THANK you, Frieda Burns (Letters, June 27), for providing me with the opportunity to set out a number of points about the issues you have raised. This is a welcome opportunity to provide clarification.

You have conveniently missed out some central points of our brief conversation last Saturday. Alyn Smith addressed the rally and gave a rousing pro-independence, anti-Tory speech, which went down very well. All Under One Banner holds family-friendly, public demonstrations for independence, and we regard the right to freedom of expression as paramount. We are not in control of what chants people use, what banners or flags they display, what badges or T-shirts they wear or the collars they have on their dogs – nor would we wish to try to be. We have no control over how people exercise their human rights, and neither do we have people with clipboards vetting attendees’ views before allowing them to participate. Thus, they truly are All Under One Banner – enshrined with the values of inclusiveness, tolerance and equality.

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Freedom of expression is the paramount principle of the marches. The Tory government are causing mass misery with their heinous criminality. It is crystal clear they are treating people like scum. So it’s understandable that people will vocalise their feelings about this. It is Westminster’s rancid behaviour that’s naturally leading to such responses.

That being said, we naturally condemn all forms of hate speech, and at the demonstrations this is determined by Police Scotland, who assess, decide and deal with any incidents on the day. Notably, Police Scotland do not determine anti-Toryism chants as hate speech, and why is that? Let’s look at what the word Tory means and what Toryism is.

The word Tory is derived from the Irish Gaelic word tóraidhe which translates as outlaw, robber, plunderer, thief – noted for outrages and savage cruelty. Toryism is therefore an ideology and not just a political party, and this is why it is not hate speech as it’s denouncing an ideology, and not a people in any way, shape or form.

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Toryism is the driving force behind the UK state, which is an unreformable Tory (robber) project – from the monarchy and aristocracy to the political and economic classes and institutions. As such British nationalism has a symbiotic association with Toryism, which means that it doesn’t matter which shade of British nationalist party is in power at Westminster, it matters not about the changing of the guard when the debased system remains in force. Toryism is therefore anti-Scotland and pro-poverty, and we reject it in its entirety. It is impossible for someone to adhere to Toryism and support Scottish independence, as Toryism is about the oppression of the people of Scotland and the plunder and abuse of the country and its natural resources.

There is, however, a distinction between Toryism and Conservativism, as it’s possible for a person to be conservative with their politics and at the same time support Scottish independence. Consequently the Yes movement welcomes all those whose politics are conservative and who support independence to join

the marches and play an integral campaign role in the movement. Such individuals would be best called Conservatives for Independence, as they have turned their back on Toryism and the toxic Union.

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It is most certainly the case that an increasing number of people are coming to despise the terrible suffering and cruelty being inflicted on millions of Scottish people by London rule, and thus coming to realise that we can do things much better as an independent country. This is what the marches are for and have always been for, they are for the movement itself, to grow it from the inside out, in the way that all living things grow. The marches solidify the support and build the momentum, empowering people who then carry that empowerment back to their families, and into their communities and work places. This greatly develops and advances the independence cause.

Attendances at the marches just now are great, considering what we have just been through. The marches are rebuilding the movement in the aftermath of the pandemic, which is the key reason attendances have been comparatively much lower than before March 2020, as we have had almost two years of lockdowns and highly restrictive measures on our lives. Therefore to lay responsibility for this on AUOB is not only completely incorrect but entirely indefensible. Now that the First Minister has set the date for indyref2023, we anticipate attendances to become much higher.

The Bannockburn march last Saturday was the 30th march for independence, all under one banner, since we first began in October 2014, and at every march, some hundreds of thousands strong, there has always been a broad range of colourful chants against Toryism and for independence now. For independence to be achieved, the movement and pro-independence political parties must speak the language and command the values of the working class, the masses, the 99% who want independence not just to replace one flag with another but who want fundamental, radical change to society, change that can only come through self-determination. Independence will not be realised with the language and values of the bosses, of the British state system, of Toryism, of the 1%. As such your argument that these democratic expressions are depressing attendance numbers at the marches is hereby shown to be illogical.

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Moreover, there is the key statistic that in 2013 Scotland started the first referendum campaign with 23% support for independence, and now we sit at around 50%. This is due in a significant part to the sustained activities of the mass movement and exercising the right to freedom of expression, with chants for independence and chants against Toryism having always been present on the marches and in the movement going back all the way. As such, support for independence has mutually risen with support against Toryism, and this addresses the point you make about insulting people, for what is happening is that people observing the marches are witnessing the vibrant, inclusive, positive exhibitions of people power in the form of a a sea of Saltires, for a progressive, fairer and more prosperous Scotland – and they see that this is staunchly against Toryism, so it shakes observers up and makes them profoundly question any loyalty they have to the corrupt UK state and its Toryism.

It makes Conservatives question their values, wakening independence supporters up at every juncture. Thus, your argument that people are staying away from the marches due to chants against Toryism has been thoroughly compounded as invalid, as pro-independence is anti-Toryism, anti an ideology, anti a system – but not anti a people, in any way shape or form. Scotland is anti the fascist, imperialist, racist, criminal Tory ideology. Scotland is for independence, and doing things differently.

I wish you all the very best and trust that now that Nicola Sturgeon has announced the date of indyref 2023 – October 19 – that you will return to marching for independence, marching for Scotland. We need every effort that can be made to be made, individually and collectively, if we are to triumph. Now is the time.

Neil Mackay
via email