Over 20,000 people marched for independence in Glasgow yesterday, Saturday.
The fact that the Scottish National Party did not officially back the march made the turnout all the more remarkable.
Although centred on the demand for a second independence referendum, and a Yes vote, the march also had other elements. The Herald newspaper was one of those that reported, “The protest also had an anti-austerity and anti-Tory theme.”
The popular chant leading the march was “Tories out”. The march was organised by the All Under One Bannner group and built by loose networks of small pro-independence groups and individuals.
Michael had never marched before but saw the event on Facebook and wanted to join it. He told Socialist Worker, “It was a “great turnout. It’s been quite overwhelming. The movement for independence is more alive than ever.”
Anna from Glasgow explained why she backs independence. “I’m on my own, I work but I’m struggling just to keep my head above water. We should run the country the way it should be run – with fairness and equality.”
She angrily remembers how former Tory leader Margaret Thatcher “tore the heart out of our communities” and the “monstrous” way the Tories attack people on benefits today. She also thinks Brexit will be “a fiasco” and voted Remain but believes a second referendum on independence should not be linked to EU membership.
Brian and Jo travelled from East Lothian to march. “The Tories just prey on the vulnerable. The rich get richer and the poor get poorer,” Brian told Socialist Worker.
Jo is on the receiving end of Tory benefits “reform”. She worked at the same job for 30 years but left to try something new. She said, “It didn’t work out so now I’m on Universal Credit with a mortgage, two kids and £300 a month to live on. If I don’t get another job soon I’m going to end up losing my house.”
For many marchers, independence is linked to a set of policies that the Labour Party said it stood for before the era of Tony Blair.
These include a belief that society should look after everyone, that the welfare state should be properly funded and social justice should be a priority.
Until Jeremy Corbyn becameLabour leader, the party was thoroughly discredited in their eyes. But he echoes many of the reasons they want independence.
Yet Corbyn’s still got his work cut out with ex-Labour members such as John from Bristol who travelled to join the march. He’s from Scotland but has lived in England over two decades. “I’m sympathetic to Corbyn,” he said. “I think Corbyn is trying to take things back to before Blair sold the Labour Party’s soul to big business.”
But he said it’s the “horrible side”—the Labour right—that makes him think again about backing the party and consider the Greens instead.
“These career politicians that just see the 70-odd grand a year, thousands in expenses, flash cars and posh hotels. But what do they actually do for any of us?
“They are a cancer that should be cut out of the party.”
Yesterday’s march underlines how whatever happens on Thursday there is a force that can, and must, mobilise on the streets and in workplaces against the Tories and their rotten values.
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