Thousands of people took to the streets of Perth in central Scotland on Saturday for a march organised by the All Under One Banner (AUOB) group for a second independence referendum. AUOB organisers said 15,000 joined it.
It took place after a week or mayhem at Westminster with Boris Johnson facing meltdown. A strong anti-Tory mood could be felt on the march.
“Tories Out” and “Boris Johnson dead in a ditch” were the most popular chants along with “We want independence now”‘. Many protesters carried placards saying “Kick the Tories Out” and others with anti-racist messages.
Support for independence is on the rise, now at 49 percent according to a poll recently. As pollster John Curtice argued, “It can no longer be presumed that Scotland would vote No again in an independence ballot.”
The poll showed more people say there should be another independence referendum in the next five years than say there should not.
It’s positive that Labour said a Corbyn-led government would accept the Scottish parliament’s right to decide if it wants another independence referendum. But subsequently Corbyn said, “In the formative years of a Labour government we wouldn’t agree to another independence referendum.”
Richard Leonard, the party’s Scottish leader, said, “It would only be acceptable to a Labour government to allow a second referendum to proceed if it could be demonstrated that there was a fresh mandate for such a vote to be held. This would require a democratic mandate from the people of Scotland which clearly signals the majority of people are in favour of a new vote.
“I do not believe that the conditions exist for such a move today, nor will they for the foreseeable future.”
As long as Labour continues uniting with right wing unionist parties to oppose independence, it will cut itself off from the radical mood around indyref2.
Yet tailing the Scottish National Party (SNP) leadership—as the last few years have proven—will not deliver independence, or get rid of Tory austerity. Nor will it deliver, it seems, any real action to address the climate crisis.
Marchers gathered in the North Inch to hear a rally at the end of the march. AUOB chief steward Keir McKechnie said, “Every day Boris Johnson rules this country, there are pensioners dying, there are hospital closures and the Universal Credit regime
“Our message is that we cannot wait any longer for indyref2, we need it now.” It was received with shouts of “use the mandate” directed at the SNP.
McKechnie added amid cheers, ‘While we’re marching here, they are destroying the planet. I take hope and inspiration from the young people and Extinction Rebellion that are occupying cities and calling on people to take action on the 20 September.”
There is an appetite for indyref2 and the AUOB demonstration in Edinburgh on 5 October will be a test for the movement. But we can’t postpone fighting climate change, austerity and racism until we have won independence.
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