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Alba-and-the-Impact on the Independence Movement

This is an extract from an article written by Ray Morrell and published by Conter. I commend it as essential reading for Scots before the next Scottish General election

Before last weekend, the SNP and the Green Party’s outlook was unchallenged within the independence movement. Since 2016, the Greens have propped-up the SNP’s minority administration, and are an essentially list-based party leading some to view it as a ginger group on the dominant party.

Now the SNP have a competitor that challenges both their narrow vision of independence and their support in the lists. If the Alba Party doesn’t have any discernible policies (some should be forthcoming at a policy conference), they do have one big idea, that of the ‘supermajority’. As cynicism grows with politicians of all shades, it’s likely that a relative lack of policies won’t have much impact and the slogan can cut through. Salmond has also said that Alba wants to work with the SNP and other MSP’s to achieve independence. Alba is prepared to use alternative tactics should the Tories continue to stonewall the Scottish people. “International legal action, peaceful street demonstrations, popular will – these are all tactics but the tactics have to be founded on the legitimacy of the parliament,” Salmond said. “The parliament has to have… a supermajority that changes the balance, fundamentally, into Scotland’s favour.”

Salmond explained that Alba would aim to increase overall pro-independence representation: “At the last election there were nearly 1 million wasted SNP votes on the regional list.” This reflects a reality – the electoral system in Scotland is designed to balance list against constituency representation. However any ‘gaming’ of lists will also be open to accusations of manipulation by the British Government, who will deploy any excuse to ward-off another independence challenge.

Alba’s campaign will now put more scrutiny on the list vote, challenging the “SNP1+2” tactic, which is much better at protecting the SNP’s hegemonic position in the independence movement than it is at producing overall independence majorities. According to a recent Survation poll the SNP would elect no regional seats at all from a million votes on the list. In previous elections, it’s been the Greens who have benefited from vote-savvy independence supporters using their list votes wisely to elect a larger Indy cohort. Now the Greens have competition in this field, although it’s likely that the appeal of Alba’s call for a ‘supermajority’ will hit the SNP’s list vote more than the Greens, as more Indy voters become aware that an SNP list vote is likely to be a wasted one. Many Greens would also probably prove resistant to Alba’s more populist appeals.

Alba has announced its intention to build an “economically successful and socially-just independent country, through the pursuit of a social-democratic programme”. Late last year Salmond produced a joint paper with former SNP MSP Alex Neil, an Action Plan to tackle the Covid unemployment crisis in Scotland. Amongst its many ideas was a national housebuilding company to build an additional 10,000 energy efficient homes a year on top of existing targets, with funds made available to train apprentices to tackle the dire housing and youth employment crisis. The paper also proposed a Scottish national renewable corporation to invest in wave and tidal technologies with the development of a Scottish supply chain to ensure we face no more disasters like the recent BiFab closure.

With the election approaching the SNP led Scottish Government has announced a 4% increase for health workers, a housebuilding program and the doubling of child benefit. If Alba positions itself to the left of both the SNP and Labour on economic issues there is scope for further pressure here.

Full article here: https://www.conter.co.uk/blog/2021/3/31/alba-and-the-crisis-of-indy-movement-leadership

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