Reading The Sunday National’s preview of Alex Salmond’s address to the Alba Party conference, one two-word phrase leapt out at me ─ “agreed referendum”. Ominous words indeed to anybody who adheres to the principle of popular sovereignty. Because what that little phrase actually refers to is a Section 30 referendum. Which is to say, a referendum in which the British state is invited to take a role and exert influence. If you genuinely believe that the people of Scotland are sovereign then a Section 30 referendum must be anathema to you. The very act of requesting the consent of anyone other than the people of Scotland is a denial of the sovereignty of Scotland’s people. It must be so because asking for a Section 30 order acknowledges a higher authority than the people of Scotland. It allows that there is an authority to which the people of Scotland must defer.
Apologists for the SNP insist that requesting a Section 30 order isn’t asking for permission. It is merely seeking cooperation. The purpose of the Section 30 order is to ‘put the referendum beyond legal challenge’. But if the people of Scotland are sovereign then, by definition, exercising our right of self-determination must be beyond legal challenge. And the idea that the British political elite might willingly and honestly cooperate with a process intended to dissolve their ‘precious’ Union is just as ridiculous as it seems.
Attentive observers will have noticed that Nicola Sturgeon and the SNP stopped using the term ‘Section 30’ some time ago. It disappeared from the party’s lexicon in late 2020 or early 2021, as I recall. Alba Party follows suit, using the euphemism “agreed referendum” instead. But nothing can disguise the fact that the SNP and Alba Party are both equally committed to the Section 30 process. On the constitutional issue the only difference between the two parties is that Alba evinces a greater sense of urgency. Basically, they want to move more quickly on compromising the sovereignty of Scotland’s people with a Section 30 request.
Those of us who genuinely and resolutely maintain that the people of Scotland are sovereign are left with no electoral choice. I am aware of no political party which advocates the restoration of Scotland’s independence by way of a referendum entirely made and managed under the auspices of the Scottish Parliament. I know of no party which explicitly rejects the notion that an external power such as the British Government can have the right to veto our inalienable right of self-determination. I know of no party which rejects the notion that the British government can impose conditions on the exercise of our right of self-determination. I know of no party that I can vote for which unequivocally embraces the idea of Scotland as a nation that is as all independent nations but for being imprisoned in an anachronistic and grotesquely asymmetric political union.
When I resigned from the SNP in April 2021, I was urged to join Alba Party. Many people assumed that I would join Alba Party. Even now, I am often pigeon-holed as an Alba Party member by tribal SNP members. Just as dumb tribalism leads some (most?) Alba members/supporters to label me an SNP loyalist. It all depends on which party I’m criticising at the time. There simply wouldn’t be any point in me joining Alba. It no more represents my position on Scotland’s nationhood and the sovereignty of Scotland’s people than does the SNP. On these issues, Alba Party is as ambivalent and timid as the SNP. Were I a younger man, I might consider launching a true independence party. It would be good if somebody did.
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17 thoughts on “A true independence party?”
I always think these blogs should be titled
” A Million Words for Indy”- as your output amazes me.
To me its like someone burning piles of paper money , to melt metal to forge a penny.
now you are going to form your own Party ?
Alba have tried that.
The SNP is all we have – like it or lump it.
“Independence” whatever it is, will disappoint.
Just a case of making the most of it.
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If the SNP are all we have then you and others are going to have to show you’re not going to keep waiting while NS sits happy in the role of FM.
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Every party knows that a Sec 30 is not a democratic/legal requirement for a referendum. It’s the referendum that produces Independence, which threatens WM/BigBusiness/DarkMoney/EstablishedElite hold over Scotland’s resources that have the Unionist parties trembling. As 2 countries going separate ways (one forced to go separate, while the other votes democratically to be a separate nation) it remains a good approach to have an agreed cooperation on the separation process. It’s obvious the-forced-into-separation-country is going to play nasty (it has already proven its approach is to play nasty, disrespect democracy and international law), even if that means cutting its nose to spite its face e.g Trash the economy and encourage genocide. Scottish Independence will go ahead no matter. It’s important for Scotland’s future prospects, to have the buy in from the International Community. Showing that Scotland is pursuing cooperation is the right look even if that cooperation is not required and/or rejected.
When you’re interminably pursuing something you don’t need and won’t get the only look is stupid.
The SNP has put the S30 on the back burner. That is why they are in the Supreme Court. If the UK shambles …. sorry …. govt want to agree one then great. If not, there are other options.
“… But if the people of Scotland are sovereign then, by definition, exercising our right of self-determination must be beyond legal challenge… ”
Indeed, Peter. I had the same misgivings, and I sympathised with Sara Salyers, desperately trying to convince delegates that the people are sovereign – way above mere parties. In truth, when Westminster voted to ratify the CoR, I had the gravest of misgivings then because I could not see Westminster agreeing to it if they did not believe they could crush it. Unless it is used in conjunction with the Treaty of Union (Scottish version) and placed before the UN and international court, it will prove useless, I fear, regardless of its historical importance to Scottish constitutional law and practice. Domestic legal courts will not uphold it in the teeth of Westminster’s sovereignty of parliament, and, even if they did, the sheer contempt of the Crawford and Boyle Report of 2013/14 and the illegal and unconstitutional EVEL (de facto still in existence) should tell us what to expect in the way of legal and constitutional calims that England as the UK would make.
Where ALBA differs hugely from the SNP is in its commitment to use international law. I know I might be very wrong, but I do believe that Alec Salmond is way ahead in that he knows a referendum is no longer possible, but will play along and see if a plebiscitary election comes to fruition. He knows – he must – that only if the SNP agrees to a loose alliance of independence interests will a plebiscitary election make any sense, and I think he will push and push for that – i.e. that voting for any of the independence parties, not just the SNP, will count. He is pushing NS into a corner, and I think she will resist strongly, showing her mindset better than any accusations could. At the same time, he is in favour of international co-operation.
You must remember, too, Peter, that around half of the ALBA membership are opposed to the SNP’s GRA reform and other shenanigans, and they are unlikely to vote SNP unless there is a loose alliance. Many other women who are not nationalists will also refuse to vote for the SNP. I will predict now, and if I’m wrong, so be it, that, if the SNP brings in the GRA Reform, they will not survive and another party will step into their shoes. I believe that Alec Salmond is determined that that party should be ALBA. He knows, if the SNP has forgotten, that the women’s vote is absolutely central to independence.
For the majority of Scotland’s female voters, GRA Reform is as existential an issue as independence is for us (for me, and other nationalist women, it’s doubly crucial). That is why I have always emphasised the need for men who want independence to ally themselves with women against the GRA Reform. I feel been sadly let down that so many men, in both the SNP and the wider YES movement just do not get it. They are focused on independence and can’t see the wood for the trees. It is sheer stupidity on stilts. I do not trust either NS or the SNP any more and will not vote for them, even if they promise the Earth, because they will never deliver unless forced to, and I know many women will withhold their vote.
It is not a matter of eschewing ALBA as being too small to be a force in Scottish politics (it’s actually bigger than the Lib Dems and comes close to Labour, and is far, far bigger than the Greens) but that the SNP will not be able to pull the wool over our eyes again. Either they agree to an informal alliance as the Unionists have, deliver independence immediately after the GE, declare that independence and hold a ratifying referendum, followed by the formation of a coalition government that includes all independence parties and interests until the dust settles, or they step out of the way. The negotiations with rUK, as DesiB mentions in his post, will be covered by the placing of the CoR and Treaty combined before the UN and international court. They would be the back-up necessary to fulfil international obligations and seek immediate recognition.
If there is a way for Scotland to access the “UN and international court” then nobody has been able to explain the process to me. It’s certainly not as straightforward as some folk like to pretend. We have to assume it would take several years. That would be several years from the time the effort was launched. It could be a very long time before that happens. As I weary of pointing out, time is real. The British aren’t about to oblige us by suspending their own plans while we rehearse our marching ducks.
Alba is not going to be the party of government in the next year or two. It’s unlikely to be even a significant parliamentary force for a few electoral cycles – so, anything between ten and eighty years. The SNP is the party of government NOW. Action is needed NOW. Why is there even any discussion of processes that can’t work because the British will have locked us into a ‘new improved’ Union long before most of these processes even get started?
Hardly less fantastical is the notion of the SNP helping Alba politicians realise their electoral ambitions. The whole “informal alliance” thing is only being mooted by Alba because they know it is 99% certain to be snubbed and thereby give them a stick with which to beat the SNP. It’s a vendetta! Even if there was the vaguest hint of the necessary political will in the current SNP leadership – not to mention goodwill between the two tribes – the kind of alliance being discussed would probably require a change to the party’s constitution. Perhaps a conference vote, Nothing that’s going to happen before the next UK general election.
Alba’s posturing about an electoral pact is in the same vein as its nonsense about a ‘supermajority’ at the 2021 Scottish Parliament election. More to do with embarrassing the SNP than aiding Scotland’s cause. Not what anyone wants to hear, of course. But realism doesn’t count for much in Scottish politics these days. It’s certainly not appreciated in what used to be the Yes movement.
Alex Salmond knows. He is far too astute and experienced a politician not to be aware that the ‘supermajority’ thing was total fantasy. And he must know how unlikely it is that the SNP control-freaks will associate themselves with what they inevitably regard as an unruly and unpredictable and most of all uncontrollable entity. They know damn fine it would take some loudmouth in Alba about five minutes to say something that the SNP would have to disown. They have absolutely no reason to take take risk.
This is all a waste of time and effort, of course. Other, that is, than for the fact that I get to vent a bit. The Sturgeon/SNP loyalists will respond with abuse and demands that I match their blind faith in Nicola Sturgeon. They will address none of the arguments. They never do. And Alba is no better. Their response is to say that I’m one of those Sturgeon/SNP loyalists or party to some endlessly convoluted conspiracy.
Then there’s the people who, being moderately intelligent, like myself, cannot help but agree with all I say… but immediately afterwards start talking again about fantastical scenarios and magical solutions as if nothing had been said at all.
The whole situation is fucked, Lorna. It’s no use pointing the finger of blame either, because there’s more than enough blame for everybody involved to get a share. As I’ve said before, I’m not exempt. I was a party member, branch official and conference delegate at the time the SNP was being stolen from the membership and I failed to even notice it until it was too late. Well, I’m not going to make that mistake again. Nor am I going to be silenced. I held ma wheesht during the first referendum campaign despite all the amateurish mistakes I saw being made. I’ve made the error of failing to properly scrutinise the politicians and parties. I’ve made the error of remaining silent when I saw things headed for the shitter. For the sake of my own conscience I won’t repeat those errors.
If that upsets the numpties, fuckem. I’m getting on in years, as you know Lorna. I’m not beholden to anyone. I’m answerable to nobody. It’s freedom of a kind I’ve never enjoyed before. I intend to make the most of it.
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Well, for starters, Peter, we need to try. I have never said that we should wait for international blessings on our departure; for me, it would be the backing we need when we do go, not the event itself. I do know because I have researched it that cases can be expedited, and, while the UN normally deals with sovereign nations’ governments, people’s movements can be heard through third party countries. Even if one country in the UN supported us, that would be a foothold. Yes, I am sure that Alec Salmond does know full well that a loose alliance is simply fantasy because the SNP will never countenance it. As last time, they will try to reap the rewards of an engaged independence movement and have themselves re-elected for another term, while never actually doing anything. It will be their undoing, and in plain sight.
That will not work next time – partly because of the huge numbers of women they have alienated and partly because we have all learned the lesson of the 1& 2 SNP, and being shafted thereafter. Again, I may be totally wrong here, but I think Alec Salmond is emulating Sinn Fein here, without the uprising of 1916. The IIP (Irish Independence Party) behaved exactly as the SNP is behaving now and Sinn Fein gradually cornered them, albeit it was not till Redmond died that the party actually fell, albeit its fall was long overdue. Discrediting Sturgeon would have a similar effect on the SNP or at least destabilise it sufficiently. From 1916 till 1921 was the time it took. We are now eight full years into the doldrums with the SNP, and many, many people are getting really sick of the inertia and some even more sick of the games the SNP is playing with its own membership and the country in general.
The reasons for the Salmond debacle were his insistence that we have been in the doldrums (with a majority of seats for the SNP) for several elections and the SNP did nothing, even after Brexit; and the fear, of course, that he would return to front-line politics. This played directly into the hands of Westminster, although, unlike some, I do not believe that they started it, just took advantage of it. In some ways, they foresaw what Sturgeon did not: that trying to oust Salmond might backfire; and that the Scottish Question would gain momentum from the mess. As for taking too long, if Sturgeon’s game is to play along with independence until Westminster and the British State binds us like a fly in a spider’s web and devolution becomes the only game in town – albeit a greatly reduced devolution – it will take far longer and only SNP MPs and MSPs will benefit while we all pay the price. Perhaps I am too cynical?
I don’t know whether ALBA can replace the SNP and take us to independence in the next year or two, but I hope it will – not because I have blind faith in either the party or Alec Salmond, albeit he is the political strategist extraordinaire (I’m nobody’s sycophant) but, because, if not, we will be finished, as you say, or, like Ireland, we will descend into armed conflict. If Alec Salmond and ALBA can back Sturgeon into a corner and force her to do what she should have been doing all along – and call a plebiscitary election with a guarantee in black and white to the Scottish people (not some vague mandate) that we will move, if we win a majority of seats, straight to a declaration of independence and a ratifying referendum, followed by an interim coalition government of all parties initially, prior to an election (with our case + the Treaty + the CoR firmly established at the UN) – then we could conceivably do it within two to three years. Even if the spirit is willing, if the body will not play its part, it is all pointless, but the inertia will be laid at Sturgeon’s door, and not just Sturgeon’s – this will encompass all of her cohort and take them all down.
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“I don’t know whether ALBA can replace the SNP and take us to independence in the next year or two, but I hope it will …”
Then hope is all you have. Because there is no Holyrood election until 2026 and the notion of the SNP+SGP/Scottish Government
resigning en masse to force an extraordinary general election is another of those ‘magical solutions’.
The time for the ‘supermandate’ to which you refer was the 2021 Scottish Parliament election. The Yes movement wasn’t interested. They preferred to insist that the SNP was NEVER going to do ANYTHING and/or they were off pursuing their own wee projects.
Alba is not going to “back Sturgeon into a corner” now because she’s already secured her position. She’s secured her position not least because when there was an opportunity to back her into a corner last year Alba was more interested in embarrassing the SNP using the daft ‘supermajority’ magical solution. Alba has failed Scotland’s cause just as the SNP has. For both parties, that cause was at best number three on their list of priorities. Your closing sentence illustrates my point about priorities. And my point about the Yes movement as a whole having failed as much as the politicians.
The route to independence was there, laid out before us. We CHOSE not to take it. We are paying for that choice.
Not sure what you mean about the 2021 Holyrood election being an opportunity to back the SNP into a corner Peter. Would you have had us ALL vote SNP 1&2? Even if we had had a majority gov Sturgeon would not have listened to us, taking it instead as a mandate for her GRA policies. I see absolutely NO way that we could have pressured her into doing ANYTHING. Thinking we could have achieved anything is pie in the sky.
The whole ‘supermajority’ thing was nonsense.
What was needed in 2021 was a ‘supermandate’.
I am not an expert in this field, and my memory is not what it once was, so perhaps Alf or someone similarly knowledgeable might care to contribute further on this topic.
Indeed I suspect that you Peter, and Lorna also, will probably have previously read far more than I have forgotten.
I would expect that that the process should begin by some officially constituted and recognised body, such as the SNP or the Scottish Devolved Government making representations to an amenable third country.
Looking around at Scotlands immediate friends and neighbours, I see the potential candidates as:
3) The Republic of Ireland.
I don’t think that Norway would see what is in it for them, although historically they have repeatedly played the role of a ‘good citizen’ so it is not impossible that they might consider to do it.
I could see Iceland doing it, because they are a small country, who recently underwent a peaceful democratic revolution, but I am not sure they would be effective, because the actual workings of UN processes have historically been dominated by the global hegemonic power – the USA. Iceland recently asserted their territorial sovereignty by booting out the ex Cold War nuclear forces and then expelled the FBI when they found out they were attempting to falsify evidence to unfairly pervert the course of justice and illegally persecute Julian Assange. I see it as highly likely that the USA would continue its peevish domination by attempting to thwart whatever Iceland proposed. A bit like the Bain principal, but with Uncle Sam, the World Bank and the IMF instead of the British Labour party.
So The Republic of Ireland seems like the best candidate state to me.
However I cannot see how they would seriously consider any action at all unless the formal request came from a source that with irreproachable democratic legitimacy.
At the moment the only viable source for that would seem to be the SNP/SG Devolved Government.
With the current ‘leadership’ that is obviously not going to happen.
Perhaps a new Democratic locus will form, but that will take time, probably far far more time than is available.
So yes. There is a theoretical path to Decolonisation through the UN
but its pretty difficult to image how Permanent Security Council member the UK would ‘allow’ Scotland on to list of Non-Self-Governing Territories
Ironically it took the insistence of the Soviet Union and Peoples Republic of China to insist to the EU and ECJ (IIRC not going to google it right now) last time that Scotland deserved some democracy, and thus the trap of the ‘Devolved Parliament’ was created.
They can’t be ‘Non-Self-Governing’ : they’ve got a Scottish Parliament!
So, while resolution 2625 1970, UNGA recognized the principle of peoples’ equality and the right to self-determination as one of the seven principles of international law
it is difficult to see how the ancient Nation of Scotland could qualify as long as the controlling power (UK) can maintain that there exists a
free association relationship.
However should the people of Scotland rise up on masse, that part of the argument could be countered.
Again though, while not impossible, Iceland managed something analogous, it is not exactly imminent, is it?
Sorry this is too long, just organising some thoughts into a sequence really.
TLDR: at minimum we would need a democratic mass movement and Determined Leadership, neither of which we have at present.
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Things may appear grim but there are a number of positives. Peter is right about the realpolitik aspects and SNP holding a very powerful position, despite the fact they are delaying independence. But we also know from postcolonial theory that this ‘behaviour’ is very much the norm with a dominant pampered national party elite, and whilst the peoples understanding of independence as decolonisation remains limited.
No nation can depend on other nations for its salvation, we have to do this ourselves. On the plus side – in the near term a referendum may be held and/or a plebiscite election too. Peter rightly has doubts on the effectiveness of either, but one or both events may still occur, and nationally and internationally that has to be significant. In addition, Salvo and SSRG are working behind the scenes on perhaps a different way out of the impasse. Another key factor here is the ongoing UK Gov mess and UK economic downward spiral which can only rightly generate more public anger. Recent monarchy changes might also be viewed as positive for independence, bringing the Brutish rump officially nearer the end of its empire as it were.
In summary, independence remains very much top of the political agenda in Scotland and that alone should give us hope. If Scottish independence ever becomes irrelevant so does Scotland the naition an oor ain Scots fowk an cultur wi hit.
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Sorry, Peter, but I don’t understand any of that. It has been the SNP that has been uninterested; it is the SNP that has deliberately stymied any hope of an alliance with their ‘SNP 1 & 2’ strategy last time. I’m not suggesting that ALBA can replace the SNP in the GE, although I hope they do well enough to let NS know they are nipping at their heels, and, yes, it is just hope. That would be the start, as I said Sinn Fein started in 1916, but took several years to oust the IIP. I really can’t see why waiting another couple of years makes any difference anyway when the SNP is still pussyfooting around the margins and will not bring in independence any time soon.
It is the SNP, just as it was the IIP in Ireland, that is standing in the way. All they have to do is announce their intention to declare independence if they win the GE, and set everything in motion, then go on to win the SE, not to ask for another referendum, not to ask for another useless mandate and not to stymie a loose alliance – in keeping with their core policy. Most assuredly, they should waste no more time in debating with Westminster and crawling for crumbs from that particular table. Nothing less will do now.
It is the fact that they have done sweet Fanny Adams for eight full years now, in the teeth of the most blatant and flagrant breaches of the Treaty, the most arrogant and anti democratic pronouncements against independence and the theft of our resources with nothing to show for it. They have done nothing, nada, zilch, nichts, rien until now, supposedly, and that only because they do see that ALBA is a threat. Another announcement today that we will continue to use the pound sterling, follow American and UK neoliberal, unfettered capitalism, with no central bank, no currency, no investment bank, no public resources convention. You’d actually think we had all the time in the world and no opposition.
It is a fact, Peter, that no independence party in any country, in the history of the world, has behaved like this, and it is this inertia and it alone that leads independence-minded people, who are not of the faithful, to despair. They might become entrenched with their snouts in the trough as Alf has said, but something has always given and they have been torn down and replaced with people who have driven independence forward again, and the SNP will be no different unless they get their digit out now with specific timetables and hard-line action to leave Westminster in no doubt that we are going. That means not asking, but declaring. The SNP leadership might want the party to be elected from now to eternity, but they are doing their level best to thwart themselves by their inaction and callous game-playing with the membership and all the independence groups, parties and organisations. No one with sense wants a one-party devolved administration, in any case.
“I really can’t see why waiting another couple of years makes any difference…”
So, you think the British are going to wait?
No, Peter, they won’t wait – but, then, the SNP leadership knows that, has always known it, and Westminster has always known that this SNP administration will never bring on independence or even try in earnest to stop them. It has been a game of who can tell the biggest lie and keep the electorate on-side. The SNP has won hands down. They are scurrying around the planet trying to drum up international support – for what? An opinion poll? Another ‘SNP 1 & 2’ so that they can slobber at the trough a while longer.
You know, these independent countries of the UN must be creasing themselves laughing at our utter, utter stupidity, timidity and, basically, insanity. It always comes back to the SNP, doesn’t it? It is they who have deliberately foot-dragged, who have settled for devolution, who have lost their tiny minds over whether hulking, great hairy-a***d men should have access to females and children to feed their fetishes. It is they who have brought us to this sorry state, and you know what, Peter, NS is still trying to pull the wool over our eyes. Even if she is being sincere at last, it is way too little too late. Did you hear that pathetic excuse for an economic policy – after eight years! A rehash of the ten-year Growth Commission Plan!
These people are not just stupid and con merchants, they are sailing close to the wind of actual deliberate neglect of their primary duty, which is to try and do their very best for the people of Scotland, not to sell us out to huge vested interests. She has handed over millions of public money to help to finance Ukrainian weapons in order to lengthen the war, instead of giving support to diplomacy and to an end to the fighting which is costing so many Ukrainians their lives. Putin has now sent drones into Kiyiv to draw the Ukrainian forces away from the East.
You would think that the FM and her leadership cohort in Scotland, in a country where nuclear weapons make us a sitting target, would show more concern for a diplomatic end to the war instead of an escalation, from which Ukraine and the Ukrainian people will take decades to recover (no Marshall Plan after this lot, everyone’s broke) if we are not wiped off the face of the planet before then. Nah. Even more virtue-signalling. If it’s over for us, Peter, it’s over because of NS and her leadership of the SNP, and those who have supported her are equally culpable, so let there be no passing of the crown to the next in line without a leadership contest and an election if necessary. It has nothing to do with ALBA, Alec Salmond or the Scottish people. The SNP government punched a huge hole in the boat themselves.
I used to work in Dubai and it was often amusing to watch labourers at work. These would normally be people from India or neighbouring countries. They were getting paid a pittance by Western standards but, to them, it was 10 times what they could earn at home.
My friend and I were watching some labourers mixing mortar. and bringing it one wheelbarrow at a time to the bricklayers. Three men would mix the mortar in a wheelbarrow, one adding sand and cement, another adding water and a third man would push the wheelbarrow when the batch was ready. They came to three steps and so the three men lifted the wheelbarrow up the stairs and left it, to be transported onward by a fourth labourer.
My friend worked in construction and so he approached the labourers with some advice. Placing a plank of wood over the three stairs, he explained that now the entire job, from mixing the ingredients, to reaching the bricklayers, could be achieved by one man. This, he explained, was a much better use of resources.
The labourers found this hilarious and laughed out loud. They said, ‘Sir, your way is more efficient but our way is better.’
They were milking the system for what it was worth. They were keeping themselves in a job and on payroll for as long as possible. They were stringing their little earner out for as long as they could.
It’s just human nature.
The SNP are doing the same thing.
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