DEAR National readers,

On Monday, October 12, in response to an enquiry by The National’s Kirsteen Paterson, I provided a detailed, point-by-point response to a blog post published by the Independence for Scotland Party (ISP) over the preceding weekend.

Ms Paterson’s article appeared the following day, however it was quite short and the aforementioned lengthy blog post by Colette Walker was reproduced in full as a National article the same day, so I feel it’s only fair National readers get the chance to see our responses in their entirety, too.

We have until now refrained from responding to any comments made by other pro-indy parties, but due to the sheer number of erroneous statements and blatant untruths contained in the said article, I felt I had to respond in this case. I must stress that every single “factual” claim made in the ISP article is false.

In the interests of a conciliatory approach, I have not responded to any of the substantial passages of rhetorical invective it contains, but only to some of most egregious specific claims made.

The ISP say: “Let’s be absolutely clear. AFI are not registered, which means at this point they will not be on the ballot paper.”

In fact, we have already resubmitted our application to the Electoral Commission (Friday, October 2). It has advised us that the process is likely to take four weeks, giving an anticipated date of October 30.

Following talks with the EC following their initial ruling, we anticipate no further problems with our registration.

The ISP go on to say: “AFI are not looking to join ISP, but for us to join them.”

As we pointed out to Ms Walker when she attended our public meeting in Glasgow in February, a party can join an alliance, an alliance cannot join a party.

That would defeat the entire purpose of having an alliance in the first place. Asking us to join them is a bit like asking the Premier League to join a football club. They further state: “By the time this was run past the Electoral Commission, it would be the end of January.”

In fact, since the EC has already accepted the part of our constitution which details how parties may join the alliance, there would be no need whatsoever for them to look again at any such arrangements. The ISP article then says: “We would have to amend our constitution, our financial scheme, run under someone else’s symbol and allow someone else to choose which of our candidates actually ran.”

This suggestion has come up repeatedly, in both mainstream and social media, so it’s important to be absolutely clear: parties affiliating with AFI would not be required to change their constitutions, unless they contained provisions specifically preventing them from affiliating with other organisations.

NB: It is the parties which would be joining, and not their individual members! The purpose of having an alliance is to allow pro-indy parties, Yes groups and individuals to stand under a single banner.

We have repeatedly stated, including again in our formal letters of invitation sent last week, that affiliated parties would be wholly responsible for selecting and vetting their own candidates.

The ISP then opine: “It is not our fault that AFI submitted their application so late. And we have no intention of having our own campaign disrupted because they failed to attend to the bread and butter issues around registration.

“We do not know why they were so late with their application, but ISP have no intention of paying the penalty for that.”

The truth is we didn’t submit our application “late”, we simply took the time to do the job properly. This is why we confidently expect it to take around three months in total, while the ISP’s took from January 3 until, we understand, June 27, roughly twice as long.

Finally, the ISP article states: “Either ISP go with a certainty – our own registration and our own symbol and run the best campaign we can with the structure

that we’ve already set up – or begin all over again and take a gamble that AFI are going to make it on to the ballot paper in time. And right now we’re not at all confident that they will.”

Given all the above-mentioned factual errors and misrepresentations, it is perhaps unsurprising that they reach this conclusion. However, we consider it just as flawed as the rest of this fundamentally inaccurate blog post.

We at AFI would again stress we are still open to working constructively with ISP. This is about putting country before party and prioritising independence.

We should be united in demonstrating the positive case for independence. We hope ISP will join us in making that case in the future, rather than indulging in further party political point scoring.

Derek Stewart Macpherson is communications officer for Action for Independence