HOLLYWOOD stars, minor celebrities, prominent businessmen and politicians past and present lined up to endorse the Yes campaign's launch message that decisions about Scotland's future are best taken by the people of Scotland.

A-listers such as Brian Cox and Alan Cumming, both of whom say they will be on Scotland's voting register by the time of the 2014 referendum, were joined by familiar faces including the poet Liz Lochhead, singers Dougie MacLean and Lou Hickey and names from the past including former MSP Dennis Canavan and union leader Tommy Brennan on stage at Cineworld at Fountainbridge in Edinburgh to voice their support.

Fountainbridge's most famous son, Sir Sean Connery, wasn't there, but the long-time independence supporter sent a message which was read by Sweet Sixteen actor Martin Compston.

"This is a historic day for Scotland," it said. "The Yes campaign has centred on a positive vision for Scotland. It is rooted in inclusiveness, equality and that core democratic value that the people of Scotland are the best guardians of their own future."

It was a message repeated throughout the presentation which included video clips from other supporters including The Proclaimers and businessman Sir George Mathewson.

Dundee-born Cox told the audience he had been a Labour supporter and described himself as a democratic socialist who had been "very proud" to be a voice for New Labour in the 1997 General Election, but Tony Blair's administration had failed to deliver "as much as I had hoped". He added: "We have arrived at the moment to realise our potential. Please, let's not waste it. Please, let's say Yes."

Compston, who compered the event, told how he became a nationalist at the age of eight, after the 1992 election of John Major's Tory Government. He recalled his "frustration" that Scotland would be "ruled by a Conservative Government the people of Scotland had not voted for".

He said: "Now I'm a grown-up and we're in the same situation all over again.

"I don't believe we're better than any other country in the UK or the world, but I do believe we're equal. And I believe we have the right to determine our own destiny. That's why I'm here today to say Yes, and that's why I'll be saying Yes in 2014."

Liz Lochhead, Scotland's national poet, said she was not a member of any political party, but was "very happy and proud" to say yes to independence, and Dougie MacLean, who performed his hit Caledonia, said it was a "great privilege" to be included in such a "historic day".

Tommy Brennan, who was at the forefront of the campaign to save Ravenscraig steel works in Motherwell, which eventually closed in 1992, also declared publicly for the first time he was backing independence. He said: "I have no doubt we have the resources, the talent, the ingenuity and the skills to prosper as an independent nation."

He added: "I have no fears or qualms about the referendum, or independence. The people living in this country will make the decision in the first instance."

Former Labour MP and Independent MSP Dennis Canavan also told how he had become a "convert" to independence.

He said that after 25 years at Westminster and eight years as an MSP at Holyrood, he had come to the conclusion the London Parliament was "completely out of touch" with Scotland.

He said the Scottish Parliament had "proved to be far more radical and far more progressive". Independence would give the Scottish Parliament and Scottish Government the "economic muscle to do much more", he added.

Meanwhile, Edinburgh University's Academy of Government has called for public funding for an "impartial, informative and accessible" public education programme on independence.