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25 September 2012

10:54 AM

25 September 2012

10:54 AM

Saturday’s Rally for Independence in Edinburgh was such a non-event that, as best I can discover, Getty Images doesn’t even have any pictures of the march. Hence the tat illustrating this post.

But, in a way, that’s the point. A march that even on the most generous estimate attracted no more than 10,000 people is a flop. This is so even if those who were present enjoyed themselves and thought it a braw occasion. They’re not the whole audience for this kind of caper.

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I write about this at Think Scotland today:

Watching foorage of Saturday’s march for independence in Edinburgh I found myself contemplating Hugh MacDiarmid’s waspish assertion that the chief problem with Scotland is that there’s no-one worth shooting. It often seems as though we are an apathetic nation. As nationalists struggled to fill one section of Princes Street Gardens, I wondered if this was all the independence movement could offer. It seemed silly to be spooked or otherwise afraid of these people, far less suppose they enjoy the backing of history and destiny. Is that it?

[…] For a long time now the SNP have had the most effective, polished political operation in Scotland. They have created the idea of independence as a journey made by a nation thirsting to be born again. There has been a freshness and an energy to their politics that has helped them run rings around their Unionist opposition.

This is why Saturday’s march mattered a little more than you might think: it showed that the nationalists are not as numerous as they might like you to think they are. Nor is it inevitable that Scotland will continue its “journey” to independence. Had the nationalist movement put 250,000 souls onto the streets of Edinburgh the message would have been unmistakable: Destiny awaits! Even the dullest Unionist could see that. If this is true (and it is) then so is the converse. Saturday showed that destiny might yet be delayed and, anyway, that it’s nothing more than a fringe enthusiasm.

That’s the problem with this rally. It made nationalists and nationalism look small. An esoteric, eccentric pursuit that, considered rationally, is close to ridiculous. A kind of souped-up political train-spotting, if you like.

This could have been avoided. There was no need for Alex Salmond to address this rally. Doing so gave the assembly an importance not warranted by the number of folk actually marching. It ensured the SNP would be tied to an event it did not actually organise.

A one-off? Perhaps so. I expect the SNP and Yes Scotland will not leave subsequent rallies to be organised by amateurs. Even so, Saturday did them no good and, to the extent this matters at all, made the nationalists look smaller than they like to look.

Anyway, the whole piece is here.

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Show comments
  • terregles2

    Think a lot of Scots who will be voting a big YES in 2014 did not take to the streets. No reason to we have our referendum and within the time frame we said we were having it.
    Perhaps many Scots were indoors reading The Great Obfuscation-GERS-2006

  • rndtechnologies786

    Your view is nice.

  • Drew Edward

    Political marches of all colours are a bit old fashioned, especially in Scotland, possibly something to do with the anti-social behaviour of the bizarre rituals in the West of Scotland every July. There’s been a huge outcry in Aberdeen after the Union Terrace Gardens project was thrown out dominating the media for weeks, but a mere handful of protesters turned up outside the council for the demo. Even some of the well organised, highly publicised ones against Iraq in Scotland only managed in the low tens of thousands when Tony Blair was in town. The Nationalists were pretty quick to realise the use of online and social media campaigning, and if it is true that over 100 000 people have signed the Yes Scotland declaration in the first three months of their campaign, I suspect this is a more noteworthy figure.

  • HenBroon

    Yes Mr Massie it was so insignificant that you have devoted column inches to it, along with the rest of the Britnat media. If it was so why on earth waste your time babbling guff about it? The fact is that the swivel eyed Unionist loons such as Jim Murphy MP, (with the highest expenses in the land,) were having a meltdown on Twitter screeching for someone to post the number on the march. They wanted oh how they wanted this to be a non event, it was nothing of the kind. You can spin and spin the numbers all you want. The first march the Basques held last year fielded roughly the same number. This year they fielded 1.5 million. Given that this event was organised by Jeff Duncan who is a blogger and a Scottish patriot, with no input from the SNP or the Yes campaign, and organised totally on the internet, it was a resounding success. The only publicity it was given was when the BBC following Murphy’s attempted smear blundered by publicising it a few days before. Talk about egg on the face. Since you set the benchmark at 10,00 for success or failure in Massie land, I am happy to report to you that two people with digital tally counters clicked almost exactly the same figure marching down the Mound of 11,600 fine men, women, and kids. So I guess even in Massie land this can now be regarded as a success. The original bonkers figure of 5,000 was announced by a council official who simply formed his opinion from what he saw on from the top of the disco bus in the Meadows. Many many more joined the march on the way and in the gardens. Russia Today did an excellent article on it. The speakers Alex Salmond, Margo MacDonald, Patrick Harvie, Dennis Canavan, Colin Fox, Ruth Wishart, Hardeep Singh, Professor Mike Danson, Isobel Lindsay, Aamer Anwar, Derek Durkin, Sean Clerkin, Angela Crawley, Cameron McNeish, Martin Keatings, Duncan Fenton, Dean Williamson, Allan Grogan from Labour for Independence were well recieved not only by the marchers but by many who were delighted to find the event not having known it was on. We had representatives from the Basques, The Flemish, Bretons and Italy and Wales there who added to the colour and the carnival atmosphere of the occasion. A fantastic event despite the efforts of half a dozen knuckle dragging Britnats who contaminated the fence above the gardens with the Union flag and started shouting abuse and making obscene gestures to the crowd in an effort to create trouble and discredit the event. They looked very white faced and shocked by the time they had been rescued by the police and marched away taking their soiled union flags with them. Watch this space this time next year. This small country is about to deliver the coup de grâce to your beloved redundant union.

  • HenBroon

    Yes Mr Massie it was so insignificant that you have devoted column inches to it, along with the rest of the Britnat media. If it was so why on earth waste your time babbling guff about it? The fact is that the swivel eyed Unionist loons such as Jim Murphy MP, (with the highest expenses in the land,) were having a meltdown on Twitter screeching for someone to post the number on the march. They wanted oh how they wanted this to be a non event, it was nothing of the kind. You can spin and spin the numbers all you want. The first march the Basques held last year fielded roughly the same number. This year they fielded 1.5 million. Given that this event was organised by Jeff Duncan who is a blogger and a Scottish patriot, with no input from the SNP or the Yes campaign, and organised totally on the internet, it was a resounding success. The only publicity it was given was when the BBC following Murphy’s attempted smear blundered by publicising it a few days before. Talk about egg on the face. Since you set the benchmark at 10,00 for success or failure in Massie land, I am happy to report to you that two people with digital tally counters clicked almost exactly the same figure marching down the Mound of 11,600 fine men, women, and kids. So I guess even in Massie land this can now be regarded as a success. The original bonkers figure of 5,000 was announced by a council official who simply formed his opinion from what he saw on from the top of the disco bus in the Meadows. Many many more joined the march on the way and in the gardens. Russia Today did an excellent article on it. The speakers Alex Salmond, Margo MacDonald, Patrick Harvie, Dennis Canavan, Colin Fox, Ruth Wishart, Hardeep Singh, Professor Mike Danson, Isobel Lindsay, Aamer Anwar, Derek Durkin, Sean Clerkin, Angela Crawley, Cameron McNeish, Martin Keatings, Duncan Fenton, Dean Williamson, Allan Grogan from Labour for Independence were well recieved not only by the marchers but by many who were delighted to find the event not having known it was on. We had representatives from the Basques, The Flemish, Bretons and Italy and Wales there who added to the colour and the carnival atmosphere of the occasion. A fantastic event despite the efforts of half a dozen knuckle dragging Britnats who contaminated the fence above the gardens with the Union flag and started shouting abuse and making obscene gestures to the crowd in an effort to create trouble and discredit the event. They looked very white faced and shocked by the time they had been rescued by the police and marched away taking their soiled union flags with them. Watch this space this time next year. This small country is about to deliver the coup de grâce to your beloved redundant union.

  • pierre

    scratch the veneer and you reveal the uncle tom that is mr massie. epic fail, sir

  • andrew kerins

    The fact that the march, on a fine autumn day with no rival attractions in Edinburgh – unless you count Hibs playing in Leith – produced such a poor turnout suggests that the
    core support for independence is stronger on the internet than in the world outside. There was also a feeling of ‘yesterday’s men’ about the rally. It is hard to see Dennis Canavan or Ruth Wishart appealing to anybody under 55.

  • JPJ2

    Yet again, you display unionist complacency-excellent!
    From a pro-indepndence perspective, this was an unexpectedly large turnout (the meeting place would barely have accomodated a larger event) given it was organised on a shoestring without meaningful input from the SNP or Yes Scotland.
    Whatever unionists may think, come September 2014 a much larger pro independence demonstration will take place shortly before the vote. Will the massed unionists of the Orange Order, and bussed in unionists from south of the border be able to match it (will they even have the confidence to try)?. I suggest that, appropriately, the answer to that will be “No” 🙂

  • Paul Docherty

    Stop branding everyone who supports independence as a nationalist. Its really annoying.

    • sir_graphus

      It seems a word that describes this position perfectly.
      You are presumably saying that you support independence without supporting the SNP, which is feasible; the SNP are a socialist party, and you don’t necessarily want an independent Scotland to be socialist. Unfortunately, that’s what it would be, and if you don’t want socialism, you’re better off with us (though far less so than ideal).

      • Noa

        Yes. The choice is between an incipiently bankrupt Marxist mini-state in thrall to its masters in Brussels, or remaining in the Union, the basis and direction of which is increasingly unclear, but which, despite an artificially created, mainly one sided antipathy, probably offers more benefit to its northern parter than to England.

        • Noa

          Umm. Disagreements. Still the truth is generally ill-received, especially in the land of fantasy…

        • terregles2

          Mmm. Oh do let’s stay with the union, It means we can illegally invade foreign countries. It will guarantee we are always involved in a war like the Falklands or Afghanistan. We can have our sea boundary moved around as the Bliar did in 1999 and we can lose 6000 sq miles of our Scottish waters. Let us keep sending all the billions of revenue that we raise from Whisky, Textiles, Forestry, Renewables,Biotechnology, Oil, Gas, Metals, Fisheries, Food exports, Tourism, Pharmaceuticals, Stem cell research.Etc. Let’s keep sending it all to Westminster and then waiting for them to hand our share back.
          We have so much to be thanful for.

      • MichtyMe

        People of the right do not support dependence or dependency. They believe in self determination, in national sovereignty and independence. And who do we think will be in power at Westminster in three years.

        • Noa

          Oh, possibly Labour, but a feasible alternative is a Conservative/UKIP alliance. In any event even a Labour government can be replaced. And if Scotland obtains independence England will be permanently free of its pious, preaching, mad Gaelic socialists.
          However, pity poor Scotland then, whether SNP or Labour, it will be tax n’spend. A soggy socialist wellington stamping forever on the face of Alba.

      • terregles2

        Better off with you. Oh yes is that the great time we had under Thatcher.

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