Not the independence election

Poor old Michael Fry he has given up on Alba just as a new Panelbase poll predicts they are going to win 8 seats at the election and help create a supermajority in the Parliament.

Comment on Michael Fry’s column in The National

Poll aggregators Ballot Box Scotland and Election Polling put Alba Party on less than 3% and no seats. I am not one of those who imagine polls reliably predict outcomes. But an average of all polling has to be a better guide than picking the outlier that suits your agenda – whatever that agenda is.

It is an arid debate in any case. Partly because it can never be conclusive. We’ll know how many seats Alba has won – if any – when the votes are counted and not before. Also because the serious question concerns not how many seats Alba might win, but what the party does with those seats. We see the manifesto promises about “delivering independence” and hear the buzz on social media about using a supermajority to force a plebiscitary election; but it’s all nonsense. Anyone who bothers to think it through knows that the notion of dissolving parliament and dictating the form of the resulting election while very appealing in theory, in practice is as close to being impossible as makes no difference to those who like their politics well steeped in realism.

The cold, hard political reality is that only the SNP is placed to provide the effective political power that Scotland’s cause absolutely requires. There is no reason to suppose that the SNP is willing to lend that effective political power to the cause of restoring Scotland’s independence. On the contrary, all but the most blinkered of party loyalists long since concluded that Nicola Sturgeon is neither able nor willing to confront the British state. Getting on for seven years of inaction, prevarication, procrastination, empty promises and squandered opportunities was convincing enough for most. The failure to offer a manifesto commitment to action on the constitution was the clincher for others – including myself.

What we must assume will be an SNP Scottish Government won’t do anything for Scotland’s cause in the next parliament. And regardless of how many seats Alba Party wins they will not have the kind of leverage needed to force the SNP Scottish Government to do what is required. That too is a cold, hard political reality that is impervious to wishful thinking and ill-informed delusion. Much as I admire the likes of Alex Salmond and Kenny MacAskill, their speeches in the chamber won’t have any actual effect. Nicola Sturgeon is well-practised in shrugging off such stuff.

Besides, if there was something Alba Party could do – by which I mean practical action – to bring the restoration of Scotland’s independence one day closer, then they surely would have told us about it by now.

Before anybody responds with the usual tribal inanities they should at least make an effort to understand that I have no partisan interest in this matter. I remain as committed to Scotland’s cause as I have been all my life. But I’ve resigned from the SNP in despair and will not be joining any other party because none of them offer anything that might alleviate that despair. I am not looking at the situation through a partisan lens. I’m being wholly pragmatic. I’d be delighted to be proved wrong. But from that dispassionate perspective I see only Scotland’s cause being betrayed by the politicians and let down by activists.

At least part of the reason this election seems as dull at tedious as Michael Fry observes is that there was a certain expectation that it would be the ‘Independence Election’. It is not that. So there’s inevitably a sense of anti-climax. Get used to it. There’s more disappointment to come.

24 thoughts on “Not the independence election

    1. Everybody says that. We get the same ‘what we’re hearing on the doorsteps’ pish from every party at every election. Alba is evidently no exception. But I never thought it would be.

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    2. In central Edinburgh, I haven’t seen anyone campaigning for anyone, or anything, apart from better cycle-lanes. I would imagine it is the same elsewhere, but probably without the cycling campaign.

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  1. Keep up the good work Bushgeoff, there’s nothing Peter likes more than shitting on other peoples efforts

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  2. I don’t think anybody is under any illusions that any Alba MSPs will make Sturgeon rise up and cry “Oh my god, what have I done!”. This election is not about the wee, pretendy parliament in Edinburgh. It’s about getting the independence train back on the rails and starting divorce proceedings with the SNP as the driver of that train. One foot in the door is all that’s needed for change to begin.

    Good post Peter, I hope you keep at it.

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    1. How much time do you think we have? There will NEVER be another democratic event such as this election. It is yet another in woefully long list of missed opportunities. I simply don’t understand how people can so easily discount British Nationalism and so totally forget about the entire phenomenon of time. TIME! It’s a real thing!

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      1. “How much time do you think we have? ”

        I agree, and I also agree that its fecked. It’s an opportunity: and our best one ever, absolutely lost.
        But you – like the rest of us have to get beyond that.
        Politically my whole life is and always has been invested in Independence. The problem is the SNP. Not ALBA, not anybody else. We have been shafted but we’re not shrinking violets. So its harder? Yea, it was harder still when we were spending days knocking thousands of doors for candidates we know had no chance: but we still did it right? and for years. So what’s new?

        The SNP elite are responsible for this: not you and not I. They lied and are still lying. I don’t even blame the fools that still believe them: I did for years. No gods and precious few heroes: we are where we are but we move on.

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      2. You have your faith. I don’t do faith. You genuinely believe Alba offers a way of moving on. I wish that were true. But I’m glad I’m not blinded by faith to the fact that it isn’t.

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      3. No. My credulity concerning political parties is long gone. It’s not about belief but about being thrawn and pig-headed enough to know there’s got to be a way out this new hole our politicians have dug us us into because I have no intention of accepting the alternative.

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  3. Those of us who are pragmatists and realists accept what you say, Peter, even as we hope, but, as Stuart MacKay says, it is about the beginning of the end, not the end in itself. The next step, even if Alba gets no seats, is to ensure that Nicola Sturgeon’s administration does not continue. If it does, there will be no independence this side of the Millennium, and women will be reduced to ciphers for paraphiliac men, while our freedom to speak truth to power (in all its guises) will be gone. The SNP needs to feel voters’ anger, and Ms Sturgeon needs to understand that she is not the jewel of the firmament, but a rather weak and disappointing leader. Next time, Alba, with or without Alec Salmond, will stand in the constituencies if there has been no progress on independence. I think that, then, the SNP will fall spectacularly unless it reverts to its raison d’ĂȘtre as a party of independence, even if not the only or main one. Ms Sturgeon, of course, having destroyed all that she could meantime (assuming she is re-elected) will have moved on to richer and greener pastures. By the way, it’s great to see you continuing. Lang may your lum reek.

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      1. No, I agree, Peter. Suggest how we make Nicola Sturgeon listen now? Everything has been tried on independence and on the GRA stuff. She turns a deaf ear. So, with or without the SNP, we are not getting independence. So, over to you, Peter. Short of armed conflict, what do we do, given that we are not allowed full-scale demos?

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      2. I don’t have to know a way out of the shit to know that I’m in the shit. And I don’t know of a way out of this shit. I know NAlba isn’t a way out of the shit. I know the SNP certainly isn’t a way out of the shit. Short of mass popular action, I don’t see any way out of the shit. Trouble is, the nature of the shit is that half the people don’t know – or refuse to accept – that they’re in the shit. And the ones who do recognise that they’re in the shit have been persuaded that the shit is better with Alba. How do we motivate people to get out of the shit when they’ve settled into to an endless, arid increasingly bitter debate about which shit is better. It’s like the whole British two-party thing writ small. They have the constant Labour/Tory conflict to make the people think they’re being offered choices of how to get out of the shit when they’re actually only being offered the same shit shat by the same shitters. We are headed for the same situation with SNP/Alba. Both claiming they have the way out of the shit while blaming the other for getting us into the shit in the first place.

        Won’t get fooled again? Only every fucking day!

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      3. Well, Peter, as a woman, I am being shat on twice by the same culprits, and my existence is doubly under threat. I am beginning to understand what real hatred is, although I also hope that I never give in to it. However, the Scots have always had it within their power, as have women, to unify and face down the opposition. We, the Scots and women, have allowed this to happen because we have always been too unwilling to do what is necessary to survive as a nation and as a sex. That is the real tragedy here, and, when you are unwilling to do what it takes, you always – but always – store up even greater trouble for the future, as we will discover. Alba, at least have been encouraging their supporters to Vote SNP 1. Sheer malice and spite has been the SNP’s answer. I’m off now before I start to spew.

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      4. The GRA reform issue is not a women’s issue only. If the reform has the effect anticipated then it effectively eradicates sex as a category of human being. They can’t eradicate the concept of sex as a defining (protected) characteristic without this affecting both sexes. Not equally, of course. Women have more protected spaces than men and probably need them more. But male public toilets can be considered a ‘safe space’ for men at least in the sense of being private. Or safe from female intrusion.

        I say this not as an attempt to diminish the fight for women’s rights with pointless whataboutery, but to convey that men should be standing with women on this. (So long as they’re not in a public toilet!)

        This isn’t only a women’s issue. It goes much wider than that. Science is being denied. Sanity is being abandoned. Every thinking person should be up in arms – male and female.

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  4. I understand the arithmetical logic of what you say, Peter. And I know many people like yourself who have given up on the SNP after decades (in several cases, half-centuries) of membership.

    But Alex Salmond has always been a politician who played a poor hand exceptionally well. That’s why the SNP is in the position that is being misused by the current leadership.

    And I always use my list vote for parties that disrupt the status quo!

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    1. If there was any reason to believe Alba might disrupt the status quo I might vote for them myself. What you don’t seem to be considering is the nature of the status quo. Without going into detail, is it such as will not easily be disturbed. Alba MSPs – should there be any – will have no leverage. No power to disturb the status quo. Sturgeon is secure. She will shrug off Alba as readily as she does the British parties on Thursday afternoons.

      It would take something quite extraordinary to shake-up the SNP. The membership couldn’t do it. The odd speech from Alex Salmond isn’t going to do it. The only thing that might have disrupted the status quo is a united Yes movement. But the Yes movement wasn’t interested in unity. Everybody TALKED about unity. But none were prepared to make the necessary compromises. They all wanted everybody else to compromise theirs. People were talking about unity while going off on their own projects or pushing their own agenda.

      The opportunity is gone. There will never be another democratic event in Scotland with the potential that this one had until it was squandered. So you’ll have to forgive me if I’m a bit pissed off.

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      1. The difference is that Alba will be criticising the SNP from the pro-indy left, and they’ve never had a parliamentary opponent like that before.

        It’s going to be a lot more difficult for Sturgeon to shrug off criticisms, or just suggestions, from people who both WANT independence and who KNOW what powers are open to her. She has been able to swat away opposition party leaders up until now because they’re all so piss poor at their jobs but Alex Salmond or Kenny McAskill will be a different kettle of fish,

        We saw at the enquiry hearing how badly she performs when she feels under pressure. She won’t relish facing them in debate when they have facts at their fingertips, not just vacuous slogans.

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      2. Even if this was something more than a fantasy, what good will it do? What will it do for Scotland’s cause? Alba’s manifesto says the party is all about “delivering independence”. How does this deliver anything other than a wee bit of media attention for Salmond? Probably negative.

        How often do you suppose any Alba MSP will be allowed to speak in the chamber. A handful of times a week. Most of which won’t be reported. Face reality! Without leverage – actual leverage, not fantasy leverage – Alba can do nothing.

        Earlier today somebody posted an image on FecaBoko showing seat projections from an unidentified poll. The deatails were –

        Holyrood seat projection from latest poll

        SNP 61
        Cons 24
        Labour 20
        Greens 11
        Alba 8
        Lib Dems 5

        Pro-Indy = 80 seats
        Anti-Indy = 49 seats

        There seemed to be general agreement among Alba supporters that this was a terrific result for their party. And they may be right about that. But I am only interested in how it works for Scotland’s cause. So, without prejudice, I used this projection as the basis of a bit of analysis as follows.

        Here in the real world that’s no change. The numbers as far as the Scottish Parliament is concerned are Scottish Government (SNP) 61 Opposition 69 (Tories official opposition).

        The SNP will make an arrangement with the Greens. Labour and LibDems will join the Tories to form an effective British party opposition bloc of 49.

        Alba will be nowhere. For the most part they’ll be forced to vote with the SNP/Greens or get slated for siding with the Tories (British bloc). Even if they do side with the British bloc and risk electoral obliteration there’s still not the numbers to outvote the SNP alone, far less the SNP/Greens.

        There will be no defections from the SNP to Alba. The numbers are too tight. Only if the SNP had a large (for Holyrood) overall majority might one or two SNP MSPs be tempted to ‘betray the party’.

        There is no permutation of these numbers which affords Alba any leverage. The only ones wooing them will be the British parties. The media will ignore Alba MSPs unless they’re doing or saying something that can be spun against the Scottish Government or the independence cause. Or if they do something embarrassing.

        Sorry to burst your bubble, dreamers. But fantasy politics will not restore Scotland’s independence.

        The marginally less woolly-minded among the dreamers might think to ask why Alex Salmond would get involved in a project that was all but certainly doomed. I wondered about that myself. It occurs to me that the man has nothing to lose. He was out anyway. Rather than the malicious trial being the full stop on his political career, getting involved with Alba lets him depart on a relative high. He goes down fighting. His last political act was fighting for Scotland’s independence. Write your own Wikipedia entry.

        And he had a lot to gain. If he gets back into Holyrood he gets to extend his career and choose a different high to end on. It really wasn’t a hard choice for him.

        So why didn’t he join one of the other snake-oils parties, I hear our uncommonly perspicacious Alba devotee enquire. The answer is that those parties were already established. They already had a presence. They already had ‘leaders’. Alba was ripe for being turned into the Alex Salmond party. Although is had existed since the beginning of the year, it had done so pretty much without anybody noticing. It was the ideal vehicle for Salmond.

        Whatever happens, it’ll be spun as a triumph by Salmond/Alba. It’ll take a while for folk to realise that the party is a sideshow in the Scottish Parliament and achieving nothing for the independence movement.

        Eventually, some psephologist will crunch the numbers and produce one of those ‘what-if’ things that Alba is so fond of. They’ll ‘prove’ what would have happened if Alba had not been there. That could be a very embarrassing moment for Alba if the calculations show there would have been a better result for the SNP.

        It’ll all be interesting to watch. But depressing too, as it means the independence issue being parked for the next five years.

        And I’ll get to say, “TELT YE!”.

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      3. Alba’s policy for saving humanity from the climate emergency is so right-wing that they actually want to privatise it. They also want to privatise the government’s covid recovery plan. They want government compliance with the human rights act to be a matter determined by random people picked off the streets. That’s not a joke: It’s all there in their manifesto.

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  5. I can see Alba standing in the constituencies next election. That will be the end of an indy majority at Hollyrood as the indy vote is split. A singly indy party was our only hope, even though that hope was dashed.

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      1. I agree, Peter. We are f****d. Knowing it doesn’t make it any easier to bear. Like the Irish before us, it will either come down to the wire or we will disappear as a nation. That is wholly down to the SNP administration. Hating Alec Salmond as she does now, NS would rather ally with the non-indy supporting Greens instead of declaring this a plebiscitary election. Even then, she would still have had to confront Westminster, but, now, it is very probable that we will bequeath conflict to our children or their children – if, of course, independence is still a desirable situation at that time.

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  6. As far as the Alba Party goes, we can see exactly how much parliamentary influence they have, right now. Although no-one voted for them, they have two MPs at Westminster, right now.

    They may be discussing home redeco for all we know. Perhaps they are thinking about holding the SNP’s rollers to the paint. If they are not too busy calculating their pensions.

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