Any port in a storm?

It’s not difficult to understand why Chris McEleny has left the SNP. It is plain to see that the SNP has actually left him. But I am none the wiser about why he joined Alba. I still don’t know what he thinks Alba might achieve for Scotland’s cause. I empathise with Chris’s frustration with the SNP. Arguably, he has done more than most to try and change the party’s approach to the constitutional issue. He has been foiled at every turn. I still feel the anger rising when I recall him being booed at Conference in 2019. Looking back, I can see that as the moment when I knew the party had changed. And not for the better.

On reflection, it’s not Chris McEleny and those like him who should have to explain why they’ve left the SNP. The reasons are all too painfully obvious. What needs to be explained is why I stay. There have been countless moments in the 18 months since that disgraceful episode at Conference. (Is it only 18 months!? It feels like so much longer.) On every occasion I have pulled back from the fateful decision to leave the party I first joined when I was twelve. That was 58 years ago and in nearly six decades there have been numerous times when I felt cause to be proud of the SNP. I was never ashamed of the party. I was always happy to declare my support.

I never had a moment’s doubt about the reasons I regarded the SNP as MY party. It was always first and foremost the party of independence. The restoration of Scotland’s independence was then, is now and for whatever time is left to me shall remain the beautiful dream and the rational objective. Foe me, it is not about any vision of an independent Scotland. For sure, I enjoy moments of idle revelries in which I imagine what might be achieve with the yoke of the Union removed. But removing that yoke is enough in itself.

For me, restoring Scotland’s independence is about righting an ancient wrong. It is about rectifying a grotesque constitutional anomaly. When I speak of restorting Scotland’s independence I’m talking about restoring not only our ability to choose the government which best serves the needs, priorities and aspirations of Scotland’s people. I’m also talking about restoring our self-respect. I’m talking about restoring the sovereignty of Scotland’s people. I’m also talking about restoring our pride – in the sense of ending the shame of having allowed our sovereignty to be denied for so long.

I want Scotland’s independence restored as a matter of justice. I need no party’s vision of Scotland as an independent nation again to know that restoring our nation’s independence is the right thing to do. It is doing the right thing.

The SNP offered the means to do the right thing. It was always the case that Scotland’s independence movement would need effective political power in order that independence might be restored. It was never going to be enough that we gathered people to the cause. The people have strength in numbers. But they don’t have power. That strength has to be transformed into political power in order to do the work of restoring independence. To be effective, a political party was always going to be essential. The SNP was that party.

It still is. Which explains why I’m still a member. I’ve stuck with the SNP solely because it remains the only party which can provided the effective political power which Scotland’s cause absolutely requires. There is no viable alternative. And no time to create one.

Chris McEleney and others have found it easier to quit the SNP because they genuinely believe that they have found an alternative. I don’t think it presumptuous to assume this much about their motivations. Although it would surely be impertinent to assume any more than that. Their commitment to Scotland’s cause has neither altered nor faltered. They remain, each for his or her own reasons, committed to the restoration of Scotland’s independence.

Some will accuse them of betraying the SNP. Even if that accusation is justifiable, betraying a political party is a small thing. We owe no great allegiance to what is after all merely a tool. None may justifiably accuse Chris McEleny of betraying Scotland’s cause. Even as one who has remained ‘loyal’ to the SNP, I would never suggest such a thing. I recognise that Chris has set aside the SNP in order to pick up what he genuinely supposes to be a better tool for the same job of restoring Scotland’s independence. I can easily understand why someone would do that. What I cannot understand is why anybody supposes Alba to be a better tool.

I have been trying very hard to understand. I have been trying very hard to get somebody to explain to me exactly how Alba might serve as an alternative to the SNP. Or even how it might augment the SNP. I’m no further forward with that effort. So when I saw the headline promising that Chris McEleny was going to explain not only why he’d left the SNP but why he’d joined the Alba party, I thought I’d struck gold.

In the event, I have been left with another disappointment to put on the pile. It’s not difficult to understand why Chris McEleny has left the SNP. I still don’t see how Alba is a better option. Perhaps for some it’s enough that it’s not the SNP. That’s not enough for me.

66 thoughts on “Any port in a storm?

  1. I too left the SNP. I left, because as a mature woman, their latest legislation caused me great concern and worry. It was hard to see why Nicola Sturgeon was bringing in legislation which was sure to divide the Party. I came to the conclusion that this was very deliberate to ensure HER survival but would most certainly divide the Party. I couldn’t stand what appears to be control of the Crown Office and to some extent control over Police Scotland. She has managed to destroy the democratic workings of the Party. The NEC and the vetting system were both abused. I could go on.
    Many of us have joined Alba because we were in despair and could see no opportunity for independence any time soon. I am the same age as you, and dearly want to see independence BUT with Nicola Sturgeon as leader of the SNP that will not be any time soon and time marches on a pace for me. Alba has enthused me, as I had decided, that for the first time in my life, I wasn’t going to vote. Alba changed that. For me now, there is hope, and although Alba at present may not be a threat to the SNP it may just focus minds on independence which is SUPPOSED to be the real aim of the SNP. If you want things to change, either join Alba, or imagine a way to change the leadership of the SNP. I believe there is something truly malign now in the hierarchy so change is well nigh impossible. Chris did his best to ‘fight’ from within, but bravely decided to change tack, as he was never going to succeed from within.
    I truly believe that Alba will be the support mechanism that will deliver independence to us.

    Liked by 7 people

    1. I don’t do faith. I don’t do belief against evidence. If I am to be persuaded that Alba has anything to contribute to the restoration of Scotland’s independence in time for Scotland to be saved from the British nationalist onslaught I’ll need something more than a catalogue of the SNP’s failures and failings – as if I needed to be told. I’ll need something better than glittering generalities, golden promises and the warm glow of good intentions.

      I’ll need something. So far I have nothing. Neither do you. The difference is that I see the naked emperor while you see the phantom raiment.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. If your own position as regards the SNP and independence is not merely a matter of faith, you’ll be able to describe the concrete steps that have been taken by the SNP towards the restoration of Scotland’s independence since the 2014 referendum loss. What have those steps been?

        Liked by 2 people

      2. It’s for me to decide if I have nothing or not. It’s not up to you to comment on what I have. Disappointed in such a thoughtless comment.


        1. If you have some rational reason for believing the Alba hype then you would surely have shared it by now. That’s what I meant when I said you have nothing. As was clear from the context. Quite why you imagined it to mean something else or something more remains a mystery. Bit to anxious to be the victim, perhaps?

          Liked by 1 person

      3. “I don’t do faith. I don’t do belief against evidence. ”

        Ah but you do Peter. You’re still an SNP member despite being quite aware that they will never pick up that Manifesto for Independence because the parliamentary SNP are now a de facto Devolutionist party with no intention of bringing forth a referendum in the next five years.

        Moreover our Westminster masters haver plans afoot for that five years and the clock is running down.
        As it stands despite the SNP winning a victory at the forthcoming election it will be a hollow one for the blithe and gay victors will in short time doubtless be demoted to mere petty administrators of whatever tawdry residue of government Westminster deems to remain in Scotchland.
        The chief lady of the Parish Council and the emptyhead choir she surrounds herself with will of course protest somewhat shrilly and too much, yet nothing will be allowed to endanger those all important fat Parliamentary salaries.

        -Some part of you clearly wants to believe that this is not true, because otherwise why would you still be a member? but the evidence at the very least points to the SNP leadership having chosen to abrogate their responsibility to the Independence cause at the very point when it was most important to advance it.

        The whole delusional SNP present day mindset somewhat reminds me of the nonsense given play long ago at the battle of Dunbar where the clergy took it upon themselves to not only dismiss the voices of experience but to split the army and get rid of the godless and immoral amongst them…leaving a rump of those pure & pious who dully then march down from their commanding heights: because such “advantages” were also unseemly in the eyes of god and it was only of course right, that we “play fair” with the enemy…

        The result of course was a Scottish army smashed to pieces by Cromwell and a subjugated Scotland.

        Sturgeons fatal mistakes in disarming the movement at the very point it should be tooling up, running a moral crusade at exactly the wrong point in time, surrounding herself with a clique of the pure & righteous and presuming they should play fair with the enemy…it all seems strangely familiar.

        I’m considering voting ALBA second vote not because I think they will be able to change SNP policy btw, but because there’s simply nothing to lose by doing so but some unionist politicians.

        My first vote may be going to the SNP but with trepidation: as above, that I am encouraging a disaster.


  2. I can only sympathise with your obvious dilemma, not being myself a party loyalist.

    So :
    *** Alba afaik is not there to rival the SNP but to act as an ally in the Indy cause;

    *** Alba aims, by standing only on the lists, to offer you an undiluted pro-Indy list vote rather than than the mere fraction of a vote in all but maybe a couple of regions, which is all that d’Hondt offers you.

    *** Nevertheless for this strategy to succeed Alba has to present itself as a separate party, with different and to some extent distinct policies and priorities from the SNP.;

    *** This is probably no bad thing as it shows that Scottish independence is about more than just one party’s narrow policy vision. Within the overall aims of the movement there should be debate over detailed strategy and priorities, so a “broad church”;

    *** However this does not in any way justify the negativity seen towards Alba from some within the SNP, the two should be working in parallel to achieve a common aim.

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Still no explanation of what Alba brings to the tabe. The SNP (Nicola Sturgeon) will decide what if anything is done about the constitutional issue in the next parliamentary term. Alba will have no say in the matter. None!


        1. Hope of what? This is another non-answer to the question of what Alba fans suppose the party is FOR. What they imagine it can DO. What they are being led to believe the party can actually ACHIEVE.

          I don’t do faith. And hope is worthless unless it is founded in some kind of reasonable expectation. You may hope that you’ll win Euromillions tomorrow. But I trust you don’t entertain any expectation of doing so. If I was given to such bubble-headed nonsense I might WISH that Alba could do some of what is claimed. But I don’t base my political analysis on wishful thinking. I try stay in the realm of reasoned argument and persuasive evidence.


    2. I am certainly no victim. However, you obviously enjoy being rude and perhaps nasty. It won’t matter to you, but having enjoyed your blogs in the past I won’t bother with your posts in the future.


      1. You really do have a good conceit of yourself. You’re more to be pitied. You may not think you are an oldie but I have news for you….you are. Perhaps you would now fit in to the ‘Victor’ brigade. Translation means, You’re past it!


  3. Peter, I think the SNP is almost irrevocably broken, and that “almost” is the reason I am still a member. I thought last autumn that it might be possible to fix it and we almost succeeded in regaining control of the party for the members with the SNP good guys campaign. The “good guys” have mostly decided that the SNP is no longer fit for purpose due to entryism and corruption so any attempt to reclaim the party will be doubly difficult now, if indeed that attempt is made.

    I have an old claw hammer, really nicely balanced, but decades of misuse have caused one of the “claws” to shear off. I’m now using a new hammer – much better than the old one ever was – don’t know why I didn’t get it before. The old hammer ? Still in the bottom of the toolbox as it might “come in handy” , but in the next clear out it is likely to find itself being recycled.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Nice analogy, Geoff. The first paragraph being a pretty good summation of the situation in which SNP members find ourselves. The trouble is, there is no necessary or sufficient connection between that and the parable of the two hammers. That the SNP is as you describe does not imply that Alba is what we need it to be.

      In fact, Alba clearly isn’t what we need it to be. We need it to be politically effective. We need a Scottish Government that is willing to do what is required on the timescale that works for Scotland’s cause. As things stand, the SNP will be the party of government, but will not be willing to do what is required. Alba MIGHT be willing to do what is required – there’s a big question mark over that after Alex Salmond’s recent remarks – but isn’t going to be the party of government so… what!?

      Your analogy, like all useful analogies, is an abstraction. Analogies can be an aid to illustrating and understanding particular points. But they cannot be other than so simplistic as to be useless in the context of the whole from which they have bee abstracted. Two hammers are equivalent in terms of their purpose and utility. They both knock in nails. If what you want to achieve is no more complicated than knocking in nails then pretty much any hammer will do the job. But devising, initiating and pursuing a process whereby Scotland’s independence is restored might be just a wee bit more complicated than banging in nails.

      The analogy is inadequate. Which is perfectly fine. It’s only an analogy. It would be foolish in the extreme to suppose an analogy might be a full explanation. But your analogy of the two hammers is also inaccurate. And that does matter. It matters a lot.

      For the analogy to be accurate it would have to be comparing like with like. Two hammers are identical in every way that matters. But the two parties aren’t. For your parable to work one of the hammers would have to be made from PlayDoh, to represent how ineffectual Alba is. A PlayDoh hammer is useless for knocking in nails. Alba is useless for effecting the action necessary if Scotland’s independence is to be restored in a timely manner.

      Even a broken hammer is better than a PlayDoh hammer. Although the PlayDoh one may have lots of lovely colours.


      1. The new hammer does everything a claw hammer should do, it hammers in nails and can also claw them out. It has a green handle too. The old black handled claw hammer is broken so it cannot remove nails (metal ones rather than finger ones – though I haven’t tried), and the missing claw makes it a bit unbalanced when doing the hammering in thing. My playdoh is alll mixed up together over the years and is a kinda shitty broon colour, maybe get some new playdoh too when the covid crisis and its economic effects are over.


  4. Aye! That was an embarrassing day.
    Then the mandates, came and went.
    Then silence.
    Looking round for an answer, I assumed The SNP were poll averse.
    So, they the SNP were being gradualist.
    To slowly slowly convince the majority.
    Although, I keep remembering my late Dad,s words, never assume anything
    When it comes to politicians.
    It might be comforting to reappraise
    The situation, as a relay race.
    I know one thing, politics evolves.
    Being locked down hasn’t helped, but it did show and is showing the nasty side of this union.
    we had the vibrancy of the Yes groups
    AUOB getting out there.
    People make change, not politicians.
    Getting back out there will be a change in itself, regroup move on, a relay race
    Picking up the baton.
    Onwards and upwards

    Liked by 1 person

  5. The only thing i think Alba will be able to do is to try to shame the SNP into calling a referendum. It won’t be a good look if Alba calls for one, and it is Sturgeon that says ‘now is not the time’.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. It hasn’t been a good look for several years. Sturgeon seems unfazed. Why would Alba make a difference? I confidently predict on the basis of long and woeful experience, that I will not get an answer to that question.


  6. I have had a more convoluted relationship with the SNP than yours. I joined when I was 17 and became quite active in my local area but became disillusioned with branch internal politics and left a few years later while still voting for them.

    Further down the line I joined the SSP believing that here was a bunch of idealists I could happily support. Well that didn’t last long!

    At that stage I decided that political parties were not for me and vowed to remain well clear. Come 2014 I was active in Yes while still remaining aloof from joining the SNP and indeed helped to keep the local Yes group alive after that horrible day when the dreams were shattered.

    Forward to the 2015 election night and in a fit of euphoria I became the 100th member of the local SNP branch and thus it remained till a month or so ago when I left. My resolve to never again become a member of any party remains but I shalll be voting Alba 2 as one of the list in my constituency is the person I would have chosen as my preference for SNP candidate if she had been on the list of possibles but methinks she had trod on too many toes as I indicated in a reply to a previous post.

    So once more party-less I shall continue to hope for independence while feeling deep inside that this is but a pipe dream!


  7. The SNP was designed as a tool to achieve Independence.

    It is firmly in the hands of a group with (at best) no clue how to use it or (at worst) want to use it for things that they prize much higher than Independence.

    How can it be returned to the original purpose when those in control are prepared to ignore the constitution & membership?


  8. Yes, I was disappointed by McEleny’s article too in that it did not explain why he left the SNP, nor why the supermajority idea which he believes Alba will create will bring about independence quicker than a working majority.

    He does suggest that Alba has a different vision for an independent Scotland, and that many who voted No in 2014 did so because they did not like the SNP’s vision and he hints that Alba’s vision might also hold more appeal for him.

    I find that hard to credit, because Alba has yet to say what its vision for an independent Scotland would be. Did he mean by the SNP’s vision in 2014 which some voters found unappealing, retaining the Queen as head of state or membership of NATO? He does not say. We are none the wiser what he was getting at by that statement. Nor do we learn if he too was unhappy with the SNP’s vision in 2014 as outlined in Scotland’s Future.

    Like you Peter my support for Scottish independence is a simple matter of justice to rectify an historical aberration. I have confidence in the Scottish people that once independent we will come to an acceptable agreement on policy because elected governments will reflect our values and needs.

    I can only surmise that the reason he is being coy about his reasons for leaving is to not put people off from voting SNP on the constituency vote.


  9. Peter, you have questions but no answers to the vexed question of “why Alba‽”. I joined the SNP 2 days after the 2014 referendum and, although always supporting independence, I was so deflated and disappointed when we lost that I felt I had to show my support in some small way. It was on the second day that there was a powerful groundswell of opinion that this was not the last we’d heard of independence. That keep me sane and gave me hope. I now have left the SNP behind and joined Alba, and for much the same reasons that I joined the SNP. They will win seats and you’re right that they may have little or no influence on the SG which will be an SNP administration. That matters little to me because what Alba have done is reinvigorated the debate. SNP supporters, feeling so let down by their party, I felt were likely to sit on their arses on 6th May and not vote. That filled me with dread. Sitting on their arses is no longer an option, they will now go to the polls, vote for independence for their country and herald in an SNP government. I believe that’s because of Alba, so they may not have influence after the event but they’ve certainly had influence before it. That’s why!

    Liked by 2 people

    1. That Alba will encourage people to vote may be so. But a real solution would have the same effect. Those voting for Alba because they’ve been persuaded it can do something for Scotland’s cause will inevitably be disappointed. People like yourself will get your momentary gratification. But when that wears off you’re going to be right back where you were. With one more let-down added to your experience.

      Frankly, I don’t see the benefit.


    2. Good points. There is indeed a suggestion that deflated indy voters will now vote because of Alba who were not going to bother turning out. I’m hearing that this is true up in the Highlands where folk who were thinking about staying at home will now turn out to vote SNP 1 Alba 2. Alba seems to be strengthening and reviving the SNP constituency vote.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. To what end? How can it be that these voters won’t end up even more disappointed than before when they discover just how vanishingly little difference Alba makes?

        The right solution was there in front of us and some folk have put a huge effort into going around it. How is it that people can be so easily diverted by empty rhetoric?


  10. Your argument for the impotence of Alba at Holyrood is a direct parallel with the impotence of the SNP MPs at Westminster. Their presence in that chamber is only symbolic defiance. There is nothing whatsoever they can actually achieve there except to keep a close watch on what Westminster is up to and report back.

    I suppose though Alba’s position is a bit more hopeful and will depend on any political talent they may have. They will get debate time and air time and will be quoted in the media here. They may succeed in changing the public debate about how independence can be achieved and why it would be worth having. They may by their presence at Holyrood continue the Yes campaign halted in 2014. There is a possibility that by this means they may change the public mood on independence to more than the 50:50 it is at present.

    But they are a motely crew and some of them may turn out to be embarrassing liabilities.


    1. The ‘unknown quantity’ factor is a genuine concern. But even setting that aside and even assuming that Alba does achieve what you hope for without it being torpedoed by “embarrassing liabilities”, it’s all six years too late. Now is not the time to be debating how independence can be achieved. Now is the time to be taking our independence in whatever way we can.

      Besides, that debate is not only too late it is also redundant. We already know what must be done. There is not a huge range of options. In fact, there are no options at all as far as initiating the process is concerned. No matter what the outcome of any debate about ways to restore our independence the first move has to be to assert the primacy of the Scottish Parliament. After that, you’re pretty much playing it by ear. Although there are a few things that are obviously a good idea – such as recalling MPs and setting up a National Convention.

      Having initiated the process only one thing matters. Absolute determination to see it through. No hesitation. No reticence. No compromise. No weakness for opponents to exploit. Tenacity and an iron will! These are key.

      It remains a mystery where Alba fits in all of this. It’s like trying shove an extra cog into a defective clockwork mechanism in the hope that this will make it work. Now THAT is a good analogy!


  11. I’m a similar age to you, Mr Bell, and I have seen Scotland’s chance to become an independent country seep away over the last few years. I was a twit – I actually believed Ian Blackford and his ‘Scotland won’t be dragged out of the EU against its will’ mantra repeated ad nauseam. I thought there was a ‘plan’ – there wasn’t and, as far as I can see, there still isn’t. I believe the SNP will garner its votes, maybe with the help of the Greens, to achieve a majority and then sit idly by whilst the Tories destroy our Parliament – perhaps, occasionally, expressing outrage but no action.

    Alba is, as yet, mostly an unknown but, for women at least, that party recognises women as adult female humans which is progress compared to the crap that’s been women’s lot recently from the SNP. That means a helluva lot to women. The rest of what has been going on in the background has become more than a distraction. I simply don’t trust the SNP as I did before.

    I wasn’t going to vote at all this time but will now vote SNP/Alba.

    As for why I will support Alba – they give me hope where there was none. It’s a gamble. (I’m sure I’ll get pelters for that). I too have limited time left on this earth and I’m hoping to see an independent Scotland before I turn to dust. I don’t have time whilst the SNP faffs around with Section 30 requests, tiptoes around the people who will never vote for independence and generally runs down the clock.

    I’m going to gamble on Alba making a difference. I will find out in due course if I’m still a twit!

    Liked by 4 people

  12. You call us blinkered Peter, but we feel the same. I too am someone who was so disappointed with snp, I just wasn’t going to vote again ever, unless there was a ref called. Now I’ve been enthused again to get out and take part. And for that you have Alba to thank. 14 years with noone to challenge them or hold them to account. The green dont. They hold snp to account when it benefits them. They’re like scavengers the green party.

    Albas gone from who? To more members than the lib dems in a matter of 2 weeks. Now parked between the greens and lib dems on %. So now likely guaranteed to take maybe 2 or 3 list seats from unionists. Thats the whole aim of alba, to increase independence parties and reduce British parties input into scottish politics. Its really that simple and something I’ve been shouting about for 2 years now….the list votes…id done a fair but of research and realised that the brits could take over gov in a rainbow coalition if they can win another 3 list seats..which they would have this year as snp set to clear constituency seats ergo gain absolutely zero list seats this year.

    As a woman greens don’t represent me. My loyalty is to Scotland and its freedom, not the snp.

    You may feel you’re the only one who can see alba as the naked emperor, we think youre a but sensitive about Alba….you need to ask yourself why you feel so threatened by a man who has done everything is his life to gain scottish independence, still trying to get independence sooner rather than later, maybe…


    1. You need to ask yourself why you imagine I feel threatened. You need to ask why you find comfort in this inane assumption when I have never said a word against Alex Salmond and have been at pains to point out how ineffectual Alba is. You should have asked yourself before posting whether your dumb assertion even made sense.

      And, of course, more totally unsupported assertions about what Alba will do. How I weary of this idiocy!


  13. And you really do think you’re superior. That we are all stupid and that Peter is correct..well yours too is just an opinion, and us not agreeing doesn’t make us stupid or naive, or you correct and us wrong. Noone will know until its done if it will work. But given what we’ve seen last few years, isn’t anything better than doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results. Isn’t that how wm got to be the pile of poop it is…


    1. Give the cod psychology and half-arsed character analysis a rest. You don’t know me at all. If I’m not correct then correct me. Leave personalities out of it. Like a grown-up might do.

      Liked by 1 person

  14. Mr Bell,

    Ridding Scotland of the malignancy that is Westminster, stopping England sucking Scotland dry and purging our country of unionist MSPs working to London’s orders would be a win even if I never lived to see what Scotland does with its independence.

    Whether Alba will make a difference remains to be seen but the inertia of the SNP, comfy slipper types like Wishart, the nutjobs (Kirsty Blackman), the ignorant dopes (Mhairi Hunter), the sneering dished out to people active in the independence movement – some for decades – being blocked by SNP MPs/MSPs just for asking pertinent questions, women being treated like third class citizens and having to fight for our rights yet again, etc., etc. All of this has become unbearable. The SNP – please excuse my language – has been taking the piss for too long because they have been, up to now, the only political force that might have gained us independence – if only they weren’t so supine and so damn comfortable in Holyrood and Westminster.

    If Alba causes the arrogant pricks (again excuse me) infesting the SNP’s higher echelons to change their nasty attitude to the electorate and actually fight for independence, well that really would be something. I don’t expect the SNP to trouble themselves though.

    Liked by 1 person

      1. You really do need to “cast the beam out of thin eye …” I’ve already presented you with the logic of SNP1/Alba2 laid out as simply as I can, so you must have some kind of major mental block. I despair … 😦


        1. All that means is that you’ve failed. I saw your supposed ‘logic’. Pathetic!

          Let me make this simple for you. Although I doubt if I can make it simple enough. See if you can keep up with REAL logic.

          Whatever route to independence is proposed it has to start with asserting the primacy of the Scottish Parliament. Because it is only with all powers and competences restored to the Scottish Parliament can take or authorise whatever other measures have to be implemented. For example (see how hard I’m trying to make this comprehensible for you?) for a referendum to take place it must be authorised. That is how it is made ‘legal and constitutional’.

          Given the foregoing, here are your questions.

          Will Alba Party assert the primacy of the Scottish Parliament?

          If Alba Party does assert the primacy of the Scottish Parliament what effect can this have assuming, as we must, that Alba Party will not be the party of government?

          Being unable to assert the primacy of the Scottish Parliament without any kind of mandate to do so, what will Alba be able to do to force the Scottish Government (SNP) to assert the primacy of the Scottish Parliament?

          Supposing Alba Party did have some leverage with the Scottish Government, how could the Scottish Government be forced to assert the primacy of the Scottish Parliament if it has no mandate to do so?

          How could the Scottish Government do something so major at the behest of a minor party and without having stood for election on a Manifesto for Independence?

          If you can’t come up with meaningful, rational answers to these questions then you have no LOGICAL argument for voting Alba. Which is not to say you may not have personal reasons for doing so. Maybe it’s a bit of a thrill. But it does put a big question mark over any efforts – by you or anyone else – to persuade others to vote Alba unless you are being honest about the fact that you have no logical argument for doing so and you’re just doing it for the lolz.

          You see, it’s that honesty thing that I attach importance to. Even more than rationality. Although the two tend to go together.


      2. Yeah, we should just forget about Alba and stick with the SNP – like that’s got Scotland any closer to independence. I can’t think of one of them that would stir themselves to fight for independence. I can’t visualise any of them in a vanguard of the independence movement. There’s nothing revolutionary about them; they’re managers, nothing more.

        Liked by 1 person

        1. Now you’re having a conversation with the voices in your head. You may well be incapable of realising it, but at no time did I suggest you “stick with the SNP”. I am on the record as saying often and clearly that I very well, understand why people don’t want to vote SNP. You make the infantile mistake of assuming that if I’m not in one camp I must be in the other. NO SO!

          I see very well the reasons for not sticking with the SNP. But I also see the perfectly rational reasons why we absolutely MUST stick with them however much it may pain us to do so. I think I’m probably ahead of you on that one.

          What I’m asking and you are signally failing to answer is what can Alba do to alter the situation. I’ve been asking this for many weeks – having made the same futile enquiries of the other list parties. Nobody has yet been able to tell me a single thing Alba might do to aid Scotland’s cause in any practical way. Nobody has given me any rational reason to turn to Alba in the hope of getting Scotland’s cause moving again.

          Neither have you.


        2. To be fair, good managers are essential … just not sufficient to move things on by themselves …


  15. I’m not sure what difference the Alba party can make towards achieving the goal of Scottish Independence. However if there is even the slightest possibility that voting for them may dislodge some incumbent unionists that is enough motivation for me to give them my second vote. Living in West if Scotland my second vote was only ever useful back in the day , when I voted SSP , definitely changed days as my first vote then was for labour. since then I have religiously voted SNP 1&2 only seeing my 2nd vote go to waste.

    Liked by 1 person

  16. I’m neither infantile nor hearing voices in my head.

    You’re not ahead of me in thinking that there are reasons to stick with the SNP (if only because it takes years to build support for a new party) but – seriously – do either of us believe that the SNP has the gumption to assert the primacy of the Scottish Parliament, withdraw its MPs from Westminster à la Sinn Féin, instigate a National Convention and see it through? Is there any indication that they would do that? I see no signs.

    It’s hard to admit, but Scotland is stuck fast and I have absolutely no idea how to get us from where we are to where we need to be. I’m pretty sure the SNP is not the vehicle to free us.


    1. Not an answer. The question is not whether the SNP has the gumption etc. The question is does Alba change that? How? In what way?

      I’m already resigned to the fact that the SNP isn’t going to take the bold, decisive action that is required. I’ve been pretty viciously condemned for pointing this out. Now I’m surrounded by over-excited people breathlessly telling me that Alba is the solution. Not I get viciously condemned for asking of Alba precisely the same sort of questions I used to ask of the SNP.

      I never got answers from the SNP. I’m not getting answers from Alba. I have no reason to have confidence in either. Both are deceiving voters. Both need to be exposed as deceivers. That’s what I’m doing. I’m suited to the job because I don’t give a shit how viciously I’m condemned.

      The thing that worries me most is that I tend to be right about such things. I say that without pride or relish. I saw the way things were going with the SNP and the Yes movement but didn’t speak out because I genuinely thought I had to #WheeshtForIndy. Now, I’ve come to recognise that I – all of us – should have been shouting for independence. We all should have been asking the awkward questions long before this.


  17. I’m not sure Alba can change anything. I think I’m a drowning woman clutching at a straw to be honest.

    There I’ll leave it.

    Liked by 1 person

  18. As Peter says, it’s only the Scottish government that can take any action. I don’t know how they can be forced into it.
    Playing devils advocate, I can’t see Alba being happy just standing on the list in 5 years time when we are no farther forward. When they also stand on the constituencies at the next election, Westminster will have won. With 2 ‘indy’ parties standing on both votes, London will rule through a Unionist coalition.
    Alba could be the end of our hopes, not a fresh start.
    I still don’t know if i will vote SNP X 2 or SNP/ALBA.


        1. Next election? FFS! Have you not got it yet? There will be no more elections to this Scottish Parliament. If there is an eat all in another five years then it will be to a parliament stripped of all its capacities other than the capacity to be blamed for everything that wrong while the UK Government in Scotland takes credit for whatever they can spin as going right.

          How can you NOT have got it yet when the British are not only openly stating what they intend they’ve actually got the process well underway?

          How is it possible to avoid seeing this? It’s happening right in front of your eyes. What the hell kind of blinkers are you using? Or is it a blindfold?

          Every time I write something like this pointing out the reality the response is an indignant assurance that the person I’m addressing knows perfectly well what’s going on. That they are not blinkered. Not blindfolded. Before they return to talking in terms of future elections as if time was not a factor.

          No fucking wonder I curse.


      1. Of course there will be an election. It might be a token parliament, but the Brits wont close it totally.


        1. Is that not what I said? The point that you’re working so hard to avoid is that it will not be a Parliament capable of restoring Scotland’s independence. Complacency is the sister of apathy.


      2. Why do you think i don’t understand that? I’m not trying to avoid anything.
        It’s so obvious the next parliament will be completely neutered that i didn’t it needed to be stated.


  19. I know you won’t be satisfied with this Peter. But in reference to the end of your piece, where you suggest that, for some, it’s enough for them that ALBA are not the SNP…..

    For myself, peaking at last Thursday/Friday morning, I was so dejected at the prospect of having nothing and no-one to vote for (I’m appalled at the current SNP leadership and direction, and won’t vote for the greens), that ALBA coming along and being ‘not the SNP’ was indeed enough. It was the difference between me voting, and not bothering at all, a prospect I was also appalled at. I care about my democratic voice.

    I’ve been reading your posts with interest, and understand perfectly the question you’ve been asking incessantly, but I can’t imagine what would answer it satisfactorily for you.

    I consider myself ‘engagaed’ politically, but to be honest I don’t have the headspace to analyse everything for the nuance required to arrive at concrete positions. I rely on others, such as yourself, to provide that nuance. So really any ‘analysis’ I do is of material that’s been chopped more times than cocaine.

    What answer is it you’re after? To be honest, I don’t ‘know’ what possible solutions ALBA may provide to our current predicament, I’m relying on those I consider ‘reliable’ analysts and commentators to give narrative and direction to the things that happen, and to explain the actions of our politicians to me, so I can then at least feel informed, and feel that I’ve something to go out and actually vote for.

    I know that’s not really an answer, I don’t know the answer as I said. But maybe telling you what I think I do know might go some way in explaining…

    I know I can’t vote primarily to support NS and the SNP as it is.

    I know I don’t want to vote for the greens as they are, and unionist parties are obviously out.

    I know that, putting aside personalities or not, I trust Alex Salmond, his competence, his integrity and commitment to independence. He has been held to the highest account, after years of intense critical scrutiny, and has SHOWN his quality to be the highest. (Certainly in Scottish politics anyway)

    I know I understand the voting system, and the concept of wasted votes.

    I know the SNP are in a mess structurally, and that I felt forced to relinquish my membership. And it felt, and feels right.

    I know I want to do’something’ to express my political views, to vote, even to campaign….etc…etc

    ALBA fix my issues. Perhaps in the short term, perhaps without a clear way forward yet, but definitely outwith the current rut we currently find ourselves in. ALBA will put competent people into the Scottish parliament, focused primarily on independence. That can’t help but affect the SNP, the momentum towards independence by whatever means necessary, the unionist contingent and structure etc etc…..

    Further than that, at the moment, I’m afraid my brain is just not big enough to provide me with the answer, to then give you.

    That’s what I meant about not understanding what you want. If a lot of people are like me, and let’s face it we both know there are loads of people who understand even less and couldn’t care less for the subtleties of politics, then it’s like you’re desperately pleading with us to be smarter or something.

    Personal politics is a battle between thought and feeling. When things are easy, thought and feeling are in harmony and your choices make sense, and can be explained in terms of both.

    When things are harder, you have to struggle between the two, trying to involve both, but maybe coming down at a compromise.

    But sometimes, one may have to be expanded to compensate for a lack of input on the other to have any opinion at all, if that makes sense?

    That’s where I’m at with ALBA. I’m maybe acting on a more feelings-based approach than my normal, but I can deal with not having all the intellectual answers at the moment….

    Liked by 1 person

    1. “That can’t help but affect the SNP…”

      You say you can’t imagine what would answer my questions satisfactorily. Simply telling me HOW it will affect the SNP would be a start. Your comment is a perfect example of the kind of claims I’m challenging. You and others tell me that the mere presence of Alba MSPs will do all sorts of things. But you never explain HOW. There’s no information whatever about the mechanics of it.

      The key word in regard to your claim that Alba’s presence in the chamber must inevitably – not ‘might’ or ‘could’ but “can’t help but” – have some impact on the SNP neglects to explain what this impact is, how it is applied and what will be the affect. In other words, it explains none of the things that matter.

      That is how my questions can be answered satisfactorily. Just fill in the gaps. Otherwise all that is left is your faith. And of what possible use is your faith to me?


      1. … Sorry I met your expectations! 😉

        You’re right, faith does nothing. But if I demanded of myself that I never take action unless absolutely, rationally certain of effects and outcomes, I’d never be able to vote again.

        I cannot support the SNP as is, but I want to vote.

        You’re spending all your time demanding answers to questions I don’t think anyone can answer at the moment.

        You’re coming across as cynical (as opposed to sceptical) to any idea of ALBA even having the ‘possibility’ of affecting the parliament and independence cause positively.


        To me, there are possibilities at the moment. Those possibilities weren’t there before ALBA appeared, there was just disappointment, apathy and hurt.

        What are those possibilities? I don’t know mate, but you seem to be adamant there are none. Where does your ‘faith’ in the certainty that ALBA are pointless come from?

        ALBA gives me engagement, and yes, an ill defined hope.

        Given the woeful state of just about everything at the moment, a little hope is going down a treat. You should try it mate…..ATB.


        1. “You’re spending all your time demanding answers to questions I don’t think anyone can answer at the moment.”++

          That’s crap. There is no reason at all why questions can’t be answered. Parliamentary processes are not a mystery. If the claim is made that Alba is going to “drive independence forward”, for example, it is not at all unreasonable to insist on an explanation of the process by which this will be done.

          The whole ‘unanswerable questions’ notion is just an excuse. A way of avoiding acknowledging the falsity and vacuousness of the claims so that you can continue to use the claim to sell Alba to others and yourself.

          I’m not asking unanswerable questions. Alba’s devotees are making unsupported claims.

          This is pointless. It is futile to use reason in the hope of persuading someone from a position that was not arrived at by reason. It is impossible to address a faith position with logic because faith by definition defies logic. What can deny the the constraints of nature can easily deny the constraints of rationality.


  20. Peter, the thing I stumble with is the revolutionary principle. History tells us revolutions fail. I suppose the American revolution is an example of a successful revolution (unless you are black or a Native American of course). Some may ponder just how successful it was, given a civil war 70 years later and unresolved racial matters ever since. About 1/3 were loyalists. Another 1/3 were rebels, whilst the rest sat on the fence waiting to see which side would win. The rebels won because they got the support of France, Spain, and the Netherlands, who had their own axes to grind with the British Empire. But revolutions, by which I mean a coup whereby a minority captures the state (or putative state) and forces its agenda on the majority, generally fail. Either they fail by being ruthlessly crushed by the counter-insurgency, which, by definition, is generally the stronger element the revolutionaries are trying to overthrow, and their cause is then ruthlessly crushed and set farther back than it ever was; or they fail by succeeding, but in the process must suppress the majority opposed to them, whom they have not won over, and twist their own morality and poison their cause by becoming an authoritarian state perpetually struggling against internal dissent and unable to deliver on whatever it was the revolutionaries promised.

    So, as I see it, we need to become a larger majority and take a constitutional route, not a revolutionary route. At present, a bare 50% are for independence. Now I agree with you that a supermajority in Holyrood means nothing if it is not supported by a supermajority outside Holyrood.

    But I do see the Alba party’s presence as as having the potential for ‘soft power’, for cultural influence, to make a stronger case for independence, by challenging in a more forthright way, unionist nonsense, by policy development, by argument, and cultivating support outside of Holyrood. At that point, our hand becomes stronger, to the extent that UDI could be contemplated if the UK still fails to budge.

    On the other hand, I see equal danger of it collapsing into a heap of contradictions, embarrassments and indiscipline and bringing the independence cause down with it. Time will tell.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. “Now I agree with you that a supermajority in Holyrood means nothing if it is not supported by a supermajority outside Holyrood.”

      I’m not sure who you’re agreeing with here, but it’s not me. I would never so much as hint at the possibility of a qualified majority – or ‘supermajority’ being required to decide a new referendum. After independence the constitution may require a supermajority for amendments. Until then, the established practice is a simple majority.

      Your reference to “soft power” amounts to no more than yet another unsupported claim for the beneficial – ALWAYS beneficial – effect of Alba’s presence in the Scottish Parliament. And it assumes we have unlimited time in which to keep on hoping that this “soft power” will have the desired effect. Despite the fact that it sounds little different from what the SNP has been doing for the last seven years to no great effect.

      We don’t have unlimited time. We can’t rely on methods that have been tried and even where they have not failed have reached the limit of their potential to succeed.

      You say you see the EQUAL danger of Alba “collapsing into a heap of contradictions, embarrassments and indiscipline”. Why “equal”? Surely the precautionary principle dictates that when you have an unknown factor with the potential for the catastrophic effects you describe you must assume there’s a very high risk. Especially when you can identify so little potential benefit.

      The stuff about revolutions risks setting me off on my ‘countervailing force’ lecture. Nobody wants that, I’m sure. But I find in what you say traces of a straw man argument that is often deployed by the the likes of Pete Wishart. That is to say, the suggestion that what is being proposed by those of who proposed that something should actually be done as opposed to waiting for something to happen, is the imposition of independence by a minority. It’s a nonsense argument because there is no way this could be done.

      You say such “revolutions” tend to fail. I would go further. I would say that in Scotland it couldn’t even start.

      However, it is a mistake to assume that the support of the masses is a prerequisite for revolutionary success. to whatever extent revolutions are successful (and this can be defined many ways) the critical factor is not that they are prosecuted by a majority of the population – they never are – but that they win the support of the masses AFTER they have begun.

      It’s a matter of leadership. The quality of leadership is the ability to take the people with you on a journey. Being a leader is about drawing people to yourself. Showing leadership is about drawing people to the idea that what they aspire to is possible.

      The Yes movement has always lacked leadership. When I hear talk of ‘making the case for independence’ I wonder for whose benefit this is. In the early days it sounded so obviously the thing to do that nobody questioned it. Over time, as I came to wonder about this idea of making a case I began to see it as being at least as much about Yes activists trying to persuade themselves as them trying to ‘sell’ independence to others. If not actually to persuade themselves of the need for independence then at least to convince themselves of the possibility. There was and still is a large element of independence campaigners trying to compensate for the absence of the leadership which should be keeping the conviction alive.

      If you want people to go on a journey, first persuade them that they need to leave the place where they are, then convince them that it is possible to be at the other place. If you do that it is hardly necessary to offer them visions of what that other place will be like. Allow them their own visions.

      The Yes campaign to date has been almost entirely focused on doing the vision thing. There has been negligible effort put into telling people how bad the Union is for Scotland and the urgency of the need to leave. And no detectable effort at all into convincing people that the journey can be made. Quite the contrary, All the talk of routes to independence from the SNP and the vast majority of the Yes activists has focused on the difficulties – the obsession with the Section 30 process being the most glaring example. It’s almost as if they were trying to deter people from making the journey. Almost as if they were content to have people subscribe to the idea of independence but balk at the thought of actually doing what is required to achieve it.

      There has been no leadership. And that, surely, is the first thing a revolution requires.

      We need someone who will demonstrate that it can be done by doing it. If someone were to show leadership THEN people would follow. If Nicola Sturgeon signed up to the Manifesto for Independence, support for both her party and independence would soar. The revolution would begin. People would stop flicking through the glossy brochure depicting countless brightly coloured ‘visions’ and they’d set off on the journey that has now become a short trip.


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