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Independence - Past & Future

'To put it bluntly - as far as independence is concerned, the SNP is the past; Alba is the future.'

Wednesday, November 29, 2023
5 mins

INDEPENDENCE – PAST AND FUTURE

by Campbell Martin

I recently had the privilege of speaking with members of the Alba Party's International Branch, via Zoom. It was great to speak with people so committed to Scotland's independence, and determined to deliver. 

Those Alba activists were, like me, former members and activists in the Scottish National Party (SNP). In fact, many of today's Alba activists are the people who built the SNP from a talking-shop on the fringes of Scottish politics to a party of government. The fact they now find themselves, not only outside the SNP but building a new pro-independence party, represents just how massively the SNP has lost the trust of its activists and the voting public.

This fact was brought home to me a few days ago when I bumped into a man I knew from my SNP days. For the record, I was expelled by the party in 2004 – the story is covered in my autobiography, 'Was It Something I Said?'. The conversation I had with the man I met in the car-park of a Largs supermarket was brief – it was raining at the time – but he wanted to tell me that he had recently left the SNP. 

The Largs man had been one of the hardest workers  for the party in the Cunninghame North constituency. He told me, “The final straw was the appointment of Murray Foote as chief-executive of the party”.

In the rain, I quickly explained what happened the last time the SNP appointed a Labour defector to a senior position within the party. This is one of the subjects covered in my book 'OUTSPOKEN – Part Two'. The book – and 'OUTSPOKEN – Part One' – tells the story of the eventful last ten-years in Scottish and UK politics, from the campaign for the Independence Referendum, to the outcome of the referendum, to the SNP 2015 landslide and right up to 2023. In articles written at the time, I give my view on what has happened to our country. As the opinions are mine, the books also reflect my journey from a position where I still voted SNP, and asked others to vote SNP, to the present day, where I make clear I can no longer vote for the party.

No-one 'owns' Independence

When I recently spoke with members of the Alba Party, I suggested that 'Scotland United' was the way forward for the independence movement – one pro-independence candidate in each constituency, around whom the pro-independence electorate could unite. This tactic could result in a large pro-independence majority, and could deliver what should be an undeniable mandate for Scotland to retake its political independence.

Since I spoke to the Alba Party meeting, events have shifted and my opinion has changed.

I still think 'Scotland United' is a good idea but, in reality, it won't work. To be honest, I should have known it wouldn't work. I was a member of the Scottish National Party for 27-years before being expelled. From my experience in the party, I know the SNP is precious about independence. Back then it wasn't prepared to share it with anyone and, today, that remains the case.

The first time I encountered the SNP's refusal to countenance sharing the cause of independence was when the Scottish Socialist Party (SSP) began to emerge on the political scene in the late 1990s. Within the SNP at that time, people angrily argued that the SSP was 'just using independence to steal SNP votes'. I tried to point out that there were socialists in Scotland who would never dream of voting for the SNP, adding that if those socialists could be persuaded to support independence through voting for the SSP, then surely that was a good thing and a positive contribution to the independence movement. The SNP would have none of it. Independence belonged to the SNP and they were not prepared to share it. Sadly, the same applies today. 

We have all seen social media posts from some senior members of the SNP, attacking the Alba Party in general and Alex Salmond in particular. There have also been Alba members attacking the SNP, but there is a significant difference between the motivation for the respective posts. 

The Alba attacks are because today's SNP has sold-out on the cause of independence. Today's SNP is a 'devolutionist' party, content to manage the devolved Scottish Government within the so-called United Kingdom. Today's SNP is not going to deliver independence. The attacks from members of the Alba Party are largely motivated in trying to save the SNP from itself and return it to fighting for independence. The 'Scotland United' initiative emerged from the Alba Party: it was an attempt, once again, to bring the SNP back to the independence cause and to unite disparate strands of the independence movement.

In contrast, SNP attacks on the Alba Party show the SNP still retains its arrogant position from when the SSP first emerged – independence belongs to the SNP and the party is not prepared to share it. How dare the Alba Party seek independence votes, those belong to the SNP, even though today's SNP doesn't any longer actually seek to deliver independence.

The long haul...

When I spoke with the International Branch of the Alba Party, I did suggest 'Scotland United' should be given a chance, but I also argued that it is my belief there would come a time when the Alba Party had to take-off the gloves and actually challenge the SNP. Alba Party members largely built the SNP, and if, in order to deliver independence for Scotland, we have to go back to square-one and start all over again, then those Alba Party members are the people to do it.

I realise that starting again means that I, personally, might not see independence. It could be a longer journey than we would like.

Starting again means having to persuade the public that independence does not belong to the SNP.

Starting again means showing why independence is the best option for Scotland, and that the SNP's failure to deliver for Scotland resulted from the failure of that particular party.

Independence was never the problem, what has failed Scotland is an SNP that abandoned independence.

To put it bluntly, as far as independence is concerned, the SNP is the past; Alba is the future.

Again, for the record, I should make clear that I am not a member of any political party. I am an individual who has always believed in independence, nothing less. I will vote for candidates who actually believe in delivering independence for Scotland, and that is no longer the SNP.

NOTES

Campbell Martin's three books are available through the links, below.

'Was It Something I Said?'

https://rb.gy/x8l5ac

'Outspoken' Part 1

https://rb.gy/svbjlu

'Outspoken' Part 2

https://rb.gy/tsqsj9

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