by Rab Bruce’s Spider
So the Alba Party suffered the same fate as most new Parties and failed to attract nearly enough votes to have any impact on the newly elected Parliament. At the same time, the SNP 1 & 2 strategy could also be described as a failure in that it produced a predictable result. With such an impressive performance in the Constituencies, most List votes for the SNP were ineffective. This, as I’ve been saying on social media for what seems an age, has allowed the Tories to claim that the lack of a majority means there is no mandate for IndyRef2. Failure to accomplish the near-impossible is being hailed as absolute failure, with many in the media seeming to go along with this, either out of ignorance of how the Scottish Parliamentary election process works, or simply to reinforce the Tory message.
As for the pro-Indy vote, the Greens did well, but that is, predictably, being ignored by the Tories who always equate demand for independence with the SNP alone.
No doubt this argument will be played out for a long time yet, but what I really want to see now is an end to the bickering in the Yes community. Supporters of the SNP and Alba still seem intent on deriding each other. Terms like "Toxic", "transphobes", or "useful idiots" are helping nobody. And if Alba really are going to stay around, then both Parties are going to need to at the very least tolerate each other.
The first point I’d like to make is that it is illogical to expect the SNP not to promote the "SNP 1 & 2" line. They are a political Party, and so will push for voters to support them. What did disappoint me is that an awful lot of Scots do not appear to understand how the AMS List vote works, although there may well be other reasons why Alba failed so miserably. The Party themselves have put forward several reasons, some of which may be accurate, and some of which sound a bit like clutching at straws. From the few discussions I have had with fellow Yessers, I think a significant reason was the perception of Alex Salmond as an opportunistic glory-seeker. For others, it seems the relentless smear campaigns against him have succeeded in turning many people who used to fervently back him now turn against him.
Some months ago, I expressed doubts as to whether Parties like the ISP or AFI could succeed. I liked the principle of using the voting system to maximise the number of pro-Indy MSPs, but I felt that such Parties really needed some major political figures as leaders. Alba got Alex Salmond, but that may have backfired on them. Whether he really is yesterday’s man remains to be seen.
As for the votes, I had a long conversation with members of my family on the evening before polls opened. I had to explain how the D’Honte system worked. Some grasped the concept quickly, others seemed bemused but took my word for the impact of success in Constituency votes. By the end of our chat, some had decided to vote Alba, others to stick with SNP for the List vote, and all had valid reasons for their decisions.
One told me that a vote for Alba was predicated on the assumption that the SNP would definitely win a majority of the Constituency seats.
"If that doesn’t happen, I’d never forgive myself for not voting for the SNP on the List," was their reason for voting SNP 1 &2.
Now, everyone is entitled to vote for whoever they like, and I have never felt the need to justify my voting choices. On this occasion, however, I do feel I need to explain why I voted SNP in the Constituency ballot and alba on the List.
The first vote should need no explanation. I am pro-Indy, and there was only 1 pro-Indy candidate on the ballot paper. Nuff said.
As for the List, I was primarily motivated by the chance to elect more pro-Indy MSPs. In my Region, the SNP haven’t won any List seats in the past few elections, so I went on the basis that would continue, and that my vote for them on the List would be wasted. I decided I might as well waste it on Alba on the chance that other voters would make the same choice. As it turned out, my first idea was spot on as the SNP won no List seats in my Region, but I was wrong on the second part.
I did, though, have other reasons for voting Alba. When I looked at their policies, they matched my aspirations more closely than some of the SNP’s. For example, I fundamentally disagree with the Growth Commission’s Austerity-laden plans. Anyone who thinks there is no magic money tree should read Richard Murphy’s e-book, "Money for Nothing and My Tweets for Free". With its own central Bank, Scotland need not be bound by Tory policies on public spending.
Secondly, I firmly believe we need to adopt our own currency as soon as possible. This is essential if we are to completely free ourselves from the influence of the Bank of England, and also if we wish to re-join the EU.
I appreciate that these are issues for after we become a normal country, but I hope they will soon become burning topics of conversation because I don’t think we can wait too long before we must hold IndyRef2. The Tories are going to forge ahead with the Power Grab, and I’m pretty sure that Baroness Colonel Davidson will soon be in charge of the Scottish Office with plans to neuter Holyrood as quickly as possible. Again, Alba’s policy on this chimed more with me than the SNP’s slow and cautious approach. Indeed, I was appalled to hear one of the new SNP MSPs declare that he would be happy to wait another ten years.
As for the not inconsequential matter of Covid and how we recover our economy, I would argue that the best way to do that is to ensure we have all the economic power in our own hands by becoming a normal, self-governing country.
So my decision was based on policies, not personalities. Clearly, I am in a very small minority, but it is now up to the SNP to deliver what Scotland needs above all else. I sincerely hope they do, and I’ll back them all the way in efforts to win IndyRef2, but I do think this is their last chance. If Westminster has not abolished or completely neutered the Scottish Parliament by the time of our next election, and if the SNP have had no success in holding IndyRef2, I suspect more voters will be looking for an alternative pro-Indy Party.
Finally, I’d better address the issue which seems to preoccupy a great many people. It should probably form a separate blog of its own, but I can’t ignore it any longer. It is, of course, GRA reform.
I was very disappointed to see a couple of newly elected MSPs proclaim that people did not vote for Alba because of that Party’s transphobia. That, I think, is a gross misrepresentation of people’s voting decisions.
As a heterosexual male, it’s not a topic I have delved into too deeply, but I do have a lot of female relatives. When I mentioned GRA reform to them and asked them what they thought, most shrugged it off. It simply didn’t register with them. That attitude may appal some people, but it is easy to think that Twitter is representative of the wider community – and it’s clearly not in my circle of friends and family.
As for the allegations of transphobia themselves, I find this unhelpful at best. I am all for equality for everyone (especially as I am a member of a minority group myself which is constantly battling for equal opportunities). However, I have strong reservations about any system which does not have safeguards built in, and I think we need to have calm, sensible discussions about the best way to ensure that everyone’s rights are upheld. The simple fact is that there are some very unpleasant, predatory people in our society. These people will always look for a way to take advantage of any opportunity which might allow them to take advantage of vulnerable people. We have seen this in the Catholic Church, in the coaching of boys’ football teams, and sometimes in Care Home environments where helpless residents have been abused by people who are supposed to be looking after them. I therefore believe we need to have some safeguards before we allow people into what should be safe environments simply because they declare their right to be there. I don’t believe that wanting proper debate on this topic is transphobic, nor do I believe this makes me a transphobe. I would like trans people to feel safe, but I want everyone to be safe, so any reform of the GRA must surely ensure equality for all.
Wherever you stand on these issues, the fact is that we are where we are. The SNP will, quite rightly, form the next Government, and they face some difficult problems, not least of which will be dealing with a Westminster Government which has shown itself to be corrupt, greedy , incompetent and, above all, totally untrustworthy. Nicola Sturgeon is an excellent politician, and she’s going to need every ounce of her ability to bring us through the next few years. For that reason alone, she needs everyone to back her now, even those of us who believed Alba were a better choice on the List. So let’s stop the bickering and name-calling. Our opponents here are the Tories and their Labour and Lib Dem allies. They are the ones we need to keep challenging. Call out their lies and misinformation, and always put Scotland first.