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All hail the winners but then…

‘SNP held Glasgow’ was trumpeted after the local council count by a Scottish media with very little to work with from a pretty non eventful election.

The ‘hold’ was true but the ‘grip’ is fragile. The previous shockwave win of SNP from the long incumbent Labour stronghold in 2017 was seen by many as a seismic democratic change for Scotland’s largest city. The reality though from pals from my home City and visits to friends and family is that not much changed and many of the changes are not largely positive.

This is disappointing as Scotland’s ‘Dear Green Place’ has so much going for it in both its architecture, green spaces, vibrant culture and of course it’s indomitable people.

The fragility of last week’s results is that a slim majority leaves open the very real possibility of losing control from by-elections, where those is power tend to be at a disadvantage when constituents are angry. The machinations of forming administrations is not always straightforward but it can be telling as to who is willing to work with who and why!

A fragile majority on any administration puts pressure on those who were elected to demonstrably deliver! Given the need for serious work from our local authorities at anytime never mind a cost of living crisis, stability and focus is key.

The last Glasgow SNP administration was beset with early bad press from the Lady Provosts’s spending, leading to her stepping down from role, to a series of resignations from SNP councillors, claiming issues with group leader and overall discipline within the group.

One week on from the election we saw front page of Glasgow Evening times with a splash story on a recently re-elected SNP councillor who they have now ‘fact checked’ statements he made at recent election hustings as evidently ‘untrue’. This relates to excuses he made when attempting to explain his 84th of 85 position on council meeting attendance – not ideal when seeking re-election. He was re-elected, so, where does that leave his voters? 

It’s interesting this story broke a week after his constituents cast their votes so it’s a moot point as to whether it would have made any impact if voters had been made aware before the vote but it does raise a wider, serious issue. 

How do voters know what’s true? I’ll explore this in next part of this blog:  How do voters know what’s true?

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Articles

In defence of democracy

Let us begin by looking at the what the election for local government was, how the results stacked up, and how some people have chosen to respond – and ultimately why our defence of democracy is needed.

To quote the Electoral Reform Society

“STV (single transferable vote) is a preferential voting system which produces results that are approximately proportional to votes cast.”

https://www.electoral-reform.org.uk/latest-news-and-research/publications/the-power-of-preferences-stv-in-scottish-local-elections/#sub-section-3

Wikipedia offers this as an explainer, this is what will show if you search what is an STV election is.

Single transferable vote (STV) is a multi-winner ranked-choice voting method, an electoral system in which voters rank candidates according to their preferences, with their single vote transferred to other candidates based on these rankings if their preferred candidate is eliminated, so that their vote still counts.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Single_transferable_vote

What we establish here – is that coming ‘first’ or being ‘largest party’ isn’t the aim of the system.

The aim is to get any many people elected that share the views of the electorate.

The STV voting system is the preferred voting system of the party of government in Scotland, which at this time is the SNP.

So it surprised us today to see a Scottish Government minister say ‘a sad day for democracy’, following a council administration forming.

https://twitter.com/MairiMcAllan/status/1526875308586041344

Let’s take a look at how the result stacked up, thanks to the incredible work of BallotBox Scotland and its license we can bring you this visual

https://ballotbox.scot/le22/south-lanarkshire

The ‘issue’ seems to be the pro-Indy councillors seemed to get 28 councillors, the pro-Union councillors got 34 – and subsequently have chosen to form an administration.

This is exactly what STV is designed to do. Force people to seek coalition and understanding from likeminded others.

The SNP even decided to put forward itself for administration in minority.

67% of the vote, the majority, went to non SNP councillors, and thus democracy in action – the elected representatives rejected the SNP minority, favouring a broader represented coalition.

Much hysteria follows by politically engaged people, who know and understand voting systems and result sets compounded by the realities of coalitions. Which makes it all the more ridiculous.

This is incredible. One government minister called it a ‘sad day for democracy’. Another government minister decries the result as a ‘disgrace’.

While its always a bit horrible to see your political opponents form administration and work together against you. It is neither disgraceful or sad for democracy. This is what is supposed to happen.

Stories like this are occurring all over Scotland as administrations form and individual supporters or activists may be angry and vent.

However government ministers must hold themselves to a higher standard. We have a proportional representation system in Scotland and it has delivered its verdict. To suggest otherwise in an attempt to discredit the democratic system we sit on is callous, naive and dangerous.

We must have respect for our political opponents and the mandate they carry from their electorate. We must defend the democratic systems and institutions we are fortunate to have. You cannot rail against Scotland having governments in Westminster it did not elect if you utterly disrespect the result of the democratic elections held under proportional systems in our own councils.

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Articles

ALBA must become a pressure group if it is to thrive

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.

But why?

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.

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Vive Updates

A wild Thistle appears

In an increasingly digital world, where are the affordable tools to help build strong political parties? If democracy depends on choice and representation – why are there almost no tools on the shelf to help establish parties?

Each party requires a plethora of tools to try and build its campaign engine – many cost eye watering amounts individually but are required to build party machines that win.

If you’re a new party – there genuinely isn’t much available. If you have low income or subscription value – there potentially is nothing.

ViveEcosse is about trying to kick forward progress in Scottish Politics. We’ve already created the open-source-esque Indy X, and we’re supporting many other groups bring their own events to life.

Our second project? Owing to the technical backgrounds of two ViveEcosse founders, is to create Thistle.

Thistle is a Scottish Political Party management and campaign engine.

The Vive Ecosse Team is developing Thistle due to the lack of serious alternatives able to fit the requirement of a modern Scottish Political Party. 

That all sounds kind of technical, so here’s a brief idea of what it does.

  • Party Management: Membership (multiple levels), Supporters (multiple levels), Gamification, Email, Support Desk
  • Party Policy: Policy submission, Policy curation, Policy development , Policy Index
  • Party Discipline: Reporting, Cautions, Warnings, Suspension, Exclusion, Expulsion, Appeals, Member handbook
  • Party Internal Elections: Term Management, Candidate biography, Vote Capture, Results & Reporting
  • VoterID: Support + Opposition Tracking, Questions, Canvassing, Data Capture, Data reporting, Self Identification, Targeting
  • Get Out The Vote: Reporting, Feedback 
  • Electoral Tracking: Poll Tracking, Party Candidate Tracking, Opposition Candidate Tracking 
  • Campaign Team Management: Todo lists, Contact lists, Chat, Notes, HQ Updates, Teams
  • Press Release Management: PR drafting / proofing, PR Tracking, PR crisis management, Document repository
  • Fundraising: Crowdfunding, Donations, Funding drives, Ticketed events, Lottery, 50:50 clubs

We previously built the Party Policy and Campaign Team Management modules for another purpose, but due to never being used, we have them ready to go for our initial release.

Next week we hope to bring the development roadmap out and have some stuff to showcase. Thistle has its own page. If you’re interested in following along into the details.

If you have any ideas that aren’t mentioned above – that you think ought to be in the system – pop them in the comments and lets see what we can make among ourselves.

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Articles

The Problem With Winning…

A week, they say is a long time in politics so where are we a week on from Scottish Local Council Elections?

Election agents will have filed their papers, campaign teams packed away polling boards and recycled (hopefully not too many) unused leaflets. Celebrations and commiseration, both genuine and not so much, will have largely concluded. Gravy buses parked up until next time the carnival is in town and lights have been switched off at campaign hubs.

….but what of the candidates? Those who lost may be reflecting on what went wrong and what they’ve learned from the experience.

Would they stand again? What would they do differently? Is politics for them? Are they in the right party if a paid, elected role is their goal?

Yet they have the luxury of some time to reflect, replan, rebuild or even realign politically. Those elected however are straight to work, under a spotlight of expectation to deliver.

Now, realistically, for a local election most voters haven’t read much from candidates and even less from national or local manifestos but that doesn’t mean constituents don’t have demands. Life is really tough out there for many folk.

The newly elected/re-elected councillors may soon find that gravy isn’t always slick, rich and shiny, it can also be dull, grainy and lumpy.

So whether a winning candidate stood to:

  • show willing, on the promise of more lucrative future opportunities within their party
  • to make up numbers for their party from loyalty, even if being a councillor isn’t really for them
  • personal political profile
  • nice wee earner, where attending 1 meeting every 6 months is the minimum expectation…

OR

  • a genuine desire to work hard to make the lives of those in their communities better, by listening to them and working collegiately across council to be ambitious and drive real change

…the constituents will be expecting the latter so you better get your collective sleeves rolled up councillors!

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Articles

How to talk so the electorate will listen and listen so the electorate will vote

As the Politerati and their entourages pick over the celebrations and commiserations of last week’s Scottish Local elections, it’s a good time for those of us who value retrospectives to think about what have we actually learned from the electorate. Given the drastic changes and events since the 2017 election, incredibly not much changed electorally but why no shockwave results in Scotland?

Why do parties with policies that seem to resonate with public opinion, not translate into votes? Why isn’t voter registration & turnout at record highs? What are the barriers to overcome to get people to listen to policies that could improve their lives? How long can even ‘successful’ election results be relied on, just by being the least worst option?

This all made me think of a book that did the rounds among mum friends at Toddlers group years ago, when we tried to makes sense of navigating communication with the wee people in our charge. Mealtimes were particularly challenging with visual indicators of dissatisfaction. Thrown plates of food, tears and clamped shut jaws were common. Literal ‘fingers in ears’ to pleas to eat the healthy vegetables. Too often roundly rejected, even with the best aeroplane noises of encouragement deployed to ‘land the broccoli’.

What were we missing? We turned to this book, ‘How to talk so kids will listen and listen so kids will talk’.

The book’s advice is really pretty straightforward, it’s all about communication. To get them to listen to you, you first have to listen to them. Just building trust though strong two way communication: simple.

Worth exploring to connect with voters?

Given voters are just older versions of these wee broccoli refusing people, could this also the simple ‘trick’ to get voters to sit at our table, engage and respond positively? Forget the plastic gimmicky election tricks and just really listen first before making noises at them?

Let’s start with with what we know about tested election campaign tools;

“Eat the broccoli!!”

…is the equivalent of passive broadcasting of party message via unsolicited leafleting.

It makes a demonstrably negligible difference to land a message and is the worst return on investment to raise awareness to translate to votes. It also has negative consequences of association to junk mail/spam and can build a barrier to engagement. The external factor is, your carefully crafted message on shiny A5 card will be lost in the noise of a dozen other party leaflets behind doors, and compared, if the bundle is not taken as a job lot straight to the recycle bin.

Why do parties do it then? Honestly, I think it’s just habit, “it’s what we do and have always done” emanates from campaign HQs!

It’s something to do at election time and doing something is always better than doing nothing, right?

Hmm that depends on who’s perspective you look at it from. On the positive side, it may make members feel good to be involved and may even help build a team in the short term but when results don’t reflect the financial and physical efforts, it can quickly flip to a post election slump in mood, drop in active engagement or even cancelled membership.

“What is it about the broccoli?”

What does work then and where should effort & resources be better spent?

Well, first step is to take your party member hat off for a minute and just think as a voter. What would convince you to read leaflets or listen to a campaigner? Again, those of us who’ve ‘convinced on the doors’ have a common approach; listen, observe, target message and mostly, show you can be trusted by following up!

“OK, let’s talk about these vegetables”

Door knocking is good but largely used only during elections to understand where a party’s vote already is, to ensure they ‘Get Out To Vote’ on Election Day. Sadly to canvas like a Yodel Driver on Redbull is a missed opportunity and even GOTV is a lot of effort for voters that if ‘sticky’ probably will vote for you without much prompting. If you’re making the effort to spend time in communities, why not optimise the opportunity?

Community gatherings, village/town hall meetings on local and national topics, street stalls, rallies, anywhere really that you can engage directly with people and hear what they have to say, should be grabbed with both hands! You can then understand first hand how your message is landing!

Why make the effort for direct communication?

⁃   Makes it a personal conversation, harder to ‘bin’
⁃   Interactive and shows effort to go to the voter, ‘taking yourself to their level’ to engage
⁃   Opportunity to deploy all our human communication tools; eye contact, intonation, body language etc., to land a message.
⁃   Observation, who is this voter, what are they likely to engage best on? Allows targeted messages on: health, pensions, education etc. 
⁃   Opportunity to target messaging collateral by having a selection of easy read topic focused leaflet/books to go over together and leave with them to embed message
⁃   Build the team by ‘signing up’ any supporters who want to get more involved 
⁃   Establish local contacts for GOTV to delegate to and speed up and expand this election date effort beyond stable vote
⁃   Critical source of intel on what the electorate actually want from you and HOW they want to be engaged with helps shape palatable policies people will be enthusiastic to vote for

Broccoli today vs life long broccoli fan

We seem to focus every election on the same hamster wheel campaigning ‘strategy’ with ever decreasing enthusiasm from members to ‘deliver it’ to an ever resigned electorate. Apathy should be a serious concern for all political parties!

Some voters, so put off by previous broken promises, will put their fingers in their ears and never eat broccoli again. Some will ‘hold their nose’ as they grudgingly consume blanched, bland over boiled, even reheated broccoli. Some eat it out of habit or even duty, while quietly questioning its actual nutritional value and mumbling “if things don’t change, this time is definitely my last bite” until the next helping is served up!

How about we ditch the reheated mush and go wild? Learn what voters tastes really are and make our broccoli, be it tender stem, purple sprouting or just green, the star ingredient in a flavour explosion! Present the electorate with menus that appeal to even to the most discerning of palates and that people just can’t get enough of!

THEN, get the campaign broadcasting going, on all channels with a high quality, simple message that voters know there’s substance behind and quality ingredients. Playback that you’ve listened to them and created something special, both FOR them and critically, WITH them!

It’s (past) time for politics to move from a transactional “just eat the broccoli (again)”’ to a long term, mutually trusted relationship with the electorate. Micro campaigning is not easy, it’s hard work but it is worth it, if we’re to build a stable electoral base that’s understood and that understands us.

To create a new, thriving independent Scotland we need a store cupboard of ingredients and array of innovative skills!

How adaptable political parties will be to change, only time will tell. If they do look for inspiration, they’d be wise look to the grassroots Masterchefs. Not only are they multi skilled and creative, unencumbered as they largely are by personal political ambition, but they essentially don’t pack up the kitchen at end of election cycles!

Let’s not allow old school passive political campaigning to try to turn our creative activists into broccoli boilers, let’s instead inspire a nation of chefs to satisfy an electorate of real connoisseurs!

Bon appetite Scotland!

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Articles

Genesis

“The origin or coming into being of something

~ the genesis of a new political movement” 

What turns ALBA into a campaign force to be reckoned with? What transforms it into a daily news item? What is the way forward? What gets us independence?

The way I see it, the following routes emerge:

1 – Indyref 2023 is not delivered and SNP declines.

Nicola Sturgeon does not deliver an independence referendum in 2023. Following the failure there will be a flock to ALBA following the decline of the SNP. 

2 – Indyref 2023 is not delivered and a reverse Winnie Ewing. 

In the dissatisfaction of not getting an Indyref in 2023 that the SNP will be punished in the first by-election after, by an ALBA candidate. 

3 – ALBA continues establishing itself as is.

ALBA continues to contest as many elections as it can, from local government, Westminster and Holyrood including occasional by-elections to continue to establish itself as a better potential government.

4 – ALBA commits for the regional list only.

ALBA focuses its entire effort on its policy agenda and on the supermajority strategy. Aiming to be the independence guarantor in 2026. 

Important note

If the SNP do not deliver an independence referendum in 2023, which is likely to be the case, and more eloquently explained by Robin McAlpine. 

Robin McAlpine: Am I missing something?

There is only one moment the ALBA party can change that – Holyrood 2026. That’s it. 

Options 1, 2, 3 present an increased risk for losing independence representatives (on paper). 

Options 1, 2, 3 present a dependency requirement, things must happen and in turn create a chain reaction. 

Remember in probability – simplicity always wins. Chain reactions are not guaranteed. 

We’re left with this;

ALBA can guarantee not removing a single councillor, MP or MSP – other than the 2 SNP MSPs on the list, while adding 33 ALBA. 

97 nationalist MSPs to 32 unionists.

ALBA can guarantee an immediate referendum. 

ALBA can guarantee invoking the status of the supermajority defined in the Scotland Act.

2026 is the only point ALBA can deliver. Our best chance to do so, is to remove all risk, and in doing so, create our own genesis

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Articles

How did the 111 ALBA candidates do?

I’ve created a list sorting the ALBA candidates by first preference votes as a percentage, to see where was strongest to begin the analysis of where things went well.

RankCouncilWardFirst Pref Vote
1Glasgow City CouncilWard 8 Southside Central8.07%
2Comhairle nan Eilean SiarWard 2 Uibhist a Deas Èirisgeigh agus Beinn na Faoghla7.04%
3North Lanarkshire CouncilWard 10 – Coatbridge West6.52%
4Aberdeenshire CouncilWard 3 – Fraserburgh and District5.83%
5North Lanarkshire CouncilWard 16 – Mossend and Holytown5.22%
6Dundee City CouncilWard 5 – Maryfield5.08%
7North Lanarkshire CouncilWard 18 – Motherwell North5.04%
8Falkirk CouncilWard 6 – Falkirk North4.55%
9Fife CouncilWard 5 – Rosyth3.96%
10Aberdeen City CouncilKincorth/Nigg/Cove Ward3.84%
11Inverclyde CouncilWard 3 – Inverclyde Central3.82%
12The Highland CouncilEilean a’ Cheò3.68%
13Dundee City CouncilWard 7 – East End3.67%
14Glasgow City CouncilWard 6 Pollokshields3.54%
15The Highland CouncilCulloden and Ardersier3.34%
16Dundee City CouncilWard 2 – Lochee3.15%
17Argyll & Bute CouncilWard 5 – Oban North and Lorn2.86%
18Dundee City CouncilWard 6 – North East2.69%
19Inverclyde CouncilWard 5 – Inverclyde West2.64%
20East Ayrshire CouncilWard 2 – Kilmarnock North2.55%
21Aberdeen City CouncilTillydrone/Seaton/Old Aberdeen Ward2.52%
22Dundee City CouncilWard 4 – Coldside2.52%
23North Lanarkshire CouncilWard 9 – Airdrie Central2.50%
24North Lanarkshire CouncilWard 7 – Coatbridge North2.48%
25Aberdeen City CouncilNorthfield/Mastrick North Ward2.48%
26Aberdeen City CouncilTorry/Ferryhill Ward2.46%
27Aberdeenshire CouncilWard 4 – Central Buchan2.38%
28Argyll & Bute CouncilWard 8 – Isle of Bute2.36%
29Aberdeenshire CouncilWard 5 – Peterhead North and Rattray2.36%
30Angus CouncilWard 5 – Carnoustie and District2.28%
31North Lanarkshire CouncilWard 15 – Bellshill2.25%
32Glasgow City CouncilWard 4 Cardonald2.20%
33Fife CouncilWard 15 – Glenrothes Central & Thornton2.17%
34Perth & Kinross CouncilWard 11 – Perth City North2.17%
35Clackmannanshire CouncilWard 2 Clackmannanshire North2.09%
36Glasgow City CouncilWard 5 Govan2.04%
37Glasgow City CouncilWard 9 Calton1.98%
38The City of Edinburgh CouncilWard 7 – Sighthill/Gorgie1.96%
39Fife CouncilWard 10 – Kirkcaldy North1.95%
40Glasgow City CouncilWard 2 Newlands/Auldburn1.94%
41East Ayrshire CouncilWard 5 – Kilmarnock South1.88%
42The Highland CouncilInverness South1.88%
43South Lanarkshire CouncilWard 14 – Cambuslang East1.84%
44Aberdeenshire CouncilWard 1 – Banff and District1.84%
45The City of Edinburgh CouncilWard 16 – Liberton/Gilmerton1.79%
46Dundee City CouncilWard 1 – Strathmartine1.76%
47Aberdeenshire CouncilWard 19 – Mearns1.71%
48Aberdeenshire CouncilWard 10 – West Garioch1.68%
49Glasgow City CouncilWard 16 Canal1.66%
50Glasgow City CouncilWard 17 Springburn/Robroyston1.65%
51Glasgow City CouncilWard 12 Victoria Park1.64%
52South Ayrshire CouncilWard 3 – Ayr North1.61%
53Fife CouncilWard 17 – Tay Bridgehead1.59%
54The City of Edinburgh CouncilWard 13 – Leith1.53%
55Scottish Borders CouncilWard 9 – Jedburgh & District1.51%
56East Dunbartonshire CouncilWard 4 – Bishopbriggs North & Campsie1.50%
57The Highland CouncilNairn and Cawdor1.49%
58South Ayrshire CouncilWard 6 – Kyle1.47%
59Glasgow City CouncilWard 18 East Centre1.45%
60East Dunbartonshire CouncilWard 5 – Bishopbriggs South1.43%
61Fife CouncilWard 1 – West Fife & Coastal Villages1.39%
62Inverclyde CouncilWard 4 – Inverclyde North1.39%
63West Lothian CouncilWard 2 – Broxburn, Uphall and Winchburgh1.39%
64West Lothian CouncilWard 6 – Fauldhouse and the Breich Valley1.38%
65Angus CouncilWard 6 – Arbroath West, Letham and Friockheim1.32%
66Fife CouncilWard 4 – Dunfermline South1.32%
67Midlothian CouncilWard 3 – Dalkeith1.30%
68Falkirk CouncilWard 8 – Lower Braes1.30%
69Fife CouncilWard 22 – Buckhaven Methil & Wemyss Villages1.29%
70Fife CouncilWard 9 – Burntisland Kinghorn & Western Kirkcaldy1.29%
71Fife CouncilWard 7 – Cowdenbeath1.28%
72East Renfrewshire CouncilWard 3 – Giffnock and Thornliebank1.27%
73The City of Edinburgh CouncilWard 17 – Portobello/Craigmillar1.27%
74South Lanarkshire CouncilWard 7 – East Kilbride Central South1.27%
75Glasgow City CouncilWard 1 Linn1.27%
76East Renfrewshire CouncilWard 5 – Newton Mearns South and Eaglesham1.25%
77The City of Edinburgh CouncilWard 12 – Leith Walk1.23%
78East Ayrshire CouncilWard 3 – Kilmarnock West and Crosshouse1.21%
79Midlothian CouncilWard 4 – Midlothian West1.20%
80The City of Edinburgh CouncilWard 11 – City Centre1.19%
81Dumfries & Galloway CouncilWard 11 – Annandale North1.18%
82Fife CouncilWard 3 – Dunfermline Central1.18%
83Inverclyde CouncilWard 2 – Inverclyde East Central1.18%
84South Ayrshire CouncilWard 2 – Prestwick1.17%
85South Ayrshire CouncilWard 8 – Girvan and South Carrick1.16%
86Clackmannanshire CouncilWard 4 Clackmannanshire South1.16%
87Falkirk CouncilWard 9 – Upper Braes1.15%
88East Lothian CouncilWard 1 – Musselburgh1.14%
89Dundee City CouncilWard 3 – West End1.12%
90Renfrewshire CouncilWard 4 – Paisley Northwest1.11%
91Glasgow City CouncilWard 7 Langside1.10%
92East Renfrewshire CouncilWard 1 – Barrhead, Liboside and Uplawmoor1.10%
93South Lanarkshire CouncilWard 5 – Avondale and Stonehouse1.09%
94East Lothian CouncilWard 5 – Haddington and Lammermuir1.09%
95South Lanarkshire CouncilWard 6 – East Kilbride South1.08%
96Glasgow City CouncilWard 3 Greater Pollok1.04%
97East Lothian CouncilWard 2 – Preston, Seton and Gosford1.03%
98Dundee City CouncilWard 8 – The Ferry1.02%
99North Ayrshire CouncilWard 01 – North Coast1.02%
100The City of Edinburgh CouncilWard 10 – Morningside0.97%
101Fife CouncilWard 16 – Howe Of Fife & Tay Coast0.96%
102Angus CouncilWard 4 – Monifieth and Sidlaw0.93%
103Perth & Kinross CouncilWard 12 – Perth City Centre0.91%
104East Renfrewshire CouncilWard 2 – Newton Mearns North and Neilston0.91%
105West Lothian CouncilWard 8 – Bathgate0.90%
106Midlothian CouncilWard 1 – Penicuik0.89%
107Midlothian CouncilWard 6 – Midlothian South0.89%
108Stirling CouncilWard 3 – Dunblane and Bridge of Allan0.86%
109East Lothian CouncilWard 3 – Tranent, Wallyford and Macmerry0.85%
110Aberdeenshire CouncilWard 13 – Westhill and District0.84%
111Glasgow City CouncilWard 23 Partick East/Kelvindale0.79%

*Linn By-Election (17th November 2022) – 1.8% (45th position)

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Road to Independence and the vehicles we need to arrive safely

Why the SNP and ALBA need each other, and the road to independence now. 

In 2015 things were good in the Scottish Independence movement. After the crushing disappointment of coming tantalisingly close to achieving our goal, undaunted, we regrouped. There was a U.K. General election looming in May 2015 giving the perfect outlet to show David Cameron what we thought of his ‘morning after EVEL’, and to shout loud & clear that Scotland’s constitutional conversation wasn’t over. An army of grassroots activists, many who’d never been politically engaged before 2013/14, let alone in a political party before, flocked in their droves to the party that delivered them the democratic key to independence on Sept 18th 2014!

The SNP almost overnight had more members than it knew how to handle, the party was firing off glitter cannons in self gratification – it didn’t have a plan, it didn’t really have a purpose, but people were angry, they were determined to finish the task and the SNP would come to enjoy that energy. 

Nicola Sturgeon had the “signature” tour, and Alex Salmond had a book tour, an Edinburgh fringe show and once a year they’d share stage at conference and both would receive copious rounds of applause. Endless rapture. In some ways – the success was always down to both. 

2015 was the beginning of the SNP becoming the Ford Motor Company of political parties. Over the next few elections, and subsequent gains, it would offer up councillors as its hatchbacks, MSPs as the work trucks, MPs as the vans and MEPs as some glittery form of mustangs dealing with the lofty heights of European politics. 

It all seemed very good. Not everyone wants a Ford but enough do that they’re popular, sell well and have an offering at every level. 

That’s the problem though, isn’t it? 

The SNP became lots of things to lots of people. It wanted to showcase good government. Good government is hard. Good government is very very hard on declining resource and funding. Good government is very very very hard when your Union wants you gone. Still it plods on. Every session harder than the last. 

The SNP Motor Company though produces good vehicles for this though, they handle the random potholes, small puddles and winding roads. They navigate council tax increases, they move spending about, they market the paltry amounts better and better. After-all as all car companies know, the magic is in the marketing. 

There’s a huge problem though – the better you get at handling the ‘normal’ day to day politic, the further you wander from aspirational politic, the harder it becomes to be radical. 

You see the SNP is now so widely varied in type and spectrum, that it struggles to reinvent itself, and do so in a believable manner. 

In 8 years – the SNP still cannot answer the currency question, they cannot answer the questions on the monarchy, they cannot answer the European issue. In doing so, you lose some of your support. 

In the extreme you lose the government. Scotland has so much oil and gas it could make Dubai look cheap. European leaders are no longer looking for the cheapest oil and gas – they are looking for strong democratic western nations to fill the barrels. 

The war in Ukraine has shown that Russian and Middle Eastern energy economic support is dangerous to the very fundamentals of our humanity. 

However Scotland can’t follow Norway and dig deep and fast because the Greens would have a fit and that would be the end of the government. 

Never mind we have the solution to environmental problems in the form of wind. Where we can fix the immediate energy security concerns with oil/gas and then double dip, getting paid for having the resources and unique opportunity to fix the dependence on fossil fuels. 

Finally we have the fringe elements in the party who seem hell bent on unpopular policy such as the GRA. This terrifies the MSP contingent in the SNP, who many do not support the government policy but fear expulsion or reprisal by the party “youth”. 

I served my time in the SNP as organiser to Shirley-Anne Somerville, and while SAS is the minister responsible for getting this over the line, she made clear on multiple occasions to some of us that this was a personal ask of the first minister, to her loyal friend. If the ballot was anonymous and reprisal free – I doubt the minister in charge of delivering it, wouldn’t even vote for it. 

Someone at SNP HQ however has cracked how to handle the YSI – they’ve employed them all and had another bunch elected. Guess what every elected member/staffer in the SNP agrees to do? Follow the party whip and line unquestioningly. It now seems quite clever the bill was delayed again to after the local authority elections. 

The YSI enjoyed enacting this policy on everyone else – they’re about to find out how it feels when they’re reminded even though the policy doesn’t meet their expectations, they have to go sell it or jump off the “gravy bus”. 

I digress but to summarise;

The SNP are paralysed to being “good” for fear of losing support of fringe elements, government partners with blinkers, and losing electoral support from folks who want no rocking of no boats. 

Calm, stable and reliably steady cars are the order of the SNP political day. 

Now why does anyone need ALBA? 

Well for as useful as the Ford Motor Company is at producing lots of different stable and steady vehicles, from driving to hard work, and some flash with the mustang. None of their vehicles are for the adventure and the brave moments that sometimes come up. 

For that you need a different car brand, one that sees adventure as its purpose, one that isn’t afraid of never being on the road and instead being in the lakes, the rivers, the puddles, the rocks, the beaches. We need a vehicle that climbs cliffs, hits dead ends, needs its winch, one that’s designed to roll and be in a mess all the time. 

We need a political Jeep. 

You see Jeep doesn’t sell cars, or vans or work trucks. It has no need. When you put the key in the ignition it’s surrounded by the words “to the adventure”. It’s not shackled to the mundane day to day – because it never wants that, it’s never used for that, it’s not designed for that. 

That’s ALBA. 

ALBA in year with a global pandemic didn’t need to deal with the health crisis, it didn’t need to deal with the shackles of governing and having to behave. Instead it spent the year having an adventure. 

The adventure led us to energy security, a new currency, a republic, an answer to the European question and single market. We got a poverty plan, we got a pension plan, we got defence of woman’s rights and a citizens assembly on how to progress the debate on GRA. 

Speak to the SNP activists, they actually enjoy this, in fact many are absolutely jealous that ALBA talk about this stuff and have it as policy. 

Lots in the SNP have salivated at The Common Weals policy deck, ALBA walked in and scooped a lot of it up. Commissioned the author of most of it, Robin McAlpine, and then put it out in a format that the whole movement agrees is the best way to present these things to the electorate. 

Had the SNP commissioned the same book in yellow, then last week it would have been deposited through doors in Scotland without an issue. Notice curiously the powers that be in the SNP have very little to say in retort to that solid policy piece? 

ALBA has its own problems though. 

Alex Salmond needs moved on up from Party Leader to Honorary President. I doubt he actually wants to be an elected member, he has dutifully served his time and at the age of 67 deserves the chance to contribute on a less than daily schedule that being an elected party leader demands. 

I am biased I admit – he’s been my political hero from my political entry point, but his thoughtful strategy and insight would be better on a less daily rigours of politics scale. It would help to assuage the barrage of SNP narrative that he’s on a personal vendetta against Nicola Sturgeon. 

There are plenty capable lieutenants in the party that could lead it. Tasmina Ahmed-Sheikh has the wit, knowledge and acumen to lead the party to success. A proven Salmond loyalist who won’t repeat the mistakes of the SNP. 

ALBA is also very young and has to go through a maturity stage where the extreme elements are handled rather than ignored. Having every single member that’s being kicked out or singled out of the SNP can make for some excruciating facepalming. The SNP should realise though – ALBA has done them a favour since they’ve all flocked out of the SNP. The social media training and codes of conduct go some way, and should be continued vibrantly. 

The party also needs to realise the market doesn’t want or need two mainline independence parties chasing daily government. The unionists know this only too well having suffered it since 2007. 

The only aim of ALBA should be the regional list vote in the Holyrood elections. The kingmakers, the supermajority, the guarantors of independence progress. There was only 6 weeks in the previous Holyrood election and the message didn’t hit home. It will be a very different story if that was the next 4 years campaigning on repeat. 

The SNP cannot endorse or support ALBA for the fear of losing support. It cannot support ALBA councillors or MPs because it will come at the detriment of its own. I’m not surprised the SNP don’t allow a shared platform. 

ALBA could easily commit to only contesting the list and in doing so protect every councillor and MP the SNP have – remove any fear of losing hard fought and won dominance, while in return providing something incredible.

The prize of ALBA to a considered SNP would be a supermajority, no need to debate with the tories about basic human decency – instead you could win the prize of debating how quick or how large the next referendum is. Which royal you call the last. Which wind super farm you build next. No hostages in this government. 

The ALBA party could fling more and more radical plans into the mix. The SNP can claim electorally that they were dragged to these positions by ALBA and avoid punishment by the strong and stable no movement in any direction electorate. 

ALBA would be elected on votes that are otherwise wasted or pay the hostage taking Greens on the list anyway. 

As sure as the sun will set, the unionists will call foul at this trick of voting prowess – however we will not heed the calls of democracy denying charlatans. 

We need the Fords for the daily routine and we need the Jeep for the adventure.

Together they cover our good government and our radical ambition. Ironically, the SNP needs an ALBA to provide the off road experience needed to chart a new path and discover new ground to convince the people to get behind the opportunity to build a new independent Scotland, unless, they themselves adapt.

There is much talk now comparing Scotland with Ireland so inevitably the SNP’s approach to delivering independence is under the spotlight. Many across the independence movement are taking inspiration from an newly energised Ireland.

Some in SNP starting to discuss the need to select a stateswoman, in the leadership election after Nicola Sturgeon, as we need such a figure to reunite the movement, with an amnesty for all, to re-support a party of government with open arms to all those with a passion for a peaceful, democratic and orderly delivery of an new exciting Independent Scotland from a new more radical and policy focused SNP bolstered by ALBA.

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 2022: setting up a sitter for Scotland 🏴󠁧󠁢󠁳󠁣󠁴󠁿

Scotland’s Future History 2022

U.K. Gov, after a disastrous response to the Covid19 pandemic, topping the death and long term impact charts, compounded with imposition of chaos from an ideological, ill prepared Brexit, filled U.K. media channels with scandal after scandal! 

As confidence in U.K. Gov crumbled yet UK Tories upped the rhetoric (even on their “lightweight” colleagues from Scotland) how did our Scottish Gov respond?

The people returned the party formed to deliver Indy (SNP) at every election since 2014, so the peoples’ intention is clear!

So what intention did Scotland’s Parliamentarians both in Holyrood & Westminster show? 

Many words were shared across media outlets but to what end? Scotland hasn’t voted for a Tory Gov for two generations so we’re already convinced that their interests are not in our interests.

So where was the strategic focus for using this culmination of anger at the state of a U.K. the 🌎 knows was broken? Was was focus to set a clear, compelling prospectus for our future: 🏴󠁧󠁢󠁳󠁣󠁴󠁿 determined by no one but the folk who live here?

You can’t demonstrate self determination by just reaction to those who oppose you! 

To breath the necessary energy into the people of 🏴󠁧󠁢󠁳󠁣󠁴󠁿 (battered by political failure) needed decisive action to empower them and bring everyone to the table to shape a vision that will see 🏴󠁧󠁢󠁳󠁣󠁴󠁿 thrive for us all!

That takes self confidence, determination & intent. Scot Gov were empowered to lead 🏴󠁧󠁢󠁳󠁣󠁴󠁿 by example!

The independence ball ⚽️ they ducked & dived to avoid for 7 years, when they happy to keep their power in the backroom, harrumphing while cutting half time🍊, was now firmly in their field of play: would they play it?

When we look back on 2022, will it be the turning point in 🏴󠁧󠁢󠁳󠁣󠁴󠁿 finally securing our independence 🏆 or will Scot Gov fail to capture the nation’s sense of urgency and desire for real change and miss a politically strategic opportunity sitter in front of an open 🥅 while cutting 🍊