THOUSANDS of people from across the Highlands and Islands turned out in Inverness yesterday (sat) to march in support of independence for Scotland.

SNP Westminster leader Ian Blackford, SNP MP Drew Hendry, Green MSP John Finnie and National columnist Lesley Riddoch supported the event and spoke at an impromptu rally at the end.

Estimates of the total number of marchers ranged from 6000 to 10,000, with people travelling from as far afield as Skye and Lewis to turn the Highland capital into a sea of Saltires.

The National:

Organiser Eilidh Mckenzie said the march was “absolutely spectacular” with turn-out far greater than she had expected when she first suggested a Yes march for the city.

A member of the SNP, she said she had decided in the aftermath of the General Election to see if one could be staged.

“There were marches organised for Edinburgh and Glasgow but nothing for up here and not everyone here can travel to the other cities,” she said. “I have two young children who have both got autism so going there was quite impossible for me.

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“The Highlands have support as well so I thought we should organise a Yes march up here.”

She put the idea on a Facebook post a few days after the election and support came flooding in.

A team of six, including Mckenzie, then organised the logistics.

The National:

The marchers began in Walker Park and wove their way to the bus park via the High Street with onlookers cheering and clapping in support.

“We got an amazing reaction,” said Mckenzie. “People were really supportive. This is the first march I have ever organised but I would do another in a heartbeat.”

The march is the latest in a series of demonstrations across the country and follows an estimated 80,000 people marching through Glasgow in appalling weather just two weeks ago.

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“The message from the people of Scotland to Boris Johnson is clear – Scotland must be allowed to choose its own future,” said Blackford.

“People have had enough of Westminster rule by a Tory Government that we didn’t vote for: a Government that has imposed austerity, a heartless immigration system that doesn’t work for Scotland and a hard-right Brexit that will be deeply damaging for our economy, jobs and living standards.

The National:

“Throughout the Brexit process, Scotland’s people, our Parliament and the Scottish Government have been wilfully ignored by out-of-touch Tories at Westminster who are hell-bent on dragging Scotland out of the EU against our will.

“The SNP will always stand up for the people of Scotland and their right to choose their own future.

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“Decisions about Scotland should be taken by the people of Scotland, and Westminster’s bid to block the mandate the SNP has to give the people of Scotland the choice is anti-democratic and unsustainable.”

Last week, a new survey revealed that an overwhelming majority of Labour members (77%) support or are open to supporting Scotland’s right to choose its own future. Only 16% of Labour members oppose the vote, a position Henry McLeish said is the same as “opposing democracy”.