This election campaign has been characterised by arguments between what we may now call the two main independence parties, SNP and Alba. Anyone mentioning the Greens in this context may be asked to undergo a brain scan to find out if there is one present. Of course, the disputes between independence supporters and the SNP predate the appearance of the Alba Party by several years and have been mainly concerned with the SNP’s apparent lack of progress on independence. Independence always seemed to have taken second place (or should that be third or fourth or ……. ) to Brexit, to gender issues and hate crimes, and now to Covid. There always seems to be something just that little bit more important than independence.
Of course, we know from a freedom of information request that the Scottish Government spent absolutely no time at all in the years between 2015-16 and 2018-19 on preparing the case for independence (that’s none, zero, zilch, sfa) and the very little time spent in the following year produced no tangible results. We also know that the ringfenced money collected from the two SNP IndyRef fundraisers, almost £600,000, has disappeared into the black hole of other spending (did we really pay to keep Alyn Smith out of jail?), though the party leaders are trying to pretend it still exists by reclassifying headquarters payroll spending as IndyRef preparation and therefore part of the £600,000. Wow, what a wheeze!
But believe it or not, there’s one thing the SNP and Alba do agree on. They both say Scotland’s recovery from Brexit and Covid-19 will not be successful unless organised and delivered from Scotland by the Scottish Government and not from London by the Tory UK Government. Unsurprisingly, both parties tell us that the UK Government may not have Scottish interests at the top of their priority list, even if they’re on the priority list at all. Who knew?
We all know that decisions taken by the Tory Government in London will be entirely for the benefit of London and the South East of England, with little regard for their impact on Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland (or even on other parts of England). Of course that’s why Tories in Scotland are not talking about policies other than no IndyRef (or no democracy as it should properly be called). The policies of the London Tory party are not something the Tories want to talk about in Scotland (the so-called Scottish Tory party is only a branch of the UK Tories and doesn’t have its own policies).
So as both parties agree about what is required, how it can only be achieved by being delivered from Scotland and that can only happen with independence, you would expect both parties to equally keen to start the process of delivering independence as soon as possible. But is that the case?
Alba have said that, if elected, they will immediately bring forward a motion to require the Scottish Government to begin negotiations with Westminster/Whitehall for Scottish independence. Alex Salmond has long believed that the Scottish Government headed by Nicola Sturgeon hasn’t shown the necessary urgency to begin independence discussions and one of Alba’s main aims is to inject that urgency into government thinking.
The SNP, or more particularly Nicola Sturgeon, has decided, if elected, to ignore independence for the first 100 days of of the parliament. It will be on the back burner until she decides that the impact of Covid-19 is over and that means it is unlikely that any serious time will be spent on thinking about independence before 2023 (and I mean thinking, not doing). Given that it is apparently important for recovery to be delivered by Scotland, does that mean she doesn’t believe the recovery will begin until the second half of the parliament? Or is this something else where rhetoric is not matched by actions? She has also said that if Alba bring forward the motion on independence negotiations, she will instruct SNP MSPs to vote against it. Is that the action of a party that wants independence above all else?
I’ve just watched the SNP’s Get Out the Vote rally. Astonishingly, it was all about independence and how so many things are only possible if Scotland is an independent country. Speaker after speaker made the same point. The only note of caution came at the very end when Nicola Sturgeon was interviewed and we learned that independence would only be possible after we are no longer suffering from the effects of the pandemic. Long grass, here we come?
A whole one hour devoted to telling us all about the goodies independence would bring, followed by one minute telling us it won’t happen soon. Oh, well!, such is Scottish politics, SNP style.
One last point. With the election just hours away, everyone is telling you how to vote, so I feel obliged to follow suit. If you want independence and you have a strong enough clothespeg, get it on your nose and vote SNP in the constituency, but be warned, you will need a very strong clothespeg (see below). If you don’t have a strong enough clothespeg, please don’t vote for a Unionist party for obvious reasons and please don’t vote Green, the only party arguably worse than the SNP in their desire to bin women’s rights and raise a whole generation of children destroyed by their dependence on drugs and surgery.
On the list, vote Alba in the hope they get a strong enough representation to make something happen about independence, because it may be our last chance. I firmly believe that the Tories will try to make independence impossible if we wait till the 2026 election, even if there’s a parliament to vote for by then.