Three weeks ago when down in Castlemilk canvassing for Alba, candidate Kirsty Fraser I had a great conversation with a gentleman whose views I suspect might resonate with a worrying amount of current Scottish voters.
As I introduced myself, while out canvassing for the Alba candidate, he told me that he was an Independence supporter, had voted YES in 2014, had voted for the SNP in every election since but now he thought he would be voting Labour at this by-election.
I had a feeling I knew what reasons were coming but I asked him anyway, why he felt the need to change his vote from the SNP to Labour?
His reply was that he thought Labour were the fastest and only real chance of getting rid of the Tories as the SNP didn’t have the electoral numbers to make real change down in Westminster and crucially, Independence wasn’t something he could see happening in the near future.
The response I gave to his reply was one I’m sure all Independence parties will be using as it’s almost been gifted to us by the Labour party. I asked the gentleman “do you really believe SIR Keir Starmer as Prime Minister would be better than any of the recent Tory PMs or future contenders? Isn’t the clue in the name, SIR Keir of the LABOUR party?
A Labour Party leader who is against his own MPs standing on picket lines, is against the UK joining the EU Single Market and now appears to even be against immigration!
In my view he is also against democracy, as he joins his blue Tory friends in thinking he, who does not live in Scotland, can rule out a democratic referendum for the people here to determine their own future.”
This is where I saw the opportunity to open discussion in Castlemilk on the reason I was there. I asked if he had heard of the Alba Party and if he would consider giving us his vote, rather than Labour.
I took the chance to explain Alba’s position on Independence, our call for a Constitutional Convention and explained that we believed Independence could happen sooner rather than later with the right strategy and political commitment.
Then came the reply, one I have heard so often and one that prompted me to write this wee blog.
“I agree with what you’re saying but aren’t the Alba Party too small to get enough votes to win or make change?”
I tried to keep my reply short as we’d been chatting a while, I’m a big believer in short sound-bites being better than long essays on the doorstep as they stick in people’s heads when they comes to decide where to place their X at the ballot box.
So the reply I gave was,
“If we’d all thought this way in 1967, the great Winnie Ewing wouldn’t have won her seat in that historic by-election. If we’d thought that way between 2012 and 2014, Independence would still be sitting at 20-30% support.
For real change, not just replacing a blue Tory with a red Tory but removing them all, we need voters to have the courage and confidence shown in 1967 and 2014.
If everyone thinks that there’s no point in voting for Alba because it won’t change anything, then it’s likely nothings will change BUT if enough people find the courage to vote for Alba Party then change will come.
It might not be in this seat but if we increase the vote here we do two things. Firstly we give voter confidence for future votes and secondly, if we keep upping our vote share, we start pressuring other Independence parties to actually take action on Independence because if our vote share goes up they’ll need to be better than us to win these votes back.
So please don’t buy into ‘a vote for Alba is a wasted vote’ we don’t have to win the seats but if your vote for Alba pushes action and helps the cause of Independence then we are all winners.
In my discussion in Castlemilk it was evident in both what the gentleman was saying and maybe more, in how he was saying it, with a number of sighs in between sentences and a disappointed, exhausted tone in his voice, that he still wanted and believed in Independence but his belief and confidence in it happening soon was lacking.
The two points made in the conversation about Alba Party being too small and Independence not happening, leaving Labour his only options, are opinions that I’ve been hearing more frequently recently.
I would say this to anyone who believes either of these statements,
“Every party is small until it grows.”
“SNP had 6 Mp’s in 2014”
“The summer of Independence campaign grew this to 56 seats, showing that parties can grow and things change very quickly in politics.”
A vote for Alba is by no means a wasted vote, the more support Alba wins, the more pressure is mounted on Scottish and UK Governments to act on Independence.
So to anyone thinking of voting Labour as a better option than the Torys, I say this,
“Labour aren’t the answer. They made their ‘Better Together bed’ in 2014, and shared it with the Tories. They are a British state backed party that will not act in the best interest of the Scottish people.
A Sir Keir Starmer led Labour government would be no different, maybe worse, than the disaster of Blair and Brown.
Going forward I believe the SNP are the main vehicle that can get us our Independence, however their driver (the leadership) seem to have got lost behind the wheel.
If Alba keep raising their share of votes in by-elections and opinion polls it will act as a flashing light on the leaderships dashboard and push for action to be taken.
If action isn’t taken then I am afraid either the driver of the vehicle will need to be changed, or a new vehicle will be needed to complete the journey.
Thankfully Alba are ready to be that new vehicle IF it is required and we even have a roadmap in ‘The Wee Alba Book’.
So if you’re an Independence supporter reading this and you find yourself agreeing, remember you don’t have to be a member of a party to vote for them, campaign for them or discuss them with your friends.
If you believe Alba can bring benefit and progress the cause of Independence then come and join our campaign and find out more.
Our next event is a National Assembly on Independence strategies to plot a way forward.
This is open to members of all parties and none to allow for the necessary wider discussion.
Feel free to join and have your voice and opinions heard.
To find out more and register your attendance, sign up now.
Strategically, working together we can achieve Independence sooner you might think!