My suspicion is that's why certain people in the SNP were so insistent that Alba's setback in the election had to mean the final end for the party and that it should "never receive any coverage ever again". If Alba survives indefinitely, as it now looks like it may do, it will always be a tempting alternative home for those who reach their own personal tipping-point and decide the SNP aren't serious about independence. The number of those people will just keep growing and growing - until and unless the SNP actually start taking some action. We were told that three SNP MSPs were ready to defect to Alba after the election if Alex Salmond had been elected. While it may now be unlikely for them to take that step in the short term, it's far from unthinkable in the medium term, especially if Alba can rebuild some credibility in the local elections next May.
Is the SNP's current excuse for delay good enough or convincing enough? We can see with our own eyes that it wouldn't be impossible to hold a referendum, even right now - we've just held a national election as scheduled, and we're in the middle of co-hosting one of the biggest sporting events in the world. However, there's a case to be made that it's far from ideal to go ahead with a referendum while the virus is still circulating widely and while the vaccination drive has not yet been completed. That's fine, but those factors will not apply for much longer anyway. What is totally indefensible is to argue that there will have to be more delay even once the virus is tamed, because "Scotland must rebuild before holding a referendum". You can guarantee that the rest of the world, including Westminster, will not be putting its politics on hold for several years. Clement Attlee did not say that creating the welfare state had to wait until Britain had recovered from the war - instead he knew the welfare state was essential to the recovery.
(Note: Stephen Paton specifies preferred pronouns of 'they' and 'them', so out of basic courtesy - not because of diktat from the thought police - I am doing my best to respect Stephen's wishes. Hence the odd-looking use of language in the remainder of this blogpost.)
Elsewhere, Stephen Paton is continuing to liberally apply the parfum d'obsession with yet another rant about how much they hate Alba. Which begs the obvious question: if Alba are so "irrelevant", why the need to keep stamping on them week after week? Ostensibly Stephen's article is a call for pluralism within the Yes movement, and yet the subtext is entirely the opposite - that Alba (a moderate, centre-left, social democratic party, let's not forget) should somehow be treated as the equivalent of Siol nan Gaidheal, with no place in the movement whatsoever. This is of course consistent with the "no debate" line taken by Stephen's side of the debate (ironically) about trans rights.
It's perhaps slightly amusing that people are reacting to Stephen's piece as if they're ('they' meaning Stephen) speaking on behalf of the SNP - because Stephen is, as I understand it, a Green voter. They even made a video in the run-up to the 2016 election calling for people to game the system by voting against the SNP on the list, in much the same way that Alba advocated this year.
Once again, Stephen trots out the tired old line about Alex Salmond being "the most unpopular politician in Scotland". We should really start calling this nonsense out, because there's simply no evidence to support it. There are 129 MSPs, 59 Scottish MPs, over one thousand councillors, and many other politicians who do not currently hold elected office. Stephen is implying that there is polling evidence to suggest that Mr Salmond is less popular than every single one of those individuals - well, if that evidence exists, by all means let's see it. So far I've only seen polls comparing him to around half a dozen fellow politicians.
Stephen also claims that Scotland is "on the cusp" of independence and that there's no need for anyone to look to Alba when the Yes movement is already so "buoyant". Which takes me back to where I started this blogpost. Get back to us, Stephen, when the SNP have actually done something to justify the belief that independence might be imminent.
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