A huge march for Scottish independence swept through Edinburgh on Saturday.
Organisers All Under One Banner said that over 200,000 took part and that it was the “the biggest demonstration for independence in Scottish history”.
The most popular chant was, “What do we want? Independence. When do we want it? Now.” But there were also lots of calls for, “Tories out, Boris out”, “Boris where’s yur troosers!” and, “Boris Johnson, dead in a ditch.”
The sea of Scottish Saltire flags was interspersed with flags of Catalonia and Palestine, along with hundreds of anti-Tory placards.
An AUOB spokesperson said that the “current political climate and Westminster chaos” has “built momentum” in the independence movement.
As well as the desire to win independence, many marchers said they wanted social change—action against climate change, poor housing, the cruelty of Universal Credit and low pay.
Malcolm from Aberdeen said, “It’s not enough to move a parliament from London to Edinburgh, we have to change the way society is run. I have been on Extinction Rebellion events and I know that there won’t be much of any sort of society left if we don’t act over the climate.”
Another driver of support for independence is Brexit. Some marchers had the European Union stars printed on top of the Scottish flag.
Helen was carrying a placard saying, “No smacking, no fracking, no union- jacking!” It referenced the Scottish parliament’s recent vote against hitting children.
“I think we can have a better Scotland and it will come much more quickly if we break from Britain,” Helen told Socialist Worker. “I don’t see how anyone can look at the Westminster parliament and think they want more of that.”
There are different views about how to win independence. Marcher Anne said that she thought there was a need for some patience. “We need to keep marching, voting for the Scottish National Party (SNP), and building an unstoppable force that can win a vote when the time comes,” she said.
But many other marchers think that’s too weak and won’t work. “Call the independence referendum now, whether Boris Johnson likes it or not,” said Gerry. “You don’t get free by being polite, you have to work for it and fight for it.”
Joan said, “Let’s take advantage of the chaos of the British political system. Everything’s a mess, it’s time to act.” And Ian said he didn’t trust the SNP “to be determined and defiant enough to get the sort of change we need”.
SNP leader and first minister Nicola Sturgeon tweeted, “Good luck to everyone marching for independence in Edinburgh later. I’m not able to be there in person today, but I will be with you in spirit. Have a great day. And be in no doubt—independence is coming.”
But there was some criticism that the SNP had not made enough effort to build a movement in the streets and that most top SNP MPs and MSPs were absent.
“They’re embarrassed sometimes by large crowds being noisy for indy,” said Ian.
The Labour Party has refused to back independence or even the right of the Scottish parliament to decide when another referendum should be held.
In doing so it has cut itself off from a very big social movement that broadly reflects social democratic politics.
Several marchers told Socialist Worker they quite like Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn but are repulsed by the Scottish Labour Party and want a party that backs independence.
Independence will be advanced best if there is a clear link to action against austerity, racism and climate change.
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