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Alba, too wee to vote for?

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!

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West Lothian By-Election Results 2022 Results in

Labour have won the Ward 2 Broxburn, Uphall and Winchburgh by election today. Not untypical for a by election the turnout is down from 42.2% in May 2022 to 27.2% yesterday Dec 1st.

% of vote share changes from May 22 to Dec 22

Tory vote has collapsed so it’s likely they’d have lost their existing seat on the West Lothian Council if it had been their seat in the by-election.

SNP and Greens need to be careful of complacence as both have dropped vote share, while Labour retained their seat with an increased % of the vote, likely from a mix of Tories and SNP.

The only Independence supporting party to increase their vote share is Alba Party, albeit by small gain but moves Broxburn, Uphall and Winchburgh from #63 to #45 in Alba’s May 2022 candidate results list.

We also can’t assume all the Labour vote are not pro-independence, given figures summarised by The Ferret in 2020 to be on average from polls at 32% of Labour’s own membership as pro-Independence, with more at least neutral on the constitution.

This all highlights the complexity of the SNP leadership’s announced ‘plebiscite’ elections and why very careful thought is needed to fully understand HOW this approach will work.

Interestingly, unlike May 21, two independent candidates stood on Dec 1st and swept up almost 9% of the vote which shows that there are definitely electoral opportunities beyond party politics in local elections, especially in 4 member wards.

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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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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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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)