From TuS regular, Alasdair Galloway:
OK, we all know that Alex and Nicola aren’t best pals anymore – anything but. So, its not a big surprise that Nicola is being hostile to Alex’s new party, which she makes very clear in an interview in that SNP supporting organ, The Daily Record, whose Political Editor is Paul Hutcheon (remember him on the Herald?).
There were three points that jumped out at me in the National’s report:
The first was “The First Minister insisted the only way to secure independence is to win a majority in Parliament and persuade the bulk the population to back Yes.” Well ok, it’s hard to argue with that, BUT, what preceded it was this “We can’t game, or cheat, our way to that.” Eh? Sorry, Nicola, but who is cheating here?
I could argue here (and I would if I had to) that the electoral system we use is “gamed” already – it was set up as a sop to the Lib Dems in the Constitutional Convention, to make sure that Labour were unlikely ever to form a govt on their own and would need a coalition which at that time was most likely with the Lib Dems. The problem was that at that time, the notion that ANY party – not even the Labour Party (which treated Scotland at that time almost like its own property) could ever win 59 of 73 constituency seats as they did in 2016. Even in 1999, Labour won “only” 53 constituencies and 3 List members.
You can bet your last button that if Douglas Ross thought that Salmond’s party was a “cheat” in a legal sense, he would have been on to the Electoral Commission last weekend. The fact is that the Unionists don’t like what Salmond’s party could achieve. They are frightened by it. But, despite what the First Minister says, it’s not cheating. It is perfectly within the rules, even if when the rules were drawn up, no one foresaw the current situation.
When the leader of the SNP echoes the thoughts of the leader of the Scottish Tories, I think we have reason to be concerned.
Secondly, when she says “We will only become independent when a majority of people in Scotland want it and are prepared to vote for it, and we are able to do that in a democratic, legitimate – and seen to be legitimate – process that then can win support and recognition in the international community.”
There is much to agree with here – there must be majority backing independence – that’s democracy. We might not always like how it works (see above), but it’s the only way. Our independence must be perceived as democratic and legitimate. But it’s here she starts to go wrong. Just where is the connection between voting Alba and independence, other than that pressure for the latter is brought forward by the former? Even if the presence of Alba makes a referendum more likely, of and by itself, it wont win the referendum. That depends on securing the support of a majority of the Scottish electorate.
But the bigger error is the “international community”. Certainly, our independence needs to be recognised by the community of nations, as otherwise we end up in the situation many of the states that emerged from the collapse of Yugoslavia were in for some years (and I think, one might still be). The role of the international community is really limited to that. Anyone who imagines the international community are going to ride to our aid in our struggle with the UK govt – if that is what she means by “support” – really is smoking something really good. To understand that point just remember the old women in Catalonia, dragged downstairs by the hair on their heads by the thugs in Rajoy’s Civil Guard. And the international community wrung its hands and did nothing! Did you know that EU membership requires a commitment to the European Convention on Human Rights? If not, you are in good company. Brussels must have forgotten as well.
Sure, we need the international community to accept we are independent, and if there is agreement with London that will be forthcoming. I suspect at that point there may be a sense of schadenfreude around Brussels. But again, Alba has little to do with this. All it is doing is to put pressure on whoever is SNP First Minister to take forward the case for independence and insist on the right of the Scottish people to determine their own future, and – and this is crucial – in a determined and effective way.
Lastly, she is quoted as saying at the end of the National report, ““Alex wants to move on because it suits him now to say that he wants to move on “But there are a number of women out there who believe he behaved inappropriately towards them and he has shown, even now, no sense of reflection or contrition, or even an acknowledgement of that.
“And therefore, he may want to move on but there are people who I think will find it harder to do that.”
Perhaps, the First Minister might do well to remember that prior to the Judicial Review and the criminal case heard at the High Court (where of course Salmond was acquitted on all 14 charges), that he (ie Salmond) had suggested arbitration and conciliation between him and his accusers, but this was peremptorily refused by Sturgeon’s Permanent Secretary. Such a process would, almost inevitably involved much of what the First Minister seems to want, even though it was her side that refused it in the first place.
That notwithstanding, Alba is not Alex Salmond – it is more, much more than this. And the First Minister’s concerns about this new party cannot just be Alex Salmond’s role in it, but also the number of senior officials who have left the SNP for it, including (at the time of writing) two MPs and two Party convenors. The SNP have recently made much of the number of new members who joined after the First Minister’s appearance at the Holyrood Inquiry into how her government totally screwed up its “investigation” into allegations about Alex Salmond. I wonder if they will be as open about the number who have resigned to join Alba? Nope, I don’t think so either.
Footnote from the Editor:
Together we stand, divided we fall
Come on now people, let’s get on the ball and work together
Come on, come on let’s work together, now now people
Because together we will stand, every boy every girl, woman, LGBTQi person and a man!