The Time of False Promises and Broken Hope
“Back to the predictable and humdrum.
Everybody knows the prince is never going to come; and maybe Sleeping Beauty's dead.”
The dust has settled after the election that gave us more of the same and killed the hope of change, presaging yet another five weary years of stagnation as the hope drains from the independence movement. We better start swimming because we are sinking.
The election result is already being appropriated by the trans lobby as proof that Scotland has voted to give up women’s rights. Sturgeon now has her cosy arrangement with the deeply misogynist Greens. Although the rest of the world is starting to see sense with both Germany and Spain voting against self-Id, Sweden banning puberty blockers for under 18s and Liz Truss at Westminster asking public bodies to divest from Stonewall. Sturgeon will find she has made too many promises not just to the Greens but to her power base within the SNP to back down. Scotland will be destroying women’s safe spaces and services just when the rest of the world is wakening up to the dangers of trans ideology.
It should be clear to anyone that is paying attention, that the current leadership are not going to deliver independence. Sturgeon has done all she can to thwart independence these last seven years, let’s just look at some of the ways. In 2017 after winning the general election, she presented it as a loss and pressed pause on an independence referendum; She fought to prevent Brexit which was the reason she had a mandate for independence; She manipulated conference to ensure that plan B put forward by Angus McNeil and Chris McEleny was never debated; she gerrymandered the MSP selection process so star performers such as Philippa Whitford and Joanna Cherry would not be at Holyrood; she killed Alba’s super majority plan by going aggressively all-in on both votes SNP and even lying that the second vote elected the First Minister; She had her Lord Advocate argue against giving legal certainty on whether Holyrood had the power to call a independence referendum; She still continues to smear Alex Salmond one of our best advocates for independence long after he was acquitted by a jury; She has allowed her MPs and MSPs to call fellow independence supporters racists and bigots; She had wrecked a coherent and hopeful independence movement with divisive policies; She has lost NEC members, SNP activists and six hundred thousand pounds; And she contends the only legitimate route to independence is with Westminster approval. When someone shows you who they are, believe them.
And, surely the protection Sturgeon is afforded by the mainstream media and broadcasters ought to give people pause; this is not a woman who is feared by the British State.
What can ordinary members do, the answer sadly is very little. The 2018 constitution gives power to the leadership and the Chief Executive. November 2020 was the last chance for SNP democracy, despite only delegates voting and many of those delegates are the payroll vote, i.e. they either are elected politicians or work for elected politicians – new representatives were elected on a common manifesto of advancing independence and eschewing identity politics. These people were treated with contempt and side lined at NEC meetings; the rejected candidates were gerrymandered back onto the NEC via affiliates; and the National Secretary simply ensured committees such as the Conference, Conduct or Appeals never met.
This Autumn there will be new elections and with most of the ‘good guys’ having resigned or left the SNP altogether Sturgeon will gain an NEC fashioned in her own image.
The elected politicians within the SNP, ones that still believe in independence, must realise the SNP as a vehicle for independence is not saveable. These politicians have an absolute duty to speak out and to leave the SNP. If they do not, they are complicit in the destruction of the hopes and dreams of so many Scots and they betray the trust put in them by the voters. They will be standing by, as the future of Scotland is handed over to Westminster Tories.
But what of Alba, the SNP were exultant at Alba’s performance in the Scottish elections. Hubris is never a good look and the SNP should not mistake a single defeat for a final defeat.
Clearly Alba was launched too late, presumably because it could not be launched while the inquiry into the handling of harassment complaints was ongoing. However, it takes a long time and sustained exposure to a name and message before it registers with the general public and Alba suffered. Lockdown was a huge issue for a number of reasons; entirely dependent on technology; no canvassing for most of the campaign; no street stalls; no large rallies all of which might have raised visibility. The lack of logo or slogan on the ballot paper and the pronunciation, meant that even the voters that knew Alex Salmond had a new party weren’t sure which one on the list it was. But the biggest issue by far was the news blackout, for the final weeks of the campaign Alba simply did not exist.
The online campaign was more successful with a poll in the National registering support for Alba on the regional list at 50%. And the hashtag #AlbaRising trending in the UK the day before the election. This suggests that there was nothing wrong with the message or the candidates, just with communication to the general public. However, one thing the election did prove is that social media is indeed a bubble and the challenge for Alba is breaking out of that bubble.
It is hard to assess whether the tactic of recommending an SNP vote on the constituency ballot worked as there is no data other than anecdotal data but there is a reasonable chance that the SNP MSPs in Ayr and in Banff and Buchan Coast owe their wins to Alba.
The next few years will determine Alba’s direction. The first Alba conference is in September and all members can attend and vote.
In addition to Alba standing candidates in the local elections next May, Alba is likely to stand at least two candidates and probably more in the next Westminster general election. Therefore, Alba is unlikely to stay a list only pressure group but will become a full party with the intention to fight every election and with the ambition to become the Scottish Government. A party ready to take the independence mantel from the failed SNP project.
Alba can build on its’ manifesto policies for an independent Scotland; a Scottish currency; EFTA membership; zero debt and the economy; and should develop the Scottish constitution. These policies can be communicated to the wider Scottish public so the public are informed of the independence arguments. And, Alba would stand ready to fight an independence referendum, in the unlikely event one is called during this parliamentary term.
If no referendum is held prior to the 2026 Scottish election, then the only chance of independence in many of our lifetimes is for Alba to fight this election as a plebiscite with Alba standing on both the constituency and list, winning that election and delivering independence.
All independence supporters should consider joining Alba ( Become a Member - ALBA (albaparty.org)) and help build the party and the policies – it is our only hope. And from the ashes of SNP false promises and what will be twelve wasted years - Alba will rise. Saor Alba.