George Kerevan rightly points out that “a strategy that relies on gentle persuasion and infinite patience is not going to work with the Johnson clique“. It is certain that there is no route to the restoration of Scotland’s independence which does not pass through a point at which there is direct and acrimonious confrontation with the British state.
George is also justified in assuming that the SNP+SGP/Scottish Government is disinclined to “play hardball with Westminster”. All of which suggests that he has in mind an approach to the constitutional issue which is significantly different from that adopted by Nicola Sturgeon. If this is so then it is difficult to understand why George Kerevan has chosen to align himself with Alex Salmond and the Alba Party when their ‘thinking’ on the process by which we might restore Scotland’s independence is indistinguishable from the ‘Sturgeon doctrine’.
I understand, even if Alba/Salmond devotees do not, that the party can do absolutely nothing practical to aid Scotland’s cause. Alba has no power, no leverage and no influence other than over its own members and supporters. Although even that last has to be in some doubt. If Alex Salmond is serious about ending the tribal squabbling between his party and the SNP so as to allow for cooperation instead – as he intimated in an interview on The Sunday Show – then he is evidently failing to persuade his followers. So what he imagines he and his party can contribute to the independence cause is a bit of a mystery.
The claim is that Alba Party is going to put pressure on Nicola Sturgeon and the SNP. Holding their feet to the fire is the favoured cliche. But suppose they actually could put the squeeze on the SNP+SGP/Scottish Government to act, what exactly would Alba/Salmond have them do differently? The answer according to that same interview is absolutely nothing.
Alba Party’s ‘mission’ – insofar as this can be gleaned from speeches, statements and publications – has gone from ‘delivering independence’ to demanding that the SNP uses its mandate to hold a referendum as a matter of urgency and now that they look like doing that, to demanding that they immediately fire the “starting gun” on the Yes campaign for this referendum. So far, so unimpressive!
When it comes to the mechanics of the referendum and the strategy for the Yes campaign there is not a scintilla of fresh thinking to be found in Alex Salmond’s utterances. This is where Alba Party COULD be different. This is how it could distinguish itself from the SNP. This is where they might even manage to bring a small fire into the vicinity of Nicola Sturgeon’s feet. As it is, everything Alex Salmond said with regard to the referendum and associated campaign could just as easily have been said by Nicola Sturgeon.
Imagine if Salmond had taken the opportunity of that TV appearance to reject the ‘Sturgeon doctrine’ of “gentle persuasion and infinite patience”. Imagine if instead of ridiculing the idea of changing the question to be put on the ballot he had demanded that it be changed so as to make the Union and not independence the contentious issue. Imagine if he had insisted that the entire constitutional question be reframed and the campaign rethought.
Imagine if he had repudiated the Section 30 process and called for the Scottish Parliament to assert its primacy in Scotland on the basis of the democratic legitimacy it alone derives from the sovereign people of Scotland.
Imagine if he had exhibited some of the boldness and decisiveness that Scotland’s cause requires. Imagine the reaction from the part of the Yes movement that isn’t made up of SNP loyalists and apologists. Imagine the fire that he might have lit.
George Kerevan closes his column by saying,
Unless Scotland is willing to impose its own political agenda on events, we are likely to find ourselves in a permanent political and constitutional limbo.
How disappointed and distressed George must be to see that neither Nicola Sturgeon nor Alex Salmond is talking about anything other than sticking with the British state’s ‘gold standard’ referendum process and a Yes campaign that is just the decade-old strategy without so much as the stoor blown off it.
Scotland is being let down by its entire political class. Scotland’s cause has never been in more need of bold, determined and imaginative leadership. That describes neither Nicola Sturgeon nor Alex Salmond.
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14 thoughts on “Who will lead us?”
One additional problem Salmond and Alba might find is that charging off in a new direction is all very well, but what if the electorate don’t follow? It seems, rightly or wrongly, that Alba is staying close to the SNP so there’s a nearby boat to hop onto if the S.S. Sturgeon founders. It might be good politics but whether it’s good strategy might be a different question.
Serious question – why do you need to revisit the Alba Question? Most people know the score. The playing field is pretty well mapped out for the time being and not being too different from the SNP seems to be how the game is going to be played, again, at least for the time being. There’s no Alexander to cut the Gordian Knot so maybe this is as good as it’s going to get, though I hope not.
The voters aren’t following Alba anyway. Why would they? You have two parties proposing the same approach to resolving the constitutional issue – which do you vote for? The one that can do nothing? Or the one that actually has effective political power?
I’ve pointed this out before. Alba is a fringe party. That is a weakness in electoral terms, obviously. But it is a potential strength in messaging terms. Fringe parties can say whatever the fuck they like. They’re not going to be in power. So they can throw out some fresh thinking and novel ideas and radical proposals. Alba has totally failed to exploit that potential, Why? Because the party’s leadership is as obsessively focused on winning elections as the SNP. Which is not surprising as they are all – or mostly – ex-SNP.
You are correct. They have positioned themselves in the same space as the SNP while pretending to be an alternative. You’re not an alternative if you’re exactly the same.
Alba should have accepted it wasn’t going to get influence via the electoral route. It was always silly to suppose they were going to pull off some kind of miraculous coup. They should instead have used elections as an opportunity to put something fresh into the constitutional debate.
I was prompted to “revisit” this topic by Alex Salmond’s interview on The Sunday Show and the discussion that ensued.
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“… it is difficult to understand why George Kerevan has chosen to align himself with Alex Salmond and the Alba Party when their ‘thinking’ on the process by which we might restore Scotland’s independence is indistinguishable from the ‘Sturgeon doctrine’… ”
Peter: I agree with most of that which you write in your blogs, but I think you may be very wrong in relation to Alec Salmond for the very simple reason that Salmond is a politician who plays the long game, but who can also turn on a sixpence, if necessary. Yes, he is sticking like a limpet to the SNP/SGP policy on independence for the moment because it makes strategic and tactical sense – for the moment.
I think we need to understand the underlying differences between Salmond and Sturgeon (I have had the opportunity to study both in a fair amount of depth) and the main one is that Salmond has never, in my experience, allowed the grass to grow beneath his feet. In the run-up to the 2014 referendum, hard and relentless work went into preparing for the referendum, but also for independence, as far as that is possible for any politician, anywhere to do in the expectation of independence.
He has hinted on several occasions that, if the circumstances, warrant it, he will change tack and take a different route. I think he is right to keep that close to his chest and stay on the a parallel course to the SNP/SGP for the moment. I keep referring to Ireland, and I know we are not Ireland, but Sinn Fein was not popular at all when it overtook Redmond’s Irish party and began the bid for independence for real. I’m certainly not advocating an uprising, which, in 1916 Ireland only alienated the population against the IRA (and Sinn Fein, the political wing) until the Black and Tans, with true ‘British/English’ diplomacy started to brutalize the same population and they turned to both the IRA (and Sinn Fein, politically). The British/English may choose not to brutalize us physically as they did the Irish, but they will almost certainly brutalize us in other ways, as, indeed, they are doing now – and their second-home subsidies spells this out so abundantly.
However you feel about Salmond, don’t write him off: he may eventually be the only bulwark we have against increasing Westminster and British State non-physical brutality. He is the only Scottish politician they fear. He knows them better than all the others put together, and very much better than Sturgeon, who knows them not at all or she wouldn’t keep falling for their underhand tactics, whether that be deliberate or through lack of nous, it is now hard to tell. If it is the latter, as I, personally, suspect it might be, in that she is simply not au fait with the British State to the extent that she does not understand how they will react to a request for a S30 Order, we could be in great danger.
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Firstly, there is no long game. Secondly, I can hardly comment on what Alex Salmond might say at some unknown time in the future. All I can do is take him at his word. Although, from what you say that might be a mistake.
Salmond/Alba is another missed opportunity in the fight to restore Scotland’s independence. The potential was there for both to make a significant mark. They haven’t. And it’s probably too late now. Once people in some numbers have written off a party or politician that tends to become something of a self-fulfilling prophecy.
It is certainly not true to say that the British establishment fears Alex Salmond. Why would they? He has no power and very little influence. He isn’t even a rabble-rouser. Both the Brits and Sturgeon might have fretted a bit about the Salmond ‘threat’ before Alba. But neither has any reason to fear him now. He had to rebuild credibility. He really hasn’t. He couldn’t afford to be associated with failure But that’s what’s happened.
I’ve no doubt Alex Salmond will be a voice in a referendum campaign. But what does he have to say that’s remarkable enough to warrant anybody’s attention?
Lorncal, perhaps it’s Alba that has the secret plan – did you watch Sara Salyers at the Alba Party conference?
Here she is elaborating at great length on how we can restore sovereignty and our constitution to the people as a precursor for using The Claim of Right and the ToU to achieve independence.
I agree with you, AS will wait his time for the work of Sara and the Scottish Sovereignty Research Group to educate the people before he splits from the S30 nonsense (and I’m pretty sure he knows it’s nonsense)
How much time do you imagine we have? If I wanted to be told to wait I can get that from the SNP.
Peter, I’m well aware time is of the essence, and I share your frustrated anger at the traitor that is Sturgeon. I carry a faint hope that her MPs and MSPs will rebel against her if she loses the “sheeple”, and at least what the SSRG are advocating can be implemented in a much much quicker timescale, e.g during the current Parliament with a new independence-focused leader.
The existence of Scotland is at stake here and we need to be shouting that from the rooftops.
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By what magic will you install “a new independence-focused leader”?
If she does lose the “sheeple” there will be a lot of anger. Her narcissistic ego would crumble as fawning is replaced by ongoing demonstrations of “Sturgeon Out” and would likely step down.
The politicians in the ranks are cowed by the Murrell / Sturgeon cabal and their iron grip on the party with the members having been sidelined. With the iron grip of the Murrells gone, allied to the anger amongst the supporters, the SNP could regroup around independence-minded politicians. There surely must be talent in the ranks, but Sturgeon has made sure that none of it is identifiable – when did we last see cabinet ministers (all of whom are rank useless anyway as she surrounds herself with no-mark clowns)) present any of their policies? If power returns to the membership, a leader would emerge, one who could unite the entire Yes movement and have the balls to take on the British Establishment head-on – Joanna Cherry anyone?
You can but dream…..
Coincidentally, I just posted this on Twitter in response to comments in a similar vein.
There has to be a tipping point at which the errors become too obvious to avoid or some of her inner circle starts to ‘rebel’. Will that point be reached before or after it’s too late? We await developments with a heavy heart.
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It is not realistic to suppose there will be a change of leadership within the current parliamentary term. Any ‘plan’ that relies on replacing Nicola Sturgeon or waiting until she is replaced, falls into the realm of fantasy politics.
I find it odd that so many people in the Yes movement can have all the pieces of the jigsaw puzzle in front of them with most of them joined up but end up with something very different from the picture on the box. Others try to complete the jigsaw puzzle by forcing in bits that come from a different puzzle. A few try to complete their jigsaw puzzle with bits of Lego. It’s weird!
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Totally! So much for our fabled Scottish political acumen……! Too many people refusing to accept that they’ve got it wrong I guess.
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Reblogged this on Ramblings of a now 60+ Female.
There are perhaps two “long games” on the go here.
The one where AS keeps his astute sense of political manoeuvring well sharpened and polished so he can turn on the proverbial sixpence just at the right moment. In previous times I suspect AS would already have gone the same way as Willie Macrae. But for the moment his position as titular leader of SNP2 holds him safely in abeyance. I think he probably knows this already, that his personal power or charisma has been destroyed and all he has is people around him who will protect him at the end of his career. He knows, like the rest of us with brains, that only confrontation with the British state will get us anywhere. but he can’t talk about this because it is against the unwritten rules of politics.
And the other long game one where NS just waits it out, hoping that what is variously described as the “Gender Borg” or the “woo woo” manages to take over general consciousness and wins over the culture wars. This strategy also requires that NS display a degree of political nous in relation to taking advantage of the numerous mistakes made by Westminster, which she has never yet displayed. This is the real long game – maybe spread over several decades.
Neither will work though because neither recognises the necessity of confrontation with the British state – at least not publicly. Perhaps this is the point: the only way through this mess is by old fashioned clandestine strategic planning aimed at destroying the institutions of the British state that have already been well established and of replacing these with something new.
I have no plans by the way. I just watch history. I see no bigger plans either, except the one that has kept the Scots under control for decades: that one day something will happen that will hand independence on a plate and that requires nobody to do anything.
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