BiS responds to Alba's statement on Believe in Scotland's March and Rally.

In short.

Believe in Scotland are disappointed that Alba will not be amongst the speakers at our march and rally on Saturday April 20th. Alba were invited in good faith and would be participating if they had just said yes to speaking in a timely fashion. However, Alba’s framing of the situation as Believe in Scotland allowing the Scottish Green Party to block or exclude Alba from the event is just not accurate. 

There is no one to blame for Alba not being represented at the Believe in Scotland rally other than The Alba Party itself. The fact of the matter is that BiS offered Alba the chance to speak before approaching any other parties and we made it clear that accepting quickly would have meant that the Scottish Green Party would rule themselves out. This was indeed a major opportunity for the Alba party, we presented them with an open goal but they didn't take it.

We have many Alba members within Believe in Scotland and we have found them to be amongst the most active volunteers and activists. Indeed, our organisation and in particular our National Days of Action over the last few years have relied heavily on Alba activists driving leaflets and newspapers around the country for delivery. We have no wish to argue with the Alba party but we do feel the need to lay the facts out so that others can judge for themselves on the merits of the situation.

In detail.

Believe in Scotland is a collaborative and inclusive independence campaign with 142 affiliated local and National Yes Groups. The campaign is managed via a National Campaign Steering Group democratically elected by those affiliated independence campaign groups across 17 regions, with each National Independence Campaigning Group having their own representative. Thus, Believe in Scotland is the major umbrella campaign and democratic support mechanism for the grassroots Independence movement.

In organising our independence March and Rally in Glasgow on Saturday April 20th, both our Campaign Steering Group and our partners for this event, Pensioners for Independence, agreed unanimously that we should invite the Alba Party to speak.  

We were all aware that the Scottish Green Party won't share a platform with Alba and that if Alba supplied a speaker, the Greens would not attend. We do not agree with the Green’s stance relating to the Alba Party. Furthermore, we feel that inviting Alba to speak, despite the Green’s stance, demonstrates our political party neutrality which is very important to us. Some of our events are not suitable for Alba speakers given that our events campaign for independence alongside policies that Alba opposes (e.g. Immediately seeking to rejoin the EU after independence etc). To be clear this applies to all parties, being party neutral does not mean that we must have all parties represented at all events. So this was an ideal opportunity to invite Alba.  

As a result, the Alba Party was the very first organisation contacted and invited to speak at our rally once we had the date confirmed by the Council. We sent that invitation back on February 7th by text to the Alba Party Chairperson Tasmina Ahmed-Sheikh whom we originally asked to be the speaker. I also called but did not manage to get through. On the 14th of February Tasmina and I had a 27 minute conversation where she was largely dismissive of speaking at the event. I had to sell her on the idea, I suggested if she didn't want to do it herself, Kenny MacAskill MP would be a good alternative like last time, (Kenny had spoken at an BiS event in 2023 after we had had initially asked Tasmina to speak). She said they would tell us who would speak if at all and she would have to run it past the NEC. I pointed out that we needed a swift response and that we would hold off inviting the Greens to speak till they had confirmed. I left that phone call pretty certain that Alba had no intention of speaking at the event. It now seems that they wanted to manufacture a disagreement so they could blame the Greens for their non participation. 

To be clear, I invited Alba first so that all people accepting roles as speakers and volunteers would do so on the understanding that there would be an Alba speaker. 

Three weeks after the initial contact and not having received an answer I chased Tasmina again on Feb 28th by text. I received a response by text saying that “I’m abroad at the moment - will respond as soon as I can”. I also emailed to Tasmina and that included the line:

“I would also like to confirm that we are holding off on inviting a Green Party speaker till we have heard back from you. So an early response would be useful in managing expectations.”

We continued to hear nothing from them for a long time and we had to get on with organising the event, so we issued invitations to speak and filled up what we consider to be a great list of speakers. All the speakers that will be there on Saturday April 20th instantly gave at least a provisional yes to speaking, on the day of the invitation and most were able to be fully confirmed within 24hrs.

59 days after we invited Alba to speak (Saturday April 6th) we announced that Ross Greer MSP of the Scottish Green Party would be a speaker. On Monday April 8th, 61 days after the initial invitation, and crucially having waited till after we announced the Green Party Speaker, Tasmina responded by text with the words:

“Hi Gordon Kenny McAskill MP will speak at the rally on the 20th T”.

On April 10th - I emailed Tasmina with the following text in full.

"BiS offered Alba the speaker slot in good faith on Feb 7th, 61 days before you responded, I followed up by text and email on Feb 28th and you have only responded now. Everyone else we asked to speak said yes on the phone instantly and there are some would not have invited to speak had Alba accepted. To be clear, Alba we were the first to be invited to speak, BIS have put so much effort into trying to build bridges with Alba (at some cost to our relationships with others), but by not responding is a reasonable timescale you are not reciprocating.  

So, I am afraid you are too late. The speaker roster is full, with only two speakers to be announced so we cannot accommodate Kenny this time. 

However, if you are serious about building a better relationship the offer, I made on Feb 28th for you to address a Saltire Club Lunch still stands. Unfortunately, as five weeks or so have gone by, two of the dates have now been taken by other speakers. Friday the 26th of April is free though as I was planning on talking at that one myself. I am planning on promoting the next three events at lunch time tomorrow but if you were to confirm you would like to speak by 5pm tonight I can hold that speaker slot open for you.  If not then I would reiterate my invitation to meet and have a clear the air discussion, which we started trying to arrange in 2022.  

Yours for Scotland


Believe in Scotland were willing to book an Alba speaker and to tell the Greens that it was down to them whether they wanted to speak or not. However, having waited that long for a response we were not willing to effectively uninvite the Greens who have always been professional, respectful and willing to work with us. 

We remain ready and willing to cooperate with all pro-indy political parties that are willing to cooperate with us. We offered future speaker opportunities to Alba and reiterated our willingness to meet with them to discuss how we can work together, an offer that we first made in 2022. We still hope that we can build as good a relationship with them as we have with the parties of Government and other parties that will be involved in our March and Rally.  

Response to Alba’s Statement

We will respond to four suggestions in Alba’s statement on the issue, namely:

1) That - During this call the Party Chair was advised that that Believe in Scotland  would dictate the speakers they would accept from Alba Party.” 

  • This is not accurate. We did not say we were dictating who spoke, we simply made suggestions (as we did with the SNP and Greens and Scottish Socialist Party) and we did not say that we did not want a particular speaker from Alba. I had asked for Tasmina and she was the one that suggested it might not be her. I then suggested Kenny MacAskill as an alternative. In a similar situation in 2022 they confirmed a speaker in four days.

2) That - Believe in Scotland were advised that they would receive a response to the invitation after the next full meeting of the NEC.” 

  • If I had been told we would have to wait till after the “next full meeting of the NEC” I would have immediately asked when that was? And if told April 6th, I would have said that was unacceptable, as we are trying to organise a major event. Asking colleagues if they should send a speaker is reasonable, when Tasmina herself was not keen on Alba speaking, however we assumed that would just require a quick email, as was the case with all the other parties and speakers, some of whom confirmed they would speak but suggested alternatives which we agreed to.
  • We are surprised that if their internal decision making systems require that much bureaucracy that they would go so long without an NEC meeting.  
  • During the same conversation on the 14th I offered Tasmina the chance to speak at a lunch event and she did not say - You do not get to choose who speaks, she simply said yes (but then did not and still has not responded to my emailed invitation to select one of three dates). 

3) In the Alba statement it says - …Believe in Scotland they have stated that Alba Party cannot now be present at the rally as this is a condition of the Scottish Green Party’s involvement.

  • No, the condition of the Alba Parties involvement was that they responded in a reasonable timescale and that we would invite the Greens after they had confirmed. This was offered on the understanding that we would therefore not have a Green speaker and our acceptance that this might damage our relationship with the Greens.

4) They stated - We condemn in the strongest terms the exclusionary behaviour of the Scottish Green Party and express our disappointment in the Believe in Scotland organisation that it has allowed the Scottish Green Party to dictate to it which organisations and political parties they deem acceptable whilst simultaneously Believe in Scotland wish to have the power of veto over which speakers they will accept. 

  • We expressly did the exact opposite of allowing the Scottish Green Party to dictate who attended. Alba, by playing games, excluded themselves. 
  • The Scottish Greens unwillingness to share a platform with Alba should have excluded the Scottish Greens from speaking, not Alba. All Alba had to do was say Yes when we invited them, just like everyone else. One of the commenters on Alba’s Facebook post of their statement on our march rally had an interesting take when they posted:

“We should have not fecked about, we should have taken the spot and celebrated the non appearance of the Greens.”

The offer to meet Alba and seek to find a path towards a positive working relationship remains open. Believe in Scotland approached Alba in good faith and will do so again for appropriate future events. We hope that we can soon have that clear air meeting as that seems a sensible next step.

Yours for Scotland,

Gordon MacIntyre-Kemp

Believe in Scotland.