SNP veteran Jim Sillar said last week that nationalists should do less marching and more thinking about how best to achieve independence. In Inverness on Saturday many seemed to agree. Compared with previous demos, numbers attending a “Freedom March” through the city were thin on the ground.
An estimated 1,500-2,000 people took part, scattered along a route with extensive road closures which caused widespread traffic disruption for three hours.
Although boisterous in parts, the march was generally quiet and thinly spread out, apart from sporadic “Independence Now” and “Tories Out” chants.
The weather was hard January, with a bitterly cold west wind blowing off the river into the flags and faces of those involved as they headed for the Ness Bridge.
However despite the low temperature, one hardy male marcher still cavorted around in jeans and a flag, wearing nothing from the waist up.
A busload of supporters had come from Moray, and even more dedicated to the cause were those who displayed a large banner: “Outer Hebrides.”
Unionist supporters who have often provided a counter-presence at these events this time didn’t bother turning up, deciding in advance that it would be something of a non-event.
Compared with previous marches, there were few interested onlookers, with one vantage point, the Ness Bridge, being deserted just before the demonstrators arrived. Anger had been expressed over the frequency of pro-independence marches through the city, and the level of disruption they cause, even when the numbers taking part are relatively small.
The latest event was organised by local independence supporters, rather than the extremist “All Under One Banner” organisation which has organised a series of what it has described as “emergency marches” elsewhere in Scotland.
It passed off without incident.
It took place at the same time as the most animated event of the day in the Highland capital, a children’s dragon display in the food hall at the Eastgate Centre, where crowds lined every inch of the balcony and stairwell to get a glimpse of the fun and games going on below.