Alex Salmond will make a manifesto pledge to begin independence negotiations in the first week of the new Scottish Parliament in a bid to win over “impatient” SNP and Greens voters.
The former first minister will put independence “front and centre” of his pitch to the electorate as he launches the Alba manifesto on Wednesday.
Using the slogan ‘Independence is not an alternative to recovery. It is essential to real recovery’, the party hopes its position will “attract the support of many in Scotland impatient at the stance of the SNP and the Greens who have both set out positions that would kick the independence timetable down the road”.
Mr Salmond will say that “ if Scotland wants to have all the powers required to recover from the coronavirus in the way we choose, we simply can’t wait several years for a referendum and several more for independence”.
He will argue “that would mean that the crucial decisions that need to be made right now will be made by Boris Johnson, not the people of Scotland”.
Alba will make the case that money spent on renewing Trident would be better spent on infrastructure projects in Scotland and that efforts to mobilise capital to aid Scotland’s recovery will be “stymied by Westminster”.
They will claim a so-called supermajority of pro-independence members of the Scottish Parliament will lead to a “super recovery” and that this would “hold Boris Johnson’s feet to the fire and progress our independence with the urgency that is required”.
Expert policy papers
The manifesto will also make recommendations the party says will reduce inequality and aid recovery from the coronavirus pandemic “based on expert policy papers independently produced by world-leading figures on an advisory basis”.
The party has confirmed contributions have been made from professor Sir Harry Burns, Scotland’s former chief medical officer, and professor Lindsay Paterson, an expert in education policy at Edinburgh University.
Contributions from professor Alf Baird, prominent in Scotland’s maritime and shipbuilding sectors, and Rhona Hotchkiss, former Governor of Cornton Vale, have also been included following their consideration at previous Alba party conferences.
In advance of the manifesto launch, Alba has already pledged that every young person under the age of 18 will be entitled to free access to sports facilities, something the party says will be a “step-change in helping improve health outcomes in Scotland’s deprived communities as well as removing the financial barrier in access to sport”.
The party also hopes to help young people from poorer backgrounds stay in education by doubling and reforming the Educational Maintenance Allowance.
It believes the current rules financially punish young people who are unable to achieve 100% attendance and should be scrapped.
Mr Salmond is expected to say that coronavirus has had a “disproportionate negative impact on Scottish society, with the impact of the virus being greater felt the more likely people are to live in deprivation”.
Alba would introduce an annual payment of £500 to every household that receives full council tax reduction to take “meaningful and targeted action to start reducing the unacceptable level of inequality that exists in Scotland as a result of continued attacks by the UK Government on the welfare state”.