GEORGE Kerevan’s heartfelt article, “Why the FM should say she’ll lead the way in a big indy march” (August 10) must tug at the heartstrings of those who mourn the SNP’s lost lead on all regular traditional, cultural, historical, economic, political and protest mass rallies in Scotland. Nobody in Scotland, or the Yookay, could regularly lead such events, which if multiplied by ten would be larger than anything held in Hyde Park or Trafalgar Skwerr.

Today’s social distancing video-conferencing and Facebook Twitterers do not enjoy the same social contact. Winnie Ewing, who led many a rally, cracked the old lawyer’s joke, when she first entered the Westminster Gasworks: “There were more members in the bar than at the bar”.

No matter how heated conference motions became, they were soon defused by socialising in the conference bar and pubs outside. I remember Winnie and Ewing Clan leading Jim MacLean, Hamish Imlach, Hamish Henderson, Morris Blythman etc in Scottish republican songs, as well as sung by George Leslie and Hugh MacDonald etc. The SNP had the best ceilidhs in town. Not even Kneel Kinnockio’s anti-Welsh choirs could beat them.

READ MORE: Why Nicola Sturgeon should commit to leading a major indy march

Conferences, rallies and by-elections were fun, where the activists met up and rubbed shooders wi’ a’ the high heid yins, who always had a friendly word for fly posterers, leafletters, and knocker-uppers. Travelling all over the country, the activists also got to bum overnight accommodation from other activists previously unbeknown to them, cementing old and new relationships.

There was a face-to-face camaraderie that Facebookers could never see. Unretractable “semantics” causing rifts and blowing up trifles sky high, as seen online, would never have happened in the face-to-face bon homilies. Even apolitical Facebooks can create family feuds never before heard at family gatherings, where the odd drunken auntie Mable was laughed at, taxied oot and instantly forgotten and forgiven.

The SNP gave up the annual Bannockburn rally, where there were never less than 20,000 participants and every bar, hall and venue was packed with musicians and singers. Fights just never happened. Compare that to the Braveheart bloodbaths and handbag fights online today, by people going to war over every dot and comma with persons they had never even met.

Only last week Kenny MacAskill was calling on the SNP to hold mass rallies in a possible attempt to kill everyone off with coronavirus. This is the same Kenny that called for the abolition of the annual Bannockburn rally on the grounds that rallies were for protests and the SNP was the party of government.

Even Dennis Canavan used to call for the abolition of the Bannockburn rally on the grounds that subversives would gather there every year. How many would remember George Leslie capturing Dennis on camera for the front page of the then weekly Scots Independent, hiding behind the bushes at Bannockburn taking photies of said subversives?

The local Bannockburn SNP branch would organise fun and book stalls on the field, led by local Cooncillor Alastair MacPherson, who would host the legendary ceilidh in the village Tartan Arms afterwards. The pub owner was a local Tory who loved the fun, and turnover.

Next Wednesday, August 19, at 1pm, AUOB are holding a tightly organised, sober, socially distanced gathering at Bannockburn. It is well known that some will refuse to speak on a platform with certain others. This wan’s no’ comin’ if that wan’s gauin’ etc. There is nothing more divisive than unity. So, if anyone does not like me speakin’ there, they can aye hide in the bushes till I‘m done.

Donald Anderson