NEWS FROM CELTIC LEAGUE
Celtic League members from three different branches travelled to Edinburgh in Alba/Scotland on the weekend (21 September 2013) to take part in Scotland’s March for Independence 2013.
Members from the Alba (Scotland), Eire (Ireland) and Kernow (Cornwall) travelled to Edinburgh to take part in the second rally for independence, before the planned Scottish referendum on independence on 19th September 2014. Under gathering grey clouds supporters for a positive referendum result came out en force on Calton Hill to listen to a diverse range of speakers, including First Minister (FM) of Scotland Alex Salmond.
FM Salmond spoke eloquently and persuasively in what could be described as the key speech of the day. In his speech Salmond argued that the forces against the pro-independence movement were ‘great and powerful’ and aimed at sowing fear among the Scottish people. He said that the Scottish people had the “opportunity of a lifetime” to determine their own future and that those gathered on the Hill “are the change we wish to see”. The atmosphere of the day was festive, upbeat, diverse and positive, which is a message the ‘No’ campaign would find hard to emulate.
At noon the marchers set off from High Street, via North Bridge to Calton Hill, accompanied by around forty pipers, but, due to the large numbers of people, it took many minutes before those assembled at the back were able to start moving. By the time the pipers at the back of the long line of marchers had reached North Bridge, many thousands had already gathered on the vista of Carlton Hill and were listening to the speakers. A diverse array of speakers and musicians addressed and entertained the crowd for several hours, but the highlight was undoubtedly the speech by Salmond, whose popularity seems to know no bounds. Those sitting on the grass, listening to the Welsh choir, stood and rushed forward, as FM Salmond was introduced, to hear what more the leader of the Scottish National Party (SNP) would add to the vibrant political debate that has been growing within the Scottish borders over the last year. Salmond began yet another rousing speech on an issue that has, rightly or wrongly, become intrinsically associated with him. His powerful words delighted the marchers:
“Look around you, friends. Feel your strength. We, gathered here, are the change we wish to see.” Salmond argued that in 362 days time the Scottish people have the opportunity of a lifetime, but are up against “powerful forces” that “thrive on doubt”. In what has become his customary positivity Salmond reassured those rallied that these ‘forces’ can be “dispelled” and was quick to point out that a ‘Yes’ vote in the referendum, was not a vote for the SNP, but “a vote for choice, a vote for the people’s right to choose.” Salmond added:
“It will therefore be a people’s victory for the right to choose the Scotland we seek. It will be an act of self-confidence and self-assertion. The decisions about Scotland will be made by the people who must make the best decision: the people who live and work in Scotland.
“We are a lucky generation – to achieve the powers that people want, to win a fresh start, and change our country for the better – we need only say the word.To put this country on the path of hope, optimism and achievement – to put the disappointments and missed opportunities of the past behind us – we need only say yes.” Salmond’s speech ended with a rapturous applause and shouts of ‘Yes!’ and even though the speeches continued, the marchers began leaving the Hill to return back to the city centre to continue the festivities into the night. As the marchers left there was a strange sense that the ‘Yes’ campaign would inevitably win the day; that the message of independence was so strong and contagious that the ‘No’ campaign would have to soon find a rock to crawl under, never to emerge again.
Flag waving Celts from Breizh/Brittany, Eire/Ireland, Kernow/Cornwall and Mannin/Isle of Man mingled with other peoples from the Basque Country, Catalunya, Flanders and Venezia to show their solidarity with the Scottish pro-independence campaigners, with the hope that what could happen in Scotland, may quickly follow in their own countries. Those who were not able to make the event, would have been keen to follow the proceedings in the media, but there seemed to be a general understanding among the marchers, with placards being carried by some, that the BBC would at best provide minimal reporting of the march, even in Scotland and unfortunately their predictions proved frustratingly correct. The BBC and other Union supporting media channels seemed to sideline the event, choosing instead to give airtime to the ‘No’ campaign and grossly underestimate the numbers who took part.
However in Breizh/Brittany, members of the League from the Breton branch who couldn’t travel to Edinburgh held their own rally in Kemper and Sant-Nazer on the same day, called ‘Yes Scotland’. Breton League member, Jakez Derouet, told other members that “Scotland’s fight is our [Brittany’s] fight too. The only difference is the degree of awareness about the matter and their history”.
It is clear that the ‘Yes’ campaign have a difficult year ahead if the referendum is to be won. The Yes campaign needs to not only persuade the doubters that their concerns about an independent Scotland are unfounded, but also to overcome the many barriers that the establishment have and will continue to sling in front of the pro independence marchers to prevent their message from being fairly and clearly expressed to the people of Scotland, let alone the rest of the UK. Within a year period there are many political changes that could come about, which could persuade people either way, but one thing is certain and that is Salmond remains resolutely confident that a Yes vote can be won next year and that the Scottish people have every right to decide their future themselves. It is this positivity and sense of inevitableness that will win the doubters over in the end.
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