NICOLA Sturgeon has been attracting support from an unusual quarter – a group of anti-poverty demonstrators whose 10-day occupation near Downing Street came to an end last night with 15 arrests.

The Occupy Democracy group was formed as part of Occupy London in March last year, with a mandate “to campaign for real democracy by organising a mass action in and around Parliament Square and Westminster”.

Their rally at Parliament Square was largely peaceful, but last night police in riot gear clashed with “a minority” of protestors after they began throwing objects, including traffic cones and smoke bombs.

In a statement, the Metropolitan Police said 12 people were arrested on suspicion of violent disorder and three for assaulting police.

One officer suffered a dislocated shoulder and a police staff member was hit in the mouth by an object, it said. Both were being treated in hospital.

However, it appeared last night that Occupy Democracy members have been attracted by Sturgeon’s anti-austerity agenda.

“Nicola Sturgeon is incredibly popular down here,” Liz Beech, a spokeswoman for the group, told The National.

“We are very impressed with her anti-austerity stance – it really seems to strike a chord with our members.”

“I have been involved with Occupy since 2011, and throughout that time have challenged the assertion by our politicians that we, the people, are responsible for the state of the economy.

“It is not us, it is the bankers, and the corporations who have manipulated the situation, and used their position to extract the maximum profit and pay the minimum return – by exploiting tax loopholes etcetera.

“Meanwhile ordinary people have watched an erosion of their standard of living, with their children paying extortionate tuition fees, the creeping privatisation of the NHS and unaffordable housing.”

Beech added: “The SNP has challenged this, and formed a radical party, seeking independence from Westminster. This, combined with its position on Trident and commitment to oppose cuts in welfare, fits very closely with the narrative of Occupy.

“The people of Scotland became politicised, in a very positive way, due to the independence referendum, so although Occupy might hope that our Scots brothers and sisters will remain within the Union, we are heartened, in very disheartening times, by the overwhelming victory of the SNP and its adherence to the core principles of the socialist movement which originated in Scotland.”

The worldwide Occupy movement was spawned from Occupy Wall Street which started in September 2011, when a few hundred protestors attracted worldwide attention by taking over a park in New York City’s financial district, Wall Street.

It only lasted a few months, but made a huge impact.

Occupy Wall Street described itself as a “leaderless resistance movement with people of many colours, genders and political persuasions”.

“The one thing we have in common is that we are the 99 per cent that will no longer tolerate the greed and corruption of the one per cent, ” it proclaimed.

Its tactics were based on the Arab Spring uprisings across the Middle East earlier that year, and it shunned violence to maximise the safety of all participants.

The movement came to Scotland as well, and some groups still exist under the banner of the Zeitgeist Movement.

Its most notable occupation here came in Edinburgh when protesters originally set up camp in St Andrew Square in the city centre towards the end of 2011.

Ahead of a forced eviction, the group moved just over a mile away to the Meadows, before abandoning their occupation as further legal action was looming. Their action had lasted 100 days.

An Occupy Glasgow demonstration in Glasgow’s George Square at around the same time attracted the wrong type of publicity when a woman of 28 was raped in a tent. The anti-capitalist protest moved from the square to Kelvingrove Park in November 2011, following talks with the city council.

Weekly meetings of Scottish groups are still scheduled via conferencing software, but there appears to be little other activity.

In recent months “Occupy” has been busy on English campuses, taking advantage of the controversy over the last Coalition Government’s decision to raise student fees to £9,000 a year.