independence.

Such an option, usually called “devo-max”, is another fudge to avoid independence. It should be rejected in favour of breaking up the British state.

In any case, in another sign of Scottish Labour's turmoil, on Saturday the party's Scottish executive committee rejected Leonard’s proposals for a special conference and instead voted to hold its own “away day”, in private, to define federalism and draft policy on it.

That has delayed a decision on whether to ask for federalism to be included as a third option in a multi-choice independence referendum.

The battle for independence continues. But opposition to the Tories cannot be narrowed just to independence.

The struggles over austerity, racism and climate change needed in the rest of Britain are just as urgent in Scotland.


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