Comment: Anti-Trump rallies may help inspire a new generation of activists

the huge turn-out at the anti-Trump protest in the city centre tells you plenty about how many people in Scotland are feeling right now.

Monday, 30th January 2017, 7:12 pm
Updated Monday, 30th January 2017, 7:25 pm
US President Donald Trump Picture: Getty Images

It is highly unusual for a protest against political decisions being taken halfway around the world to motivate large numbers of people to march through the streets in any time and place, never mind on a cold January night in Edinburgh. But that is exactly what happened last night as, powered by social media, the largely spontaneous protest turned into one of the biggest the Capital has seen in recent years. This was a gathering on a par with some of the big pro-Independence rallies and stirred similar levels of passion.

It is easy to scoff as many have done at “the lefties” protesting against a man who will not give their views a second thought.

But those who stood to chant and wave banners last night were not blind to the fact that their presence on the streets would have no direct impact on the man in the White House. Of course he will simply ignore the world-wide wave of protests against his ban on travellers from several Muslim countries entering the United States and other regressive policies. His eyes are only on those US voters who might keep him in the White House for more than a single four-year term.

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But that is not to say they were wasting their time. Most were motivated by a sense of injustice and feelings of despair about the populist, right-wing direction politics is taking around the world. Shouting for what they believe in seemed like the only alternative to shrugging their shoulders and walking by.

It doesn’t sound like much, but there is real power in the coming together of like-minded people in this way. One protest march won’t change the world. Neither will ten, twenty or a hundred.

But alliances are built around days and nights like these - and they have a tendency to inspire new generations of politicians.