POLITICIANS from the SNP and Alba set out visions on how to achieve independence at a rally aiming to “bring people from across the movement together”.

The annual event organised by pro-Yes group Hope Over Fear, which has been held every year since 2014, took place in Glasgow’s George Square and was hosted by Tommy Sheridan.

Among the speakers was MP Angus MacNeil, who is now sitting as an Independent after being expelled from the SNP.

He joked with the crowd that he was living independence at the moment and it was “working quite well”, before reiterating a call for an early Holyrood election on independence to be held.

“We know that referendums are blocked, we know that we can’t have a referendum and we have to get our head round that, but Holyrood could hold an early election if it wanted,” he said.

“I know the eyes of the SNP HQ are currently on the Westminster election and fair enough, they have got a strategy for that, I don’t think it is going to work.”

He added: “The early election can still happen and it might have to happen after the Westminster election.”

MacNeil also called for the pro-independence parties to work together, saying: “Perhaps we need to have a debate between the leader of Alba, the leader of the SNP, the leader of the Greens for us all and let’s thrash out the best way forward together.”

SNP MSP Ash Regan told the rally the time for independence was now – “not next year, not in the next parliamentary term, but now”.

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“I believe we should be taking control of this process ourselves, we should not be begging Westminster for something that is our own decision to make,” she said.

“Our leadership what we need from them right now is for them to continue to make the case for independence, we need them to set out a compelling vision that we can all get behind. But we also need them to secure us a democratic event, so that we can move forward.

“I believe that we should be uniting in a democratic alliance, we should be approaching the next election or any election as an opportunity for Scotland to express its choice – we don’t ask permission, we go ahead and do it.”

She added: “We cannot go to Westminster on the back of opinion polls, we need an electoral victory that will put this beyond any doubt whatsoever and I think that is the way we can do this.”

Alba MP Neale Hanvey claimed the plan outlined by SNP leader Humza Yousaf for the next General Election was not a road map to independence but “a wrong turn up another cul-de-sac of a constitutional blockage”.

“Every UK Government will continue to ignore the SNP, whereas a Scotland United campaign would unite and ignite the movement,” he said.

“Most importantly, it would give us real authority to speak to the world as Scotland’s representatives.

“Unite the movement doesn’t mean we have to agree on everything, or indeed much – we only have to agree on one core principle.

“That an independent future for the people of Scotland is the right future to seek.”

Other speakers at the rally included Alba MP Kenny MacAskill, Sean Mellon from All Under One Banner and Judith Reid from the organising team of Chain of Freedom independence demonstration, which is due to take place next month.

Sheridan said SNP MSP Jim Fairlie was unable to attend as planned due to a recent hospital admission and read out his speech instead.

He said he was “sick to death” of hearing about what Scotland could not do and of “all the things we should be grateful to the benevolence of Westminster governments for.”

“When in reality we help to fund their mismanagement with our resources and our toil while they impose austerity and food banks on our people,” he said.

He added independence is not about a “land of milk and honey”, but having “accountability without excuses” for political decisions.