MORE than two thousand people gathered for a rally in Glasgow Green to reboot the Yes campaign on the second anniversary of the 2014 referendum.

Crowds braved the drizzle and cold for a day-long schedule of speakers, bands and inspirational camaraderie that stayed true to the organisers’ intent of creating a non-partisan event that would “reach out with open and loving arms” to No voters and the undecided.

Speakers included SNP depute leader candidate Tommy Sheppard, Robin McAlpine, National columnist Paul Kavanagh (aka Wee Ginger Dug), Tony Cox from the Scottish Unemployed Workers Alliance and representatives of Veterans for Independence and the National Yes Registry, which yesterday launched its app to help connect grassroots organisations to offer mutual support and mentoring to each other.

That was happening here too, with most of the chat around the many stalls, including those from Women For Independence, Wings Over Scotland, Yes2 and Scottish CND, seemingly centred on regrouping, rebuilding and expanding.

Key themes visited by many of the speakers were how best to reach out beyond committed Yessers and the timing of the next independence referendum.

“I love the fact that we can talk about the ‘first independence referendum’ because there is going to be another one”, said Kavanagh, who wagered that the next would “sooner than we might think”. Whereas Scottish independence had been the preserve of minority in 2011, he said, the run-up to the 2014 vote had seen the birth of a grassroots movement that had changed the country irrevocably.

McAlpine, a political strategist, set out reasons for preferring a longer time-frame, with a vote in 2020/21, to some boos from the crowd.

“Do not underestimate the power of the British state in its present state, which is one of being a hurt animal backed into a corner,” he said. “It was not expecting Brexit and they cannot afford that crisis as well as the possibility of Scottish independence. It was not expecting the elite way that Britain to be challenged by the working classes of England. And when the British state is in crisis, it is dangerous and will try to protect itself in any way it can.

“The No campaign did not go away. From September 19 2014 there has been a constant drip, drip, drip effect of negativity, of driving home to people that Scotland cannot govern itself just like any other country. Thank goodness we never went away either. I often wondered how I managed to campaign every day, every weekend, in the two years without a break, but I did. And there is nothing scarier than your opponent crawling back from the canvas with a bloody nose again, and again and again."

He added: “I do not believe that we are this horrific divided country that people talk about. People didn’t vote No because they hate Scotland or are embarrassed by it. I believe that at least 60 per cent of people in

Scotland want independence. What we’ve got to do now is reach out to the people who wanted to come aboard but weren’t convinced. And what do they look like? Exactly the same as the people who voted Yes. This is not about reaching out to people we can’t understand – it’s our friends and neighbours.”

That sense of hope, inclusivity and determination were the defining markers of the event, organised by 23-year-old David MacNeill and 25-year-old Kirsteen Storrie in the wake of the Brexit vote.

“I was so gutted by it,” said MacNeill, almost drowned out by the revving engines of the Yes Bikers. “I had to do something, try and turn this situation into something better.”

“This is about more than independence,” said Storrie. “It’s about asking how we want to live as human beings on this planet, in this universe. The majority of people in Scotland do not want Trident, and yet it’s forced on us against our will. It’s a violation. So we must get independence first.”

Almost every person and their dog seemed to have a flag or some kind or placard yesterday – if it wasn’t the Saltire or Lion Rampant, it was that of the EU, Catalonia or Iceland. There was even the flag of St George – flown by a representative of English People for Scottish Independence, who remarked how important he felt it was that Scots had plenty of allies across the Border in their journey towards self-determination.

The only disappointments were the poor weather and the fact that a possible appearance by Alex Salmond didn’t happen.

“Is Scotland going to become independent?” asked Martin Greechan as the rain became heavier. “Yes!” cheered the crowd. “Is it going to be easy?” “No!”

“Of course it won’t be; we’re Scots. Our patron saint is someone who even asked to be crucified at a jaunty angle.”

Like most things worth doing, chances are it won’t be easy at all. But with rallies as inspirational as this, there will be no lack of energy, enthusiasm and commitment.