Bold on the outside

Alba Party has launched it’s latest billboard campaign with great fanfare. Well, as great as can be managed by a party which approaching two years since its launch, remains very much the minnow in the pond of Scottish politics. The billboard is bold (see above). As is the message ─ Enough is enough! It’s time for independence. A message obviously intended to catch the growing wave of frustration at the SNP/Scottish Government’s eight years of failure to progress Scotland’s cause in any way at all and to any extent at all. Read the press release, however, and the boldness melts faster than snow falling on a river. Alba Party Westminster Leader Neale Hanvey MP said;

In Scotland we have the absurdity that our people are living in fuel poverty when as a nation we are self-sufficient in oil and gas, and we generate enough through renewables to power every home.

Westminster continues to fail Scotland. In 2019 we were promised there would be a referendum in 2020. Then we were promised a referendum in 2021 and after the Scottish Parliament election we were promised a referendum on 19th October this year.

Scotland cannot afford to allow Westminster to keep denying us our right to self determination without consequence. It’s time for bolder action and it is time for to take Scotland’s future into Scotland’s hands. The Scottish Government must issue Westminster an ultimatum that if a referendum is not agreed to this year then the consequence will be the dissolution of the Scottish Parliament to force an extraordinary Scottish election as a defacto [sic] referendum on independence this year.

It is entirely in the gift of the Scottish Parliament to do this and it is time they held the UK Government’s feet to the fire.

“It’s time” – Alba Party Launch 1st National Billboard Campaign of the Year

The emphasis is mine. The mealy-mouthed euphemism is by Alba Party. For what else can this refer to but a Section 30 order? Alba not only emulates the SNP in continuing to cling to this supposed ‘gold standard’, they also follow Nicola Sturgeon’s lead in eschewing the term ‘Section 30’ ─ knowing this to be increasingly toxic among Yes activists and more aware voters.

Yet another way in which Alba is regrettably similar to the SNP is their refusal to respond to questions asked or concerns expressed about their ‘plan’ for restoring Scotland’s independence. So I don’t anticipate anything more than the now standard non-response of “The SNP is bad and we are not the SNP!” which seems to be the message by which Alba hopes to sell itself to Scotland’s electorate. But I’ll ask anyway. What if a referendum is “agreed to” by the British government?

I shall rephrase that, as I have no reason to try and disguise what is being talked about here. What if the British government responds to the suggested ultimatum by granting a Section 30 order?

This may seem unlikely, given the rhetoric from British politicians competing to be the voice of British Nationalism. But ask yourself, if it is really so unlikely, why do politicians from the Scottish parties still have the Section 30 process as the first option in their ‘plans’ for restoring Scotland’s independence? If, as is widely if not generally assumed, the British state is never going to “agree” to a referendum, why not say so? Why not just say that Section 30 is a dead letter and start talking about actual alternatives rather than further attempts to extract permission to do what we have an inalienable right to do anyway? Because that’s all a de facto referendum is. Another fact that all the nominally pro-independence parties strive to conceal.

Unless there is a proposal for a new one ─ and I am aware of no such proposal from any party ─ the existing draft Referendum Bill [PDF] is the model for the de facto referendum, however and whenever we get to it. And we know that, in Nicola Sturgeon’s own words;

In common with the 2014 referendum – indeed, in common with the Brexit referendum and the referendum to establish this Parliament – the independence referendum proposed in the Bill will be consultative, not self-executing.

Just as in 2014 – and recognised explicitly in the 2013 White Paper – a majority yes vote in this referendum will not in and of itself make Scotland independent.

For Scotland to become independent following a yes vote, legislation would have to be passed by the UK and Scottish Parliaments.

Nicola Sturgeon’s full statement announcing the 2023 independence referendum

My emphasis again identifying another euphemism for that which must not be spoken aloud – a Section 30 order.

So, the so-called “independence referendum” being proposed ─ whether de facto or ‘in facto‘ ─ would be little more than a glorified opinion poll. The hope is that the British state which is never going to grant a Section 30 order will nonetheless be forced to do what it is never going to do by an opinion poll. Aye, right!

But supposing this thing posing as a strategy were to work as hoped, what then? Suppose the British Prime Minister calls the bluff and delivers a gift-wrapped Section 30 order to Nicola Sturgeon’s doorstep at Bute House. What happens next? Has anybody in the SNP or the Scottish Green Party or Alba Party planned for this eventuality? What can these plans possibly amount to given that there is no way of knowing what conditions will be attached to that prettily wrapped Section 30 order? We can be sure that the attached conditions will be designed to make the referendum unwinnable for us and/or totally meaningless in the event that Yes does win. What happens next? What would the SNP do? What would Alba suggest that was any different to what the SNP proposes?

The constitutional issue can only be resolved by a proper constitutional referendum. Which is to say, a referendum which stands as the formal exercise by the people of Scotland of our right of self-determination. A referendum that would be decisive and conclusive. A referendum in which the British state has no involvement. Currently, no party in Scotland is proposing such a referendum. No party is even talking about a proper constitutional referendum. What use are they to Scotland’s cause?

Alba Party had the chance to be a true alternative to the SNP. A genuinely radical pro-independence party with its own proposals and a distinctive message. A minnow with piranha teeth. That opportunity has been missed. What we have in Alba is nothing more than a brash but vacuous ‘mini-me’ SNP. Bold on the outside. Hollow within.

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7 thoughts on “Bold on the outside

  1. “I see a shadow” said Punxsutawney Phil, predicting (only) 6 more weeks of winter yet again.

    “De facto …!”

    Nothing changes. Only the party making the increasingly tired and tediously repetitious protest.

    Every day does seem like Groundhog Day.

    We’re stuck in the bleak mid-winter.

    Liked by 4 people

  2. The ALBA Leadership list actions required to gain Scottish Independence.

    1) Independence convention of all Scottish politicians, to repeal the Treaty of Union and proclaim the Claim of Right.
    2) Parliamentary disruption in London
    3) Popular agitation (Marches, popular acts, demonstration)
    4) diplomatic initiatives to gather International support, foreign Governments, UN , EU, etc

    for all the above to work, we need to prove the people support Scottish Independence . A referendum or de facto referendum will be required to prove this.

    P A Bell: Is there anything you would like to add to this list?


  3. A minnow, yes. Piranha teeth, no. More like alburnus alburnus. The common name sums up the state of Scottish politics.


  4. Alba: ‘A minnow with piranha teeth’ – we wished. Now, they put me in mind of jelly fish – gelatinous, fast growing, then die soon after breeding. Their sting can cause injury and even death: Alba can cause the death of our hopes and dreams! Alba’s bowing down to Section 30, and to our imperial English masters, is now apparent. As our friend Leonardo said, when light is shone on a lie, it dies.

    When will the penny drop in Scottish noggins that we, the Scottish people, are sovereign? We were sovereign before 1707, with the preceding Claim of Rights, which has never been repealed, and we are sovereign now. We do not need the permission of any court, or government, or international body, to choose to resile from the 1707 Treaty of Union.

    WE, THE PEOPLE, can simple choose independence without anyone’s permission.
    We can sweep any government out of office in Scotland we do not support. Ditto with any king or queen. The people of Scotland are sovereign. How many times must this be said before the people of Scotland see the light and smell the coffee?

    Liked by 3 people

  5. I agree Peter, if we do indeed use the UKGE as a referendum we must ensure that it’s purpose is explicit, to withdraw from the 1707 Treaty of Union, no namby pamby question ‘ should Scotland be an independent country, not permission to negotiate but explicit permission to withdraw. It’s not as if we couldn’t fill a book recording the breaches to the terms of Treaty, current not just historical ‘ grievances, but unwarranted and downright malicious policies inflicted on our people.


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