The Long Walk


The march for democracy was a long walk, but not as long as 300 years

The organisers called it a march for democracy but it was more a walk, not a leisurely stroll by any means, more a determined hike through the centre of Glasgow, past its great ornate buildings of empire loyalty, the not so great visionless conurbations of modern glass and concrete built when the city fathers wanted the place to be ‘the Chicago of the North’, no doubt as a one up on Edinburgh’s well earned ‘Athens of the North’.

We moved up Sauchiehall Street, our heads bowed in respect for the charred shell of the desecrated Mackintosh School of Art, its board of governors claiming a big boy did it and ran away; along streets lined by red sandstone tenements where windae hingers waved us on, under bridges of well wishers, and around neglected derelict patched and parched ground, the obligatory buddleia bushes softening the urban deprivation.

The walk starting in high spirits from the leafy surroundings of Kelvingrove Museum and ending in a miasma of greetings at Glasgow Green. The count was over 100,000.

People gawped and smiled and took countless photographs from cafe, eatery and pub doorway, astonished at the never-ending river of hopefuls. Some showed visible emotion at the sight of so many unenslaved by the British state. 

Everywhere was common purpose and egality. Academic walked with tradesman, shop assistant with company boss, pensioner with grandchild, aristocratic deerhound with labradoodle. It didn’t matter who we were or that we might meet again in another time and place and not recognise each other. Today we recognised and acknowledged we live a half-democracy under England’s nefarious rule. We know it is time to assuage the vexation of the ghosts of those protestors in 1707 who wailed at the sale of their country to another and had no say in the decision.

As one tweet reminded, there was a day England’s power over Scotland would have rounded up the leaders of the insurgency, held show trials, hung a few as example, and sent the rest to Australia or Tasmania for twenty years, leaving behind desperate, distraught wives and children to survive as best they could.

England’s power differs from yesteryear only in its forms of punishment on dissenters. It employs a disgrace of amoral Scots installed in its parliament to warn the rest of us we are as nothing. And Scotland pays them to do it. We are a nation of masochists.

The rogues and charlatans and carpetbaggers will fight reinstatement of full civil and constitutional rights until their dying breath. This can’t come soon enough, as far as I am concerned, but is certain to end not with a gasp and a belated revelation they wasted their lives, but with a red velvet cloak laced with ermine laid over their rotten carcass to hide their skeletal frame and compensate for a life’s career devoted to betrayal. 

On the journey I talked to as many people as I could walking beside me, sharing banter, boosting camaraderie with merriment, a jokey observation or a pithy remark. Couples held hands, pipers piped, elderly shouted allegiance to an ideal. A chatter of women breathed meaning into their elevated hen’s party. Faces were gently kissed and caressed by Scotland’s flag carried before them. Infants in prams and push chairs looked up at the Saltire blue sky and wondered what the entire racket was about. I looked at their small inquisitive faces and wondered what image would live in their memory of the day and what would be theirs tomorrow.

Police officers in twos, thumbs hooked in the armpit of their high-rez jackets, standing at road junctions holding back fustrated drivers, smiled too knowing the protest was sure to be a doddle of a day. What were they thinking behind their smiles? “Go on yersel, boys. I’m with you every step of the way”?

Even the animals joined the procession in twos: two sheepdogs, two West Highland terriers, two staffies, two greyhounds, some wearing ‘Yes’ jackets, patient pet dreaming of fields and fresher scents better spent than skiffing pad on hard tarmac. 

Political protest shaped by marches is a common leveller.

In my case I did my bit for Scotland’s future suffering pain from a self-inflicted spine injury, an old wound gained from pushing a fully laden barrow of rubble up a steep plank to dump into a waste skip. If only it had been a load of Scotland’s Tory party and Labour cadres. I did it in the service of recreating a piece of Scotland’s history, New Lanark. By the halfway stage of people power a companion offered a paracetamol and some water and I gulped both down with gratitude.

The journey, as they say, is more interesting and invigorating than the destination, and so it proved on this great occasion for me. On arrival at Glasgow Green, the whip and flutter of flags spread out to visit an enclave of stalls selling cheap reminders of the day’s triumph, T-shirts, badges, books of poetry, handmade jewellry and trinkets. A temporary stage under a vast awning held musicians and speakers, but my small band of two Scots and a Welshman arrived too late to hear the best give their tuppence worth. In any event, we were thoroughly pooped and hirpled our way to the nearest pub, The Braemar Bar, a triangular shaped drinking trough on the corner of a nearby crumbling tenement.

Were it not for the imposing ‘Bikers for Yes’, mounted on their sculpted steel steeds, clad in leathers, rubber and studs, roaring out on Harley and Triumph and Indian to Valhalla, as handsome a group as one would want to meet stepping out of a Viking ship onto the sands of Port Seton, the end of the day would have been an anti-climax. 

Seeking liberty involves a constant tension. On the Green I met an esteemed journalist whom I like for the precision of his prose and obdurate diplomacy. He told me that a single comment I had made on the Internet sounded bitter, and it was best I let grievance lie. I had to remind him, ever so gently, that I don’t do ‘bitter’; I do angry, angry at injustice. I retain the right to challenge our elected purveyors of platitudes whenever I see fit. You cannot be free and disciplined.

As a close, valued friend said recently, ‘You’re a very happy person’. Happy does not mean oblivious of the obvious. We elect a political party to do all they can to achieve the manifesto upon which we rest our trust, in this historic case, the re-instatement of Scotland’s liberty. Every remark they make publically tells me, if no other, they grow complacent and over-cautious, unimaginative, untutored in political guile, reluctant to cause offence. ‘Home Rule’ is their destination, DevoMax with a posh title, compromise that avoids confrontation. Scotland’s masters are chuckling into champagne glasses.

With the exception of two Scottish members of England’s parliament among the throng, I did not see a single elected leader lead the walk. As we entered Nelson Mandela Square I imagined Mandela asking to know who was leading the protest, the noble individuals empowered and expected to show example and sacrifice without thought for their name or person. Are they imprisoned? Of an identifiable national hero there was none.

I was humbled by the masses who had joined the march. They refuse to live on political slop. They would rather be a bruiser than a loser. I went home, the ‘literary gent’ as one described me, to drink a malt, plant a tree, inspired to write poetic prose.

It was a long walk, but not as long as 300 years. For some on that march it will be the last of earth, but they are not composed to go just yet. They demand that their government serve them with every ounce of its political being. Nothing less will do.




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37 Responses to The Long Walk

  1. Ellen Joëlle Höfer says:

  2. smiling vulture

    twitter feed months ago a couple of journalists (unionist) one I respected & i felt letdown,were laughing , snide comments about these marchers, hardliners , dreamers , will change no one’s views

    whats happening now

    1. amazing pics over internet ( size of march slowly but surely bigger each time )
    2. bbc & msm failing to cover it , an scottish public realising it (backlash)
    3. unionist mp,msps mentioning it trying to trash it ,stop it

    been on three marches

    1. anti iraq war (glasgow)
    2. anti trident (glasgow)
    3. independence march (edinburgh)

  3. I must say I was saddened that more high heid yins didn’t lead the rally.

    Also Keith Brown asking us to behave ourselves in dealing with those of a No persuasion (not his words “behave” but it’s what I took as a rebuke of recent so-called cybernats interacting with the media). They don’t seem to realise that we elect them and we hold their future votes in our hands.

    I’ve not seen many ‘well done’ congratulatory remarks from SNP politicians on the successful and joyful march. One or two but not enough. It was a wonderful day and heartening to see so many young families walking alongside old grannies (me being one), their partners and lots of well behaved dogs.

    Not one bad word did I hear. I will walk till I no longer can. I was tired at the end but still determined that we will gain independence, hopefully in my lifetime.

  4. Donald McGregor says:

    Glad you managed the long walk. Good for your soul!

    Mags – I’m like you too, both surprised and disappointed in the politicians response to these. As at the march in Embra, arriving AT THE PARLIAMENT, with no political recognition in sight. ( actually I think Tommy Sheppard said some words) but you know I thought I had interpreted NS speech at the conference as an explicit exhortation. Be nice if the politicians joined in, but there will likely be ‘reasons’.

  5. Wonderfully Poetic Grouse Beater.. Paints it all Beautifully.. Cheers.

  6. Excellent piece and yet again the politicians were conspicuous by their absence. There will, as usual be excuses from the faithful but with every occasion missed, these excuses decrease as even the faithful begin to see that something is amiss. The road map provided by the SNP leadership of late has been a road map to unionism and not the path we need to independence.

  7. Hugh Wallace says:

    When we gain our Independence it will be in spite of the vast majority of our political ‘leaders’, not because of them. I wonder if Scotland’s Washington, Mandela or Ghandi has been born yet?

  8. James Kydd says:

    You may not do bitter but you do bitter sweet.
    A poignant piece that would bring a tear tae a gless ee. I couldn’t march yesterday due to work and don’t know if I would have in any case. I sometimes feel we’re whistling in the dark and can only hope that our politicians have at least something of a plan. I fear it’s a forlorn hope tho

  9. Grouse Beater says:

    Wurr no dun yet, no by any means. 🙂

  10. Not only were most of them not there, but almost none of them have made any comment on it either. Seems they prefer to copy the MSM and pretend it isn’t happening. But we are the ones expected to do the heavy work of converting the soft Nos to Yes.

  11. I couldn’t be on the march this time, but plan to go to others over the summer – so good for morale to be with so many like minded Independentistas!…agree with the prior comments – Come on SNP MP’s,MSP’s, why are you not marching with the people???….NOW is the time to be seen on these marches….please stop the aloof, ‘dignified politician’ act – lead by example, lead the people, walk the walk and to hell with pc-ness and conventionality!!!

  12. Derek Cameron says:

    Thank you for this great take on Saturday’s march. The positive energy that a march like this generates is vital.

    MSM’s studied disregard of what is happening on the street (other than the Neil Mackay led spoiler boosted by SNP big names causing great offence to grassroots ) is indicative of the malign powers ranged against the liberation of Scots.

    I am saddened by the absence of SNP leadership endorsement of this joyful civic event . Do they fear the silent majority mythology our political masters nurture while Salmond is gagged, Holyrood’s powers are dismantled , the s30 door is permanently bolted and other * legal * paths to independence are unexplored ? Project fear 2 is well underway and we are setting up to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory.

  13. Mac Jim says:

    Long walk it was, my knee can tell you but boy, was it worth it! 😉

  14. Grouse Beater says:

    I certainly was, Jim, at least, I hope so. 🙂

  15. helenarmet says:

    I salute you once again. H

  16. diabloandco says:

    It was such a glorious sight was it not ? All those saltires , lion rampant, and a wee Welsh dragon in there too!
    I have no worries about the absence of political leaders , our march had the sovereign folk of those who live and love in Scotland and they were giving a message to the political leaders and to a biased , misleading lying media.

    love this piece!

  17. Grouse Beater says:

    It was that, it was just that.

  18. To use a famous Bob Servant quote ‘ we continue to fry’.

  19. steelewires says:

    I live in Wales and couldn’t be there, but I was there in spirit. I was in Scotland during the Edinburgh march and was delighted to make a gesture for the Cause.

    I very disappointed in the SNP. Nicola’s address before the Conference in which she invited the Unionists to make proposals for building Scotland’s future seemed to me like being prepared to compromise with some sort of federalism; the English Tory Party in Scotland would never compromise with Federalism, and the English Labour Party’s Scottish branch are not to be trusted with any promises they make about “As near Federalism as possible” in the the light of Gordie Broon’s “guarantee” in 2014.

    Nicola seemed to offer more hope of a referendum by the end on 2020, but if Brexit does happen, the Scottish Parliament may be so trammelled (Gove’s threat to take over Scottish cash and spending and the House of Lords’ Act of Union Bill) that it will be unable to act for independence.

    I believe that a referendum is not the way to go. I back Craig Murray’s view that the Scottish Parliament has the right to revoke the Act of Union. He gives the details:

  20. Grouse Beater says:

    I welcome your comments, and you’ll be pleased to know I agree with Craig Murray.

    We cannot indulge a party elected to gain independence which ignored, shrugs its collective shoulders and accepts the brush off.

  21. A wonderful piece. Keep rattling out the prose, Grouse Beater. My Party may not appreciate you, but I and many others do.

  22. Grouse Beater says:

    Thank you, David. 🙂

  23. Patricia collatin says:

    Great piece, GB.

    On the Green I met an esteemed journalist whom I like for the precision of his prose and obdurate diplomacy. He told me that a single comment I had made on the Internet sounded bitter, and it was best I let grievance lie.

    You may like his precise prose and obdurate diplomacy, however he appears to trot out the same old Brit Nat ‘obdurate’ ‘grievance’ baseless gibe even when faced with a good natured throng of honest folk assembling to support Freedom from WM Rule.

    The cheap shot of minds who have no argument left to continue as a colony of their paymasters, the English Iron Heel Oligarchy.
    I ‘get’ your oxymoron, ‘obdurate diplomacy’ though, but, mind.

  24. Grouse Beater says:

    Thank you, Patricia. Presbyterianism is alive and well in Scotland and it is still bellowing from the pulpit.

  25. davidmccann24 says:

    As I commented on my FB page, if Farage had a march which attracted 100,000, it would have been top item on every news outlet, north AND south of the border!

  26. Grouse Beater says:

    You bet he would! New party formed overnight, ready to upend the EU parliament and hand Europe to the fascist brigades? – lovely; give it all the publicity it needs.

  27. Well said, I feel exactly the way you describe here.
    We need someone to lead these marches or better still a few and they have to be prominent well known people who are willing to debate and argue the case anywhere and everywhere with anyone.
    They have to be strong.Loyal.Unchanging.
    Not easy to find.
    People elected in UK get corrupted by the system ,so much is on offer to them, the thought of losing it all by fighting for freedom or justice is just too much for them so they easily find ways to distort the truth and hide the reality of their own actions .
    I’m disappointed that SNP managed to react to people’s views on the proposed airline tax and change tack but can’t do the same when it comes to their policy of britnat appeasement.
    SNP might think they are government elected to represent all in Scotland but they are not.
    They are there to represent those who want Scottish independence .
    They have drifted from that and have been told so frequently recently but have not seen fit to change tack on that matter.
    If they are not careful they will be adrift.
    A politics set adrift never succeeds at anything.
    A tougher announcement is required.
    Something that reminds us that Scottish independence is number one .
    The recent SNP spring conference wasn’t it.

  28. Grouse Beater says:

    This year’s conference sounded exactly like last year’s. In between is the imporant area; we want steely resolve and a more direct, public method of dismissing the fabrications and inanities of opponents.

  29. Grouse Beater says:

    Thank you, Bob. Brevity is the soul of wit! You’re welcome to pass essays to others you feel might benefit. And stay in touch.

  30. I believe you are speaking in Perth in Tuesday and I intend dropping in

  31. Grouse Beater says:

    I better be damn good, then. It’s more of an open discussion, no questions barred, to prove I can think on my feet, plus entertainment in the form of me explaining how I got to where I am, and do I like it!

  32. I look forward to it. There is nothing more precious than an open mind and a wry grin

  33. Grouse Beater says:

    Aye, very true, Bob, and also an open pub and a rye gin.

  34. excellent!.
    i didn’t attend the Glasgow event. tho i have enjoyed several gatherings over the last year or so, always well attended and v,chilled. but i cant deny the glorious weather in Stirling, and Edinburgh didn’t help, scortchio.
    there is one thing i have noticed, while daydreaming, blethering checking out the latest town/City and its folk that has taken it upon its self to do its bit. (its a living a hundred miles away from a big population thing), there is always plenty of folk that do go out their way, and to say to anybody who cares to ask, that “it’s not an SNP thing”.. which tbf, it isn’t. so, for me and their attending of marches, i’m going to cut them some slack. yip, i’m a member. and i am in no rush to take a few published comments, out of context either. i guess that’s the rod many of the publishers have made for themselves. hayho.
    Some do attend, Keith Brown has bothered to come over, in his dodgy sunglasses, for a blether with us, tho i do feel a lil rude for not getting up off my ass to chat, it was hot in Stirling, and my leathers where chaffing.
    it’s an all under one banner thing, the ScotGov, while Governing, are encouraging us to make it happen. AUOB are doing their bit, and lovin it..

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