THE National’s first-ever rally for independence is here at last and happening today in George Square in Glasgow.

Entitled #indyref2020: The National’s Rally for Independence, the event will starting at 1:20pm with a surprise musical experience followed at 1.30pm sharp by the first speaker of the day, Mhairi Black MP – if all you have seen of her is her appearances in the House of Commons or on YouTube then please get there early to hear just what a superb orator she is when speaking live to an audience.

The rally is expected to last for around two hours and must be finished by 3.30pm.

So far more than 7000 people have expressed an interest in going on the event Facebook page.

Obviously we at The National would like to see more people there, not least because of the line up of speakers headed by First Minister Nicola Sturgeon – the first time the SNP leader has addressed a public independence rally since 2014. She will be introduced by Councillor Susan Aitken, the leader of Glasgow City Council.

Joining First Minister Sturgeon will be National columnist Paul Kavanagh, aka the Wee Ginger Dug; the co-leader of the Scottish Greens, Patrick Harvie; Maggie Chapman, convenor of the Scottish Independence Convention; Suzanne McLaughlin, board member of Women for Independence; Cabinet Secretaries Michael Russell and Humza Yousaf, the comedian, playwright and author Janey Godley and Catalan and Scottish independence activist Valentina Servera Clavell. The event is being supported by the Scottish Independence Foundation and is being organised by Sunday National editor Richard Walker.

He said: “We want to bring the movement together and speak with one voice to send a message to Westminster that we don’t ask, we demand the opportunity to take control of our own future. We hope that people will come from all over the country to join us in Glasgow.”

Greg McCarra, chief executive of the Scottish Independence Foundation, said: “We were delighted to support this rally and meet 40% of the running costs as we are sure the event will show the breadth and depth of the Yes movement.

“The rally will be a great motivator for the forthcoming independence campaign and we would like to thank The National for organising it.”

The final running order in almost alphabetical order is: 1.20pm musicians, 1.30pm Richard Walker’s brief welcoming remarks, 1.32pm Mhairi Black, 1.41pm Maggie Chapman, 1.50pm Valentina Servera Clavell, 2pm Patrick Harvie, 2.09pm Paul Kavanagh, 2.18pm Suzanne McLaughlin, 2.27 Janey Godley, 2.40pm Michael Russell, 2.50pm Humza Yousaf, 3pm Susan Aitken introduces Nicola Sturgeon, 3.20 musicians followed by closing remarks from National editor Callum Baird.

Writing in the National, the First Minister stated: “Today I make this pledge and issue this warning to whoever may be looking to form the next UK Government. When it comes to the demand for the transfer of power for a referendum that I will make before this year is out, then know this – that demand will not be made on my behalf, or that of the SNP or the Scottish Government.

“It will have been instructed and mandated by the people of Scotland themselves, having given not just their consent to it, but having directed it and demanded it as their democratic will.

“It will be a demand for an independence referendum from the people – and for the people.

“And any would-be occupant of 10 Downing Street should know this too – if you attempt to refuse it, you would not be refusing me, the SNP or the Scottish Government, you would be refusing and denying the express democratic will of the people of Scotland.

“That would be an affront to the very principles of democracy to which the UK still claims to adhere, and it would not stand.”

Here at The National our major concern is that the event passes off peacefully and safely. We ask those attending to please follow the advice given by the stewards and police. We are unaware of any counter-demonstrations but please ignore any.

The National has received advice from Glasgow City Council for those attending the rally. Any coaches should head to Cochrane Street and the preference is to leave the car at home if possible and use public transport – Queen Street station, Buchanan Street subway and bus stations and many bus routes are all nearby. All attendees are asked to be respectful of the Garden of Remembrance and the Cenotaph.

There is access for wheelchairs and an area for the disabled has been set aside at the front of the rally for those who need it. Signers will be on hand for the main speeches at least.

Inevitably there must be disruption caused by such an event for which we apologise in advance. There will by a rolling programme of road closures around the venue and we would urge drivers to avoid the George Square area during the afternoon.

The rally will finish by 3.30pm. All roads will be fully reopened by 4pm.