AT least 20,000 people were estimated to have attended the independence march in Perth yesterday, with leading SNP politicians John Swinney and Pete Wishart helping to swell the number.

The massive turn-out was one of the biggest so far in the series of marches that have taken place in Scottish towns and cities in the past few months.

Swinney, the Deputy First Minister and Education Secretary and MSP for Perthshire North, and Wishart, the Perth and North Perthshire MP, stepped out at the front of the march, leading thousands of independence supporters through the streets of the city as the sun shone on the Saltires. Music was provided by the Saor Alba pipes and drums while the Yes Bikers again revved up for the occasion.

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“What a fantastic day,” said Wishart who, along with Swinney, spoke at the rally at North Inch where the march ended.

“Lovely afternoon in the Perth sunshine at the independence march,” tweeted Swinney.

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon retweeted a cheery pic of Swinney in the midst of the march which All Under One Banner organisers said was attended by at least 20,000 people.

“Great photo of John Swinney at the Perth independence march today,” said Sturgeon.

Independence supporters were buoyed by the turn-out which many described as “incredible”.

Others predicted it was a great omen for the next march in Edinburgh, with thousands more expected to attend on October 5.

It has also given a boost to the Yes movement before what could be a snap General Election and a second independence referendum.

“For us, with the march coming to Perth, the city that voted overwhelmingly No in 2014, it shows just where this is all going and the difference that is being made,” said Wishart “We are now in a place, right across Scotland, even in places like Perthshire, where people are making that journey to independence.”

He added: “They want to be satisfied that we are the place for them and that our message of independence for Scotland is something they can invest in. I sense something dramatic changing in Perth. We are seeing people who are being attracted to the idea of independence in a way that we have never ever seen here before. And if we win places like Perth, we win well.”

The Perth march was the seventh of the eight marches on AUOB’s national tour this year, with only Edinburgh on October 5 to complete the season.