THE former justice secretary has has called on supporters of Scottish independence to resume large-scale marches despite the country still being in a state of lockdown.

Kenny MacAskill, says more mass rallies were required as the coronavirus pandemic meant traditional forms of political campaigning such as door knocking were no longer possible.

Writing on the Wings Over Scotland site, the MP for East Lothian said the independence movement had to “get its boots back on and prepare to start marching once again" and that now is the time for a "huge rally on an unprecedented scale".

He said "in the new world brought about by coronavirus" it would be hard for the Yes movement to canvass and leaflet.

Pro-independence campaigners are planning to resume marching again when Scotland moves into the final phase of plans to ease coronavirus lockdown restrictions.

The All Under One Banner group said it will announce details of a parade in Glasgow on the same day First Minister Nicola Sturgeon announces Scotland is moving into phase four of the route map.

HeraldScotland:

The lockdown imposed as a result of of Covid-19 has left many protesters unable to stage demonstrations, with restrictions imposed on mass gatherings.

Mr MacAskill wrote: "Now as lockdown eases it’s time for the independence movement to get its boots back on and prepare to start marching once again. Not just those major set-piece rallies that still exist but other ones around the country and especially in our communities. Preparations are being made and those doing so deserve our thanks and support. It’s important and now is the time.

"Some activists for understandable reasons will not wish to do it. More importantly many of the public will not welcome it. Even with a face mask, chapping a door will be frowned on and could be counterproductive at this time. Even putting a leaflet through a door will raise concerns," he wrote.

He added: "That’s why marching must begin. Socially distanced it must be, and respectful of the guidance provided. But it’s essential.

"Smaller marches in deprived housing schemes will show that the cause is still alive in areas that have been suffering. Moreover, a huge rally on an unprecedented scale is required to show that this is the demand of the Scottish people.

"It’s time once again to show that independence is on the march."

Phase four of the easing of lockdown should allow for further relaxations on outdoor gatherings.

This will be achieved when coronavirus is “no longer considered a significant threat to public health”, Scottish Government documents state, with the disease remaining “suppressed to very low levels”.

Before lockdown – imposed UK-wide on March 23 – thousands of Scots took part in marches and rallies in towns and cities across the country organised by All Under One Banner.

Nicola Sturgeon at Monday's coronavirus briefing said it was "not impossible" that Scotland might stay in phase three for some time yet.

The First Minister said the country would only enter phase four when the "virus no longer presents a significant threat to public health"

"We're not anywhere near that right now," she added.

"I said in Parliament, last week that we would stay in phase three for now, and when it comes to the next review in just under three weeks, it is quite possible that at that point we will stay in phase three as well, because this virus is still a threat to public health, and until we are in a different position, that is likely to be the case for the foreseeable future".