Thousands take to the streets of Edinburgh for pro-independence rally
SNP leader Alex Salmond told a crowd of independence supporters that voting Yes in the 2014 referendum would give them the right to choose their own futures.
A pro-independence march and rally has attracted thousands of people to Edinburgh in one of the biggest events of its kind the city has seen.
Princes Street Gardens was transformed into a sea of saltire and lion rampant flags as people from all over the country gathered in support of a yes vote in the 2014 referendum.
Politicians, civil action groups and entertainers took part in the event held under the banner Independence for Scotland.
SNP leader Alex Salmond told the crowd Scots had the right to choose a national health service, no tuition fees and minimum alcohol pricing.
Referring to the Westminster Government, Mr Salmond said to cheers and applause:
“Why should they choose austerity when we want to choose to invest in the future?
“Why should they choose to govern social security in such a way that people with disability and blindness have to come to the Scottish Parliament complaining about being reduced to penury?
“We choose a different way to protect the people of Scotland and we want the right to choose whether our people should be sent into illegal wars and we want the right to choose to remove weapons of mass destruction from the shores of Scotland.”
Many people attending the rally said they would not have supported independence a year ago but had changed their minds.
June Sutherland, 64, from Broxburn in West Lothian, said: “The reason for me changing my mind is the UK Government.
“They’re shutting down all the air bases.
“Once they started hitting our soldiers and our airmen, that was enough for me.
“I didn’t expect the turnout today. I’m proud to be here.”
Lawyer Aamer Anwar, one of the speakers at the rally, said: “I’ve spent most of my life believing in the union and I no longer do.
“I don’t want to be dictated to by Westminster.
“I want a future for my children – a future which isn’t one predicated by austerity for decades and decades.
“I think the people of Scotland can govern themselves.”
The event is the first of three rallies, with another planned for this time next year and the biggest set for September 2014.
“We believe that just as the skies around Scotland were lit up by meteors last night, this campaign will light up Scotland over the next two years,” said Mr Salmond.
“I’ve spoken to many crowds in these gardens over the last few years but never to a rally of a scale and breadth and width of this great rally today.”
Lothian and Borders said an estimated 5,000 attended the march and rally.
Two people were arrested for minor disorder offences, the force said.