Thousands of people took part in a demonstration in Edinburgh on Saturday to show support for Scottish independence ahead of next September’s historic referendum. Participants marched from the High Street on Edinburgh’s Royal Mile to the top of Calton Hill, where celebrities, activists, and politicians took to the stage to address the crowd.
According to Police Scotland’s official estimate, at least 8,300 people took part in the march, though the event organisers suggest a larger figure – between 20,000 to 30,000 people – is a more accurate count of participants in both the march and the rally. In her own address, Deputy First Minister Nicola Sturgeon boasted that the crowd before her numbered 30,000.
Many participating groups chose to assemble themselves into cohesive blocs during the march. Supporters of the Scottish Socialist Party and Scottish Green Party were distinguished with placards and banners, while a Labour for Independence contingent waved red flags with a thistle in the upper hoist quarter. National Collective, Business for Scotland, and Women for Independence all marched with their own banners and slogans.
Trade unionists also made their presence clear: a wide Communication Workers Union Scotland No. 2 Branch banner joined the march, only days after First Minister Alex Salmond announced the SNP would renationalise the Royal Mail in an independent Scotland.
There was no shortage of support from outwith the SNP, though. One pipe band marched in support of the Marxist-Leninist Scottish Republican Socialist Movement. Elsewhere, activists carried a banner from the centre-right Scottish Democratic Alliance, which read “a vote for independence is not a vote for the SNP”.
In his speech, Salmond acknowledged the breadth of opinion at the rally. He said: “A Yes vote next September will not be a victory for the SNP, or the Yes campaign, or even the huge coalition of interests and enthusiasm gathered here today.”
“It will be the people’s victory. ‘Yes’ will be act of self-confidence and self-assertion which will mean that decisions about what happens in Scotland are always taken by the people who live and work here – not by a remote Westminster system.
“A Yes vote is for self-government, not remote government – good government with independence, not bad government from Westminster.”