Scotland politics

Independence supporters march through Glasgow

Marchers in Glasgow
Image caption Thousands of people attended in very poor weather conditions

Tens of thousands of Scottish independence supporters have marched through Glasgow in the first of a series of protests planned for the coming year.

The All Under One Banner (AUOB) march from the west end to Glasgow Green took place in very poor weather conditions.

A mass rally that was due to be held afterwards was cancelled after rain and high winds were forecast.

The UK government has said it does not support a further vote on independence.

The "emergency" march was organised in the wake of last month's general election, which saw the pro-independence SNP win 48 of the 59 seats in Scotland while the Conservatives won a majority across the UK as a whole.

It is the first of eight marches that the grassroots AUOB group plans to hold across Scotland over the coming year as activists aim to increase the pressure for independence.

Image copyright John Bell
Image caption The march took a route through the city centre to Glasgow Green

The organisation has staged several similar marches and rallies in town and cities across Scotland over the past five years.

AUOB decided that the march would definitely go ahead despite the cancellation of the rally, with the group tweeting: "If we let some Scottish rain stop us marching then we've no chance. The march is on."

Gary Kelly of AUOB said: "It's another mandate at the end of the day and it shows there's still an appetite and a desire in Scotland for Scottish independence.

"We don't get a lot of media publicity and the fact is that we do get it now. The world's media is here today watching us."

Organisers estimated that about 80,000 people attended the march.

Scottish voters backed remaining in the UK by 55% to 45% in a referendum in 2014 - but Nicola Sturgeon, the SNP leader and Scotland's first minister, says she wants to hold another vote on independence later this year.

That currently looks unlikely to happen because the UK government has made clear it will not transfer the powers that Ms Sturgeon says would be needed to ensure any referendum is legal.

The first minister has ruled out holding an unofficial referendum, similar to the disputed one in Catalonia in 2017, as she does not believe it would lead to independence regardless of the result.

First minister's letter

Ms Sturgeon has never attended an AUOB march, although she did speak at a rally organised by the pro-independence National newspaper in Glasgow's George Square in November. It was the first time she had spoken at a major independence rally since 2014.

The first minister has written to Prime Minister Johnson requesting agreement on a further referendum.

A UK government spokesperson said: "We do not support a second referendum on leaving the UK.

"Scots voted decisively to remain part of the UK in a once in a generation referendum in 2014.

"The Prime Minister will respond in full to the First Minister's letter shortly."

Another AUOB march will be held in Glasgow in May, with similar events scheduled for Arbroath, Peebles, Elgin, Kirkcaldy, Stirling and Edinburgh.