"Action not reflection essential to win Independence" – MacAskill tells ALBA Conference
Speaking at the ALBA Party Conference at the Albert Halls in Stirling on Saturday 15 October, ALBA Depute LeaderKenny MacAskill MP will state:
“What we have seen this week is a Supreme Court scam perpetrated by the First Minister, with her accomplice the Lord Advocate but the victims being Scotland and her people. Seeming to do something when in reality, not only paltry but positively counter-productive. Driven by coming to the end of the road that she’d been kicking the can down for years now.
“We’ll see what their Lordships decide but the great victory claimed by the SNP in lodging written submissions was undermined by the oral submissions of their own Law Officer. I struggle to think of a political or legal situation where such self-harm has been rendered by a Leader to their cause or such inept pleading provided by a lawyer for their client.
“But what’s done is done. What’s required when the Judgment is issued isn’t some quiet reflection whilst you consider future career opportunities. That’s an option for those in a privileged position but denied those suffering from the harm being wrecked by a Prime Minister unelected by the Scottish people and a party rejected by them since before even I was born.
“Quiet reflection isn’t a strategy to drive on our cause and provide the economy and society our people need and deserve. It’s an abrogation of leadership and a counsel of despair.
“Delegates, action – not reflection - is what is required. To oppose austerity being imposed on our people, and to deliver our nation’s independence.”
ALBA CONFERENCE SPEECH, Kenny MacAskill MP, ALBA Depute Leader
Saturday 15 October 2022.
Delegates, I’m staying the night in the hotel up above which used to be the High School. My father went there as he grew up in Throsk the wee village beyond Fallin and then in the lea of Polmaise Colliery. He was dux. You had to be if you were a working-class laddie and hoping to go to university. But it was an auspicious year 1939. No sooner had he gone than he was off to war. He became an officer in the artillery.
He fought in a war against fascism, for a better society and so that none of his children would have to go to war as both he and his father before him had. I recall when he died receiving a kind note from someone who had served with him and later worked alongside him. It told how my father had been the only officer in his unit who had celebrated the Labour victory in 1945. The others were astonished and some outraged.
I tell that tale as for some of us detesting the Tories – the values that the philosophy espouses not the individuals as people are people the world oe’r and capable of good or ill. But those beliefs and that detestation isn’t just life long you’re reared that way. It’s in your heart and in your soul. Equality, opportunity, peace are universal values passed down through generations. My father came to realise that Independence was likewise part of them and essential to achieving them. Friends they are the values of our party.
This address is an opportunity for me to look back over the year past and forward to that coming. The highlight of course was being ejected from Parliament.
I had anxious e-mails from Labour Lord Prem Sikka, a gem of a guy, and the young radical journalists at Declassified-UK all worrying if I was okay. I replied as an old polis friend of mine used to say about his work - the best fun you can have with your clothes on.
Friends, we are not elected to administer the British state. But it’s a platform that can be used to promote our cause. Settling up not settling down, mustn’t be a mantra trundled out but never delivered.
I don’t intend to focus much on what we’ve discussed earlier today. We’ve had a guid kick at the ba’ with that. Though a few remarks are required.
The Supreme Court scam perpetrated by the First Minister, with her accomplice the Lord Advocate but the victims being Scotland and her people. Seeming to do something when in reality, not only paltry but positively counter-productive. Driven by coming to the end of the road that she’d been kicking the can down for years now.
We’ll see what their Lordships decide but the great victory claimed by the SNP in lodging written submissions was undermined by the oral submissions of their own Law Officer. I struggle to think of a political or legal situation where such self-harm has been rendered by a Leader to their cause or such inept pleading provided by a lawyer for their client.
But what’s done is done. What’s required when the Judgment is issued isn’t some quiet reflection whilst you consider future career opportunities. That’s an option for those in a privileged position but denied those suffering from the harm being wrecked by a Prime Minister unelected by the Scottish people and a party rejected by them since before even I was born.
Quiet reflection isn’t a strategy to drive on our cause and provide the economy and society our people need and deserve. It’s an abrogation of leadership and a counsel of despair.
Delegates, action – not reflection - is what is required. To oppose austerity being imposed on our people, and to deliver our nation’s independence. We are the Party and We have the Leader to do that.
In the somewhat unlikely event that their Lordships say its game on then it must be full steam ahead for the referendum. Even if little planning or preparation has shamefully been made by the Scottish Government.
When Ministers don’t know the pensions situation for an independent Scotland, where there’s no plan for borders and the currency plans were woeful before Covid and are now shown to be totally inadequate. That’s not just appalling but an indictment of supposed leaders who have failed to use repeated mandates entrusted to them yet failed to even use the time that’s been allowed to pass productively.
Thank goodness though there’s the wee Alba book and policy officers are being recruited by our Party to do the necessary and indeed vital spade work. It could and should have been done by others, but it’s fallen to us to complete. But do it we will, just as win out we shall.
But if there is to be a referendum or even if there isn’t to be, then the ground rules for future campaigning need to change. That’s not a diktat or a code of conduct from the self-appointed and supposedly unca guid . That’s rank hypocrisy from those who have trashed, and traduced others yet masquerade as the arbiters of truth and righteousness. Given events, even at their own most recent conference, they should get their own house in order before lecturing others.
As in 2014, it is the grassroots who must lead as this Government most certainly hasn’t. It must be the rank and file not a cadre of elected representatives and their staffers who have been shamefully immobile. Preferring to preserve their own positions than to resolve the tragic plight of their country.
No Party is the sole voice of a Nation, and nor can they dictate the nature of the campaign for independence. They won’t be allowed to; any more than a vacuum will be allowed to develop where there should be activity.
In the likely event of a rejection by the Supreme Court, then we cannot allow heads to go down or a myth to perpetuate that it’s all over. That is the real danger and where a cost-of-living crisis compounded by no obvious constitutional escape route being articulated, could see many abandon hope in politics entirely.
Delegates, we must not allow that to happen.
The social and economic devastation of the Thatcher years will be like nothing if Truss is allowed to proceed and we cannot depart from this insanity. Truss and her acolytes are zealots. As Johnson saw the country as his fiefdom to do as he wished in, she sees it as a human laboratory to test her experiment in free market economics. That proved a disaster in Pinochet’s Chile and after only a few weeks it’s crashing the economy here.
She appears doomed. But then those of us who lived through the early 1980s and recall the factories shutting, unemployment rocketing and social ills and human misery increasing. Also, remember though how it seemed inconceivable that Thatcher or her ilk could be re-elected. But along came a war and back they came.
Oh, but we’re at peace you might say? Well, a war is being waged in Ukraine by Ukrainians but armed and provided for by NATO and the UK. We’ve no money to provide for the poor, but billions for weaponry, and that’s even before Trident.
A recent Parliamentary question I asked about how many UK soldiers were in the Ukraine drew a refusal to answer for security reasons. Why? They were happy to answer only a few months back, when numbers stood at 71? Why not now? When I asked about US troops based in the UK they were happy to confirm 14,000. More than the Scottish Regiment and almost all in the air force. Now they’re doing nuclear drills.
Friends, I was a toddler at the time of the Cuban crisis and unaware. But I am an adult now and this is as dangerous, if not worse. As the analysts say step on the nuclear escalator and its hard if not impossible to get off. The Dr Strangeloves and the military analysts have done scenario planning and gaming as they call it. There’s no good outcome and much that leads to Armageddon.
A phrase recently used by President Biden himself when talking about tactical nuclear use. Maybe with his finger on the nuclear trigger he could pay head to Pope Francis, a voice of sanity and decency, amidst the belligerency and bombast, and push for peace.
It must be achieved. It’s not about accepting Russian aggression but seeking diplomacy not war. That route must be taken for humanity.
The modern Independence Movement and the Nuclear Disarmament movement arose at the same time. Many were stalwarts in both. Many still are.
Unilateralism ran through the SNP like lettering through a stick of rock. Even old comrades who I’d considered considerably to the right of me were unwavering in their commitment to unilateralism and a Scotland that both lived in peace and promoted it.
But no more. New SNP has changed its skin on many of their old principles, but the most flagrant and shameful sellout is on unilateralism and peace. In Westminster rather than calling for peace, they’re cheering on belligerency and fanning the flames of war. Competing with the ]Tories to demand higher GDP contributions for defense, all whilst social services collapse and international aid is slashed. Pakistan has seen a third of its land flooded but a tiny fraction in aid of what has been given in weapons to Ukraine.
Weasel words and ambiguous positioning on unilateral disarmament leaves our nation threatened by what we live with on the banks of the Holy Loch and on the edge of our largest urban conurbation. Let us tell SNP spokespeople, unilateralism remains at the heart of the Movement and this Party and their posturing and equivocation are summarily rejected.
But I digress and hope that none of that horror comes to pass. Truss may well be replaced, not just her Chancellor, who she ditched, as she did her Republicanism and Remain convictions. No greater love has a Tory than to lay down their friends for their career.
This is a Government that is taking from the poor and giving to the rich. Borrowing for today and leaving all our tomorrows to be paid for by generations to come. The economic policy is failing, the economy and the social policy being laid out are positively repressive and malevolently cruel.
None of that will end even if her positioning changes. Nor would it end if she is supplanted in a Palace of Westminster Coup. Whichever Tory replaces her would continue with imposed austerity. Further impoverishing the poorest. Whilst widening the net to include in misery those struggling to pay their mortgage and who once considered themselves reasonably prosperous. Repression through the criminal law will intensify, as will attacks upon the trade unions and workers’ rights. As international aid is slashed, military spending will mount.
They are a failed Government, with as the FT wrote, a Prime Minister with the shelf life of a lettuce. They deserve to be gone and the country needs them to be gone.
But Labour is no salvation now, any more than it has been throughout my life. They offer no radical change, simply mitigating the worst aspects and accepting the further ideological shift to the right which they’ve adopted.
The SNP claim that Labour will just be a return to Tony Blair. That would be bad enough but it won't even be that. As with the trajectory of the Tories so with Labour under Starmer. The austerity imposed by the Tories is to be accepted. The attacks on the Trade Unions will be less strident but largely go unchallenged.
Alba MPs have been proud to stand on the picket lines, but it’s a sacking offence for Labour spokespeople and SNP MPs have been almost invisible.
Policies on immigration and free movement that Blair would have considered absurd or even repugnant will be meekly rebranded but continued. And the threat to world peace will continue along with the palp about reform of the House of Lords or further devolution to the most powerful devolved parliament in the world. What a fairy story but Grandpa Broon still trundles it out.
Friends, it need not be this way. Scotland’s plight is neither God given nor imposed by environmental disaster. The fact that a country bestowed with so much, should so underperform for its people, is a matter of national shame. From centuries emigration sometimes forced by violence more often chosen through circumstance and the search for opportunity, denied in their native land. The deskilling of a work force, the stripping of indigenous business and the plundering of our natural assets. That’s been part of our history.
But it must be part of our past. There is a way out of this mess and Alba must drive it, just as our Nation must seize it. Meek acceptance of an undeniable wrong, supine toleration of flagrant injustice, passive acquiescence of scorn and contempt.
It need not be this way and it must not be this way. That Energy Rich Scotland should see its people fuel poor is perverse. Our oil and gas that were worthless, if not an impediment in 2014 are now to be exploited at an unprecedented rate, irrespective of the damage to our environment. Extraction there should be but a rate to allow for a just transition and to provide for our needs, not endanger the planet.
It's not only a windfall tax that should be falling on the oil giants but a stake in ownership. Friends “It’s Scotland’s Oil” was a slogan in the 1970s but it's also appropriate for the 2020s. Scotland demands access to its natural resources.
Not just the first bounty we were blessed with but the second. Few nations on earth have been so blessed, Renewables should be transforming our society. Providing cheap energy and creating business, wealth and employment. But instead, we have the perversity that whilst Scottish electricity is almost 100% supplied by renewables, Scots cannot afford to power their homes. Though they can see the turbines off their shores or on their hills.
Westminster is stealing our renewable energy as much as it stole our oil. Cables running from East Lothian and Aberdeenshire take the bounty directly south. The Berwick bank field between East Lothian and Fife seeing 40% sent straight to Northumberland. Not even a bawbee for the Crown Estate let alone income for the Scottish government or fuel poor Scots.
Turbines that should see not just BiFab and Arnish hammering and riveting but every estuary in Scotland, shamefully being constructed south of the border or abroad. A mark of shame on the Scottish Government who have allowed skilled work and vital jobs in this sector to be removed. Those jobs along with those of shipbuilding for the ferries our remote communities so badly require.
Delegates, we expect to be done down by the Tories and Westminster. But we have a right to expect better from the SNP and their Green allies. Their incompetence has been staggering. Their lack of vision beggars’ belief. Capping the auction price of our offshore wind. Worsened by claiming a huge success for the £700 million brought in but ignoring that New York received $4.3 billion for just one quarter of what they sold off. Allowing our assets to be stripped and failing to push for payment and the jobs that should go with it.
The Scottish people have a right to expect better. We know the Tories care nothing and that it’s the union at the heart of our crisis. But it’s not an election we need, but a push for independence. This farce must end. It's time to say enough is enough.
It’s why we need to take our message out to our people. We need to hit doors as much as keyboards, be in streets as well as in civic squares. It won’t be easy and the challenges will be many. But we fight for a cause that has been passed down through the generations. We join with others within our party and without. For the cause of Scotland and for a better, fairer and peaceful country and world. As past generations have done and as we must deliver.
Friends, it’s a long road we’re on, but the distance is shrinking and our pace is increasing. Onwards! Thank you.