Thousands attend rally in Glasgow for Scottish independence

Thousands of people turned out at a rally for Scottish independence, with many supporters saying they were not concerned that ex-SNP chief executive Peter Murrell has been charged in connection with alleged embezzlement.

The Believe in Scotland march went from Kelvin Way to George Square in Glasgow, accompanied by drummers and bagpipers.

Around 2,000 people attended a rally which was addressed by First Minister of Scotland Humza Yousaf and also attended by Line Of Duty star Martin Compston.

Many demonstrators carried Palestinian flags and chanted ‘free, free Palestine’, however counter-protesters gathered in George Square carrying Union flags, including one man dressed in a Union Jack suit.

Mr Yousaf addressed the rally and referred to the arrest of Murrell, 59, the husband of former first minister Nicola Sturgeon. He was charged in connection with alleged embezzlement on Thursday after a police investigation, Operation Branchform, which went on for more than a year.

He said the past couple of days had been “tough” and “shocking” for those within the independence movement but said it was not “finished” as opponents had claimed.

Twins Sheila Mitchell and Mary Linton, 72, first voted for the SNP in 1979 and said they were unperturbed by criminal charges brought against Murrell.

Grandmother-of-five Ms Mitchell said: “We want the vote ASAP. We’re not bothered by the situation with Pete Murrell, it’s not going to stop the SNP.

“Westminster is just like colonial countries – take, take, take. When there’s nothing left they will say you can go.”

Ms Linton said: “We’re happy with Humza if he gives us independence. We want to make our own decisions. We have the same amount of oil as Norway, and we have food banks.”

Ms Mitchell added: “It’s not going away, not ever, until we get it. Westminster know that.”

Supporters of Scottish independence at the Believe in Scotland march (Sarah Ward/PA)

Campaigners displayed painted stones and garden gnomes with pro-independence messages, with donations going to food banks.

Joanne Burrows, 51, who paints the stones, said she wanted a better future for her 21-year-old son.

Mrs Burrows said: “I’m a long-term user of the NHS and have been able to get really good medical care. My son went to college and his tuition fees were paid for.

“I never thought ill-health would happen to me. It’s bolstered my support for independence. It’s not an anti-English thing, for me it’s about self-determination.”

She said Mr Murrell being charged was not a concern.

Twins Sheila Mitchell and Mary Linton first voted for independence in 1979 (Sarah Ward/PA)

Mrs Burrows said: “For me independence isn’t about one person, it’s a collective movement. It’s about my friends, my son, my family, and just having a better future.”

Nadia Abdel-Hady, 40, a volunteer for the Gaza Genocide Emergency Committee said she was proud of the Scottish Government’s support for Palestine.

Ms Abdel-Hady said: “I’m very thankful that in Scotland we differ from states like Britain, the US, France and Germany.

“When we gain independence, we will be able to make a huge difference.”

Maureen Marshall, 60, dressed in tartan with a diamante St Andrew’s flag fascinator to show her support, said she was not concerned.

Garden gnomes decorated to support Scottish independence (Sarah Ward/PA)

Ms Marshall said: “We believe we can do better on our own, we can be like a small independent country like Iceland and Norway.

“I think it makes no difference if Peter Murrell has committed a crime. If he has committed a crime he should pay for the crime committed.

“I think it will make no difference on the movement, the desire for independence is bigger than one person.

“The SNP are a vehicle for change. Once we have independence we can vote for who we want.”

Scottish Greens MSP Ross Greer addressed the rally and said: “We believe a change is possible, it will be the people who deliver change.

“We simply want to live in a democracy that allows us to make a decision.

“I’m more confident now than I’ve ever been that we are marching towards a day when our fate is in Scotland’s hands.”

First Minister of Scotland Humza Yousaf addresses independence supporters (Sarah Ward/PA)

First Minister of Scotland Humza Yousaf said: “The last 48 hours have been tough. They have been a shock for those of us in the independence movement and the SNP.

“Let me say this: You can’t always control what happens in life but what you can choose is how you react.

“When it comes to obstacles that come our way, just because obstacles are thrown in our way, are we going to pack up and go home?

“We are going to fight for what we believe in. In the last few days they have said the independence movement is finished.

“You don’t look finished to me, my friends.”