THE three candidates to succeed Angus Robertson as depute leader of the SNP are all due to attend a major pro-independence march and rally tomorrow.

Economy Secretary Keith Brown, councillor Chris McEleny and senior activist Julie Hepburn are to take part in the event in Glasgow before heading to a hustings in the city.

The organisers of the All Under One Banner (AUOB) March for Independence are expecting 40,000 people to march from Kelvingrove to Glasgow Green with supporters coming from all over Scotland, the rest of the UK and mainland Europe.

“When I joined this movement 35 years ago independence was at 12% in the polls,” said Brown. “We’ve come a long way since then. We built support to 45% in 2014.

“But we all know we’ve got more work to do. To knit together the different parts of this diverse movement, to harness the boundless energy of the grass roots, to build a campaigning machine that will power us to victory in the next referendum.

“The march tomorrow is an important part of that process, another stepping stone on our road to independence for our country.”

Hepburn told The National she was hoping to meet up with the two other candidates before marching to Glasgow Green for the rally and then travelling on to the hustings.

“I’ll be going with activists from my local area and am hoping to hook up with Keith and Chris there,” she said.

“Marches like these help to motivate people and keep momentum up. Looking at social media, I see people from all over Scotland, from England and even from Germany are coming over.

“They are very family-friendly events where folk can get together and make connections with other activists. Marches are symbolic and demonstrate support for independence is still very strong.”

McEleny said he was looking forward to participating. “I think it’s important that as the party of independence we are seen to be very much involved in marches for independence,” he added.

“People want to see leadership on this from their SNP politicians, especially SNP members who are also taking part.”

Around 200 SNP members are due to go along to the party’s hustings tomorrow afternoon in the theatre in the Mitchell Library. The debate is to be live-streamed.

The depute leadership contest was triggered in March when Robertson stood down from the post after losing his Moray seat at the General Election last year.

The issue of the timing of a second independence referendum has dominated the debate to date, with both McEleny and Hepburn wanting a second vote before 2021. The former wants a new vote within 18 months, the latter within three years. Brown’s position is there could be a new vote in “a year or two years” and that the party must make sure it is ready.

Nicola Sturgeon is to update MSPs on a timing for a new referendum later this year. Last year she unveiled plans to hold a vote between autumn 2018 and spring 2019 to keep an independent Scotland in the EU.

She did not move forward with the plans after the SNP lost 21 MPs at the election.

There is also the issue over the process of holding a referendum after the Prime Minister refused to grant a Section 30 order to give the Scottish Government the power to hold a new vote.

Brown said he is not speaking at the rally because of a timing clash with the hustings. Hepburn and McEleny have not yet confirmed what they will be doing.