As I marched through Glasgow on yesterdays All Under One Banner march for independence the usual things went through my mind. How many people do you think there are here? I wonder if someone in that police helicopter is filming this?
But that morning was different to other marches I had attended. For days leading up to it there were dire warnings of poor weather. Even a Met Office yellow warning had been issued. After parking my car as near to the end of the march as I could I headed to catch a subway to the West End. The Glasgow underground as many visitors to the city found out that day just goes round and round. It doesn’t matter what train you get on you reach your destination eventually. That was just as well as I was greeted by 3 very long lines of people like me patiently waiting to buy tickets. It was a scene reminiscent of the commonwealth games back in 2014 but SPT staff were not as prepared for it. One ‘circle’ of the subway was running late. On the platform the crush was more like the Tokyo rush hour than a wet January day in Glasgow.
I skipped platforms and tried my luck on the other side. On the subway usually people avoid eye contact and sit and stare at the adverts on the walls of the carriage. Not that day. There was a buzz of friendly chatting and questions overheard half way down the carriage were responded to from afar. ‘What station is it?’ – ‘Kelvinbridge!’ A collective conversation took place solving problems of where to get off and what to do that I found that really inspiring.
There was an air of steely determination about the people I met. A man from Fort William very suitably dressed for the heavy rain. He recounted how he had pleaded with the coach driver to drop them at Kelvinbridge but he was refused. He had not been on the underground since 1969. He would also tell me modestly that he helped to build the bridge over the River Clyde at Erskine. There was no barrier to conversation as we were all connected to a common purpose. We were all in the same clan even though we came from many points of origin.
The volume of people nearly overwhelmed the subway system but we all got there eventually and carried on our conversations on foot. The delay meant I was late and the march had already started moving. I joined it on Gibson Street just as the second section was coming through. The first section made up of the drummers and a group of wheelchair users had already passed.
I started to notice tangible differences. The march was filling both sides of the road for a start. There was more of a buzz of excitement in the air. More energy in the marchers themselves. The streets were also lined with people taking the time to stop and wave and cheer. All the way along the route many people who could not physically manage to do the whole march had clearly decied to support it from the pavement at key vantage points. A succession of photos published on social media showed this. In terms of the rally at the end being cancelled due to bad weather I think the displacement of people on the streets to support the march was to be welcomed and is something organisers should take into account for future events.
I spotted journalist Lesley Riddoch out doing a spot of street journalism at Charing Cross. Seemed to remember seeing her there on the last one too. Saw her getting in among the crowd to take a photo of this creative banner. People’s creativity always impresses us on days like this. We are all becoming citizen journalists with something to say.
The throng carried on marching through to Sauchiehall Street and on up to Pitt Street. Spontaneous singing was taking place alongside the usual cries of ‘What do we want?….Independence…When do we want it? Now!’
Ahead of me on Union Street I saw a line of 3 large police riot vehicles and then I remembered about the usual Unionist/Force for Good counter demonstration. The mood however was so good natured the police could have all taken a tea break. There was a lot of noise but all the hate was coming from the other direction. At the time I passed there was about a dozen young guys shouting abuse at the marchers , veins nearly burtsing with rage on the side of their closely shaven heads. They must have been there for a very long time because each section of the march seemed to want to stop and wave goodbye to them. It was heart warming. Many sections of the march were also getting into spontaneous dancing by this point. Did I mention the rain?
The counter demonstration showed nothing but hatred for the mixed crowd of families with children, old people and people on wheelchairs moving past them. It was as if they were at a football match preparing to attack the opposing teams fans. All this is orchestrated by a pro Union activist who is a self confessed holocaust denying Orange Lodge supporter. Expelled from UKIP for making holocaust denying remarks he seems to have garnered support from fascists but as these images seem to show the ‘master race’ does not like getting wet and the tide is turning in Scotland towards the end of their glorious Brittanic Empire
As we passed the hecklers of hate the crowd carried on their singing, the dancing had become more visible and the conversations between people were obvious to see. People were having fun in the rain on an otherwise dreich Saturday in Glasgow the second city of the empire.
Every where people seemed to be discussing things.It is a very hopeful sign and one politicians should take notice of. The massive turnout on such a miserable wet day illustrates that ‘steely determination’ I met on the subway.People were all on an individual and collective mission to attend this march. Despite the cold and damp conditions people will have been enriched by this collective experience and will be asking why Scotland cannot decide our own future. Other people will have noticed that so many people are on the streets yet the media do not seem to report such a spectacle. The denial of the right to hold a second independence referendum will be seen around the world as an abuse of democracy. More and more people are seeing the truth of this and the concept of being independent is becoming a normal position amidst a broken union run by a dysfunctional parliament in Westminster.
Everyone must keep talking and keep postive about Scotlands Future come rain or shine. Thank you AUOB for organsing and thank you Glasgow for hosting us. G