I suspect what’s really happening is a number of Nats who have grown unhappy with Sturgeon for her policies, her referendum strategy and for not being Alex Salmond are creating a vehicle which will propel their old hero back into the picture.
Expect to see haggard political cowboys “reluctantly” sign up to the new cause for one last shot. With a shrug of the shoulder and suck on the toothpick, they’ll tell Scotland that it’s the only way to go, and suggest Nicola Sturgeon should be grateful of their effort.
Is what this column said in July of last year. Now it’s happened. A launch zapped by technical glitches, a party name Salmond mispronounced and a data leak of new member contact details don’t make for a great start, but the Alba Party is here.
Salmond is joined by Kenny MacAskill and an MP last heard of for tweeting anti Semitic sentiments, Neale Harvey, all under the ruse that this is good for the Indy cause. It will create a “ supermajority”, says Salmond, for Indy. The SNP should be grateful, he suggests.
Dodgy internet platforms, suspect characters and mischief at its heart, but a necessary dose of laxative to the blocked body politic
Before I progress, a word on the party name. I refuse to shorten it to Alba, much as I would refuse to abbreviate an English language party name to ‘Scotland’. Gaelic is a native language, not a fashionable alternative to be used like a new font. Alba is the name of my country. No party gets to hijack that.
I also wrote “it can only end in disaster” last time. On that I have changed my mind.
The Alba Party may be run on dodgy internet platforms, by suspect characters and have mischief at its heart, but it’s a necessary dose of laxative to the blocked body politic.
Democracy and government are not in good shape. Academics of devolution often refer to Scotland’s “mature institutions’ as an asset. Right now they look geriatric. What devolving power has really shown is that Scotland needs structural reform.
What we have is a political culture which says everything is rosy when it evidently is not.
That is disconnect. It should be the big issue of Scottish politics. A question of – Look at the state we are in. It isn’t because Indy dominates. The SNP can’t reform Scotland when selling a message that its much better than the UK.
This has created a political vacuum, into which the Alba party falls.
Salmond’s motive maybe a triumphant return as the king across the water, but the effect is to create a real competition of ideas. Democracy is nothing without dissent, government useless without opposition.
Don’t take this as endorsement. It isn’t. Just as a positive sign of life.
The lazy SNP, stuck making promises it rarely keeps, thought it didn’t really have to try. Just hold back the Covid recovery billions and then splurge the cash on big ticket items. The only question in HQ was could they get an outright majority. And even if they failed the Greens could be relied on to make up the numbers.
That plan didn’t last the first day of campaigning. Nor should it. A movement that used to moan about how Labour could put up a donkey and get it elected had itself fallen in the stables. As if to demonstrate this it arranged a stunt whereby SNP MPs came out in support of the party, but you are unlikely to have ever heard of any of them.
As Labour’s Westminster donkeys once ruled then were slaughtered, here were the new nobodies of a political party that has lost its purpose.
Suddenly the allotment wing of the bourgeoise Nats realised they might have to actually do some politics
When the Alba Party launched the Greens said it wasn’t fair, or some such whine. A day later they bothered to criticise the SNP and even mentioned an environmental policy. Suddenly the allotment wing of the bourgeoise Nats realised they might have to actually do some politics.
The Alba party neutralise the classic SNP attack on its opponents of doing down Scotland. The two Nat parties have to fight on other ground. Some of this will be referendum strategy, but it will inevitably effect independence policies and social ones too. To stay in the headlines, they need to be provocative.
Seven weeks of campaign will draw out all manner of difference.
For Labour and Tories, that’s great. All they need to do is triangulate – get as close to all the SNP promises as possible, while relentlessly pointing to a divided Indy cause. A task that looked miserable a week ago suddenly appears quite fun. You could feel their energy in the leaders TV debate on Tuesday night.
I would be surprised if the Alba Party doesn’t get at least one seat. The argument that it takes nearly a million list votes to elect only four SNP candidates is simple and compelling. It makes perfect sense if you want an Indy referendum to vote SNP first, the Alba Party second.
It may still all end in disaster, but we won’t know for whom until after the vote. And that is how things should be.