INDEPENDENCE activists should not wait for the starting gun for the second referendum but should be campaigning “positively and politely” now.

That was the message from the SNP’s depute leader Keith Brown to a “flashmob” demonstration outside the Holyrood Parliament at lunchtime yesterday as up to 400 people attended the Now Is The Time event over four hours.

Brown told them: “It’s great see so many people here demonstrating against the absolute mess that the Conservatives are making of this country, and demonstrating in favour of the fact that we can make a much better future for ourselves.

“The mandate on which the SNP fought the last Holyrood election was to go for a second referendum if there was a material change in circumstances, and the power grab to remove the powers of this Parliament is a material change in circumstances and taking Scotland out of the EU against its will is a material change in circumstances.”

Referring to Brexit and the timetable for Indyref2, Brown said: “It is quite clear that the Conservatives can’t get us out of this mess so let’s make sure that we keep the pressure up, let’s make sure that we make the positive case for independence.

“There’s nothing to stop anybody from positively, courteously and politely making the case because some of those who voted No last time have to vote Yes next time and you don’t get them to vote Yes by having go at them, saying they were wrong last time.

“Many people have said that, because of what is happening in terms of the EU, they have changed their mind or are thinking of changing their mind. I meet people all the time who say they will consider changing their mind so we have to work on that. It is not enough just to want it more, we have to go out and win it. We don’t have to wait for a starting gun, we can go out and win it now.”

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Around 400 Scottish independence campaigners gathered outside of Holyrood for the Now Is The Time event

The organiser of the demo, Dave Lewellyn, had set a target of 500 to attend but admitted it had not been met.

He said: “A wrong weather forecast didn’t help but to get hundreds of people out on a cold January morning at short notice shows the appetite that is out there for a second referendum now.”

Val Renton, 47, from Edinburgh, said: “With the way Brexit is going I think it is time that Scotland went for independence. We are heading for a no-deal and the power grab is disgusting. We should be starting the independence campaign now.”

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Tom Graham, 72, from Livingston, said: “We have been treated with contempt and disdain all my life but what has become apparent over the last couple of years is that it is becoming worse and there is no respect for Scotland.”

Scott Green, 52, from Bonnybridge, said: “I would like to thank every Tory and Labour MP down south for helping us with our case for independence.

“Everyone who didn’t vote Yes last time can now see how much they are ignoring us.”

Well-known activist and blogger Peter Bell said: “The Union denies us our rights, it denies us our sovereignty and Brexit is just one example of how we are denied the full and proper exercise of that sovereignty.

Around 400 Scottish independence campaigners gathered outside of Holyrood for the Now Is The Time event

“The Union makes us second-class citizens. Our votes don’t count the same as English votes, and Brexit has again demonstrated that.

“I don’t want to be a second-class citizen of greater England, I want to be a normal citizen of a normal independent Scotland.”

Dean Woodhouse, 49, of Yes Linton who completed the 500-mile walk for independence in October, said: “Brexit is changing people’s minds. That is what we found the whole time along the walk – people were just astounded by what was going on at Westminster.

“There is only one way out of this mess for Scotland and that is independence.”

Nancy McIvor, from Dunfermline, believes the disrespect shown to Scotland and First Minister Nicola Sturgeon by the Tory government is being noted.

“It’s a big contributing factor that they never ever listen to us and we must show Nicola that we stand behind her,” she said.

Jim McKaig, 50, from Dundee, said: “I am here because we need to show that support for independence is still ongoing.

“The disregard for a nation which voted 62% in favour of remaining in the EU shows that we are not being treated as equal parters.

“It was 312 years ago yesterday that 110 people decided for the Union, it’s time for five million to have their say.”

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