I almost never write about somebody else’s article, but this from Barrhead Boy sums up exactly how I feel today. 80% by readership of the pro-Independence new media has been disillusioned by the current SNP leadership to the point of turning against it. Peter Bell, Barrhead Boy, Robin McAlpine, James Kelly, Jeggit, Stuart Campbell, Iain Lawson, and me – I could go on with a dozen more – these were the writers to whom pro-Independence people turned in their hundreds of thousands to escape from the diet of unionist propaganda they were fed from the BBC and papers. These bloggers and independent journalists were, along with the All Under One Banner marches, the heartbeat of Independence. The SNP notably was not that – it had effectively banned discussion of Independence. Long term readers will recall I was even blocked by Murrell from holding a fringe meeting on Independence – when a delegate – at SNP conference, but told I could hold one on another subject.
The bloggers I name are all people who have dedicated their recent lives almost entirely to the cause of Scottish Independence. The 2014 Yes campaign was primarily a street movement, reinforced by bloggers and with real public meetings all over Scotland. I believe only Robin McAlpine spoke at more meetings during the Indyref campaign than I did, and I believe since 2014 nobody has given more speeches and talks on Independence than I. To alienate such dedicated people is astonishing.
How has it happened? Well, the fact that the SNP leadership has won the adoration of the Guardian while losing the support of pro-Independence new media says it all. That is sufficient explanation. There are differences between the pro-Independence bloggers I name, in the extent to which they were SNP members or not, but they have one thing in common. Everybody on that list – along with the leadership of AUOB – has come to doubt the genuine intent of the current SNP leadership to achieve Independence.
A SNP MP told me very recently that they had no doubt Nicola had no intention at all of holding Indyref2. I think it is not unfair also to say that every person on that list is also alarmed by the SNP leadership’s broad adoption of what I might call Britnat values – uncritical support for most British security and defence policies. The strong impression that Sturgeon is much more interested in identity politics than Independence also I think troubles more or less every one of them.
But we are apparently getting a harsh lesson in the limits of new media, in that the strong advocacy of the pro-Independence new media of a vote for the more radically pro-Independence party Alba on the second, list, ballot is showing very little sign of cutting through in opinion polls. The continuing demonisation of Alex Salmond by the mainstream media – taking their cue from Nicola Sturgeon and her constant intimation that the jury in his trial and the judge in the Court of Session both got it wrong – appears so far powerfully effective in electoral terms. The exclusion of Alba from leadership debates, and the virtual exclusion of Alba from news coverage, appears to work.
It is a strong reminder that you cannot judge balance in news reporting by time devoted. Where other parties are asked about their policies, Alba’s rare appearances are dominated by aggressive suggestions that Alex Salmond should be banned from public life. If Salmond featured in media debates, he would answer the same policy questions as other leaders and would be seen to answer them better. The “compensating” interviews he is offered instead are simply an excuse for more personal attacks on him.
I have this message for everybody who believes in Independence. Vote for Alba, who are the only party who will try to gain Independence with you. The SNP manifesto says there should be an Indyref after Covid has passed – a delightfully vague date – and is utterly silent on what happens when both the Westminster Government and the UK Supreme Court refuse the referendum – both of which absolutely will happen. If necessary, the Tories will amend the Scotland Act specifically to ban a referendum without Westminster consent, and the UK Supreme Court, which has always upheld the sovereignty of (Westminster) parliament, will do so again. Nicola will pretend to be disappointed, and make yet another speech against what she herself has labeled “wildcat” or “illegal” referenda and will repeat there are “no short-cuts” to Independence.
I have news for Nicola. Self-determination is not a short-cut. It is an inalienable right guaranteed in the UN Charter.
So vote Alba. I have no responsibility in Alba, I am just an ordinary member. The policy of Alba is to advocate a constituency vote for the SNP everywhere, and a list vote for Alba. You must follow your own conscience, but there are places I could never vote SNP, Edinburgh Central being a good example, though a court order prevents me from telling you why. I shall however be voting for my local SNP candidate in the constituency vote as he has stressed Independence in his election literature.
I regard this election as just the start for Alba. I look forward to participating in democratic debate that shapes its policies. I will be arguing Alba should be against Scottish membership of NATO and for Scotland being neutral and non-aligned, and should be for Scotland becoming a republic. I will also argue very strongly that, should as I strongly expect the SNP break their promises and fail to deliver an Independence referendum by the Westminster elections of 2024, Alba should stand against the SNP in every Westminster constituency. Scotland should be Independent before then and Scotland should not be participating in those elections; if we are, it is a sure sign the SNP have “settled in”.
The SNP contingent at Tory Westminster frankly can do little or no good anyway. I think Sinn Fein have this right. But as long as there are so many well-paid jobs and so much Short money available, the SNP leadership grouping are very comfy indeed with the status quo. Threatening their income and their personal comfort is the only language they understand. Watching the SNP MP’s seduced by lifestyle and effectively forgetting Independence has been gruesome.
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