The weekend saw the second Independence Rally take place on Calton Hill. Those participating assembled on the High Street then ambled down South Bridge, along Waterloo Place and up Calton Hill.
Some information about the rally first though. A lot of people don't realise it isn't organised by the SNP or the Yes Scotland campaign, representatives from those groups speak, but it is organised independently by two people - Jeff Duncan & Anne McMillan. It truly is a grassroots effort - for example - I also attended the night-before-the-rally-party at the Calton Hotel, not realising at the time the person I was swapping banal emails about Paypal was Jeff Duncan himself.
It is funded by donations from supporters leading up to and by stewards shaking buckets on the day of the rally
|Ross Bandstand from the Castle.|
The first March took place at the Meadows and the Ross band stand and saw around 7000 attend. Reports vary on numbers, as you would imagine, those organisations not in favour of self-determination (ie. the entirety of the Scottish press corps) tend to err on the cautious side. There have been lots of figures for this year knocked about, organisers say up to 30,000 took part at different times of the day (some marched but didn't go up the hill and vice versa.) The police settled on a figure of 20,000 - an increase on last year and a respectable number.
It was impossible to get an idea of the crowd on Calton Hill, the land undulates with many dips and mounds - the march itself was more obviously busy.
|About 10am sitting outside Subway looking toward the top of Cockburn Street.|
|Standing down a bit from Subway at about 11:45, the High Street officially mobbed.|
|National Collective getting organised, I take a shit photo so its not clear, but never have I ever seen a bunch of more fashionably dressed people.|
|This was my place in the march near to the Heart of Midlothian. I walked with Yes Falkirk, Yes Arran, Stewart Hosie MP and a woman who I'm positive is someone on the telly but couldn't place, she had terrific eye make up though.|
|View down South Bridge, at this point the front of the march had arrived on top of Calton Hill almost 40 minutes beforehand.|
|You can probably tell someone else took this photo because its quite arty. It gives an idea of the crowd in front of the main stage. The same number again are standing to either side of this view.|
Dropping into anorak mode - the speeches were good with stand out moments from Nicola Sturgeon (very popular with the crowd) and Alan Grogan from Labour for Independence who almost - just almost mind - might have me voting Labour in 2016 if he was running. High praise indeed, I'd vote Tory before I'd vote Labour. With the Tories, at least they don't hide the fact they're a bunch of heartless grasping bastards. The current bunch of lying, two-faced, self-serving shitbags that infest the Labour ranks aren't anything like as truthful.
But I digress.
Unionists wasted little time before trying to attenuate any positive effects the day might have. They were quick to point out that Vlaamse Volksbeweging attended, a right wing political group from Belgium who want an independent Flemish nation.
Is this as bad for Yes Scotland and the SNP as the Telegraph would like you to believe? Well given we've already looked at who organised the rally (as in - not Yes Scotland or the SNP) and its the telegraph reporting - its possibly not as devastating as they might hope. I mean I saw a tramp up the hill clutching a can of cheap lager, are we to tar everyone else on Calton Hill with that same brush? Heck, its just as well Jeff and Ann organised the rally for during the day - if they'd decided to have it at night - the Telegraph would have all us 'separatists' labelled as disease-riddled cottagers interested only in having our faces painted by burly strangers in the bushes.
But I digress again.
As expected, the rally got minimal media coverage although the Sunday Herald had a commendable front page spread. Meanwhile unionists have not altered their attack technique, seemingly still feeling the need to manufacture arguments to assail Yes Scotland and the political organisations it represents.
I've asked this question before, is it really the case that independence is such a good idea that those against have resigned themselves to attacking it with stuff they've made up? Uncertainty is not an exclusive feature of a yes vote - can Westminster (for example) make any more of a guarantee on pensions as an independent Scottish government? The SNP have been criticised for not costing their pension plans, as usual, Better Together etc demand manifesto promises from the SNP now while Westminster parties point-blank refuse to tell us what they'll be doing until well after the referendum.
One wonders why?
On a positive note, walking back along Rose Street after the rally, I don't think I've heard so many people talking about the independence referendum. People sitting outside the many pubs chatting, some sounding skeptical and others more enthusiastic about it. The Yes side have absolutely nothing to fear from this, the truth of Scotland's place in the union once learned cannot be unlearned - the direction of travel is always toward a yes vote.
On a not so positive note, I went for a haircut the day after. The usual barbershop chat ensued - "done anything interesting this weekend?" I said I'd been on the independence rally to which she replied "oh, was that Adolf Salmond there?" I thought about pointing out it wasn't all about Alex Salmond but decided to stay very quiet and very still for the duration.
Her scissors all-of-a-sudden looked very sharp.