The ever excellent Scot Goes Pop blog of James Kelly has posted an article disagreeing strongly with my contention that the Alba party should fight the SNP at the next Westminster election, should the SNP renege on its commitment to a “Plebiscite election” that determines Independence.
As James is a person for whom I have great respect, I am taking the time to respond to his points.
We both agree that if the SNP declare a genuine plebiscite general election, where victory leads directly to Independence and not to just another referendum request to Westminster, then Alba should not stand candidates against the SNP (leaving aside the question of Alba’s two sitting MPs).
Where we differ is on whether Alba should stand against the SNP, in the event that the SNP resile on their promise of a plebiscite referendum, and seek to define it as just the seventh election since 2014 where they ask people to vote for them on the grounds they will then ask Westminster for a referendum.
This is not all very hypothetical – I am quite certain that will happen. I suspect James is too.
In that event, I think Alba should stand against the SNP and James believes very strongly we should not. Let me reply to his arguments.
Firstly, he sets up a straw man in knocking down an argument I have never made, that Alba might win seats or overtake the SNP at the next general election.
No, Alba will not be replacing the SNP as the largest party any time soon. We will not even be getting close to doing that.
Of course. My article clearly discusses Alba support at hopefully 4%. It makes the comparator to Sinn Fein, who like Alba had two MPs defected from Redmond’s IPP in 1906, lost them in 1908, and Sinn Fein did not go on to supplant the Redmondites until 1918, twelve years later.
That is about how long I think it would take. It took only slightly longer for the Labour Party to supplant the Liberal Party as the opposition to the Tories in the UK. Because of FPTP, when the switch comes, it comes fast. But that does not mean it comes tomorrow.
We are talking of how we get to Independence in a situation where the SNP leadership has thrown away our best chances and has every intention of continuing to do so.
Of course, I would much prefer a drastically quicker solution where the SNP leadership genuinely make a move for Independence, defy Westminster and stop thinking about their personal careers and bank balances.
Please call me when that happens.
Where I disagree most strongly with James is his notion that Alba would be “humiliated” in an election. I have stood twice as an independent, anti-war candidate in parliamentary by-elections. I gained 5% of the vote in Blackburn and 2.7% of the vote in Norwich North – the top end of the Alba range.
I was not in the least humiliated. I had the chance to express my beliefs, against all the might of the big party machines, and thousands of people listened to what I said and cared enough to go out and vote for me. Honest presentation of your beliefs, as a choice for the electorate, is never humiliating.
Every vote won against the big battalions of the state is a small victory for independent thought.
James’ great error is repeatedly throughout his article to count SNP seats as pro-Independence seats. Independence will never be achieved with Westminster agreement. It must be taken as a right asserted in international law.
Any MP not prepared to defy Westminster for Independence is a Unionist. That is every SNP MP.
My question to James is this. For how many decades is he prepared to assert that we should vote for SNP MPs, who will never make any move for Independence? Why would we vote for people for whom their career, their bank account, and their respectability within the British Establishment are all more important than Scottish Independence?
Unless the SNP are opposed at the ballot box by real Independence supporters, their false flag Independence stance will remain unchallenged. Doubtless Alba would receive fierce criticism from SNP supporters for splitting the Independence vote. Doubtless Alba could enable a few Labour gains from SNP, causing short term unpopularity.
But how else will you get a platform to point out the SNP are not a real Independence party? How else will you ever impact the troughing charlatans?
James’ argument suffers from the fundamental flaw that it treats SNP MPs as pro-Independence MPs, when every single one of them is a Westminster bootlicker, grovelling for “permission” that will never be given.
I am genuinely perplexed as to why James left the SNP at all if he wished to campaign for them. I certainly will not myself remain in the Alba party if it sees itself as not a real alternative for Independence, but simply a bolt-on to the SNP for the Holyrood list vote elections.
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