AS the sun shone on Glasgow, thousands marched and chanted together, calling for freedom for Scotland, freedom for Palestine, freedom for everyone.

An estimated 2000 people attended the first independence march of 2024, hosted by Believe in Scotland (BiS) alongside Pensioners for Independence. One woman told The National that she had only decided that morning to join the march and rally after the – as the First Minister told participants – “brutal 48 hours” for the movement.

“It was sort of after a week of just turbulence – but the Tories have turbulence, the Labour Party have turbulence and it only seems to be the SNP that get reported on. I feel we always get unfair press, but it really drove me to be here today,” said Anne McKechnie from Yes Helensburgh and Lomond.

READ MORE: Scottish independence in Glasgow: Pictures of the Yes crowd

It wasn’t only independence on the agenda.

Pro-Palestine activists also turned out in their thousands, with most of the marchers chanting for both issues side by side, waving both Palestinian and Scottish flags. Both campaigns completely enveloped each other. Welcomed each other.

When walking down Nelson Mandela Place, two members of the public watching the march pass by told me they weren’t aware of the event but if they had known, would’ve joined. When asked how they felt seeing the Palestine campaigners beside independence campaigners, they simply said: “Yes.”

George Cairns (below) with his sons, Brandon and Callum, shared that he had been a supporter since the first referendum and the bandanas that he and Brandon, 16, were wearing had been to a few marches. “We don't have to suffer. We try and make everything different by the limited powers we have got – but we're always held back.

“Even if we do end up worse off, it's still better for Scotland in the long run, in my opinion, because we're already suffering under the rule of another country anyway.”

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Cairns added, “not as much as others are”, while gesturing to the Palestine flags flying above our heads. “I think that's a great idea because it shows that the independence is against war. Against bombs. Nuclear war. Everything. And now I’m trying to teach them.”

Brandon, now eligible to vote, said: “I do feel that Scotland is not particularly in the best position it could be – but I think independence can really give us a chance to show off more for ourselves in stuff like sports. And that really help us have a bit more pride in our country.”

Elsewhere, Pensioners for Independence highlighted one of the key issues for undecided voters – pensions, as in the name. Marlene Halliday, speaking on behalf of the group at the rally, told the crowd of the possibilities and that and independent Scotland has to raise the amount from the lowest pensions in Europe to one of the highest – with wellbeing at the heart.

Greens MSP Ross Greer spoke of the recent climate target revisions made by the Scottish Government and reflected on “the difficult few days for Scotland's climate ambitions, the targets”.

READ MORE: Humza Yousaf reacts as Greens to vote on Bute House Agreement

“We set those world-leading targets. They were set by all parties including the Tories on the understanding that the UK Government would co-operate with us. But they've not, they've ditched their own climate action and they've cut Scotland's infrastructure budget by half a billion pounds this year alone,” Greer said.

But again, SNP, Greens, Scottish Socialist Party, Alba and Salvo activists stood side by side as independence, Greer said, was what joined them. No matter the political and governmental strife, “we believe in Scotland”, he said.

But the man everyone wanted to hear from?

The First Minister was last to take to the stage, after campaigner Pat Kane had shared his “eight ‘back to basics’ reasons for Scotland to support independence”, host Iona Fyfe gave an emotional rendition of Wild Mountain Thyme, founder of BiS Gordon MacIntyre-Kemp put forward the group’s independence route, James Robertson shared poetry reflecting on mainstream media, RMT Scotland organiser Gordon Martin rallied the trade unions in the crowd and Iona Soper put forward the vision for a nuclear-free independence.

Five years ago, Humza Yousaf also addressed a crowd at George Square – when The National held our independence rally. Although then first minister Nicola Sturgeon also spoke, many saw him as the star of the show with his passionate delivery of a rallying cry for independence.

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He captured that same energy yesterday – and though there was a mixed reaction from the wider movement to his speech, the crowd was clearly bought in.

“The last 48 hours have been tough,” Yousaf began. “They have been a shock for those of us in the independence movement and the SNP.

“Let me say this: You can’t always control what happens in life but what you can choose is how you react.

“When it comes to obstacles that come our way, just because obstacles are thrown in our way, are we going to pack up and go home? We are going to fight for what we believe in. In the last few days, they have said the independence movement is finished.

“You don’t look finished to me, my friends.”

There were cheers and tears from those in attendance.

READ MORE: Listen to Humza Yousaf's speech from Scottish independence march in Glasgow

Elsewhere throughout the crowd, activists from Oban, Elgin, Bute, Aberdeen, Edinburgh, Perth, Ayrshire, and beyond spoke of the issues important to them.

They were joined by the representatives from these areas. Scotland’s Minister for Independence Jamie Hepburn, Minister for Community Safety Siohban Brown, Minister for Culture, Europe, and International Development Kaukab Stewart.

MPs and MSPs in attendance included Alison Thewliss, Anne McLaughlin, Tommy Sheppard, Kirsten Oswald, Anum Qaiser, Stuart McDonald, Tom Arthur, George Adam and Patrick Harvie.

And the counter-protest? Despite Unionists at times shouting in the faces of representatives and campaigners, no-one rose to the behaviour. Believe in Scotland stewards formed a barrier between the two, followed by officers from Police Scotland.

The sun shone, drums were beaten, chants were shouted. Yes was as it always is, loud and clear for people who decide to listen.

As Yousaf said, the independence movement doesn’t look finished to me.