A PRO-INDEPENDENCE campaigner assaulted on the Royal Mile has returned to the scene of the attack to prove he is “unbowed”.
James McMillan, 80, from Pilrig, was sent crashing to the ground by a woman following an altercation over his banner supporting a Yes vote. The Scots-Canadian, who returned to the Capital with his wife, Gillian, three years ago, suffered a broken wrist, severe bruising and a cut to his head in the assault, which occurred outside John Knox House at 5pm on Tuesday.
However the pensioner was eager to return to the spot to show he was “still fighting” following the attack.
He said: “I’m a bit banged up and bruised and the painkillers are making me a little woozy but I’ll be okay. I don’t believe that woman intended to hurt me as badly as she did, she just lost it. She stood there looking shocked afterwards.
“I’m passionate about the independence issue and fully believe the Yes side will be victorious and that’s why I’ll be back out campaigning with my placards and tambourines once again.”
Mr McMillan had been entertaining passers-by with an independence-inspired song when his attacker came at him from the direction of a Royal Mile kilt shop.
The Yes supporter was wearing a kilt and singing his adapted version of the hymn The Cross of St Andrew while carrying a placard which read: “Time to get rid of the scourge of the Normans. Sign up to the Yes side.”
He became engaged in a debate with two passing men.However, their conversation was soon interrupted when the woman ran at him, snatched his placard and knocked him to the ground.
The incident has led to pleas for calm and reasoned debate from both political camps.
A spokesman for Yes Scotland said: “People throughout Scotland want the referendum campaign to be free from violence and dirty tricks. The safety of volunteers and campaigners is paramount and we trust that this matter will be investigated fully.”
This sentiment was echoed by a Better Together spokesman who said: “There’s no place for this sort of thing in Scottish politics. We are all proud Scots, we just have different views about what is best for the country we love.”
The attack also led to a number of comments on social media from those on both sides of the independence divide.
Pro-independence blogger Wings Over Scotland said on Twitter: “Attack on 80-year-old Yes campaigner isn’t out of the blue. Natural progression of increasing intimidation from No camp.” He added: “Endless vilification and smearing will always end in physical violence. Surprised it took this long.”
Meanwhile Labour Party activist Duncan Hothersall said: “Shocked at #indyref assault. No place for violence in this debate. Hope this woman is caught and charged.”
Police Scotland have confirmed they are seeking witnesses and are examining CCTV footage in the area.
Tories flag it up
THE Scottish Government forked out for one Union flag as well as 38 Saltires over the past four years.
Details supplied in response to a Freedom of Information request from the Scottish Tories shows the SNP administration spent more than £5000 on flags since 2010/11. Conservative MSP Alex Johnstone said: “Some key questions need to be answered here. What did the Scottish Government do with the solitary Union flag it bought – is it in a position of prominence and, if so, where?
“It also needs to explain why it spent so much on Saltires.”