Friday, September 10, 2021

Vote James Kelly #1 for the Alba Party's NEC this weekend: here's my mini-manifesto

If you're an Alba member and have registered for the inaugural annual conference, which takes place tomorrow and Sunday, you'll be able to vote online in the ballots for the female and male ordinary members of the National Executive Committee.  I'll be a candidate on the male ballot, along with fifteen other excellent candidates, so welcome along to my little pitch for you to give me, James Kelly, your first preference vote.  (The ballot is being conducted by Single Transferable Vote, which means you'll be ranking the candidates in order of preference.  If for some inexplicable reason you decide not to give me your first preference, I'd be equally grateful for your second preference, or your third preference, or any preference at all, really.)

A lot of the things I believe in would be quite radical and daring if I was standing for the SNP's NEC, but are very much mainstream views within Alba.  Nevertheless, they're still worth emphasising because we've all seen how quickly parties can lose touch with their founding values if members are not vigilant.  I support maximum internal democracy within the Alba Party, and transparency of all decision-making processes.  Alba is already superior to the SNP in that the main office bearer positions are directly elected by the whole membership.  When the NEC nominations began, a couple of people wrote to me to express their disquiet that this election was only open to conference delegates and not to all members, and I do have sympathy with that view - I see no reason why all positions shouldn't be elected by the members.  However, at this stage we probably should look at where we are in a glass half full sort of way.

Freedom of speech and freedom to dissent are also vitally important.  Every political party, large or small, is a coalition of views - we'll all agree on most things, but I doubt if there's anyone who will agree with absolutely every dot and comma of the policy programme decided by the majority.  I never, ever want to see a Joanna Cherry-style scenario arise within Alba whereby someone is sidelined, ostracised or treated as a "bigot" simply because they have a principled disagreement with one particular policy.

Which brings me onto the subject of disciplinary proceedings.  Every party needs to have rules and to enforce them, but that enforcement must be fair.  I would always err on the side of giving people the benefit of the doubt if the alleged wrongdoing is open to differing interpretations (as it was, for example, in the case of Neale Hanvey when he was suspended by the SNP). Nobody should be bounced into enforced "resignations".  And certainly if there's to be any question of expulsions, there should be genuine, objective proof of wrongdoing. My concern is that it's far too easy for the disciplinary process to be used as a weapon by one faction of a party against another faction - something that has undoubtedly been happening in both the SNP and Labour.

I believe that Alba is a different sort of political party in that it exists to bring about the sovereign independence of Scotland at the earliest possible opportunity and date.  You have my assurance that if I'm elected to the NEC, and if there's ever any conflict between what might be perceived as the interests of the party and the interests of the wider cause of independence, I would always choose the latter.  To give an example, it's vitally important that Alba candidates at next year's local elections urge voters to give their lower preferences to other pro-independence parties.  That will perhaps be a painful thing to do given how disparaging and often downright abusive many within the SNP and Greens have been towards Alba, but we're here to win our country's independence, not to settle old scores.

In my view there is no future for Alba as an "ethnic" Scottish party, a kind of tartan UKIP.  We must hold true to the progressive ideal of what it means to be Scottish - namely that if you choose to make this country your home, no matter where you come from or when you arrived, you belong here and you have the same rights as any other citizen, including the right to vote in a second independence referendum.  That's strategically wise as well as morally right, because many EU citizens have swung behind Yes as a result of Brexit.

I know some Alba members believe that independence will only come about if and when Alba does to the SNP what Sinn Féin did to the Irish Parliamentary Party in the 1918 general election, by taking over as the majority party. It may yet come to that, but the irony is that if it does, it'll be a sign of our own failure - because Plan A has to be to win independence before there is even any opportunity for the SNP to be displaced, in other words before the 2026 Holyrood election.  That means independence will have to be delivered by an SNP-led government, and Alba's role will be to challenge and harry the SNP into keeping their promises.  I think a good benchmark of whether we're doing that job well enough will be if Alba looks like a credible home for any SNP MSP who might be tempted to defect next year or the year after - because above all else, it's the threat of defections that may help to keep the SNP leadership honest.  To do that, we don't need to be at 40% in the polls, but we may need to be at 5% in the polls and to have some council candidates elected next year.  That may sound like a modest target, but it's actually an ambitious target that will require a great deal of work to achieve.

The fact that we're initially aiming for a relatively small share of the vote, though, has certain side-benefits  - it means we can be more daring in policy terms, because we're trying to win over a niche group of radical independence supporters, rather than trying to reassure vast swathes of Middle Scotland in the way that the SNP or the next Yes campaign will have to do.  When the SNP finally turned its back on its long-standing opposition to NATO membership, it did so partly because Alyn Smith claimed that the policy was making us look a bit "odd" (ahem).  Alba need have no such concerns, because principled opposition to NATO will differentiate us from the SNP and help to win new converts.  We may also be able to take a more radical stance on the monarchy.  I've actually always been - theoretically - in favour of an elected Head of State, but until now I've regarded that as a matter that can wait until after independence.

One thing I feel very strongly about is that nuclear weapons will have to be removed from an independent Scotland as soon as practicably possible.  They're not a bargaining chip, they simply have to go.

I share the concerns about the threat to women-only spaces and services, and indeed to women's sport, caused by the ideologically-driven rush to reform the GRA.  As many of you know, I fundraised during the summer to commission a Scot Goes Pop poll to discover how the Scottish public really feel about GRA reform and related matters.  Although not as much has been raised so far as would be needed to commission the ideal type of poll, I'll make sure it happens one way or another.

I strongly agree that Alba should be at the forefront of pressing the Scottish Government to make a decisive break from the Westminster-led 'Four Nations' approach to tackling Covid, which has led this country into calamity again and again and again.

And now a little bit about me, for those of you who don't know...

I've been writing Scot Goes Pop since 2008, and by 2013 it had become one of Scotland's most popular pro-independence blogs.  In 2012 I became a columnist for the International Business Times, and in the run-up to the independence referendum many of my columns were syndicated on Yahoo, reaching a huge audience - meaning that I may well have been, almost by accident, the most-read pro-indy blogger during the indyref period.  Later on, I was for a time a columnist on the TalkRadio website, and since 2017 I've been a regular columnist for iScot magazine.  I've also provided occasional election and poll analysis for The National since early 2015.

I've made numerous appearances on TV and radio, including BBC Breakfast, BBC Radio Five Live, the Bauer radio network, Al Jazeera, Radio Sputnik and most recently the Alex Salmond Show on RT.  I've also taken part in a huge number of New Media podcasts, films and live-streams.  Perhaps most significantly, though, I've commissioned no fewer than five full-scale Scottish opinion polls - something that is usually the preserve of the mainstream media.  Some of the polls have been genuine landmarks - for example, the poll in June 2020 that marked the start of the long unbroken series of Yes-majority polls was a Scot Goes Pop / Panelbase poll.

I'm not, however, a political insider.  I've never been particularly active within a political party, and that, I think, may mean I'd bring a different sort of perspective to the NEC than someone who is steeped in SNP internal politics. (Don't get me wrong, though - there's also plenty of room for that kind of experience on the NEC.)

I'd suggest a possible advantage of electing me is that there aren't going to be any surprises about my political views.  Over the years, I must have blogged about practically every political topic under the sun, so my opinions are all out there.  Most of you know me well and you know exactly what you'd be getting.  I'm also easy to reach - I'm very active on social media.  (That mostly means Twitter rather than Facebook, for the avoidance of doubt - it's not unusual for me not to check my Facebook account for weeks, which has led now and again to sheepish apologies to people who have messaged me in the interim.)

If any or all of this strikes a chord, and if you're eligible to vote, please do consider giving your first preference vote to James Kelly (that's me!) on the male ballot for ordinary members of the Alba Party NEC.  The voting hours will, as far as I know, be between 12pm on Saturday and 5pm on Sunday.  Thank you.

*  *  *

Scot Goes Popcast: You can watch the full videos of my recent interviews with Yvonne Ridley and William Duguid HERE and HERE


  1. Hope you get elected James. Unfortunately I can't vote as I couldn't go to the conference; so didn't register.

  2. Nominated you but not a delegate so can't vote. Please push forward the rights of all members to vote for all positions.

  3. New Border Guard Of President JamezSeptember 11, 2021 at 8:47 AM

    The photographs of President Jamez demonstrate his mastery of the seas and his unity with nature.
    You will have many opportunities to vote for President Jamez throughout the day.
    If there are problems with the popular vote then we will enforce.

    Viva President Jamez!

  4. I'm still in the SNP for reasons which I don't quite understand myself. However I voted Alba on the list last May, wish the party success and also wish success to James at conference. Forward to indy !

  5. I'm not in ALBA James, but I really hope you get elected onto their NEC.
    I really think you're right about the local elections.
    I'll certainly consider ALBA in an STV voting system as my primary concern is independence.
    The reversal of the SNPs long-held anti-NATO policy damaged the SNP and we must have concerns about backsliding on the anti-trident stance.
    I agree ALBA can pressurise, but it's the SNP itself that is the vehicle to deliver not just a referendum but Scottish Statehood itself.
    Our local YES group doesn't ask party affiliations or loyalty.
    The same must apply to all pro-indy parties as the Unionists roll out the full powers of the British state against us. Good luck in the NEC vote.

    1. "My primary concern is independence."

      Glad to hear that Ramstam. So is mine.

      "It's the SNP itself that is the vehicle to deliver not just a referendum but Scottish statehood."

      Pity the current drivers of the vehicle have no intention of arriving at that destination. Is their road map the SNP 11 point plan? If so where are we on it? Have they even mentioned it at their conference?

  6. Democracy with The Downhill SlalomerSeptember 11, 2021 at 12:31 PM

    "Disrupting parliament by forcing your way into the building, climbing on it etc, entering the chamber with the intention of interfering with proceedings… is an attack on democracy. If it’s not OK for trumpists, it’s not ok for anyone, certainly not while we democratically elect the parliament in free and fair elections (if this were not the case, that’s a whole different story). This sort of action is not peaceful protest, and if everyone was doing it, democracy would grind to a halt.

    It’s the latter the changes are aimed at dealing with I understand.

    So I am against anything that limits peaceful protest, but also against Trumpist style attempts to interfere with the democratic operations of the Scottish parliament.

    Anyway, you can tell real indy supporters; they won’t lie about who is making changes to the rules here and try to pretend it’s the SNP. Only unionists would do that."

    1. All right, I'll let that one pass seeing as it makes him look suitably ridiculous, but on the whole could we please dispense with the copying and pasting of comments from other sites.

    2. Yes you were right to let that one pass as the numpty just keeps on showing what a Sturgeon propandist and liar he is.

      The SNP/Greens have a majority on that Parliamentary body. Harvie (like Blackford) having sounded off previously against banning the democratic right to protest.

    3. James does that mean you don't want me to post my WGD NUMPTY QUOTE OF THE WEEK Winner. It's nasty numpty DR Jim.

    4. Well done the SNP members for voting against the demo ban outside Holyrood/ Scot Parliament. It seems some of them still value democratic rights of protest. Not all are complete numpties. Will Sturgeon and Harvie listen or will Sturgeon do as so often with SNP resolutions she doesn't like - ignore them.

      Well done Alba for voting to rid ourselves of this distasteful monarchy after independence.

    5. The SPCB - Scottish Parliament Corporate Body - makes decisions on security and is the body that made the decision to run to Priti Patel to get protests banned outside Holyrood.

      It is chaired by the Presiding Officer ( Green MSP) and 4 other members:

      Chapman, Green MSP
      Carlaw, Tory MSP
      Baker, Labour MSP
      Grahame, SNP MSP.

      The liar Skier lies again when he said no MSPS are involved. These MSPs made the decision.

    6. Chapman has distanced herself from this decision and has stated that it is wrong. Alba conference today voted an emergebcy motion calling it out as a nonsense. I've emailed my MSP.

    7. Useful info Robert. At least three of the remaining four must have voted for it. I think I'll do the same as you and email my MSP Carlaw and ask him if he voted for it and his reasons for his decision.

    8. I'm reading that Chapman is saying all the other 4 members of the SPCB voted for the new law to be applied. So this means the SNP MSP Grahame and Green MSP Johnstone joined with Carlaw Tory and Baker Labour to vote for it.

      Now the liar Skier said only unionists would lie about this matter. Now as James doesn't want a lot of copied words from other sites I won't post Skiers words but in his own words Skier is a liar and a Unionist.

  7. If the problem is folk protesting "too close" to Holyrood for security reasons, then somebody has to announce where we can protest.
    None of the recent protests threw up any issues as far as I can see.
    The right to protest IMO doesn't come under the remit of the parliament's corporate body.
    This same group of individuals were credited with removing the Indy camp and the banning of Scots language signage in Holyrood.

  8. A massive crowd at the TRNSMT festival in Glasgow. The SNP however have their conference on line. What sort of consistency of approach to Covid is this by the SNP/Scotgov.

  9. Craig Murray's speech from the Alba conference read by his wife - he says although it is very unpleasant being locked up for more than 22 hours in a tiny cell each day it is very unlikely I will miss any progress being made on the SNPs 11point plan.

    Yes that's right the plan that the SNP and the WGD numpties never mention now. The plan like all the SNPs pronouncements on independence that are always dreamt up at the last minute before elections and SNP conferences to keep the numpties happy.

    What sort of plan has no timetable for delivering each point in the plan? A plan that you have no intention of delivering on and do not expect to be held accountable to by the numpties.

  10. I'm not going to quote from another blog but it's interesting to see someone suddenly doing a reverse ferret about demonstrations around Holyrood.

  11. Great speech by Salmond.

    Salmond was always superior to Sturgeon back in 2014 and still is and she knows it too. That's why Sturgeon and her gang assisted by Kavanagh and his numpties will keep on attacking him. The difference from 2014 is that I know what Sturgeon is all about and so do people who are not numpties. ps Kavanagh is not a numpty he knows what Sturgeon is.

    The Wee Alba Book. Ya beauty. I'll contribute to funding that.

    What has Sturgeon done to promote independence - even the SNP election leaflets avoided mentioning independence.

    Salmond did say we should concentrate on the positive case for independence. That's great I'll leave that to the Alba members but I'll still point out the truth about Sturgeon and her gang.

    A leader and a party that wants Scottish independence - Alba.

    The current lot in government are more interested in trying to send opponents to jail and filling our state schools full of pornograhic material. Private schools being exempt from Somervilles recommended school reading material and "guidance". Why should private schools be allowed to avoid her disgusting crap - probably because they would sue the Scotgov for trying to impose her "guidelines" on them.

    Alba is rising. No more votes for Sturgeons SNP from me. No more voting for the British Devolution party.

  12. IFS, So you're against SNP and ALBA voters cooperating to defeat Unionist candidates.
    Alex Salmond says all YES parties will come together when the Indyref is declared.
    Before then we have local elections.
    Are you saying you won't give one of your preference votes to the SNP out of spite.
    IMO its important to remove as many Unionist councils as possible next May to pave the way for Indyref2.
    Away and have a think about that.

  13. Ramstam, I voted SNP in constituency in May and gave the numpties the chance to cooperate to get rid of unionists. They preferred Britnats to Alba MSPs or even Green MSPs so you go away and think about that Ramstam. A super majority has always been there for the taking but both vote SNP numpties didn't care. So you now think I should fall for the let's cooperate again. No chance will I EVER vote SNP again while Sturgeon The Betrayer and her gang lead the SNP. Ps. I am not a member of Alba so I will vote how I want.

    The trouble is the next election is always the most important - so now according to you we have to get rid of Britnat councillors to get this referendum that was supposed to be happening right after the May election.

    Once again I reply to you Ramstam and once again you ignore my questions as ever. Away and think about that as well.

    So where are we on the roadmap Ramstam? Care to point out where on the roadmap it says we must get rid of Britnat councillors to get Indyref2.

  14. As the police continue their glacial investigation into the "missing " £660k Indyref2 fund - no doubt helped by Sturgeons pals in COPFS - I wonder who might be chosen to throw to the wolves if required? The current treasurer or anyone?

    Who would you like it to be? Me - probably Wishart or Smith but very unlikely to be either of them. Ruddick?