Friday, March 26, 2021

Alba Party FAQs

So I'm not in any way setting myself up as a spokesperson for the Alba Party, but as people have been firing questions at me (some genuine, some vexatious) all afternoon about my own tentative declaration of support, I can at least answer those.

Are you certain this party will do good to the pro-independence cause rather than harm?

No, I'm not 100% sure of that, it's a calculated risk - but it's not the first time in his career that Alex Salmond has taken one of those.  For example, standing in a Liberal Democrat-held seat in 2007 was a gamble, and it paid off handsomely.  Unlike previous proposed or actual list-only parties like RISE, AFI or ISP, the balance of probabilities is in favour of this one succeeding in winning seats, simply because of Mr Salmond's personal profile and following.  However, very well-known and popular politicians have failed to make an impact with new parties before - two examples are Robert Kilroy-Silk and Tommy Sheridan.  So there are no guarantees, and yes, it's possible I'll look back on this in a few weeks and say it was all a terrible mistake.  However, in this life you sometimes have to jump one way or the other, and my considered judgement at present is that the Alba Party is more likely than not to at least win some seats, and that it would be a good thing for the independence movement if it did.

But don't Mr Salmond's personal poll ratings prove that the party is doomed?

No, that's a common misconception.  In a proportional respresentation system, it doesn't particularly matter if the majority of people don't like you, as long as a big enough minority like you enough to come out and vote for you.  Mr Salmond's ratings are sometimes compared with Boris Johnson's - well, do you think the Tories aren't going to win any seats in May?  Of course they are.  I suspect those numbers may recover somewhat as the campaign progresses in any case.

Aren't you contradicting your previous belief that you can't game the system?

No.  The fundamental point I've always made about the Additional Member System is that the list vote is the more important vote, it's the banker vote, and you should vote for your first-choice party on it.  That's exactly what I will be doing.

But even if you personally aren't trying to game the system, is it possible the Alba Party could succeed in doing that?

Maybe.  And that doesn't actually contradict what I've said in the past, because I've gone out of my way on a number of occasions to say that Alex Salmond is the one and only person who might just about be able to pull it off.  The reason is that he's so synonymous with the SNP brand - he'll be able to persuade significant numbers of people that voting SNP in the constituencies and Alba on the list is a natural extension of their normal party choice of the SNP.  

Are there any potential downsides that could occur even if the Alba Party succeeds?

Yes, one theoretical possibility is that it could increase the overall number of pro-indy seats while denying the SNP a single-party majority.  That does worry me, but sometimes it's not possible to get absolutely everything you want, and you have to decide what is most important.  If I had total faith that the SNP would deliver an independence referendum over the next couple of years, the calculation might be different, but as things stand, if you forced me to choose between a) 65 SNP seats and no Alba seats, and b) 64 SNP seats and 5 Alba seats, I'd be inclined to say that b) would be a better outcome for independence.

What challenges will the Alba Party face?

Lack of airtime is probably the most significant.  The broadcasters will use the lack of previously established support as an excuse to give the party far less coverage than the five major parties, and if it fails to win seats, we may look back on that as the reason why.

Should AFI and ISP stand aside in Alba's favour?

Yes. They'll actually harm their own stated objectives if they don't.

"But what about the company you'll be keeping, James?  Sheesh!"

Actually only one person has said that and she's a troll.  (She used almost identical language when I committed the unspeakable crime of - gasp - having Denise Findlay as a guest on the podcast!)  But the bottom line is that any party worth its salt is a broad church.  In supporting Alba on the list I'll be a co-belligerent of Stuart Campbell, in supporting the SNP on the constituency ballot I'll be a co-belligerent of Fiona Robertson.  In both cases all I can say is "it's a funny old world".

Should all independence supporters vote SNP on the constituency ballot?

Yes, without exception or hesitation.  If you don't, you're helping the unionists to win.

Who should I vote for tactically in Region X or Y?

I don't personally believe in tactical voting on the list.  Alba may well make that case, but that's not the reason I'm supporting them.  I think you should vote for your first-choice pro-indy party on the list, and the only thing that should give you any pause for thought about that is if you think the party in question is too small to win any seats in your region at all.  Whether the SNP has "too many constituency seats" in a region is always a red herring, because you don't actually know how many constituency seats they'll win until after you cast your vote.

Are you SNP 1, Alba 2?

I beg people: please, please, please stop using that shorthand.  AMS is not a preferential voting system, and if people write numbers (as they do with STV) they'll risk spoiling their ballot.

How should the SNP react to today's news, if they're sensible and if they care about independence?

Stop wasting time and energy trying to destroy Alex Salmond, and get on with making the positive case for an SNP vote.

*  *  *

I have two more constituency previews in The National today - Perthshire North and Perthshire South and Kinross-shire.

46 comments:

  1. Your last point is absolutely crucial. Both Alba and the SNP must direct all their fire on the enemies of independence. Then we can all win.

    But are they disciplined enough? Come on, SNP: how about you Wheesht For Indy?

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    Replies
    1. No sign of that happening unfortunately. The SNP are still trying to smear Salmond.

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  2. AS says million votes wasted. No, they are not if you Vote SNP in both.
    https://listvotesense.medium.com/constituencies-lists-the-whole-truth-d0612b229bca

    And you refuse to discuss the moral question of voting for AS.

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    Replies
    1. He was acquitted. He wasn't half-acquitted. He wasn't found guilty of "non-criminal assaults". He was simply acquitted. In this country, we respect the verdicts of juries.

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    2. Will you be standing as a candidate yourself James? for Alba. I think you would fit and well with a right wing Independence Party

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    3. Oh yes, of course, I'm so well-known for my "right-wing" views. That'll be why I voted for a communist as President of the United States (literally) in 2012.

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    4. You're a communist that's something we have in common.
      Are you going to declare yourself as a candidate have you been approached by Mr Salmond

      Delete
    5. @Dornaidh re: "And you refuse to discuss the moral question of voting for AS."

      There is also the moral question of voting for NS and a party which scraped up allegations regardless in order to get AS put away.

      Decisions, moral questions, decisions.

      Delete
  3. "but as things stand, if you forced me to choose between a) 65 SNP seats and no Alba seats, and b) 64 SNP seats and 5 Alba seats, I'd be inclined to say that b) would be a better outcome for independence."

    But surely that is not how WM will see it?
    They will surely paint another SNP Minority Govt as a failure for not only SNP, but the Indy cause.
    The one thing WM will dread most,is a Majority SNP Govt.

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    Replies
    1. Westminster might see that to start with, but I think they would soon begin to realise that probably the only big thing Holyrood can agree on is Indy, unless the SNP start saying very obviously 'Now is not the time for an Indyref', in which case the SNP will start getting its feet held to the fire in a away they are not at the moment.

      Delete
    2. But surely that is not how WM will see it?
      They will surely paint another SNP Minority Govt as a failure for not only SNP, but the Indy cause.
      The one thing WM will dread most,is a Majority SNP Govt.


      We shouldn't be too worried about how Westminster will present things. If there's a multi-party independence majority, they'll say an SNP majority is required. If there's an SNP majority, they'll say a popular majority is required. If there's a popular majority, they'll say that the Scottish Parliament has no authority to legislate on a referendum without their say-so. None of these views are democratically defensible, so why should we be more willing to accept some of them than others?

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    3. Simple.
      Because the ONLY one of those scenarios they are going all out to stop, is an SNP Majority.
      That is the one which they KNOW will cause them the most difficulty.
      It is as plain as the nose on your face.
      To ignore that fact, is as dumb as it is dangerous.

      Delete
  4. You missed one party out of the new parties that had a well known leader; Scottish Labour Party. Jim Sillar's outfit went down the pan after he lost his seat in 1979.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. However, in those elections, it was first past the post. Different kettle of fish entirely.

      Delete
  5. Don't forget about turnout.

    Looking at 2016 results, it *looks* like about 100,000 Green voters also voted SNP in constituencies. If those Green voters hadn't had a party to vote for, they might have stayed home along with other Yes voters.

    If Alba results in another 150,000 voters going to the ballots instead of staying home, that's a potent game-changer.

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    Replies
    1. Excellent point. I was wrestling with idea of SNP/SNP but now I’m definite SNP/ALBA. There will be people now voting for them in the constituency vote who are much more pissed off with the SNP than me. AS has just got them additional constituency votes and very likely some additional seats in some marginals. Love him or hate him, he is a clever old fox.

      Delete
  6. Thanks James for another good and honest article on the subject.

    Aye, your PR list vote is your most precious vote. It is not your 'second', or spare vote, but will decide the how all seats are allocated. Use it wisely. Use it for which party you would really like at the helm.

    It's that simple.

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  7. Replies
    1. They have saved their deposits by not standing.

      Delete
  8. Well said, James. This is early days. I believe AS can still be a powerful force, and a beneficial force, for independence. The SNP would be very foolish to get on their high horse about a new party involving AS.

    If it's not Alba then we need other pro-indy representatives in Holyrood to give the SNP a kick in the right direction concerning the fight for independence.

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  9. Interested to know where the Greens fit in here. I understand the strength of brand Salmond but it is difficult to discount the Greens on recent polling and the fracturing of support from them and the SNP towards Alba might cause a decline in pro indy MSPs allowing a Unionist party to sneak a seat or two?

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  10. wonderful to see James and Stuart agreeing on something . . I thought Stuart was losing his mind
    Financial contributions to Alba here https://www.albaparty.org/

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. In all seriousness I think Stuart's been in a bad way, and it's a really good thing that he's got a constructive cause to devote his energies to now. If this hadn't happened he would essentially have been trying to bring about a unionist majority.

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    2. Awwww.....lets all feel sorry for Stuart....(hand palm).

      Delete
  11. Mouse, just go somewhere else, will you? This is beyond trolling now, you're actually posting seriously defamatory comments.

    ReplyDelete
  12. From the latest
    @OpiniumResearch
    /
    @SkyNews
    Scotland poll.

    Do you have a favourable or unfavourable view of...

    Sturgeon:
    Favourable 58%
    Unfavourable 37%

    Salmond:
    Favourable 14%
    Unfavourable 74%

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Salmond needs the vast majority of his favorable to vote for him and not the SNP.

      WBd Interesting to have seen what Thatcher's numbers would have been.

      Similar I'd bet.

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    2. Salmond needs the vast majority of his favorable to vote for him and not the SNP.

      How d'you mean "need"? The Greens got less than half of that figure in 2016 and that gave them 6 MSPs.

      Delete
    3. Salmond endorsing independence is a bit like Tony Blair endorsing covid vaccines.

      You might think it's a good idea, but you'd be against it just to fuck him off!

      Delete
    4. "How d'you mean "need"? The Greens got less than half of that figure in 2016 and that gave them 6 MSPs."

      Sorry, I forgot to mention some of the 14% may actually go to the Greens instead of the SNP.

      Delete
    5. I'm not sure what that means. The point is that Salmond doesn't need "the vast majority" of that 14% to vote for his lot in order to win seats.

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    6. Gentlemen

      You all seem to ignore the reality....we have 640 aircraft...and they have over 2,500...we're not short of aircraft...we're not short of instructors.....we're short of pilots.

      Laurence Olivier playing the part of Air vice-marshall Hugh Dowding...controller of Fighter Command)..in the movie 'Battle of Britain'...... is this where we are?

      Delete
  13. It seems AFI are now standing aside to support Alba Party. Is this confirmed James?

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  14. I will keep my powder dry. I remain both votes SNP until i see some indication that my list vote might be used wisely elsewhere.

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  15. Listen to a bit of GMS this morning to catch the headlines. They had Clegg (formerly of the Record) on. Who pissed in his morning coffee? Salmond very bad, acquitted but you know, Alba a collection of misfits and nuts. Bad for Sturgeon etc., In the fog of negativity he did concede it probably wouldn't affect the SNP seat numbers.

    If Alba does win seats they can really only come at the expense of second or third Tory and Labour list seats. Whether they get the support necessary will depend on the campaign but one thing is sure, if Alba were to be anti or negative about the SNP they risk not borrowing their list vote. Consequently, I would expect Alba to attack the opposition parties.

    ReplyDelete
  16. "Are you SNP 1, Alba 2?

    I beg people: please, please, please stop using that shorthand. AMS is not a preferential voting system, and if people write numbers (as they do with STV) they'll risk spoiling their ballot."


    What would you rather we write instead? If you want to stop people using it, suggest and actively promote an alternative.

    SNP (constituency) , Alba (Regional List)

    ReplyDelete
  17. I'll be interested to see a more complete manifesto from Alba, because while a more bullish approach towards getting a second indyref does hold some appeal, quite a few of the party's new supporters on social media seem very firmly convinced that it's an anti-GRA reform "women's rights" party that'll provide a welcome home to people who refer to trans folk as "science denying perverts"(they might have used "degenerates", I can't find the commenter on one of the prior articles here again), and that's not something I'm comfortable throwing in with. I'd also like to get a better idea of which way they'd lean on other issues if they get a significant presence in the parliament, mostly in terms of whether they'll be reasonably green on environmental issues or not(and yes, I obviously had considered just voting Green, but I'd hesitate to move away from both votes SNP unless there's a real prospect of getting something *more* pro-indy than the SNP, and also Ross Greer is a slimy wee shite who I'd also rather not be lending any support to even indirectly).

    This isn't going to be a very fun campaign I think.

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    Replies
    1. Would like to know their stance on NATO and free speach too.

      But if it was independence only and nothing else I'd probably prefer that.

      Delete