"I'm William Wallace, and the rest of you will be spared. Go back to England and tell them... Scotland is free!"
Thousands of people marched through the Scottish capital Edinburgh on Saturday calling for independence, a year ahead of Scotland's historic referendum on whether to break away from the United Kingdom.
The pro-independence campaign "Yes Scotland" estimated that 20,000 supporters joined the march, turning the city center into a sea of blue and white as they waved thousands of Scottish flags, though police said numbers were closer to 8,300.
Some of the men were clad in traditional Scottish kilts as they marched up Calton Hill, overlooking the city, to the sound of bagpipes reports Naharnet.
Alex Salmond, leader of the pro-independence Scottish National Party and head of Scotland's regional government, told the crowds they would have "the opportunity of a lifetime" when they vote on September 18 next year.
"We're a lucky generation," he said. "To change our communities for the better we only need to say the word, to say 'yes'."
Opinion polls suggest only around a third of the 5.3 million Scots currently intend to vote to break away, but Salmond insists he can convince a majority that independence would bring economic and political benefits.
Student Calum Martin, who lives near the western Scottish city of Glasgow, said he would be voting in favor of independence because he believed Scots should have a better say over how their money is spent.
"Scotland is an incredibly wealthy country. This is a chance to put that wealth to much better use," the 20-year-old said.
Scotland currently has its own parliament and a devolved government which controls several policy areas including health and education, but other policies, such as defense and foreign affairs, are controlled by London.
The 'no' campaign -- backed by British Prime Minister David Cameron's government -- claims Scotland is stronger as part of the larger United Kingdom, comprising England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.
Pro independence supporters march in Edinburgh
Adam Ramsay, co-editor of the blog Ourkingdom says that it’s insulting to other small countries to say that Scotland wouldn’t be able to survive.
“Scotland has the same population as Denmark; it’s a bigger country (by population) than Norway. If you look at a list of countries by population in the world, Scotland is right in the middle, so I think that the claim a normal sized country can’t survive is insulting,” Ramsay told RT News.
Per capita Scotland is also one of the richest countries in the world and in any case, points out Kane, small countries often do better than larger ones in a whole host of ways.
Research and statistics show “how well small nations, fewer than ten million, do on a whole range of indicators whether its well-being, happiness, economic performance or educational outcome,” he said.
Even without oil and gas Scotland is an averagely well performing European economy, says Kane. And with the oil and gas sector, even if future output and reserves are volatile, the Scottish economy would do extremely well.
Scotland is a modern developed economy and would do fine without its southern neighbor’s subsidies.
“In no way would it be a petro economy. Three of the top universities in the world are based in Scotland. There’s a huge sector in bioscience, there’s great advantages in food and textiles,” said Kane.
It has been pointed out that if Scotland had sovereignty, it would have been able to build up a huge wealth fund like Norway has done. The Norwegians discovered oil in the North Sea at the same time as Scotland in the 1970’s, and their wealth fund now tides them over fluctuations in the market and can be put towards developing technology to extract the more tricky oil reserves, which are still untapped.
|A pro-independence supporter with a Saltire flag and a "Yes" written on his body |
joins a march and rally in Edinburgh on September 21, 2013 in support of a yes
vote in the Scottish Referendum to be held in September 2014.
(AFP Photo / Andy Buchanan)