Tuesday, 24 September 2013

What to talk about...

I don't blog very often, maybe once or twice a week, I don't want to bore people and lets be honest - there are others saying much the same thing with more erudition and elan than I ever could. Sometimes though, a subject does need repeated and I am aware there are some who read this but not other independence supporting blogs.

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.
The overflow area behind and slightly to the left of Scotland's National Monument (the big half finished column thing.) Another crap photo, sitting off to the left are about 1,000 more people, I was aiming for the chap on the screen, apparently he's Jai McDowell who's an X Factor winner or runner up - I don't really know. He fair belted it out though, I'll give him that.
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.
The organisers did quite well even although the venue wasn't ideal. Food was available (so long as you didn't mind waiting) and an entirely more innocent form of face-painting than that which normally goes on up Calton Hill of a weekend was being offered. Stalls from Newsnet Scotland, National Collective and the SSP among others selling wares and asking for signatures were also present.

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.

That's it. Its ruined. Go home, five people from Belgium who might be a bit nutty are here. They've all but over-shadowed the other 19,995 or so people here. I mean fuck! Who let them into what is a completely open public space that we also happened to be using?

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.


  1. I didn't get to the march as I was wurkin up the law Hill but it certainly looks like a huge success and I totally agree if that number had turned out for the Queen or to celebrate a War then it would be all over the papers, the news. Driving to work today I thought, as the roads were quiet, I would put on call Kaye. Low and behold it was all pro Miliband and the on poor guy I heard call up and say basically he didn't trust Labour was greeted with a ' really '. No mention of that Virus also. YES def moving forward and amazin work in a year but a ways to go.


  2. Excellent as always Pa.

    I really wish we’d met.

    I wondered what the strange coloured Lions Rampant were… so now I know.

    Maybe that’s where we got the virus Ms Lamentable is talking about. I found the whole tone of that speech despicable, but continuing in her vein for a moment…

    I wonder, is she is counting on there being no cure for this virus and that it will carry us all off. I fear she is wrong there. Devolution anti viral injections only seem to have increased its virulence, as we have had the chance to compare those things that were left to the UK to organise (in complete melt down), and those which have been taken over by the Scottish government (struggling from too little funding, but pushing forward).

    I think that there is only one cure for this virus. I suspect that nothing will really get rid of this virus except independence.

    I didn't know, btw, that Calton Hill was known for erm… face painting activities.

    PS: Are you sure I can't interest you in a little Bulgarian surgery?

  3. I'm already a mess Tris, I can't afford risk to what meagre looks I have on Bulgarian surgery. ;-)

    Twitter is awash with virus comments, as usual, its only 'bad' when nats do it so par for the course.

    I didn't see Johann's speech and I'm not seeking it out either, I can sort of extrapolate.

    On the rally Bruce, last year's rally was actually a bit better. I say that possibly because it was the first so had novelty value - it was also a huge success but a bit of risk, no one was sure if enough people would turn up.

    I think this year's was a lot more work for the organisers, with the screens and stewarding, Calton Hill isn't the best venue. The initial gathering on the High Street was superlative, that alone in terms of photogenic-ummm-ness? made my day - it just looked spectacularly good.

    It was still rousing stuff though, the speeches were great with (as I said) some stand out performances.


Thanks for comment as always and I apologise if you have to jump through any hoops to do so. Its just that, I'm still being spammed by organisations who are certain I can't get it up or when it is up its not big enough or that I don't have anyone to get it up for.

Who knew blogging could be so bad for ones self-confidence?