By Bob Duncan
In 1979, I was a third-year student and an ardent supporter of Scottish Independence.  The first ever constitutional referendum for Scotland was imminent and the Yes campaign was marshalling its resources, such as they were, to fight a No campaign which included practically every political party and institution in the country and many based elsewhere.

The few opinion polls which existed then were ambiguous, but seemed to show a Yes vote would be unlikely.  The Westminster government (then Labour led) was interfering with the referendum process to make a positive outcome almost impossible.  And the Tories were promising jam tomorrow – just as long as we behaved ourselves and voted No.  We all know how that turned out.

A march in support of the Yes campaign was organised in Edinburgh that Spring.  Thousands of people massed on Calton Hill to hear the speeches and enjoy the atmosphere.  Then a band of 71, one representing each constituency in Scotland (yes, really – 71) marched down towards the Royal high School where the new Scottish Assembly was to be housed.  Each of us bore a Saltire and we marched in silence, eventually sitting on the ground in front of the empty school.

As we reached the bottom of the hill, we were greeted by a solid wall of cheering as thousands of suporters were waiting for us to appear.  I was at the front of the line, proudly striding alongside Billy Wolfe who was then the leader of the SNP.  The cameras were out and we all featured in the small number of news broadcasts that evening.  That was one of the proudest days of my young life.

Nowadays, every time someone makes up a montage from 1979, or creates a retrospective on Independence or Scottish nationalism, there is a good chance that my 20 year old self will appear on screen again, my red beard (grown specially for the occasion) making me look like I just came down from the hills for the day.  And each time, I am taken back to that campaign, and to that day.

On Saturday 22nd of September, we will all have the opportunity to take part in the first of three annual Marches for Independence in Edinburgh.  Those who attend, seasoned campaigners and neophytes alike, will remember that they were there for the rest of their lives.  Win or lose in 2014, and I am supremely confident that we shall win, each person marching will become a part of Scotland's history.

Then, if we achieve our independence at this attempt, or even at the next, each will look back on the experience and think, “I was there that day.  I was a part of all that.  And just look at the nation we managed to build because of it.”

Don't miss your chance to become part of Scotland's story.  Get to Edinburgh this Saturday, if you possibly can, and take part in the march.  Create your own memories of the day, and be careful not to wipe them out again at the after party in Espionage.

But most of all, just be a part of it.


# balbeggie 2012-09-19 21:26
It seems that all the coaches from all parts of the country listed on the organising site are nearly all fully booked, that is a good sign.
# Fungus 2012-09-19 21:40
No it isn't...means I have to get the train :-)
# Glenbuchat 2012-09-19 23:36
"The Westminster government (then Labour led) was interfering with the referendum process to make a positive outcome almost impossible."

Can you at least try to resist the temptation to rewrite and misrepresent history. It was the Labour Government which put through the legislation and called the referendum. The Cunningham amendment which forced through the 40% rule was supported by a few Labour rebels and the Tories.

As to the campaign itself, yes a number of leading Labour figures campaigned for a No vote but the SNP were very far from united themselves. The leading figures of the Yes campaign were all Labour movement members, not the likes of Billy Wolfe or any of the then SNP MPs. The result of the subsequent election served to emphasize the irrelevance of the SNP to the political debate then current in Scotland.

The '79 Referendum was a missed opportunity and, it has to be admitted, a failure on the part of a severely weakened Labour
government to deliver on a policy commitment. The role of the SNP, however, in both the debate and the campaign was entirely minimal.
# Blanco 2012-09-20 09:52
To say the SNP had no part in the devolution referendum ignores the fact that it was only due to their presence in Westminster, and high polling figures, that pressured Labour into offering a home rule referendum. The impression I have always had is that this referendum was offered reluctantly, and only due to SNP pressure and Labour's relative weakness at Westminster. There were plenty of Scottish Labourites actively against home rule, such as Tam Dalyell and the southern-based Cunningham.

Secondly, although the referendum was instigated and led by Labour figures, were Labour really particularly active in promoting it? I have only anecdotal evidence, so can't say for sure, but I know of at least one SNP activist who claims he and his fellow party members were out campaigning for home rule whilst his local Labour activists were sitting in the pub. (and Suomi below has just confirmed it from his point of view as well)

Where you are correct is that by voting against Labour in the subsequent no confidence vote, Labour were able very successfully to paint the SNP as Tory stooges. One would have to be deluded to think that the Tories would not have gotten in in a few months time in a general election anyway, but although I understand the SNP's motivation for doing it, it displayed a political naievity in giving Labour a handy stick with which to beat them through the 80s.
# Sleekit 2012-09-20 07:59
I'll be there on Saturday.

Really looking forward to attending the event and contemplating the Espionage after party.

Well done to the organisers!

Scott Minto
# Desperate Dora 2012-09-20 08:44
I will be there, too. Looking forward to it. Last time I marched in Edinburgh was before we had devolution. I marched with Democracy for Scotland and we built a cairn on Calton Hill. Can't wait to see what we build this time!
# Suomi 2012-09-20 09:29
Glenbuchat,you are also guilty of rewriting history by being selective in your version of events.I remember that labour were reluctant converts to devolution.They offered eventually (what they called a powerhouse Assembly for Scotland) as a device to steal the nationalist thunder,when the SNP were breathing down their necks.The response of the unionist parties has always been to give as little as possible when threatened electorally.

The 40% referendum,whic h meant that dead mems votes and those who didn't,or couldnt vote was not opposed by the mass of the labour MP's.During the campaign in my neck of the woods,it was the SNP and a few liberals who did most of the work on the ground.In my constiuency on voting day the labour HQ was in darkness and the slick organization that normally transported elderly people to the polls to put their cross for labour,was invisible.i called my local labour Regional councillor for help.only to be told that he was in the pub with his mates.When a narrow Yes vote was obtain ed,the late leader of the SNP parliamentary group (Donald Stewart) asked Callaghan to implement his bill by putting on a 3 line whip.Callaghn refused on the grounds that the support within the labour ranks was insuffiecient.Labour have since thenused the SNP's vote of no con fidence as evidence that they let the tories.Total nonsense of course sonce the tories were on course to win,but the slogan was a nice diversion from the reality of that moment.

my anecdote is an example of how narrow party politics and vested interests,preve nt the nation of Scotland from gaining the right to make its own decisions,a situation that is normal for all coun tries claiming nationhood.I just hope that this time we have moved beyond the politics and that the YES campaign grow into a broad based movement with wide support acroos all political parties and all sections of society.
# DonaldMhor 2012-09-20 10:08
I will be there on Saturday flying my flags and taking photographs which I will later post on a blog.

In the meantime Glenbuchat stop your slavering man you cannot get away with stuff like that any more this is the 21st century and the information age. Google proves you are a fantasist. My spell checker does not recognise fantasist and has called you a fajita.

Anyone who thinks the SNP has had no influence on the creation of the Scottish Parliament in Holyrood is living in a land of unionist delusion, the kind that has caused the demise of unionism and the London parties in Scotland. You can post all the guff you like on these forums but history cannot be changed much to your disappointment. The upward trend line of the SNP since the 70s has been the major factor in devolution, not Labours twisted lies and treachery.
# nottooweeorstupid 2012-09-20 10:18
I can't be there but have a great day, folks.... and please, everyone remember that the MSM will be looking for excuses to dismiss you as an unruly rabble - Sunday manners!!!
# the excited mariner 2012-09-20 15:05
looking forward to the March. Anyone suggest somewhere half-decent to eat for myself and family?
# DonaldMhor 2012-09-20 16:40
Quoting the excited mariner:
looking forward to the March. Anyone suggest somewhere half-decent to eat for myself and family?

I can thoroughly recommend Wagamama on Lothian Road which is close to the assembly area, or even for after as you can retrace your steps through the gardens to it. We recently had a family event there and it was superb. The food is excellent and the staff efficient and friendly. It is family oriented. take a look:

Recommended: chilli ramen
noodles in a spicy chicken and pork soup topped with beef steak or chicken, beansprouts, red and spring onions and chillies. garnished with coriander and lime
# UpSpake 2012-09-20 16:10
Plenty nice eateries in the Grassmarket post the rally.
# Keep UTG 2012-09-20 18:46
I think it`s time to stand up and be counted,i`ve never been on a march in my life,can`t think of a more worthwhile one to start with.
# velofello 2012-09-20 19:23
Glenbuchat: the 1979 referendum shenanigans was my wake-up call to wanting an independent Scotland.
Cunningham's treacherous 40%, dead men's vote used as No.
The UK parliament system is rotten, the sooner there is an independent Scotland and a rUK the better. You are free to stay in Scotland or go to a US-modelled rUK as you wish.
The weather promises to be fine for Saturday, I'll attend on behalf of my grandchildren.
# gregalach 2012-09-20 19:59
Regardless of weather I'll be there. Last march I was on was early 70s, but this one has been in my diary since it was first suggested months ago, wouldnt miss it for anyhting - hope I dont miss the bus, yikes!!
# mutterings 2012-09-20 22:51
I think this is looking good as far as turn-out is concerned. The sunny weather is going to make a huge difference. The buses are almost fully booked. And I noticed in the last few days I've been getting an increased number of hits for the March + Rally event listed on my website.

See you all on Saturday!
# Robabody 2012-09-20 23:07
See you all there, but how will I know you? If I carry a Scotsman or Herald under my arm you'd be in your rights to lynch me....argh.

Late addition... I'll be carrying a Newsnet printout. Now where did I put that carnation?
# CapnAndy 2012-09-21 03:52
I'm afraid I can't come as I'm at work in the Gulag. However I hope everyone has a great day and that it all goes well.
# Thee Forsaken One 2012-09-21 10:37
Alas I shall be down south that day but if they're held annually then I shall definitely try to get to the one next year and the year after that!
# Elsueno 2012-09-21 14:33
At 26 I was not even around for 1979. But my mum made sure I was in attendance for the anti poll tax rally in Musselburgh when I was 4 years old. To me as a boy it was just a big day out, I was blissfully unaware of the magnitude of the event.

Fast forward 8 years and I was there for the pro devolution march in Edinburgh, proudly waving my saltire, although not really understanding the terms of devolution.

I marched again in 2003 against the second Gulf War, this time knowing exactly why I was there and what I was standing up for.

It would be another several years before I would rally to a cause, this time against the OTT aggression of Israel and its disproportionat e military response to rocket fire from Gaza.

All of these rallies were important, but none will even touch the depth of passion and feeling I have for independence. Now as an adult, I will bring my 13 year old brother with me and carry on the family tradition of marching to change our world.
# bringiton 2012-09-21 19:04
At least we will show the ignorant media opionators that Scottish independence is not a one man band and that Alex Salmond is not a lone voice.
See you tomorrow.
# Diabloandco 2012-09-21 20:04
Looking forward to my first March in 40 odd years!
# gus1940 2012-09-22 07:41
What a beautiful cloudless day for a march - it looks as if the gods are smiling on the cause of Scottish Independence.
# Robabody 2012-09-22 08:15
It is indeed a beautiful day gus1940. Might not see you in the throng, so enjoy (and the same to you all.

PS where's my earlier post (yesterday) gone? Does it have to be remodded if you add a little to it?
# Marga B 2012-09-22 11:37
Good luck to you all - in Catalonia the march is being announced in the headlines - hope it gets as much international attention as we did. We all deserve it!
# rob4i 2012-09-22 15:16
Vote 'YES' for a positive future for Scotland.
Vote 'NO' to achieve a retrograde future for Scotland!

You Unionists who don't know the facts other than the one's given to you by self-serving Scottish Unionist MP's need to be very careful what you wish for!!
# Glenbuchat 2012-09-22 15:32
I am sure that everyone on the march had a wonderful time and were roused togreater heights of enthusiasm by stirring speeches, but I will be interested to see how a turnout of 5000 can be described as anything other than disappointing.

Compared with the reported figures for Catalonia, a turnout significantly lower than the organisers deliberately understated predictions hardly shows huge enthusiasm for the cause.
# Galen10 2012-09-22 17:27
As opposed to the huge pro-Union counter demonstration you mean? Or the huge out pouring of pro-Union sentiment evident in the Better Together blitz the other weekend?

Hmmnn... thought not...

There are reasons for 1.5 million turning out in Catalonia; perhaps if the Union with the UK had involved the kind of repression of Scots that the Catalan people had experienced in Spain since the Spanish Civil War you might have seen a similar turnout in Edinburgh.

The Scots in general are a fairly undemonstrative lot; that doesn't necessarily mean Unionists can take comfort from the turnout (especially until they prove they can do a lot better of course!).

I'm a huge supporter of independence, but not of the SNP. If I lived in Scotland rather than Sussex, I might have attended... but I might not. It isn't a defining issues for me. The referendum debate won't be decided on the basis of the two sides comparing the sizes of their demos, it will be decided on issues, and on the basis of which side does the best job of persuading swing voters to vote for them.

So far, any unbiased observer would have to say the Unionists are taking a drubbing; they lack ideas, leadership, charisma, and any semblance of a positive vision for Scotland's future.

There is a reason why the positive case for the Union has proven so elusive; it has very little substance.
# Macart 2012-09-22 15:39
O/T but for anyone interested images of the march appearing over on Wings over Scotland.

Bit of a difference from Better Together's Weekend Blitz.

Hope you don't mind a double posting ed.
# balbeggie 2012-09-22 15:55
Rather than reading the dismal jimmies opinions on this thread, it will be nice to read the reports of those who were actually there.
# Breeks 2012-09-22 16:04
I didn't want to sound negative before the day, but I knew I was bound by commitments and I just couldn't get away, - but I won't miss the next one, and that's a promise.

Well done people, very proud of you!
# Breeks 2012-09-22 18:46
I'm not, but if you do feel deflated by numbers, blame the likes of me because I couldn't make it. But put it in perspective.

I'm not downbeat at all, but I think we might learn a lot from the Catalans.

First, they used their National Day of Catalonia, which is an annual day of celebration. It will surely help any day of demonstration to pick a day or occassion where people are already inclined to be waving flags in the streets anyway. I'm not sure Scotland has such a day to compare with that, but it's still something to think about.

Second, it's the old media chestnut yet again. Many people in Scotland are drip fed BBC news and feel no compulsion to look any deeper than the drivel they're given. The Catalans have a means of communication which the YES campaign is currently denied.

But don't be down hearted, 5000 people is no mean achievement given we're two years away from the vote yet, and while the YES campaign is winning the argument hands down, there still isn't much head of steam in the boiler - yet. As Marga B pointed out, that 1.5 million crowd in Catalonia was the culmination of two years planning and loads of hard work.

There are further events planned, and that will develop momentum and give campaigners a chance to learn from mistakes and repeat what works well, and the bigger numbers will come. We all know that Scotland can shoogle the planet when we really get behind an idea, and you really think passions won't be running high in the weeks before a referendum on Independence? Don't miss out, -order your saltires now.

The big issue for me is the media.
# sneckedagain 2012-09-23 20:03
I wonder why the unionists think that by talking about attendance figures they win any arguments. However.
The figure quoted, apparently by the police (who described the 100,000 in Glasgow who marched against Iraq invasion as 30,000) are demonstrably wrong and we should establish that.

The formal theatre area at the Princess Street Garden I believe has an official capacity of 5,000.(1500 seated, 3500 standing) It was full well before 12.30.
More than that again poured in till just after 1 oclock so I would put the figure at its height at about 11,000 or 12,000.
But I'm sure more than 10,000 were there.

It is fairly easy to establish this from the huge number of photographs now available.

We are now at the point where it would be very useful to expose the lies to the public.
I would ask the organisers to wait a few days, estimate the figures carefully and then publicly ask the police where they got the 5000 from.

It would be wise to make arrangements to have independent monitors accurately estimate the figures at these events in future
# graememcallan 2012-09-29 05:15
Sneck, the Minority Satan's Minions, or MSM for short, will not report this type of atrocity, having independent monitors estimating accurate figures? What have you been smoking (and can I buy some.....)

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