Saturday, October 28, 2023

The game-changer: Alba goes to Holyrood

When I was a student, I remember reading a book about the (short) history of the SDP.  It intriguingly stated that the only Tory MP to defect to the party had crossed the floor "literally", which I took to mean that he had reached the end of a speech, announced he was defecting, and theatrically walked across to the opposite side of the Commons chamber and sat down with his new colleagues.  I'm not sure whether that actually happened, and even if it did it's effectively lost to posterity, because there were no TV cameras allowed in those days.  So it was quite a privilege to actually be in the hall today for something equally theatrical - Alex Salmond announcing at the end of his leader's speech that Ash Regan had just joined Alba, and Ms Regan then immediately appearing on the platform to rapturous applause.  If the BBC and STV weren't there to film such a moment of high drama, they have no-one but themselves to blame - although I'm sure Alba will be happy to share their own footage.

So what effect will this have?  Above all else, credibility.  Alba are now in the Scottish Parliament, which has become a six-party chamber.  That will be reflected at least to some extent in media reporting from Holyrood, with Alba's voice being heard occasionally.  Arguably this represents the same degree of credibility boost, albeit of a different type, that Alba spurned by not putting up a big name candidate in the Rutherglen by-election and seeking an electoral breakthrough.  Some may even suggest that the whole reason for the Rutherglen decision was that the leadership privately knew Ms Regan's defection was coming and that they didn't want to take any risks with its potential impact - although ultimately defections can only take you so far, and true credibility will only flow from success at the ballot box.

Alba have also just bought themselves some time.  Although they'll obviously do their best to hold Neale Hanvey's and Kenny MacAskill's seats, those are really difficult constituencies to defend - that would have been true for the SNP as much as it's true for Alba.  There was a big danger that Alba would cease to have any elected representation at all after next year's general election, but that will no longer be the case, because Ash Regan is in place until 2026.

There will be opportunities going forward for the new Alba MSP to harry the First Minister on lack of progress towards independence, and on independence strategy, at FMQs.  (She won't have automatic leader's questions due to Alba only having one seat, so she'll have to wait her turn, but the chances will come up occasionally.)  That would have been one of the big prizes if Alba had won seats in 2021, so it's good that it's happening belatedly.

Paul Hutcheon affected weariness a few hours ago and suggested the SNP wouldn't be that bothered about losing Ash Regan.  If he really believes that, he's a fool.  This is a potential 'genie out of the bottle' moment - there was a good reason why the SNP were so euphoric about shutting Alba out completely in 2021.  Now that Alba have their foot in the door of Holyrood, it becomes much easier to imagine them staying there.

The big question now is how many of the thousands of SNP members who voted for Ash Regan in the leadership election in March will follow her across to Alba.  I must admit I'm a bit conflicted about that, because it was only with the second preferences of those people that Kate Forbes came so close to stopping Yousaf.  If the SNP are ever to be reclaimed from the ruling clique, the votes of the more radical members will probably be needed.  But I suppose every member will just have to make an individual decision about whether the SNP can be saved and is worth saving, or whether the greater impact can be made by joining Alba.





15 comments:

  1. Was there for that but had to leave before the afternoon session. What a moment. She made the point that she would probably be told she should resign. Her response was that her constituents elected her to pursue Independence and that was exacty what she was doing in leaving the SNP and joining Alba.

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  2. I wish her well. She showed commitment, guts and common sense during the woeful SNP leadership campaign which has subsequently produced just more waffle than before on independence.
    I wish that I still had sufficent political energy to do something similar.

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  3. WGD numpties are raging about Regan. Dr Jim even takes a pop at you James and Alba. He posts you are saying Alba is not a Democratic Party unlike the SNP 不不不不不. Instead of going on about Gaza/Musk/Whatsapp perhaps they could explain how this farcical independence plan of the new leader, the Sturgeon puppet, Yousaf will work and why any independence supporter should believe a word the SNP say about Scottish independence after all the lies and broken promises of the Sturgeon years. The Sturgeon/Russell plan consisted of 11 points - so how many points are there in the Yousaf plan. Go on Jimbo or Skier - explain it. I've also noticed that Skier's Ski slope graph has been missing for some time now. Is that because the Mickey Mouse graph says we are independent now. What a bunch of clowns on WGD.

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    1. Skier logic:
      "If Ash Regan steps down and triggers a by-election, then the SNP will have lost a principled fighter for the cause. If she doesn’t, but forces herself like on Scots like a Tory, then we can all be happy that the party’s MSPs are now more materially principled and dedicated to the cause than they were before as a result of having Regan removed from their ranks."

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    2. Jimbo is still ranging. He claims that Regan and Alba people are gangsters but provides no evidence for his smear.

      Dr Jim says:- " ......Regan, who with her fellow Alba gangsters could crawl no lower under a fat snake's belly "

      Unlike the SNP people conspiring to pervert the course of justice, committing perjury in the High court and being investigated for dodgy finances. But according to Jimbo Alba are the gangsters. My advice to Jimbo is watch your blood pressure your brain is clearly malfunctioning.

      Perhaps the Alba party theme tune should be Gangstas Paradise.

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  4. And the usual sad comments being made by the usual sad people. They've been making them for months anyway. She rebelled and voted against the GRRB and that was her dots crossed. Wanting to make the oldest profession illegal for the punter wasn't her best move all the same.

    The SNP have lost someone with principles and a mind of their own.

    Again. And Yousaf far too quick to put the boot in, it'll be Mike Russell next week Don't these politicians understand the meaning of the word "dignity"?

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  5. Headline from the previous herald:

    "Turncoat MSP Ash Regan previously ruled out defecting to Alba"

    and a comment below the line:

    "Well done Herald, you've managed to unite both us "Yoons" and the "Snats" in condemnation, not just once but for the second time in weeks, for your use of pejorative language in the term turncoat. Maybes we'll put you forward for a Nobel Peace Prize next year!"

    Indeed.

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  6. James, I am one of the SNP members who gave Ash my vote, I am seriously thinking of following her to Alba, but what is holding me back, are the extreme vocal minority of Alba supporters. Alba needs more moderate members like myself, who hold Independence as the first consideration, then lets discuss everything else, not drive them away before we achieve our common goal.

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    1. Yousaf by insulting Regan as no great loss is also insulting all the SNP party members who voted for her to be leader - 11% if I remember correctly - not a wise move you would have thought but if you do not care about having party members who actually want independence then it is a smart move.

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  7. Yousaf says Regan is no great loss. Well yes if you are a Unionist/Devolutionist party you would be more than happy to see someone who put independence at the front of their campaign for the SNP leadership departing. Yousaf on the other hand rarely mentioned independence, never mind a plan, during his initial hustings and it was only as he got a bit concerned that Forbes might beat him started to mention it in his later hustings. Like his puppet master Yousaf is no independence leader.

    WGD numpties are having a raging day. They are also raging about Elon Musk calling Yousaf a racist. I have no idea whether or not Yousaf is a racist but his infamous " WHITE " speech should have marked him out as someone who should not be leading any political party. A speech lacking in class and dignity and bordering on a hate speech. Using the FMs residence as a mosque on his first day in office marked his card as someone lacking in class as well. Oh and of course his Hate Crime bill should also have excluded him from being a leader but the numpties voted for a fellow numpty.

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  8. As a lifelong unionist, I fear Ash Regan's decision is the defining moment that makes independence inevitable.
    I hope I'm wrong on this, but feel there’s every chance it won't end well for unionists.

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    1. As a fellow unionist, I unfortunately share your view.

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  9. " If the SNP are ever to be reclaimed from the ruling clique, the votes of the more radical members will probably be needed."

    It's not impossible that the SNP reverts back to being a party of independence but in my opinion it is highly improbable.

    It sums up what the SNP has been turned into by Sturgeon's gang when the members who actually just want Scottish independence are the radical members.

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