It was one of many coldest nights of the yr to this point, however that didn’t cease a whole lot of individuals from gathering outdoors Holyrood this Wednesday night to protest on the supreme courtroom’s ruling that Scotland couldn’t legally maintain one other independence referendum.
Scottish flags had been worn like capes – little safety in opposition to a cold Edinburgh night – and Sure indicators strung with lights had been waved in opposition to the darkening sky. Anti-Tory placards made an look, some recycled from 2014, others with a contemporary angle. “Our colonial standing has been confirmed – and the legislation is an ass!” learn one.
Teams of bagpipers huddled collectively, warming up their devices and stopping for a cigarette break. The Proclaimers had been blasted from a stereo on the stage, funded by the Scottish Independence Basis.
A small however vigorous counterprotest throughout the street shouted over a tannoy, calling for the independence marketing campaign leaders to be put within the dock for treason. “The union has labored for 400 years,” mentioned Ronnie Kane, co-director of the pro-union marketing campaign group A Pressure For Good. “If it ain’t broke, don’t repair it.”
The professional-independence supporters had been equally buoyant. Jim Brack described the courtroom ruling as a “win win”, saying: “It has revitalised the state of affairs. We had been maybe getting a bit complacent.”
Julia Stryl, 52, agreed that the end result would offer a lift to the independence motion. “[Westminster] hoped the supreme courtroom can be impartial. Now, it’s Westminster that’s clearly blocking the democratic proper to independence for the Scottish folks.”
The group on the night was various, with audio system from America, France, Catalonia and elsewhere. The fallout from Brexit was a powerful consideration for a lot of who had voted pro-union in 2014 however since modified their thoughts.
“I remorse it,” mentioned Elise Tallaron, who’s French and has lived within the UK since 1996. “Even then, I might see robust arguments for independence.” She is now treasurer for the Sure For EU motion.
It was clear that anti-Tory sentiment, all the time robust in Scotland, had been gathering pressure amid Covid, Brexit and the price of residing disaster. One placard learn: “Scotland can’t afford to be a part of the UK.”
The Scottish Nationwide celebration MP Tommy Sheppard, who took the prepare from London to attend, declared that Scotland didn’t have to be “enslaved” to a “decaying, post-Brexit isolationist” union any longer.
David Spacey, 56, believed that Westminster had performed the improper card on a brand new referendum. “After the ‘punishment price range’ issues are getting grim. In the intervening time the prospect of independence is 50/50. [The union] might win it. In the event that they wait, and other people get poorer, and wrestle to pay their payments, assist for independence will solely improve.”
The group cheered loudly when Nicola Sturgeon, the primary minister, made a shock look.
“Right this moment it has been clarified that the UK shouldn’t be a voluntary partnership of countries,” she mentioned, including that the end result would create solely “non permanent aid” for unionists. “No institution Westminster or in any other case will silence the voice of the Scottish folks.”
Sturgeon confronted robust calls from these current to make her proposal for an SNP conference subsequent yr a cross-party motion.
Colin Fox, co-spokesperson for the Scottish Socialist celebration, mentioned: “Right this moment may very well be a historic day if independence supporters realise we’d like a greater technique to beat the forces of British state that bar our manner.”
Between audio system, pipers offered transient musical interludes. The unofficial nationwide anthem, Flower of Scotland, was sung. One individual was taken in poor health and eliminated by ambulance. The counter-protest didn’t let up from the opposite aspect of the street.
Lesley Riddoch, an independence campaigner and organiser of the rally, summed up the general sentiment when she informed the group: “We might not have but satisfied those that independence is the reply, however actually Westminster and any perception in Westminster is gone and that’s huge progress – and one thing for us to construct on.”