THE organisers for the upcoming independence march in Glasgow have received heavy criticism from parts of the movement regarding individuals speaking at the event.

All Under One Banner, which grew its marches from an estimated 25,000 in 2016 to 90,000 in 2020 before seeing a post-Covid decline, announced its speakers for the march and rally on Saturday, May 6, four weeks in advance.

Speakers include SNP MSP Kate Forbes, SNP MSP Ash Regan, Jim Cassidy from Trade Unionists from Independence, Robin McAlpine from Common Weal, SNP MP Joanna Cherry and the Alba Party’s Tasmina Ahmed-Sheikh.

The initial announcement also confirmed Humza Yousaf as a speaker, but this was later denied by the Scottish Government. The First Minister will instead be attending the King's coronation.

The option of offering a representative from the Scottish Government or SNP to attend in Yousaf's place is being explored.

The National: EDINBURGH, SCOTLAND - MARCH 29: New Scottish First Minister Humza Yousaf waves to the media after posing with his new cabinet at Bute House on March 29, 2023 in Edinburgh, Scotland. Humxa Yousaf was elected Leader of the SNP this week with 52% of the

All three SNP leadership candidates were invited to speak at the rally during the contest. It was considered that if the winner attended, it would signal a shift in the attitude of the SNP leadership toward the movement. Over the years supporters have argued that the SNP leadership has not paid enough attention to these grassroots events.

But online, some independence supporters have criticised the finalised list of speakers with the campaign group Ungagged! describing the line-up as "a cesspit of terfery, Thatcherite politics, Putinism".

One Yes supporter said they had planned to go to the march in May, but won’t any longer after seeing the speakers.

Another suggested AUOB were guilty of spreading hate about others in the independence movement.

Meanwhile, the Provost of Renfrewshire Council, Lorraine Cameron, accused the group of a "passive-aggressive approach".

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She said: "This kind of passive-aggressive approach might be attractive to some in the movement who don’t like the SNP, but it’s alienating people who would previously have attended your Yes marches. I know this for a fact. If you want co-operation amongst allies, stop."

In a statement to The National, AUOB founder Neil Mackay stressed criticism should not be pointed at the group, but at those who didn’t accept the invitation to speak.

Mackay repeated that the Scottish Greens had been invited, as well as several other organisations.

He said: “Criticism of the speakers' line-up is completely off point.

"The May 6 march and rally is for Scottish independence. It's the national demonstration for self-determination. It's clear some are confused as to what this is about.

“We have been transparent that we aim for as broad a platform of speakers from across Yes at rallies. We invite other parties and groups, including the Scottish Greens, but they refuse to share the platform with other speakers because they disagree with them on other matters.”

The National:

“These parties and groups speak of unity for independence but in practice, in this significant way, their behaviour says otherwise. Therefore, AUOB accepts zero responsibility for those who refuse to unite and accept their invites - leaving AUOB with the platform that it has.

"Those who dislike the speakers' line-up should direct their criticism at the organisations whose absence on the list has angered them, and not at AUOB for inviting everyone, seeking maximum unity for independence, and rightfully pressing ahead regardless."

"We get quite a bit of stick"

Bruno Celini, 63, is on the AUOB national committee member and is an SNP member.

“We get quite a bit of stick for being a front for the Alba Party," he said. "And it amuses me when I know that that is total garbage. There’s not a single Alba Party member on the organising team."

He went on: “All we’re trying to do is say let’s forget all the side issues, for this one day – lets hit the streets on what unites us and that’s all we’re interested in.

"All the other stuff, keep it out the road but we can’t police that. That’s not what we’re they’re for, we want to facilitate the movement to be able to show the world how it feels.”

In response to the backlash facing the organisation, Celini added: “We get it from both sides, you can go one some posts and you’ll see that Alba people can present AUOB as an SNP-supporting group, and SNP present us as Alba-supporting – but the clue's in the name really, it’s under one banner.”

The National:

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“We invite all of the political parties and any and all political organisations - if we invite an MP or MSP from any party, we make a point that all the parties are invited and there is absolutely no preference to any of them.”

“It's the same names a lot of the time and just attack, attack, attack – it’s actually quite soul-destroying.”

The next march will go from Kelvingrove Park to Glasgow Green, starting at 11.30am. AUOB expect the event to be as large as the 2020 march.

The group has also announced a stall and leafleting session will take place at Buchanan Street steps on April 29 – the weekend before the march.