The Westminster Parliament does not respect the sovereign will of the Scottish people. This was clearly demonstrated when Scotland was taken out of the EU despite the clear democratic decision of the Scottish electorate to Remain. The refusal of multiple UK Prime Ministers to transfer the necessary powers to the Parliament in Edinburgh for a mandated independence referendum further makes this point.
Over the last seven years, despite the majority of MPs from Scotland supporting independence, the MPs have failed to realise any benefit to Scotland or to the cause of independence.
It is ALBA's position that the independence movement in Scotland needs a united and comprehensive approach to bending the Westminster Parliament to the will of the Scottish people. We have outlined this strategy below.
1. Plebiscite Election
The ALBA Party believe that there should be a Holyrood plebiscite election on the promised date of the referendum on 19th October this year, rather than waiting until the next Westminster poll. The arguments for this are in terms of franchise, timing, and legitimacy. A plebiscite poll would be much more likely to be won as a home fixture rather than an away one.
We believe that any such plebiscite election should best be fought under a “Scotland United for Independence’’ banner. The key to winning is to attract a substantial cadre of Labour independence supporters who would be unlikely to switch to the SNP in a straight-party contest. This would especially be the case in a Westminster election.
Any such ballot must be a mandate to begin independence negotiation, not yet another mandate for a referendum. The referendum boat has sailed, the Westminster Government have continued to refuse a section 30 order and the recent ruling by the UK Supreme Court has made holding a referendum without a Section 30 order a much more difficult task.
Thus, preparations need to be done on what to do when the plebiscite election is won. The focus should then be on how the Westminster Government can be forced into independence negotiations. As we have seen from the last seven years, winning elections does not guarantee independence progress without the political strategy to enforce the people’s mandate.
2. An Independence Convention
The ALBA Party have repeatedly called for the Scottish First Minister to follow through on her promise made in February 2020 to form an Independence Convention. The Convention would consist of most of Scotland’s MPs and MSPs, in alliance with interest groups from civic Scotland, the business community, trade unions and beyond. This convention will act as the steering group of the independence movement.
The movement has always been greater than one individual or one party, therefore it must be detached from the day-to-day problems that occur within Government. It is by giving the power of the movement back to the grassroots that we stand the greatest chance of restoring our nations independence.
3. Parliamentary Action
By taking their seats without a plan to use the institution as one plank in an independence strategy, Scotland’s MPs are effectively giving tacit agreement to UK control.
On the 13th of July 2022, ALBA MPs took part in a parliamentary intervention to protest the Johnson Government’s refusal to acknowledge Scotland’s democratic rights. You can read more about the intervention here.
It is ALBA's position that all independence supporting MPs should similarly intervene in the Westminster Parliament on a daily basis in order to grind all business in that parliament to a halt. This action should only cease when the UK Government accepts Scotland’s national Claim of Right to democratic choice.
4. Popular Action
ALBA MPs already prioritise community campaigning in Scotland over merely occupying the green benches at Westminster. Parliamentary action should be backed by a campaign of peaceful popular agitation in Scotland.
Popular agitation is a crucial pillar of our independence strategy. In the past, the independence movement has been able to muster nearly 200 thousand Independence supporters onto the streets of our major cities. This is important for many reasons, not least for maintaining morale amongst our supporters but it is also important as it acts as a reminder to Westminster, and the wider international community, that the independence movement is not willing to meekly return to the shadows.
There is a historical context to popular agitation too. Research on self-determination movements worldwide has highlighted that every successful independence movement has had popular action as a key tenet to its strategy. Every movement that has achieved active participation from at least 3.5% of the population has gone on to achieve its aims.
That is why ALBA believes that cooperation between all pro-independence parties and non-party aligned groups such as All Under One Banner is vital to achieving our noble aim of restoring Scotland’s independence.
5. International Pressure
The struggle for independence is a political one to be fought and won in Scotland but the ALBA Party see the importance of a sustained campaign to enlist international sympathy and support, paving the way for when recognition would be sought for an independent Scotland.
If we are to have any chance of garnering international support for our cause, we need to start engaging now with key players in the diplomatic community. Diplomacy has two main components: relationship building and information sharing; and we need to work on both in order to achieve our goals
The ALBA Party have commissioned legal opinions from international authorities on the prospects of getting Scotland’s case before international tribunals as part of this process.