THE Alba Party have issued a statement after it was confirmed the party would not have a speaker at an upcoming independence rally.

Believe in Scotland’s “festival of independence” is due to take place on April 20 with the full line-up confirmed last week.

Speakers include First Minister Humza Yousaf (below) and Green MSP Ross Greer, as well as Hue and Cry frontman Pat Kane.

The National: Scotland’s First Minister Humza Yousaf will speak at the event in Edinburgh (Jane Barlow/PA)

However, there will be no speaker from Alba present. In a Facebook comment, Believe in Scotland said Alba were “the very first organisation” asked to take part.

It said this was because the Scottish Greens “will not share a platform with Alba (which we do not agree with)”.

However, it added that after 60 days without a positive response from Alba, the group approached the Greens to secure Greer’s involvement.

READ MORE: Subscribe to The National for £20 for a whole YEAR

“We felt we had to move on and make sure there was not a hole in our speaker roster,” Believe in Scotland said.

“The Scottish Green Party were invited to speak and they accepted straight away, as was the case with all our speakers.”

Alba response

However, Alba have said that this is “inaccurate and misleading” and say they were told that only party chair Tasmina Ahmed-Sheikh or depute leader Kenny MacAskill would be allowed to address the crowd.

Believe in Scotland have however disputed this, saying the "there is no one to blame for Alba not being represented at the Believe in Scotland rally other than Alba themselves".

The full statement from Alba reads: "The organisation has claimed that Alba Party were asked to participate – in the knowledge according to them that if Alba Party did participate then the Scottish Greens would refuse to participate as they have a conference resolution mandate not to share a platform with the pro-independence Alba Party – and that as Alba Party, they claim, did not respond they then invited the Scottish Greens.

"The claims from Believe in Scotland are inaccurate and misleading. On February 7 Alba Party received an invite via text message from Mr Gordon MacIntyre-Kemp to address the rally.

READ MORE: UK NHS privatisation laid out in new interactive map – take a look

"On February 14 our Alba Party chair spoke with Mr MacIntyre-Kemp for close to 30 minutes on a variety of issues.

"During this call the party chair was advised that Believe in Scotland would dictate the speakers they would accept from Alba Party (and every other party apparently) and that they would only accept as speakers either the party chair Tasmina Ahmed-Sheikh or our depute leader Kenny MacAskill MP.

"Alba Party of course would have no issue with either representing the party but the chair was clear she would need to advise our NEC as we do not support a premise that means we do not get to choose ourselves who speaks on behalf of our party.

"Believe in Scotland were advised that they would receive a response to the invitation after the next full meeting of the NEC. On April 6 the Alba Party NEC agreed the party would be happy to attend the event and that Kenny MacAskill would be the speaker on behalf of the party.

"On April 8 it was confirmed to Gordon MacIntyre-Kemp that Alba Party depute leader Kenny MacAskill MP would represent the party at the rally."

However, the statement added that Kemp then replied to the party to say they were "too late" in giving a response. 

It added that the party "believe that all supporters of independence should come together to advance the cause of Scottish independence".

The statement continued: "It is bizarre that Believe in Scotland would not allow a pro-independence party to be part of its rally simply to appease the Scottish Greens."

"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 while simultaneously Believe in Scotland wish to have the power of veto over which speakers they will accept."

It added that Alba speakers will be attending rallies hosted by All Under One Banner and Hope Over Fear and that it "will be happy to provide speakers to any event that authentically aims to bring the grass roots of the independence movement together to ensure that the dream of independence shall never die".

Believe in Scotland response

Responding to the statement, Believe in Scotland said it was "disappointed" nobody from Alba would be at the event but that nobody was to blame "other than Alba themselves".

The statement said: "Believe in Scotland are disappointed that Alba will not be amongst the speakers at our march and rally on Saturday April 20. 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 Alba 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.

READ MORE: Humza Yousaf: Transgender women will be protected under misogyny laws

"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."