Have people from minority communities finally found their own independent voices at this year's election? Imran Azam speaks to candidates and campaigners in Glasgow ahead of this week's election.

Dhruva Kumar, is the Alba party’s candidate for Glasgow South. Alba was formed by former SNP leader Alex Salmond in 2021.

He said: “We will treat every national election as a de facto referendum, seeking a popular mandate to begin negotiations with the UK government.

“The SNP are not serious about independence. Their MPs have become too comfortable [at Westminster], and enjoying the perks that come with it. They are too scared to mention independence.

"It has become way down their priority list. They don’t even have a minister dedicated to independence anymore."

Former SNP MP Tasmina Ahmed-Sheikh is the party’s chair. Many former ethnic minority SNP supporters in Glasgow, in particular a group of Pakistanis and Kashmiris, also switched to Alba.

They are also attracting Indian and African community support. Kumar is the head of Alba Friends of India and says the interest of the growing Indian community north of the border can only be served by his party.

He said: “There is a perception that Indians are pro-Conservative and therefore against Scottish independence but that’s not my experience. Politics in Scotland are very different when compared with the rest of the UK.

"Whether it be Indians or people from other communities, they are coming to the conclusion that London-based parties don’t serve Scotland’s interests, and that’s why we are seeing traction towards Alba.

“Our policies are resonating with the public, and I’ll give you just two examples. There should be an immediate ceasefire in Gaza and the UK Government must stop selling arms to Israel. We also believe that women and girls need safe, single-sex spaces."

As the chair of the Conservative Muslim Forum (Scotland) and the party’s candidate for Glasgow North, Naveed Asghar, believes that separation isn’t the answer to “Scotland’s woes”.

He said: “The response to the banking crisis and the furlough scheme, highlight what the UK can achieve when we work together. An independent Scotland would’ve been bankrupt during Covid. It was the collective might and broad shoulders of the UK Treasury that served the people of all the nations of this country.

“The SNP must stop blaming everybody else for their mismanagement of Scotland’s affairs. The people of Scotland don’t want independence. They want lower taxes, they want criminals locked up and good schools for their children. However such issues are not a priority for the separatists.”

The current conflict in Gaza is a high priority for Muslim communities. Some community groups are advocating that Tory and Labour candidates be rejected altogether on July 4.

The Muslim Vote campaign has recommended all SNP candidates standing in Edinburgh and the Lothians.

In April pro-Palestinian supporters encouraged a boycott of an Eid event sponsored by Scottish Conservatives at the Scottish Parliament, and confronted those who chose to attend.

Asghar said: “The Foreign Secretary made his feelings clear regarding [offensive in] Rafah. We are providing aid but ultimately the British Government on its own can’t stop the fighting, that’s why we are working closely with our international partners.”

The Labour Party in particular faces a backlash from the Muslim community after Keir Starmer’s remarks on LBC, when he said Israel had the right to cut off power and water in the aftermath of attacks by Hamas-led gunmen on October 7.

He later attempted to clarify his stance, but his original comments had gone viral.

Irshad Ahmed the head of Muslim Friends of Labour (Edinburgh and Lothian) praised the leadership of Scottish Labour leader Anas Sarwar on both global and domestic issues.

He said:  “Anas has been very strong on Gaza. You would’ve seen and heard him say recently that Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu is committing war crimes.  

"He has called for a ceasefire right from the start. The party itself voted for an immediate ceasefire during its conference [February 24].  

He continued: “Anas has consistently highlighted SNP incompetence especially in relation to the NHS. The NHS is a devolved matter. The SNP is in charge and it’s on its knees. Labour have been in the doldrums for a long time, but that’s changing due to his leadership and vision.”

Some polls show that the SNP stand to lose close to 30 seats mainly to a resurgent Scottish Labour.

Qasim Hanif, who sits on the SNP’s national executive committee and is the convener of Scots Asians for Independence, remains confident his party will remain the dominant force north of the border.

He said: “Our difficulties have been well-documented, but the polls which I have seen show us that we will do very well.” There is an ongoing police investigation into SNP finances.

The party’s former chief executive Peter Murrell, who is also the husband of former party leader Nicola Sturgeon, has been charged with embezzlement. Sturgeon, who stepped down in February last year, was herself arrested and remains under investigation.

John Swinney is the party’s third leader in 15 months. His predecessor Humza Yousaf resigned two months ago. Hanif adds:

“What does Scottish Labour stand for? Anas will do whatever Keir Starmer tells him to do. I have seen many of the leaders’ debates and Starmer hasn’t even mentioned Scotland! They will carry on following the Tory agenda, which means austerity that will continue to damage our public services.

“There is only so much the SNP can do with the constraints placed on us [by Westminster], and that’s not looking to blame others but the reality of the situation. Our MPs have shown over the years that only they can stand up for Scotland’s interests.

“We have been the real opposition to the Tories and not Labour. From Gaza and Rwanda to austerity and Brexit, it’s the SNP that have taken the fight to the damaging and divisive policies of the UK Conservative government.

"Ultimately though, we want to be an independent nation and our manifesto makes that very clear. It’s ridiculous to suggest that we have gone silent on independence. It’s the reason for our existence.”

He added: “Humza Yousaf was one of the few leaders in Europe who took a principled position on Gaza and that goes for all our MPs, who have demanded that the UK Government stop selling arms to Israel and called for an immediate ceasefire.”

The 8 candidates standing in Glasgow South are: Niall Christie (Green); Dhruva Kumar (Alba); Haroun Malik Conservative; Stewart McDonald (Scottish National Party); Gordon McKee (Labour); Peter McLaughlin (Lib Dem); Danny Raja (Reform UK); (Brian Smith Trade Unionist and Socialist Coalition)

The candidates standing in Glasgow North are: Naveed Asghar (Conservative and Unionist Party); Helen Burns (Reform UK); Iris Duane (Scottish Green Party); Nick Durie (Alba Party); Daniel John O'Malley (Liberal Democrats); Martin Rhodes (Labour Party); Alison Thewliss (SNP).