SCOTLAND'S political leaders have united to condemn abuse and intimidation directed at Jim Murphy and Eddie Izzard by a group of hardline nationalists during a campaign event in Glasgow.

A Labour street rally was marred by ugly scenes as protestors disrupted speeches by the Scottish Labour leader and the comedian.

A group of about a dozen demonstrators, led by the fringe nationalist group Scottish Resistance, jostled Labour activists and screamed "Red Tory scum" in their faces.

They used megaphones to shout abuse and towed a sound system behind a bicycle in a bid to drown out the speeches with loud music.

Scuffles broke out as Mr Murphy tried to lead his groups of about 30 supporters across St Enoch Square, in the city centre.

The "action," as protestors called it, was organised by James Scott, the leader of Scottish Resistance, and Piers Doughty Brown, a self-styled "anti-austerity" campaigner.

Sean Clerkin, a former SNP candidate who has disrupted Labour events in the past, pushed past Labour supporters and yelled in Mr Murphy's face, calling him a "traitor to working class people".

Mr Izzard condemned the "anti-democratic violence" as he was ushered to a nearby car.

Mr Murphy - whose speech was inaudible above the commotion - said said he would not be intimidated by the "ugly face of aggressive nationalism".

He added: "Today's protest was clearly organised and clearly an attempt to make sure the Labour case was not heard on the streets of Glasgow."

Campaigning in Largs, SNP leader Nicola Sturgeon described the scenes as "disgraceful".

In a statement issued later she said: "I take a very strong view that anybody in an election is allowed to

campaign without being abused and these people weren¹t acting on behalf of

the SNP.

"This is a fantastic election campaign and we should all be out there putting forward positive messages and engaging positively with the people

of Scotland."

Sir Malcolm Bruce, the Liberal Democrat deputy leader, said: "This is the ugly side of nationalism.

"That Nicola Sturgeon has to repeatedly apologise for and criticise those who claim to speak for her cause shows how deep rooted it is.

"It is the kind of divisive and threatening tactics from some nationalists which actually threatens to choke democracy - not encourage it."

The time and venue for Labour's street rally was kept secret until a couple of hours before it was due to take place.

However, the demonstrators were waiting in a nearby coffee shop when they arrived.

They unfurled a banner saying "Red Tories Out" and started chanting when Mr Murphy and Mr Izzard climbed onto a podium to speak.

A group wearing official SNP logos joined them in trying to drown out the event but were not involved in the scuffles that followed.

As the pushing and shoving grew worse, a young girl aged about six was carried out of the crowd in tears by a Labour activist.

A number of people were jostled to ground as the protestors tried to block Mr Murphy and Mr Izzard, who has appeared at several Labour events during the campaign.

Among those knocked over was STV reporter Carole Erskine.

Bank Holiday shoppers looked on in horror while traffic came to a standstill as the melee spilled onto a road.

After forcing the rally to end early, the ringleaders boasted their "action" had been a success.

Mr Clerkin, wearing a red "Yes" badge, claimed the protest would advance the cause of independence.

"Of course it will," he said.

"We are no longer going to be at the back of the bus."

He claimed he was tipped off about the event by a Labour member.

Mr Scott, who claims to have 20,000 Twitter followers, said: "We are not provoking them, we are annoying them."

He said his Scottish Resistance group was part of an alliance of pro-independence groups aiming to overthrow "British imperialism".

Mr Doughty Brown, a prominent pro-independence campaigner, said: "This is not an action on behalf of nationalists, it is to expose a politician who has lied."

Scores of pro-independence supporters, many displaying the SNP's logo on their accounts, took to Twitter to defend the protest, claiming reports of intimidating behaviour had been exaggerated.

Eddi Reader, the singer and Yes campaigner, blamed the disturbance on "street rabble rousing" bt Mr Murphy.

Before he was driven away, Mr Izzard said: "It's OK having different opinions, but everyone should be able to put their opinion forward.

"This aggressive, this violent emotion, why violence?

"This is democracy, it's all about voting. "They should let the democratic process happen, it's called democracy, we're putting forward a point of view, we're asking people to vote Labour and they're scared of these words being heard.

"Why are they scared of that? Let everyone have their say. It's called democracy."