'Hands off our parliament!': Demonstrators lock arms in defence of devolution

In anticipation of a post-Brexit power grab from Westminster, activists encircle the Scottish Parliament in a symbolic gesture

THOUSANDS OF DEMONSTRATORS from across Scotland locked arms and surrounded the Scottish Parliament, determined to protect the powers they believe are rightly vested in the national legislature.

In the wake of the successful cross-party passage of the Continuity Bill, the Scottish Government’s legally controversial alternative to the EU Withdrawal Bill and a radical defence of Scotland’s devolution settlement, an estimated several thousand demonstrators assembled in Edinburgh on Friday morning (23 March) to form a line encircling Holyrood, creating a symbolic bulwark against the possible dilution of parliament’s power.

Organisers emphasised prior to the event that ‘Hands Off Our Parliament’ was intended to stretch across the constitutional divide and a be a pro-devolution demonstration, rather than a pro-independence event. This reflects the support won by the Continuity Bill from not only the SNP and the Scottish Greens, but Scottish Labour and some Liberal Democrats, with only the Scottish Conservatives voting against it uniformly.

The diversity of voices and groups represented was evident from the vast array of flags and signs present; on the lawns and pavements surrounding parliament, Scottish, Welsh and Catalan flags flew, alongside banners for the SNP, Common Weal, Women for Independence, Pensioners for Independence and the Scottish Resistance.

A number of speakers addressed the sizeable crowd, including the journalist and independence activist Paul Kavanagh, who typically writes under the name ‘Wee Ginger Dug’.

“I’m here to support Hands Off Our Parliament,” Kavanagh said, before gesturing to his eponymous companion: “The dog’s here to support Paws Off Our Parliament.”

Following the speakers, crowds arranged themselves into a good-natured procession behind a Scottish piper, who led the march on its way around the parliament building.

According to some sources, it was estimated that roughly a thousand people would be necessary to fully encircle the parliament with arms locked, and all those asked by CommonSpace judged that several times that number had turned out for the rally.

“There are more people here today,” said Paul Kavanagh, “than voted for Ruth Davidson.”

Picture: CommonSpace

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