Thousands rally in Edinburgh for Scottish independence
Thousands of pro-independence campaigners have marched through the streets of Edinburgh in support of their cause.
The march began on the High Street and ended on the city’s Calton Hill with the Rally for Scottish Independence.
Police estimated that more than 8,000 people took part in the march.
Organisers said that between 20,000 and 30,000 people had been involved in the day’s events.
A range of groups took part in the march, from political parties to organisations such as Farming for YES and Football Supporters for Independence.
Many of those assembled waved flags or held banners in support of their cause.
Speakers at the rally included Scottish First Minister Alex Salmond.
He said: “A Yes vote next September will not be a victory for the SNP, or the Yes campaign, or even the huge coalition of interests and enthusiasm gathered here today.
“It will be the people’s victory. ‘Yes’ will be act of self-confidence and self-assertion which will mean that decisions about what happens in Scotland are always taken by the people who live and work here – not by a remote Westminster system.
“A Yes vote is for self-government, not remote government – good government with independence, not bad government from Westminster.”
The rally was compered by comedian and actor Elaine C Smith. Other speakers included independent MSP Margo MacDonald, Scottish Green Party co-convener Patrick Harvie and Yes Scotland chief executive Blair Jenkins.
Mr Jenkins said: “The biggest prize from a Yes next year is not that we will never again have Tory governments we didn’t vote for – important though that is for the well-being of our society.
“Instead it is having the ability to make Scotland’s great wealth, talent and resources work better for the people who live here.”
He added: ‘When we take time to examine the facts people from all walks of Scottish life – pensioners, parents, students, business-people, women, seniors, people across society – see that a Yes vote makes sense for us as a nation and for us as individuals.”
Mr Jenkins made an impassioned plea to campaigners to go out into communities with ever more vigour and optimism over the next 12 months and to ask people to think hard about the impact of both a No vote and a Yes vote.
Ms MacDonald urged the crowds to “imagine what would happen if Scotland votes No”.
She said: “What would people think about the Scots? That we’re all mouth and no kilts.
“We would not carry respect, we would not respect ourselves and that will be reflected in the activity of the country.
“Just imagine the No campaign trying to have a party. A No party. Who would go?”
Dennis Canavan, chair of the Yes Scotland Advisory Board, told the Calton Hill crowd: “This campaign is more like a marathon rather than a short sprint. And having run a few marathons in my time, I know that the runner who is ahead at the halfway stage is not necessarily the winner of the race.
“We have the people with the stamina, guts and determination to win this campaign – and win it we shall.”
Voters in Scotland will be asked the yes/no question: “Should Scotland be an independent country?” when they go to the polls in the referendum, which will be held on 18 September 2014.