Demonstrators flocked to the BBC's headquarters on Thursday to voice their demands for a second referendum on Scottish independence and in defiance of the broadcaster's recent axing of First Minister Nicola Sturgeon's daily briefings.
AUOB: Rally for Independence-Pacific Quay https://t.co/efTXHHpr8B— Independence Live (@IndyLiveStream) September 17, 2020
The protest was initially scheduled to take place in George Square as part of a series of demonstrations in support of independence from the United Kingdom, resumed amid easing coronavirus lockdown measures. The event was moved to 5:30 pm at Pacific Quay following the BBC's decision to end the airing of the first minister's daily coronavirus broadcasts
Neil MacKay, the National Organiser told Sputnik that ”now is the time for the independence movement to show its determination and its readiness to secure a better future for everyone in Scotland".
"We should reject an isolated, lawless, right-wing, rogue state which has been created in Westminster and redoing the community of peaceful cooperative law-abiding nations”.
He said that the BBC in Scotland is now "widely recognised as the propaganda machine for an occupying colonial power" that leaps to the demands of the "unelected iron-clad occupiers of the House of Lords and Westminster".
"By ignoring our first minister’s daily briefings, it has shown that it doesn't care what our families and friends, especially those who are old and disabled need", he added.
"It if does not respect the wishes of the people of Scotland, it should close its doors and return to London."
He said that First Minister Nicola Sturgeon has "shown herself in a very good light" in contrast to a "bumbling erratic fool a man", in reference to UK Prime Minister Boris Johnson.
“The delivery, the tone, the intelligence has been put up to contrast in the last few months. Shutting down the first minister's daily briefings is a purely political move to save face.”
When asked about the path towards a second independence referendum, he said that there should have been a referendum this year "before 31st December and the Brexit transition period comes to an end as promised by the first minister and the SNP government”.
Mr MacKay predicted that a referendum is likely to take place in the Autumn of 2021 or 2022 "at the latest" but rejected the idea of holding one before the end of this year.
Describing the UK’s law as “fascist in its nature”, he called for an organic domestic movement which would be capable of acting independently of the "big powers" such as Russia, China, and the European Union.
He also said he does not believe that Boris Johnson would grant a Section 30, which would permit a second independence referendum, without popular pressure.
“The independence movement has the power to make Scotland ungovernable for Westminster but that would require a cooperative relationship that isn’t currently there between the mass movement and the political leadership”, he explained and admitted his skepticism over the Section 30 process.
“The whole point of self-determination is that its up to the people of a country or territory to decide that’s what they want to pursue. Why should we be subject to English law?”.
On the chance that Section 30 negotiations fail, the Scottish government should “go ahead regardless” with a “legitimate referendum”. He said that international legitimacy would come from “forging ahead” with independence by a recognised people and national movement.
He urged the SNP to “forsake” the Section 30 process and hold a “home-made” referendum.
While he said he would not support “machine gun turrets and watch-towers”, he acknowledged that independence would require "some sort of border for customs between Scotland and England".
"I’m fine with that so long as it was proportional. I think there should be freedom of movements but if the UK leaves the EU and Scotland leaves the UK I would have no issue with a form of a hard border", he said.
The Scottish government's own rules restricts gatherings to a maximum of 6 people and the reintroduction of Lockdown in Glasgow. Those in attendance at the rally largely followed social distancing and wore face coverings.
In order to maximise safety, the event also required pre-registration before attendance. Those who were unable to register in time were asked not to take part. Participants were also asked to wear face coverings, with hand sanitizer and gloves provided at the rally.
Over a thousand people had signed up as 'interested' or 'going' on the organisers Facebook page.
At previous events, AUOB hosted much smaller rallies than had been previously seen prior to the coronavirus outbreak, urging those wishing to attend to avoid traveling too far and to organise local activities.
Markings on the ground are also drawn out to ensure social distancing rules are adhered to.
A Movement Resurgent
Thursday's rally marked the third of three demonstrations scheduled AUOB scheduled from June, ending their coronavirus hiatus with socially distanced rallies in Edinburgh on 20 July and in Stirling a month later.
The protests are eager to return in their original force as the independence sentiment surges in Scotland since the Brexit vote in 2016 and seeing consistent polling leads since last year when the Conservative & Unionist Party swept to an 80-seat majority victory.
Despite his election on the promise to implement the Withdrawal Agreement, which outlines the terms of the UK's departure from the EU, Boris Johnson's government has since sought to revise the bill to keep control over the devolved areas of the country such as Scotland and Ireland in particular.
The move has led to significant backlash after cabinet ministers admitted that it would be in breach of international law.
Scotland was granted a referendum by then Prime Minister David Cameron in 2014, which saw a decisive win for the remain side with 55% of the vote.
Critics of the second referendum movement claim that 6 years does not count as a sufficient amount of time to put the question to the country again, while proponents of Indyref2 claim that the situation has changed so drastically - namely the vote by Scotland to remain in the European Union - that it warrants another ballot.
Support for Scottish independence has reached its highest sustained level in polling history and two-thirds of young Scots now back Yes - essential polling analysis by @BenNHWalker. https://t.co/Gj4mxX4IAd pic.twitter.com/demDMTyq9O— George Eaton (@georgeeaton) September 16, 2020
'A Purely Political Move'?
The decision by the British broadcaster to end the briefings follows the decision by Prime Minister Boris Johnson to limit his national updates. However, online updates from the Scottish government, who are continuing them, will still be available.
Ending the broadcasts was done due to life "slowly getting back to normal" and people returning to work, and everyday services resuming, the BBC claims.
“We will continue to cover the briefing when there is evidence of clear messaging that requires to be given across", the head of public policy for BBC Scotland, Ian Small, told The Nine on Saturday.
“But I would emphasise that we are not stopping doing briefings. To suggest that is simply untrue. We’re simply finding ways which can better impart that information".
Echoing the First Minister's own comments, health bodies have criticised the decision, warning that the decision will negatively affect the most vulnerable and elderly in the country who require essential information on the pandemic.
The BBC have just admitted that First Minister Nicola Sturgeon's daily coronavirus briefings get hundreds of thousands of viewers:— Neil Imperator (@NeilImperator) September 11, 2020
"Average viewing figures have been 280,000 on BBC One Scotland and 40,000 on BBC Scotland..." #BBCScotlandSwitchOff https://t.co/mYuI191GIn
Despite claims of the UK returning to a pre-COVID situation, the country is seeing increasing coronavirus cases. Nicola Sturgeon confirmed on Thursday that 290 people had tested positive for Covid-19 in Scotland since the previous day.
As of Wednesday, 3,991 new confirmed cases of COVID-19 were recorded across the whole of the UK, a surge from 3,105 since Tuesday, official figures reveal.
This follows a period of scrambling to reopen from the lockdown imposed by the government in March, reopening pubs in July, and introducing policies such as 'Eat Out to help Out' encouraging the public to sit in restaurants and other hospitality venues in an effort to reenergise the UK's tumbling economy.
The views and opinions expressed in the article do not necessarily reflect those of Sputnik.