Martin Hannan: March is step in right direction

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So were you one of the 5000, 10,000 or 12,500 who matched and rallied for independence in Edinburgh on Saturday? Numbers matter in these situations, as the headlines showed, and depending on who you were talking to, the event was either a flop or a success.

The official police figure for Saturday was 5000, but I have a vivid memory of the great march for democracy in Edinburgh back in December, 1992, when the police said only 15,000 turned out. The true figure, as proven by a scrupulously fair head count carried out by, among others, myself as a trade union scrutineer, was in excess of 25,000. So if you don’t mind, I’ll take the police figures for Saturday’s march and rally with a large pinch of salt.

It is in the interests only of the Unionists to play down the attendance figure, and as someone who could not be there due to work commitments, I can only admire those people who did give up their Saturday to attend what was, after all, an event that was not organised by my party, the SNP, or the official Yes Scotland campaign but by a small group of enthusiasts for 

They should be commended for their efforts, and they should also ignore the usual patronising putdowns by the Unionists. I do hope the pro-Union side keeps up its monotonous negativity usually delivered with a sneer – every arrogant smirk on that side is another vote secured for independence.

I normally admire David McLetchie and think that after his personal taxigate, he should have got back as Scottish Conservative leader. His remark that the turnout was less than that for a struggling third division football team was beneath his usual standard of wit and may well rebound on him. Only one team in the Scottish third division attracts crowds of anywhere near 5000, so to suggest that Rangers are “struggling” might not make McLetchie any chums among the Ibrox contingent. And there’s quite a few Unionists among them, or so I’m led to believe . . .

There’s a long way and several marches to go to the referendum which will take place in October 2014, as the democratically-elected Scottish Government has decided. The carping bleatings of such as my fellow columnist Brian Monteith that the vote should be held earlier is another example of the Unionists failing to concede that Alex Salmond and the SNP won the last election on a mandate to hold the referendum when the Scottish Government decides to do so, working in collaboration with the Westminster Government.

About the only sensible thing the coalition has done is to concede that the referendum can go ahead and that they will provide the legal framework. The timing has nothing to do with delaying the vote and everything to do with ensuring that the referendum is legal, and it will take another two years for the legislation to be passed and for all the myriad of questions about independence to be answered – after all, the Act of Union in 1707 was first proposed by James VI and I more than 100 years earlier, and back then the Unionists never dared put their case to all the people of Scotland before bribing their way to a hollow victory.

These days there are many Unionists and their lackeys in the media who just can’t stomach the fact they are losing the arguments the longer the debate goes on. The more Scottish people question what good the Union is doing them, the more the Unionists seem like the tellers of a tale told by an idiot, full of sound and fury, signifying nothing.

Meter madness

THE other week I told you about getting a parking ticket for parking at a broken meter in Market Street. As I thought would happen, the ticket has now been cancelled, given the proof I provided that the meter was indeed out of order.

What galls me is that in the letter cancelling the ticket, the council’s parking services people state: “The front panel of every ticket issuing machine advises ‘If the machine is out of order please park elsewhere.’

“The correct procedure for parking attendants when they observe a vehicle displaying a note stating that the ticket machine is faulty is to issue a parking ticket. In addition, the parking attendant should report the suspected fault in order that an engineer can be despatched from the relevant Council department to investigate the matter.

“From investigation, we can confirm that, following the dispatch of an engineer to the ticket machine in question, a fault was subsequently found . . . in future, to avoid further tickets being issued in similar circumstances, which may not be given the same consideration, please park elsewhere if a machine appears to be defective.”

That is complete tosh. If the council’s “relevant department” can’t ensure its meters are in working order then that is not the fault of the citizens.

It defies logic to say “park elsewhere” when a meter is broken. I invite the good people of Edinburgh and elsewhere to ignore this nonsensical instruction – when you find a broken meter, park there all day and if you get a ticket, just e-mail parking services and say: “Well you let Martin Hannan off, so I have to get off as well.”

It will be a small victory for the people against the (broken) machine.