Two  Outstanding reasons for an Alba List Vote

Jim Sillars

Political logic and a parliament for economic reconstruction

The arithmetic is incontestable.  SNP List votes are truly wasted ones. I know, I have been at counts and seen them pile up and up, without winning a single seat. A List vote for Alba cannot be a wasted one, because it will count, and will return MSPs committed to independence.  

However logical that reasoning may be, it is not the only one for voting Alba.  We are electing a parliament on 6 May for the next five years, with it facing the immediate, unprecedented, challenge of reconstructing the economy, creating and protecting jobs, achieving “catch-up” in education  for our children, especially for those in the deprived communities, and restoring the NHS to its function of delivering universal health care – not to mention tackling just how we can create a care home policy that is easy to talk about, but which requires deep thinking about new structures and new funding. 

Alba’s strategy is the same as all other parts of the independence movement, and the aim of a supermajority is a tactic towards bringing that strategic aim to fruition. Once in place, that supermajority will need to devise and develop other tactics to advance independence.  That will mean working from within parliament in close partnership with the movement outside of Holyrood.  That has to march hand-in-hand with the post-pandemic reconstruction, which will be the people’s most immediate priority. 

Post-pandemic reconstruction

What about our children?

This where Alba is important. I was heartened when Alex Salmond said a parliament, and a movement, can do two things at the one time., The roadmap  to independence is of supreme importance to activists, and I will come to that in relation to the role of Alba.  But I start with the post-pandemic reconstruction in the economy and civil society.  If an independence party is linked to economic and social policies that matter in the day-to-day life of the people, as Alba is, then a bond is created. Trust is built. And it is upon that trust, born of a proven commitment to the needs and aspirations of the people, that the independence movement builds upon. 

Right now, post-pandemic policies are essential.  By “policies” I don‘t mean slogans. I mean policies that emerge from studying the problem, with concrete solutions emerging.  The small business sector has been hammered by the pandemic rules. It has employed 1.2m people, and represents 99.3% of all private sector employment. There are small companies employing fewer than 50 people, and some above that number, where the owner has mortgaged the family home.  They and the jobs they provide are a priority for the incoming parliament. 

Scottish food and drink, creative industries and sustainable tourism are linked together in one sector of our economy and, pre-pandemic, employed over 398,400 people.  An engine of recovery is needed. We have families without homes sitting on a waiting list numbering around 162,000, while our construction industry is given a social housing target of only between 7,000 and 10,000 new build a year. You may recall that in the first public pronouncement of the SNP budget, the social housing allocation was cut by £246m, and only restored when this was attacked. You either believe a massive social housing programme is a priority or you don’t; and if you do the policy must be one that says “the only way to solve the housing crisis is to build houses” and go on to build them. 

Then there is our children’s education. Professor Lindsay Paterson writes regularly for the Sunday Times. He has pointed out that children and young people have lost the equivalent of 20 weeks schooling in the past year, and that inequality will have increased by 50% because of the disparities between the well-off and the not very well off.  Not only is a catch-up for all needed, but so is a specific well-funded  programme for those primary children and secondary school young people who were, even before the pandemic, ill served by our educational system. 

So, while I will vote for Alba on independence grounds, I know from inside sources that Ishall  be able to do it also on policies designed to meet post-pandemic Scotland’s economic and social reconstruction.  How can a new party, only a few weeks old, produce substantial policy? It’s the people who have joined it, and the man who leads it. 

These are serious people. Not for them the PR headline stunt with no meaning.  Alba may be new, but they are not. They bring knowledge, years of experience in the real world, and the ability to apply hard-headed analysis to problems, so that the solutions can be achieved.  

I have been a past critic of Alex Salmond on his role within the SNP, but I have never  doubted his ability. He is a heavy weight in any political company, and when he was first minister there was a drive, energy, and achievements, in his economic and social policies.  But it is not just him.  It has been little noticed, and so not commented upon, but Alba right now can muster a cabinet with a great deal more ability and gravitas than Nicola Sturgeon has been able to do from the MSPs available to her.  

When I look at Alba, I see serious people, given to thinking, to exploring policy in depth, willing to canvass opinions beyond their own ranks, recognising that they need to tap into the knowledge of others, as well as their own.  So, Alba’s policies will be rooted in reality. Not only what should be done to bring inequality to an end, but what will be done. 

I enjoyed watching the Alba broadcast and press conference on Tuesday: with Salmond demonstrating that X factor that marks out the exceptional from the ordinary politician. But there were the others too, who spoke before him, all quality people. I am taking a bet that we shall not be disappointed when the economic and social policies are unveiled shortly. 

Alba’s importance in getting to independence

Let me come now to the importance of Alba to the aim of securing sovereignty. The speech Alex Salmond made on Tuesday was one for us to think about, because it was grounded in realism – that a supermajority is vital because it tips the tactical advantage to Scotland and away from Westminster, but that is not an end in itself. It  is how we deploy that advantage that will matter in the end. That was the message.

Since 2014, and especially after the Brexit vote in 2016, the movement has been fed pie-in-the-sky.  Brexit, whether people liked it or not, created a new paradigm. A new paradigm  requires a new independence policy. Central to everything is where a sovereign Scotland is to locate itself in relation to our neighbours south of the border, with 60% of exports going there; which in turn affects our view of Europe, which  includes EFTA and the EEA, as well as the EU. What of the world, where the UK is doing trade deals?  We shall have to consider whether to remain in or opt out of them: for example, if the UK  enters the Trans Pacific Partnership (a new vast market opportunity)  will be want to stay in or come out, a decision that would need to be judged  in the context of  any European policy. 

The new policy for the new paradigm cannot be a back of the fag paper one. It needs our people to look at a range of options. Weighing the advantages and disadvantages, before coming to a conclusion.  That conclusion will mean replacing the so-called growth paper produced for the SNP by Andrew Wilson.  I personally like Andrew, but go watch the car crash of him trying to defend it when being interviewed by Andrew Neil on The Spectator TV, just before Christmas. 

With people like Jim Walker and George Kerevan in Alba, we can look forward to an economic policy for a sovereign nation that will stand against any criticism unionist think tanks can throw against it. They are examples of the ability and experience that the membership of Alba  bring to the independence movement. 

Last, but by no means least, is the tactical ability that Alex Salmond showed on Tuesday. In short, he was saying that there are many ways to skin the Westminster cat. The supermajority is critical, but what was important also was his recognition of how essential it is to mobilise the people and come at Boris Johnson from a number of angles.  Salmond has a grip on statecraft. That is what we need in the parliament, and for the nation. That is what that List vote for Alba will deliver.  


Once again Jim runs an experienced eye over the opportunities that lie before us. Realising those opportunities will be crucial in determining whether Scotland’s Independence moves closer after the 6th May. I would urge you to support Alba to make those opportunities a realistic goal.

I am, as always


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  1. An excellent analysis from Jim Sillars, one in which he is able to put aside his (past?) differences with Salmond to do what is right for Scotland. Unfortunately Nicola Sturgeon appears unwilling and/or unable to do the same. Like all weak “leaders” she is threatened by people of ability.

    Equally unfortunately is that the smearing of Alba and in particular Alex Salmond persists. A poll published yesterday shows Alba at only 3%, another is apparently due today showing the same. Either the message re wasted list votes is not getting through or the hatefest against Salmond is. We have 4 weeks to turn this around. I really hope we do. However if Alba is still polling badly on election day, I’ll go back to definitely spoiling my constituency paper. Alba WILL have my list vote.

    Liked by 8 people

    1. The list vote message is getting through! The SNP list intention vote has dropped significantly. However they are trying to convince us they have switched to the Greens and that their vote has doubled. Give it a few weeks. They are trying to halt the Alba progress by spin.

      Liked by 7 people

  2. “Alba may be new, but they are not.”

    So true. The candidates and members of ALBA are people of substance. Already their purpose is very clear, as articulated by Alex Salmond. In the vastly different circumstances from 2014 that we now find ourselves in it seems to me that ALBA’s views can best be summarised as follows:

    Strategy: to obtain Independence, via the deployment of a range of tactics
    Policies: to address the economic challenges of recovery from COVID and BREXIT
    Statecraft: to consider whether EU, EFTA, EEA or other international relationship (s) best suits the nation

    It’s multi-layered and nimble.

    Now we all just need to vote for it.

    Liked by 8 people

  3. Archive version of Herald article about new poll with Alba at 3% – they state that this will stop SNP majority. Which personally is a good thing if you ask me, though the Greens will ensure the HCB and GRA policies go through.

    Liked by 2 people

  4. Good stuff from Jim. Our big problem is profile….on GMS talk again was of inter views with the 5 main parties only. .Money will be tight but our logo on billboards could raise the profile.

    Liked by 5 people

  5. An excellent article.
    Alba and the wider Yes movement working together.
    The breadth of talent compared to the SNP clones
    All that unites to movement summed up perfectly.

    On the 3% polling. Sorry and I stress I am not a conspiracy nut, but I don’t believe it. I am to buy that the drop in SNP votes (which is significant) is mainly going to the Greens with a small proportion going to Labour. Well I don’t believe it.

    Every connection I have is telling me they are voting Alba on the list. I am talking about SNP office bearers with decades in the Party. Women will not be voting Green in my opinion.
    I don’t know what is going on but I suspect dirty tricks aimed at stopping Alba gaining momentum. I suspect a misuse of early polling data when the margin of error is significant in comparison to level.

    Look to your own circle of friends and contacts. Does the media coverage of the polling tie in with your own experience?

    Stick with SNP1/Alba2 and keep promoting that vote to all you know. I’m not going to trust data which suits the Unionist spin.

    Liked by 5 people

  6. It seems this keeps needing saying: With an Alba vote on the list ye get yer full Indy pound whereas depending on the region an SNP list vote will be worth anything from 50p tae as little as mebbie just ten pence. That really should be all that needs said, no?

    Liked by 5 people

  7. It grieves me greatly to see the same abject failure to question the rhetoric of Alba politicians as we see from others in relation to Nicola Sturgeon and the SNP. I wonder sometimes if there is anybody in Scotland who realises that it is possible to favour a politician and/or support a party and still interrogate them.

    I have lately come to the view that voting SNP on both ballots is not a viable option. I arrived at this conclusion more despite the breathlessly over-excited fervour of Alba’s answer to the Sturgeon claque than because of any of their arguments. I’m not as easily impressed by either arithmetic or fine words as so many Alba/Salmond enthusiasts – a fair few of whom are to be found here. I have come to accept the need for a supermajority, not because it is the wondrous thing it is claimed to be but solely because it is the only thing left now that I can no longer hope the SNP will adopt the Manifesto for Independence.

    I remain of the view that the best election outcome would have been a Scottish Government (necessarily SNP) with a working majority and a ‘super-mandate’ for the actions set out in the Manifesto for Independence. But I am resigned to the fact that this cannot now happen. A supermajority is no kind of substitute at all. But it’s all there is.

    Having been forced to set aside my resistance to the list party strategy by changing circumstances should not be taken to imply that I have set aside all my reservations about Alba and Alex Salmond. I was far from being as uncritically impressed by Alex Salmond’s speech as Jim Sillars appears to have been. Those who can cope with their hero being treated with less than mindless adulation might like to read my comments on that speech (

    I’m still asking the questions that others so woefully fail to see the need for. I find it both perplexing and disappointing that Jim Sillars’ final paragraph alone doesn’t prompt any queries at all. It certainly does for me.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I can see you are being reluctantly pulled back into reality and I welcome that. I know it’s not your recipe, therefore to you that makes it flawed but it’s the best on offer. Let’s celebrate that you have managed to dump the two votes SNP mantra. That’s progress!

      Liked by 8 people

    2. Peter you remind me of the character in the movie Midnight Express determined to walk round the pillar in the opposite direction to everyone else.

      Liked by 1 person

  8. With people like Jim Walker and George Kerevan in Alba I should have thought we can expect two very different economic ideas. The former is an out and out free marketeer, the latter has socialist leanings.Unless he has very recently changed his tune, Walker believes free markets can solve all our problems. A belief which is surely as discreditted as the Growth Commission’s proposals.


    1. I was always taught that instead of looking at it “your way or my way” to seek the compromise of a third way. The third way is usually much better.
      Politics is the art of compromise.
      The far left and the far right are the same distance from most of us.

      Liked by 1 person

  9. Peter Bell – a long wordy article from you, and within it a reference to the constitution, but there is no constitution. There is a political convention that suits whatever English party is in power at Westminster just fine.

    A D’Hondt voting algorithm that can dump close on 1 Million list votes is not democratic. It doesn’t need deep thinking, just a willingness to study the mathematics, to recognise that voting Alba on the List vote is a means to pressure the SNP to pursuing independence, however reluctant the SNP may be.

    Liked by 2 people

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