IN response to D Smart (July 1). First, as you were at the COP26 march last year then surely you would remember that All Under One Banner was not the organiser for that demonstration. We organised an Indybloc for it. As such, the hill where we assembled was where we were asked to gather, by the COP26 Coalition. Therefore your blaming of AUOB for something that wasn’t our responsibility is categorically wrong.

Second, and in relation to your criticism of chants against Toryism, please see my recent letter response to Frieda Burns in the National, ‘Toryism is, by its very nature, pro-poverty and anti-Scotland’ (June 29). Have a good read at this and if you are going to come back to debate this then please only do so with counter-arguments that logically challenge the points I have raised. Otherwise it’s just more regurgitation and we do not need that. To this effect I would encourage anyone who disagrees to do the same. Apply critical thinking and come back with substantive counter arguments, or don’t criticise at all.

READ MORE: Toryism is, by its very nature, pro-poverty and anti-Scotland

Third, that you denigrate the marches and AUOB as an organisation is an appalling own goal, as the marches belong to the movement, they are the physical representations of the Yes movement at a given time in a given place, they are us – so please don’t put the Yes movement down.

It is our collective responsibility to ensure they are the best they can be, and to this effect I agree it would be great to have lots more music, and a variety of it, spread throughout the processions. The call is always for people to bring their own instruments and drums, and with an open invitation to music/drumming groups to attend. The movement self-organises, just as Saor Alba Pipes and Drums, the pipe band that arose from the marches, has done.

It is the collective responsibility of independence supporters to make the marches great, as it always has been, and that call is answered every time. People do their best and give their all. Chanting at public demonstrations is (obviously) a public, organic thing. The movement self-regulates. When people want to chant, that will happen, and when they don’t it won’t. Just like lots of varied music, it’s always great to hear a variety of colourful chants. And if you want the marches to be more vibrant and visual, then bring your banners, flags, signs and placards, wear vibrant colours and make it so. We would love to see carnival-style floats on the processions of many varieties, and so in respect of this initiative, or any other such great idea, as always we are keen to work with individuals and Yes groups to make it happen.

READ MORE: Yes AHEAD in new poll on support for Scottish independence

Since 2014 All Under One Banner marches have taken place across Scotland, through the long, challenging years between the last referendum and the vote which is soon to come. This sustained series of national demonstrations have not just kept the flame alive, but through these mobilisations the movement has developed in stature, sustaining itself and growing in strength, size and self confidence.

The next march at Faslane will be number 31 since we started on October 12 2014, and we have just called what is likely to be the biggest march in Scotland’s history on Saturday October 14 2023 in Edinburgh, five days before Scotland votes at indyref2.

I wish you all the very best and trust that now that Nicola Sturgeon has set the date you will get back to marching for independence, marching for Scotland, and stepping up your involvement in the building up of the demonstrations and national campaign – as we need every effort that can be made to be made, individually and collectively, if we are to triumph.

We are the vision. We are the ambition. We are the energy.

Now is the time.

Neil Mackay
via email