I planned on writing this months ago but it was rightly pointed out to me that it would not have been helpful to the ALBA party during the council election campaign.
Though I wish I had spoken up sooner given the predicted disastrous results ALBA saw came to pass.
My point, months ago and still applies more so now, is if ALBA wants to be relevant and influential then it has to ditch being a political party and become a media and pressure group instead.
Given ALBA is doubling down on fighting the next General Election, I ask the leadership in good faith to reconsider. Due to being new, unknown to the majority of the population and having limited (but hostile) media exposure, the perception ALBA does get is hostility or irrelevance.
For sure ALBA again could spend its resources fighting that perception as a political party and fight the next general election.
Why waste more energy fighting in elections that we will not win?
Why fight futile battles against external forces we cannot control?
Being a political party would be fine if we had time to grow and already lived in an independent country but we don’t. ALBA instead needs to become a pressure group with one aim, getting Scottish independence.
Now that there will not be another election until 2024 (though I won’t hold my breath) and a supposed indyref in 2023, ALBA’s job should be holding The SNP’s feet to the fire and exposing the inevitable b.s excuses they will use, as we get closer to 2023.
ALBA’s main remit as a pressure group should be research, media, and campaigning with other indy groups. The first has already been done with Robin McAlpine and Stuart Campbell with the wee ALBA book, so instead of wasting money on candidates and campaigns in future elections, use more of that cash for collaborations and public engagement.
It will be collaborations with other indy organisations, communicating the wee ALBA book message to larger audiences that will influence more of the public than just working and talking to ourselves as an irrelevant party.
Let’s ask ourselves why would a normal member of the public go to an event hosted by an (unknown) political party that they are not a member of? Collaboration and ceasing being a party are therefore essential to ALBAs survival.
The second remit is Media.
We all know we have a dire media in Scotland, not only overtly biased in terms of the union but now happy to prop up a risk-averse (when it comes to indy) Scottish government which shoots itself in the foot with ludicrous policies, policy failures and virtue signalling while pushing independence further and further down the track.
Though we cannot control the media we can become the media. With Salmond no longer doing his RT show perhaps it is a chance to continue his show on a new platform.
In addition, there could be other podcasts on this new platform where leading people in Scotlands businesses, trade unions, health, mental health etc., are interviewed about the industry they represent, their challenges and what Scotland can do to improve them. It could become a platform similar to Spiked online. This media platform would be open and invite people who are pro, against and indifferent to independence so we are not just talking to ourselves. It would be a platform for debate and discussion.
In addition to podcasts, ALBA should have a daily blog or news site with daily pieces highlighting, the pace (if any) towards independence by the Scottish Government, it could be called “Indy watch”. It would be this site/blog that would hold the Scottish government’s feet to the fire about independence. If the one man Wings Over Scotland managed to be influential – think what ALBA could achieve with its much larger resources.
Younger audiences must be engaged too. ALBA ceasing being a party would achieve that aim better. Currently, the official ALBA Instagram is lying dormant and instead of filling it with posts about “why you should vote for this candidate?”
Why not use Instagram as a medium to engage audiences about why Scotland should be independent? Engaging memes, links to podcasts, video content etc. There are two advantages to this, first, it will be far more effective in engaging younger audiences and getting them on board, second by not using the platform as a political party, you are not as constrained by what you can say and do, and thus can be more creative.
If stale and safe worked, then Rogan would not be the number 1 podcaster, blogs more respected by millions than the legacy news media.
We don’t have time, with a UK Government hostile towards Scotland and planning on extracting more of our resources and with a self-harming chocolate fireguard of a Scottish government as “protection,” we need to decide the future direction of ALBA now.
Do we continue to fight elections and be constrained by the bureaucracy of being a party fighting many battles (many not of our choosing) and not being very influential and effective in the medium term?
Or do we become an unconstrained fighting machine as a pressure group focusing on one battle and one battle only: independence?
If ALBA continues with the former I am out, if instead, it chooses the latter, then I am in.