THE independence march arranged for Glasgow on January 11 has had an overwhelming response, according to organisers All Under One Banner (AUOB).

Supporters began signing up online after plans for the march were called on the day after the General Election.

They include people who haven’t been politically involved since the independence referendum in 2014 as well as many young people.

“The online response to the January march and rally has been overwhelming, resulting from yet another working example of the democratic imbalance in the UK,” said an AUOB spokesperson.

“From the responses we are receiving it is evident that people who haven’t been politically involved since 2014, and more young people than ever before, have decided that now is the time to engage with the independence movement, gain our autonomy and allow Scotland to move on.”

AUOB added they were grateful to Glasgow City Council, Police Scotland and the emergency services for the assistance they had received for the march at such short notice.

The January event marks the beginning of a series of marches planned for 2020 across the country.

“This is going to be a critical year for the campaign for Scottish independence and a huge year for AUOB,” the spokesperson said.

Before the Glasgow march was called it was originally proposed to begin the 2020 marches in Arbroath to coincide with the 700th anniversary of the Declaration of Arbroath.

The march in Angus will still take place on April 4 and will be followed by marches in Glasgow, Peebles, Elgin, Kirkcaldy, Stirling and Edinburgh.

The National: Yessers marched down the Royal Mile in OctoberYessers marched down the Royal Mile in October

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Neil Mackay of AUOB said it was expected that numbers would top the turn-outs this year.

“People come along one year and then the next year they bring their partner and the following year they bring their kids,” he said. “They find it is safe, peaceful and enjoyable. It’s a collective spirit and people feel rejuvenated as we are all there for one purpose. It’s great.”

He added that the intention was to keep the marches going right into 2021 “no matter what happens”.

In the meantime, AUOB is aiming to work more closely with the Scottish Independence Foundation and has finished drawing up a legal constitution.

“We are looking at how to sustain the organisation and the activists involved,” said Mackay. “We are committed to doing this every year and need to make sure it is fit for purpose.

“We don’t think the referendum is undeliverable – we just think we will need to fight for it. We have got to keep the pressure on and fully support the SNP.”
The marches so far had kept the “buzz and energy going” and gave people the impetus to go out and canvass before the General Election.

“We were received better as a result of the marches,” he said. “They sparked more interest from the public and they spread the feeling that independence is more pressing than ever and that it’s coming.

“And as far as the mainstream media is concerned it is a win win for us. If they cover them and show bias then people see it and if they don’t cover them then people notice that too. It just shows them up.”

While eight marches in the last year had been a “tall order” for the movement, he said attendances had exceeded expectations.

“Edinburgh the year before was a turning point as we had 100,000 marchers so we realised it was mushrooming. Glasgow on May 4 was massive too and we reckon it was around 100,000.

“The marches really kept people engaged and focused on independence. It kept the agenda going rather than letting it being consumed by Brexit.”

After Glasgow AUOB held their first march in the Borders where around 5000 people turned out on June 1.

The National: All Under One Banner in Galashiels in JuneAll Under One Banner in Galashiels in June

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“That was massive for the town and borders and what was really noticeable was the feedback and the amount of people talking about it online,” said Mackay.

Oban followed on June 15 and went ahead despite issues with the council over the rally point at Mossfield Stadium.

“They really did not want it to go ahead but we won,” Mackay said.

The sun shone on 13,000 marchers in Ayr on July 6 and, despite more issues with the authorities before the march, the day went smoothly.

July 27 saw the marchers in Campbeltown, the first one in that location where 2000 people turned out with many staying overnight, giving local businesses like hotels and restaurants a boost.

In Aberdeen on August 17 there were 8000 people and a legal dispute with the council is still unresolved.

A total of 20,000 marchers, including SNP big hitters Pete Wishart and John Swinney, took to the streets of Perth on September 7.

“It was great because we felt like there was a real synergy with the SNP and we had proper support,” said Mackay.

“Then for the march in Edinburgh MP Joanna Cherry offered to speak and that was very energising. Even at the SNP conference they had the march on the big screen which makes us feel we are all in on this together now.”

AUOB estimated 200,000 people turned out for the march on October 5, giving hope that the January march will attract a similar number – or more.

“It is about keeping the conversation going,” said Mackay. “As long as the debate is alive we are winning. The more we get talked about the more likely we are to win. People see the arguments for and against and over time the argument for pervades and we will win.”