LAST Saturday, Glasgow hosted the largest pro-independence demonstration in Scottish history. For those who participated, it was a massive affirmation of our belief that the only way to achieve a better Scotland is with independence. The day created a buzz and an excitement, a strength of purpose and a resolve to double our efforts to bring about the better Scotland that we dream of.

But it didn’t go down well with everyone. Some people are incapable of seeing a buzz without wanting to kill it. The event was criticised by some independence supporters who believe, reasonably enough, that no-one is converted from No to Yes because a bunch of people walk down a street in Glasgow waving Scottish flags and pushing a big model unicorn.

They tell us that we should concentrate our energies on persuading people to vote Yes. It’s a fair point, but it’s also the case that unless we have a body of energetic and enthused campaigners, we won’t have anyone to do the persuading. A successful campaign needs to look in both directions. It needs to look outwards to attract undecideds to its cause, to persuade those who formerly were opposed. But it also needs to look inwards, to nourish and support its existing base.

Saturday’s rally wasn’t predominantly aimed at attracting No voters. Let’s face it, you’re not going to get up early on a Saturday morning and schlepp into Glasgow from the furthest parts of Scotland unless you are already pretty strong in your belief that Scotland needs to become an independent country. This wasn’t an event about convincing anyone who wasn’t already convinced.

The point of the march and rally was precisely so that people who already believe in independence, the footsoldiers of the coming campaign, could be energised and enthused by the company of others who feel the same way.

However there is also an argument that a successful march and rally can help to persuade undecideds. Scotland is a country where the media narrative is overwhelmingly opposed to independence, and which is British nationalist in sentiment. That means that people who support independence, and there are many of us, or people who are undecided, and there are many of those too, feel inhibited about speaking our minds in a way that opponents of independence don’t.

A MARCH of tens of thousands through the streets of Glasgow is a very public display that the independence movement is large, is vital, and will not be ignored. A march tells people that we are many. We fill the streets of Glasgow saying that the only thing we’re shopping for is a better Scotland. It’s empowering, and by being so it encourages those who are sitting on the fence, who are uncertain that they will be supported, that there are thousands of us who are here to welcome them.

The rally was also criticised by those who oppose independence but who apparently want to give us some constructive advice. Because the way to achieve independence is to listen to campaign advice from people who want you to lose. Well who knew?

What the jist of their criticism boils down to is that reaffirmation and morale boosting for the committed Yes supporters who took part in the march and rally is nothing more than confirmation bias.

All that independence supporters are achieving by congregating together is reinforcing our own existing beliefs. Well, that, and annoying Tory MSPs. And the appropriate response to that is, “Yes? And your point is, caller?”

People who oppose independence don’t need rallies in order to reinforce their existing beliefs, they have the overwhelming majority of the media in Scotland for that sort of thing.

They have Ruth Davidson snarking on social media about how drivers were inconvenienced. Although it’s funny how she never says the same about Orange marches.

They have the snide remarks and comments of the apologists for the British state who dominate the press narratives and preside over the airwaves and who write articles for the papers decrying the confirmation bias of Yes supporters.

Every time you turn on the TV or pick up a newspaper in Scotland, with the honourable exception of The National, you will have your anti-independence confirmation bias reaffirmed. Yet Scotland is a country which is more or less split right down the middle on the topic of the constitution. We live in a country where the independence movement is consistently marginalised and where it’s not a conspiracy to state the the vast majority of the media is against a view of the constitution which is backed by almost half the population. It’s a simple fact.

And then that part of Scotland whose bias is constantly reaffirmed in the media snarks about the other half of Scotland building its own affirmation for itself.

PRO-independence voices struggle to be heard. That half of Scotland which supports independence has far less opportunity to see its views reflected in the media than that half of Scotland which opposes it. The arguments in favour of independence are drowned out in a barrage of opposing arguments, if they are ever aired at all.

There is an entire industry in Scotland devoted to reaffirming the confirmation bias of opponents of independence. That half of Scotland which does believe in independence needs to find its affirmation in other ways. We do it for ourselves.

The fact that we build our own affirmation from marches and rallies, community events and grassroots organisation doesn’t make our self-validation any less meaningful, or indeed valid, than that of a person who gets theirs from reading an editorial or opinion piece in Scotland’s legion of anti-independence press.

You could argue the opposite. It means that the affirmation and validation of the Yes movement is organic in a way that British nationalism in Scotland never can be. The affirmation of the independence movement is based in the grassroots. It grows upwards. It reaches up for a prize worth marching for, worth chapping on doors for, worth making leaflets and organising townhalls events for. The prize is a better Scotland, a Scotland where all of us are equally validated and affirmed, and not just those who support the British state.