The independence rally – what a day it was

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By a Newsnet reporter

Let me begin this piece by thanking the many well-wishers who took the time to come up to Newsnet Scotland’s wee stall erected at the independence rally in Princes Street Gardens on Saturday.

It was great meeting each and every one of you – including many who had never heard of us.  One of our ladies also had the pleasure of being interviewed by Basque TV who had a roaming film crew there that day.

By a Newsnet reporter

Let me begin this piece by thanking the many well-wishers who took the time to come up to Newsnet Scotland’s wee stall erected at the independence rally in Princes Street Gardens on Saturday.

It was great meeting each and every one of you – including many who had never heard of us.  One of our ladies also had the pleasure of being interviewed by Basque TV who had a roaming film crew there that day.

Sadly, we weren’t as prominent as we had planned, due to a few unfortunate logistical mishaps that conspired against us.  We had constructed a simple wooden stand for the occasion that would have allowed our banner to be seen by the watching crowd, however by the time we were in a position to erect the thing the area we had earmarked was already taken by members of the public and some photographers.

Despite that, the day was a tremendous success and credit must go to the guys who came up with the idea and organised the whole event.  How DID they manage to arrange for the weather to be as good as it was?

Opponents of independence, and some of our more churlish journalists, are suggesting that the turnout was disappointing.  If Saturday was a damp squib then I’ll happily settle for more damp squibs like that as we head towards 2014.

The immediate crowd in front of the stage apparently holds 5000 or so people.  However the many people outside this perimeter together with the constant coming and going as people left and others joined means that a far larger crowd attended this rally than media reports suggest.  Marchers were still pouring into the Gardens after the arena had been filled.

Having viewed a video of the march (not all!) as it made its way down from the mound then we can be certain that 5000 is a gross underestimate of the actual turnout.  The description of the march from one person who stood watching the passing parade is worth noting: “I didn’t realise so many people supported independence”.

It should also be noted that until the actual march arrived at the Gardens from the Meadows all but one gate was padlocked, meaning that a great many people who had planned to, could not get into the event.  We know this to be the case as scores of people, some disabled, seeing the NNS crew with our stand hardware asked how they could get in.

Newsnet had a small team of four people – two set up the stall at the Ross Bandstand and two joined the march from the Meadows and handed out leaflets.  Those of you who spoke to our wee team met Lynda, Karen, Christopher and George.

But for a few right wing Union Flag waving interlopers who were involved in a momentary scuffle that the police soon brought under control, the entire event was one of joy, excitement and laughter.

People from across the UK mixed with others from the continent and beyond as a carnival atmosphere took over.  The winged lion of Venice and the black lion of Flanders joined our own Lion Rampant in a show of unity and support.  The Basque people were there offering solidarity.

I’ll remember fondly the speech by the Gentleman from Flanders for quite some time.  The colour these groups brought just added to the beautiful mix of blue, orange, yellow, reds and every other colour you could imagine.

The award for the best banner goes to the ‘lion or a mouse’.  This image should adorn leaflets on the days leading up to the referendum.

Some people will be returning home with cups, T-shirts and car stickers bearing the name ‘Newsnet Scotland’.

One such is Scottish singer/songwriter Dougie MacLean, Dunblane’s most famous son (Now challenged by one Andy Murray).  Dougie and his wife Jenny came over for a chat where the composer of Scotland’s unofficial national anthem, Caledonia, kindly posed with a Newsnet Scotland mug as he and his wife spoke of their renowned music festival the Perthshire Amber, which starts on the 26th of October.

Others who mingled around close by included First Minister Alex Salmond, Deputy First Minister Nicola Sturgeon and MP Angus Robertson as well as the BBC Scotland film crew who pitched their camera and equipment right beside our stall.

I’ll remember the relaxed way our First Minister met, spoke to and shook hands with bystanders – wee weans were given the customary kiss – well, he is a politician after all.

Some people stopped to have a look at our Gaelic map of Scotland, available for sale on this site now, and brought along especially for the day.  Others just wanted to say hello and offer their support to the site.

A couple of people who have contributed articles to the site stopped by for a chat – so a big hello to Fay and Ashley.  Another hello to Veronika, yes with a ‘k’, who was handing out leaflets for the Scottish CND group and stopped at our stall to find out who we were.

A special thanks to Tim for passing on some amazing photos of the day, a few which appear in this article.  All in all it was hard graft but very worthwhile and we learned very valuable lessons regarding our own approach to this, and future events.