On a sunny afternoon in the seaside town of Ayr, 37 miles from Glasgow, Scotland, an estimated 13,000 marched to demand independence from the United Kingdom.
The march was the fourth in a series of eight organised by Scottish pro-independence movement All Under One Banner. The last in the sequence will take place in Edinburgh, the Scottish capital, on Saturday, October 5th. All Under One Banner (AUOB) were formed by Neil McKay on October 12, 2014, following the referendum of September 18, 2014 when Scotland voted by 55.3 per cent to 44.7 per cent to stay in the United Kingdom.
McKay wanted to harness the energy of the ‘Yes’ campaign and to have a movement: ‘staging public processions for independence at regular intervals until Scotland is ‘free’.’ The mission of AUOB then is to host marches and rallies for Scottish independence, marching All Under One Banner; open to everyone who desires an independent Scotland.
The chief organiser of AUOB is Manny Singh, a man who describes himself as ‘King of the North’ on his Facebook page. At a march in Glasgow on May 4, the council authorities asked Singh and AUOB to alter their route. It was a last minute request which was ignored by the movement who marched as planned. Subsequently, Singh was reported to the police and procurator fiscal.
But AUOB are not the only group pushing for Scottish independence. “We differ from All Under One Banner,” Scott McMurray a spokesperson for Saltires For Independence told me “We are a small group whose aim is to showcase the photographs, videos and messages from the participants of any independence event. All Under One Banner are organisers of events and marches across Scotland. However, we aim to ensure that those who cannot attend these events still have a means to express their interest in independence by flying their Saltires and posting their photographs to the page.”
There is an odd feeling of near euphoria as people file past. The atmosphere is good natured and reminds one of a football cup final with all the colours and excitement of opposing fans supporting their respective teams. But here there is only one ‘team’, only one goal that unites the marchers: Scottish independence.
A sea of blue is curiously interspersed with the red and yellow stripes of Catalonia. The marchers for Scottish independence obviously feel some affinity for their separatist brotherhood. The next AUOB march will take place in Campelltown on July 27, and there is a growing feeling among the crowd that a second independence referendum will definitely take place.
“In terms of IndyRef2,” Scott McMurray of Saltires For Independence added, “we are now more confident than ever that a second independence referendum would see a majority vote in favour of a split with the UK.” McMurray was also aware that the UK government in Westminster would have to agree to such an action. “This will mean,” he started up again, “that the Scottish electorate need to continue to be proactively voting for pro-independence parties at Westminster and Scottish Parliament levels. The pressure will then be on the politicians to accept the will of the Scottish people.”
There does seem to be a resurgence of an independent sentiment in Scotland, spurred on by Brexit and the possibility of Boris Johnson as Prime Minister. “Indy ref 2 will happen,” Mike Blackshaw of Edinburgh Yes Hub said with a degree of certainty. He had travelled from the capital, 80 miles away, by bus, though there were many more from further afield. InsideOver spoke to a man from Carmarthenshire, Wales, and someone told us of people who had travelled from Austria. There was – strangely – the Saltire flown behind a motorcycle with a Swiss number plate and the driver dressed as a Highlander.
It would be easy to get carried away with the near carnival atmosphere of the afternoon. Lest we forget, it should be mentioned there are counter arguments to independence. Some suggest, for instance, that the economy could be a major stumbling block to Scottish self-determination. A new currency in an independent Scotland would have to compete against stronger currencies, including Sterling. Scottish bonds, an unknown quantity in an independent era will be high risk, initially at least, and the cost of borrowing high. How much would a welfare state cost? An army? A civil service? And who would pay for it all? But, for now, looking around, it would be difficult to be the one to say that to them. Not today anyway.