Tuesday, May 10, 2022

"There's nothing you can do, so DO SOMETHING!"

There have been two articles in The National over the last couple of days about the future of the Alba Party, one by George Kerevan, and the other by Gerry Hassan.  Both men express scepticism, although each is coming from a very different place - George Kerevan is an actual member of Alba (or at least he was the last time I checked), while Hassan has been irrationally indignant at the party's very existence from the outset last year.  One point of view will thus be regarded as having far more credibility than the other, and quite rightly so.  Hassan's piece is full of half-truths, distortions and preposterous debating tactics.  He repeatedly claims that Alba took just 0.7% of the vote last week and gives the impression that this represents a decline from the 1.7% they took at the Holyrood election last year - while completely failing at any point, naturally, to clarify that Alba only actually stood in one-third of wards and therefore only one-third of the electorate had the opportunity to vote for them, in contrast to the Holyrood election in which 100% of the electorate had the Alba option on their ballot paper.  As if that isn't brazen enough, Hassan then adds the cherry on the cake by wheeling out as an 'expert option' the unhinged anti-Alba rant from the other day penned by the partisan Green party member who runs Ballot Box Scotland - the very man responsible for starting the misleading "0.7%" narrative in the first place, and whose utterly blatant vendetta against Alba is presumably rooted mainly in the identity politics zealotry of his own party.

The most incoherent point Hassan makes is that the fate of Alba "seems to be beyond" that of the two small parties that have previously made a breakthrough in modern Scottish politics, namely the Greens and the SSP.  The Greens got a very healthy 35 seats in this election, he notes. But that's an odd thing to say, and it proves the complete opposite of what he thinks it proves, because Alba's electoral performance so far is in fact pretty similar to what the Greens managed during the long number of years before they gained any critical mass.  If memory serves me right, the Greens didn't have a single elected representative anywhere in Scotland until they won a Highland Regional Council seat in 1990 - and yet they had existed in one form or another since the 1970s.  If the Greens could repeatedly get a very modest share of the vote and yet live to fight another day, why can't Alba? If the Greens could eventually move up into a different league and actually start winning representation, why shouldn't Alba?  The point literally makes no sense.

Hassan goes on to compare Alba instead to Jim Sillars' Scottish Labour Party of the 1970s and Tommy Sheridan's Solidarity, on the basis that it's built around the charisma of a single individual.  Again, there's an obvious contradiction here, because the SSP - which Hassan has classed as an example of a successful smaller party - also depended heavily on the charisma of Tommy Sheridan.  But even leaving that quibble aside, I'm not sure the comparison is as unflattering as Hassan believes, because the Scottish Labour Party was a serious endeavour - it succeeded in getting local councillors elected (under first-past-the-post, no less!), and Sillars himself came pretty close to being re-elected as MP for South Ayrshire in the 1979 general election.  Probably the reason the party eventually ceased to exist is that the ground it stood on was colonised by larger parties - Labour embraced devolution, while the SNP moved to the left.  Alba could yet be crowded out in an equivalent way if the SNP rediscovers its sense of urgency on independence and at least becomes somewhat more tolerant of gender critical feminist views - but at the moment there's precious little sign of that.

As for George Kerevan's piece, although it can't be dismissed as agenda-driven in the same way as Hassan's, it's still rather exasperating because it implores Alba members to do something drastic to change the party's trajectory, but doesn't make any concrete suggestions other than ones George thinks aren't actually viable.  You can't make Joanna Cherry leader, he says, because she'll never leave the SNP.  You can't find a new leader from among Alba's current ranks, he says, because there's supposedly nobody with sufficient appeal to younger voters.  And yet he insists that there's a massive problem that has to be addressed.  Is the subtext that Alba should just throw in the towel? If so, where would the members go?  Back to the SNP?  Would they even be allowed to re-join?  And even if they were, what would it achieve?

One thing I would say is that if we eventually get to a position where the SNP clearly renege on their promise of a 2023 referendum, and if there is consequently a large new wave of SNP parliamentarians and councillors who want to find a new political home, I don't think those people would find Alba inflexible or unimaginative if they have any genuine concerns about Alba that cause them to hesitate about making a straight switch to the party in its current form. There are all sorts of potential ways of squaring the circle, such as (to give just one example) loose pro-indy electoral alliances in which Alba could be a participant.  But let's cross that bridge when we come to it.  In the meantime, Alba is filling a crucial gap, and frankly if it didn't exist we'd have to invent it.

14 comments:

  1. Exactly. I would never rejoin the SNP. But we desperately need an alternative.

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  2. The important question is not whether Sturgeon will deliver Indyref2 but will she deliver independence. My answer to paraphrase Simon Cowell is a big fat no. My reason for coming to that conclusion is that she doesn't want independence.

    Blackford looked right at home today standing beside fellow Britnats Johnston and Starmer in the House of Lords.

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  3. One of the problems that Alba face is the Salmond factor. Alec is supposedly the most unpopular politician in Scotland and we really have to ask why? Why is the man who contributed massively to popularising the independence movement so hated? For taking the SNP from about 18 to 22 pc onto a solid 45pc and above this man should be admired for his achievements. So why is it he is so despised? Is it because he was found to be not guilty of a number of serious allegations? I don't think so. So why? Is it because of a campaign to discredit him? It certainly seems so. There seems to be a concerted effort by the media and several independence supporting bloggers and indeed a section of the independence community to keep the man in that position. So why? Is it because of social media and the pollution that comes from it? Possibly. Take Mike Small for example. When I read Mike Small's articles they sometimes make sense and have good points like his short piece All yellow:
    https://bellacaledonia.org.uk/2021/12/26/all-yellow/
    but in many articles he has a tendency to veer from supporting independence into the world of the political correct - and as is often the case with mouthpieces, the political correctness is their own particular brand NOT simply truth and social justice. For if the likes of Mike Small cannot accept the decision of our jury system then his version of social justice is nothing but smear with a tendency towards authoritarianism. This tendency to reset the underpinning the social contract of our society is seen on a regular basis btl on the Wee Ginger Dug website where the self proclaimed 'duggers' bark and snarl at anyone who disagrees with their position on Salmond and Sturgeon. This situation is not a problem for Alba - it is a problem that affects Alba - this is a problem for Scotland as a whole. We have to believe in the institutions of justice that we have as they are what underpins the contract between the individual and government. Presently we have a government that is considering getting rid of the jury system and a Lord Advocate who suggests that juries should be dispensed with in sexual assault cases as their are too many old ideas and attitudes held amongst the public from which juries are selected. We must not forget why the jury system came about - where judgement by peers meant that our actions were judged by people like ourselves NOT by people from the class above or those who don't understand our lives or these days by people who think they know better and are more up to date or 'hip hop and happenin'' as they used to say. Mike Small is a person who should know better. He has no excuse for his partiality against Alec Salmond. I am also disappointed in Paul Kavanagh who in the film London Calling addressed the issue of the character assassination of Salmond during the referendum - it is time he called his duggers to heel but he fails to do so on a regular basis feeding them Sturgeon and win-a-lot. As for the main stream media pundits we expect this sort of crap from them because not only are they biased, but they are not good journalists and are often very, very lazy bumptious people.

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  4. Alba has a credibility problem. I didn't even tell my wife I voted for them out of embarrassment. Take from that what you will.

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  5. I have only ever voted SNP (apart from once in the 70s when I voted for a Liberal because there was no SNP candidate). I am delighted that the SNP won a resounding victory again at last week's election. I am also thrilled that the Greens also do so well.
    However, I am very sorry that Alba did not do better. I was hoping for a good result, and hope that will come next time or near in the future.
    I support all pro-independence parties, and hope there will be more in the future.
    It would be a tragedy for this country if independence supports squandered their time sniping at each other, letting the British nationalists sit back and enjoy the pantomime.

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  6. Now the mad liar Irish ( I have a Protestant granny from N.Ireland) Skier has posted some utter pish on SGP and WGD over the years but he has topped them all with this comment:

    "Because the Unionist media is promoting Alba." that would be the Unionist media given millions by Sturgeon. That would be the Unionist media continually providing a platform for Sturgeon to stick the boot in to Alba. Anyone think a party of independence should be giving the Britnat media money? What do the WGD numpties think? - silence.

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    1. Some cracking convo on WGD these days:

      Hamster100: “Still according to Kelly if SGP if the snp don’t deliver a referendum next year members, MP’s, MSP’s will be welcomed.
      Now if a referendum is delivered what will ALBA do?”

      The Bathtub Admiral: “Well, what Kelly should be wondering is this: if Alba are so insignificant, why are so many people writing articles about them?”
      North Channel Slalom Asset: “Because the unionist media is promoting Alba.”

      Which may have helped inspire this later effort from Jumpin Jack Collatin:
      “stunning post, s_s.
      Alba want to rush us into another glorious failure…jobs for life in the Caledonian Liberation Front Fringe group is what they want; not independence.”

      DARVO on stilts.

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    2. On the other hand Hamster100 is an insult to the intelligence of the average hamster.

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  7. James, can you please take a forensic look at the Survation poll for Scotland in Union that claims 58% of Scots want to keep the UK nuclear deterrent?

    Strikes me that needs to be rebutted fast, in case it gains any media traction.

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  8. So the ALBA party hasn't made the big political breakthrough yet - what's the fuss? It's barely a year or two old and there will be a credibility issue to begin with. It will be incredibly difficult over the next few years, but it's not insurmountable. These things take much time and effort.There is a tipping point out there, just waiting quietly in the shadows and if/ when it is reached, all hell breaks loose. I think things will go the way they will go with or without Salmond and co. These guys will attract as much support as they repel. If the big beasts get fed up and leave, others will take their place. The issue is not personality, it's credibility - ask any of the recent "successful" parties - the first step up is the biggest. The fact that many SNP supporters are spending so much energy rubbishing ALBA indicates that it's having an effect already. If they felt that ALBA really was insignificant, they really wouldn't bother their backsides. Nerves are frayed just because of ALBA's existence. Sooner or later, someone is going to screw up big time, and then an opportunity for ALBA will appear. That's why it is important for ALBA to keep fighting. Just by existing, ALBA is effective. I understand that people are frustrated about independence, but with the SNP the way they are, there is nothing to loose by staying in the fight. If we give up then it really is over. No-one said it was going to be easy. Keep going ALBA - yer doing just fine.

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  9. Felix: With apologies, I can't publish your comment as it stands because the language you used might get us into murky legal waters. But this is the link you wanted to post - https://johnsmytheinvestigations.wordpress.com/2022/05/07/an-article-from-a-woman-who-enjoyed-working-with-alex-salmond/

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    1. Understood. Don't want to get you into troubl. Delete if you like.

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