Monthly Archives: May 2022


Alex Salmond alba party launch video grab

So it was not to be the much trumpeted and long anticipated breakthrough it was rather once again electoral ignominy. Absolutely certain that the long forecast ‘Alba Rising’ would finally materialise they instead finished up losing all their councillors whilst registering a derisory 0.7% of the vote in the 100 or so wards they contested across Scotland. 

A year on and nothing much has changed for Alba. They remain unloved by the Scottish public and unable to breakout of their Twitter redoubt. If success was to be measured by anger and rage they would undoubtedly be the most successful party this side of a block button. Unfortunately, for them, the real world is a vastly different place from their intemperate Twitter shadowlands.  

After such an overwhelming electoral humiliation you would think that a period of quiet introspection would ensue. Most parties following such a humbling would be looking at where it all went wrong, questioning their leadership, reassessing their approach and appeal. Not Alba. For Alba this defeat was nothing to do with them, it was all the fault of the wicked SNP.

In Alba’s small entitled world they simply expect SNP voters to give them their support. These will be the same SNP supporters that Alba activists regularly berate in the most disgusting ways imaginable. SNP members who they variously refer to as ‘traitors, ‘sell outs’ or just plain stupid are all of a sudden to get into line and vote in the Alba candidate. There are many ways to appeal to an electoral base but constantly deriding and insulting the very people you hope to vote for you is perhaps the most unusual and intriguing strategy ever deployed. Until Alba stop this hate and take action against the most disgusting of the vitriol they will never come close to being accepted by the mainstream SNP or independence supporting voter.

But there is so much more that led to this result being quite so catastrophic. In fact looking at Alba it is difficult to imagine a party that is almost perfectly designed to remain unloved by the electorate.

For starters they are led by Scotland’s most unpopular political leader. Alex Salmond has satisfaction ratings below that of even Boris Johnson and is generally regarded as engaged in nothing other than a political vendetta. I know that Alba supporters don’t like to hear this but there is no disguising or sugar coating just how unpopular Alex is. Alba activists forget that the Scottish people actually followed his trial. Where it is manifestly true he was cleared of criminal offences he has not even started to demonstrate any contrition for the inappropriate behaviour acknowledged by his legal team.

But worse than that is the truly absurd narrative that Alba has developed to excuse away the Alex problem. Alba members will tell anybody who is prepared to listen that not only is Alex a wronged innocent man but he has been the victim of a massive conspiracy. To them the Scottish Government, Police Scotland, the Crown Prosecution Service, the UK state and most of Civic Scotland conspired to have him jailed, for some reason. They tell us this in all candour not for a minute realising just how ridiculous and absurd they appear. If political parties could be sectioned Alba would currently be under the supervision of Nurse Ratched from One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s nest. 

And then we get on to the other issues. Other than independence ‘as a matter of urgency’ opposing the modest reforms in the Gender Recognition Act is the only other policy that gets them out of bed in the morning. The major problem for Alba is that the Scottish people simply do not share their curious obsession with trans people. Absolutely consumed with this they rage against ‘the woke’ and bedevil organisations engaged in the delivery of equalities like the worst sort of social conservatives. For people not immediately alienated and appalled at this cynical misrepresentation of a complex wedge issue there is only bewilderment at the sheer energy deployed on an issue that so few people actually care about.

There is of course more, much more. I could go into Alba executive members promoting Russian propaganda, their problems with up to date sex education, the disgusting aspersions cast on the First Minister, but I’ll take them all as read. If you were to design a political party less likely to meet the values of the socially liberal and inclusive independence movement you couldn’t do any worse than Alba.

And we saw from the results of the council elections exactly what the Scottish people want. They actually do want independence parties to work together for the national cause and that is why the Greens were so handsomely rewarded for their constructive role in Government. The rise of the Greens shows that another independence supporting party is possible. That there is room for diversity in independence politics.

But Alba remain defiant learning absolutely nothing from this catastrophic defeat. Their one last remaining and desperate hope is that indy supporters may see them as an alternative home if an independence referendum is not pursued as promised by the SNP. They sit there like political vultures hoping to swoop down if somehow we give up on our intentions. Well, I’ve got news for them, that is not going to happen. We were elected to pursue an independence referendum and that is exactly what we are going to do. 

They have also made some noises that they may contest any early General Election if indeed one is called. Apparently, they’re queuing up to take me on. If they did this their true colours would become apparent for all independence supporters to see. There is no way that they could even hope to hold on to a deposit far less win a first past the post constituency contest. But if things tighten up they could end up being the enablers of unionist MPs in marginal constituencies. 

So the hard question for them. What do they most want? To advance the cause of independence or damage the SNP? Looking at the sad remains of this party today I simply don’t know what the answer to that is


Once again Westminster is embroiled in another bout of ‘something has to be done-ism’ after the latest incidences of sexist and misogynistic behaviour. First we had the bizarre claim that Labour’s Deputy Leader, Angela Rayner, was trying to distract Boris Johnson with her legs before we quickly moved on to a Conservative MP having to resign for watching porn on his phone in the House of Commons chamber. On top of that we were reminded that 56 MPs are currently being investigated for inappropriate behaviour. We can only conclude that something is distinctly rotten in the state of Westminster.

Five years ago, following the ‘me too’ movement, and after the latest glut of revelations about MPs behaviour I was asked to serve on the working group of the Independence Complaints and Grievance Scheme. We designed a report which looked at the issues and put in place a confidential hotline with independent process to properly examine complaints. The fact that so many complaints are now being properly investigated at least shows that part of the system has the confidence of staff. What we have not done is make any progress in tackling the central culture of Westminster.

Westminster is soaked in centuries of paternalism, misogyny and weird medieval power relationships. Practically every statue and painting is of a man and we still have ‘Lords’ and ‘Honourable Members’ just to ensure we know our place and who to defer to. There are cheap price late night bars to accommodate the anti family friendly hours just to ensure that the toxic mix is complete. Misogyny and patriarchy simply oozes out the walls of these corridors of power.

The Speaker and other senior members have again called for more reforms such as Members staff to be employed centrally but this is only tinkering with a problem that is now baked in.

We need family friendly hours, remote participation for those with caring responsibilities and child care duties. We need zero tolerance of anything approaching sexist or inappropriate behaviour. We need to look at the ridiculous hierarchy of Lords, Honourables and ‘Strangers’ and the impression that gives in working arrangements. 

Up to fourteen billion pounds is about to be spent on refurbishing the Houses of Parliament, yes you heard that correctly ‘up to fourteen billion pounds’! The plan is to gut the place and then put it all back together again only with bells and whistles. We argued that Westminster should be sold off and a new building created to support a modern democracy. This would be much cheaper and more useful to democratic practice. It, of course, was not even given the time of day. 

So this endless loop of awful things happening in Westminster, scandals emerging, calls for something to be done, back to these awful things happening again, will go on, and on.