LAST weekend was very much a tale of two contrasting political events. The pro-independence march and rally was enormous, attracted a diverse range of people from all over Scotland who wanted to express their hope and confidence in a better future for Scotland – a Scotland whose path the people of Scotland choose themselves.

It was a celebration. It was joyous, fun-filled, and welcoming. The Conservative conference on the other hand, was a tiny closed off gathering of sour-faced fear-mongers, determined to enforce Scotland’s obedience and submission, terrified of a future that they’re desperate to stave off.

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I was due to speak at the independence rally on Glasgow Green on Saturday following the massive march from Kelvingrove Park. It was a huge event, and the delays caused by shepherding so many marchers and all the different bands and speakers on the main stage meant that the schedule kept slipping. My original arranged time for speaking came and went and eventually the organisers managed to squeeze me in for a five minute slot very late in the afternoon as I had to tell them that my lift home had to leave soon.

I’m not complaining. It was a privilege to speak at all. That the schedule kept slipping was a reflection of the fact that there were so many people in attendance. That’s the sort of thing you file under “better problems to have.”

Organisers and the BBC estimated that there were upwards of 100,000 people on the march, of whom 35,000 also attended the rally on Glasgow Green. Certainly the event was much larger than last year’s. There are the usual arguments over figures, but the truth is that there were more people queueing to use the toilets at the rally on Glasgow Green than were attending the Scottish Conservative conference in Aberdeen. Ordinary people, people who don’t have a stake in a particular political party, turned up in their tens of thousands to take to the streets of Glasgow in a show of strength.

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It is a necessary show of strength in a country whose media is so resolutely opposed to independence and which all too often marginalises and sidelines pro-independence voices. The marchers were in Glasgow on Saturday to show that the issue of independence can’t be ignored, it can’t be silenced and its supporters are many.

It allowed those supporters to engage with one another, to make connections, and to feel that we are all part of a huge movement that extends into every corner of Scotland. You’re not going to get that feeling if you rely upon the traditional media in Scotland.

That’s the real value of a march. This is a point which is all too often overlooked by those who claim that marching down a street in Glasgow with a saltire doesn’t convert a No voter and who sneer on social media about marches and rallies. It’s not about converting No voters, it’s about enthusing, energising, and motivating the core support for independence because it’s only with a motivated and enthusiastic core that the independence movement will be able to convert, persuade, and canvass no voters. Successful movements need to look inwards as well as outwards.

The only hatred on display came from the tiny and embittered bunch of far right opponents of independence who clustered on George Square, screaming "f***ing traitors" and "scum". Being the kind of people whose PIN numbers are 1690 because that’s the only four digits they can remember, they were particularly angered by some independence marchers who had the audacity to wear Rangers shirts because they’re grown up enough to understand that supporting a particular fitba team shouldn’t dictate your politics. Comprising in equal measure, racists, sectarian bigots, anti-semites, islamophobes, and homophobes, those anti-independence zoomers are never condemned by the right wing politicians who are so quick to characterise a peaceful, inclusive, and joyful independence rally as a hate march of cybernats. Apparently that’s because they’re bravely standing up to nationalism.

I have a suggestion for the next independence rally. Could we have a contingent of gay men half of whom are wearing Celtic shirts and the other half wearing Rangers shirts, kissing one another as they go past the anti-independence protesters? That’s really going to cause the guy in the manky shirt and his pals to have a melt-down.

Meanwhile over at the Conservative conference, leadership hopeful Michael Gove aired his plans for the UK government to withhold funds from the Scottish budget so that it could spend it on devolved areas instead. Michael wants the UK Government to be able to spend money on health or education in Scotland, ensuring that it’s suitably branded so that Westminster gets the credit.

The plan represents a direct attack on the very fundamentals of the devolution settlement, but there was scarcely a peep of protest in the Scottish media.

It’s more interested in attacking an unrepresentative minority of badly behaved people on social media and claiming that the entire independence movement must be held accountable. That’s that same media which wouldn’t dream of suggesting that mainstream anti-independence politicians or organisations should be held accountable for the abuse that was hurled by union flag wavers in George Square.

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The Conservatives and their friends are running scared. They know that the writing is on the wall for Westminster rule in Scotland and that they have nothing convincing to offer the people of Scotland. So they react with fear, with threats, and with attempts to demonise their opponents. All of these are symptoms of the poverty of their arguments. If there really was a strong, powerful, and convincing case for Scotland to remain a part of the UK, under the rule of a Westminster which has consistently shown little respect for the will of the people of Scotland, there would be no need for scaremongering or threats.

The Conservative conference in Aberdeen is Scotland’s past. It’s a past of submission, of obedience, of dependency. It’s a past which is receding into the distance and a better Scotland is being born. The future is the children playing on Glasgow Green at the rally on Saturday, children who are being brought up to believe that it’s entirely natural that Scotland has a right to determine its own path, and that path is a path of equality, of justice, and of representation. The Tories can have the past.

We own the future.