Press release

SNP attack on ALBA Party backfires as controversy leads to Half a Million views of “Walk Out”

An SNP attack on Alba Party over a controversial “walk out” of parliament has backfired, with the added publicity helping Alex Salmond’s party reach half a million views on social media.

Last week, ALBA Party expressed their disappointment that the SNP staged a walk out of an Alba Party debate on Scotland’s Energy resources being “robbed by Westminster”.

A clip of the SNP Group walking out as Alba Party Depute Leader Kenny MacAskill MP began to speak has now attracted half a million views on Twitter and has attracted widespread condemnation of the SNPs actions from across the independence movement.

In response to the initial backlash, the SNP decided to go on the offensive with the party releasing a statement attacking Salmond’s pro-independence Alba Party. Senior SNP MP Pete Wishart also attempted to talk down the importance of the debate which his SNP Group colleagues at Westminster walked out of.

As a result of independence-supporting newspaper The National sharing the SNP’s attack on Alba, with a link to the video on their site and social media platforms, over the weekend there was a further surge in people viewing and condemning the walkout which was led by SNP Westminster leader Ian Blackford and supported by SNP Depute Leader Kirsten Oswald.

The controversy began as Alba Party Depute Leader Kenny MacAskill MP began to lead a Commons Debate on Tuesday evening to slam the “robbery of Scotland’s rich energy bounty while half of all Scots households face fuel poverty this winter.” the SNP benches rose and walked out of the chamber. By Friday the video had been viewed 250,000 times and now, thanks to the added profile the SNP have brought to the issue, it has been viewed by half a million.

Mr MacAskill used the debate to highlight that the Eastern Link undersea cable, a multi-billion pound infrastructure project - will transport 4 GigaWatt of electricity south, via high-voltage direct current subsea cables, enough to power 2.8 million homes. Two undersea cables will run, one from Peterhead in northeast Scotland to Selby, North Yorkshire and another from Torness, in his constituency of East Lothian, to Hawthorn Point, County Durham.

ALBA’s MacAskill demanded to know what the people of Scotland will receive in return in the form of jobs, including supply chain jobs, financial payments, both to the Scottish Government and Local councils and what the community benefit will be?

At this stage, after sitting back to listen to Government benches, the SNP front bench staged a walk out on MacAskill’s debate.

ALBA Party expressed their disappointment at the SNP’s decision to walk out of Mr MacAskill’s speech saying that “ as Westminster embarks on its latest robbery of Scotland’s natural resources you would think Scotland’s Members of Parliament would have filled the benches to take part in the debate. It was bitterly disappointing that despite sitting through speech after speech by those on the Government benches, they chose to walk out instead of taking part in a debate that actually matters to Scotland. However, I suppose we should thank them for their tactic of going on the attack to try suppress the complaints they were receiving from independence supporters because thanks to this the video of the incident went from over 200,000 views to half a million views.”

Speaking in the debate Kenny MacAskill MP said:

“Scotland has been bestowed with a great natural bounty.

“Scotland has 60% of Britain’s onshore wind capacity and 25% of Europe’s potential offshore wind. References to the Saudi Arabia of wind, largely refer to Scotland or Scottish waters.

“What’s clear is that Scotland’s natural bounty and the current grid constraint to access markets show the need for the Eastern Link. It builds on the existing grid and allows for additional capacity. That my own constituency has been chosen’s also logical.

“The site near Torness is on the existing national grid with the nuclear power station there. And it’s there and up the coast at Cockenzie, at the site of the old coal power station, again on the national grid, where major offshore wind fields will come ashore. The site in Aberdeenshire has been chosen for similar reasons and the destination points in England are near existing power stations.

“So, the project will ease the capacity issues on the existing grid. It’s therefore a sensible project and one that everyone should support. Its construction is not the issue, nor should it be in dispute.

“But where’s the windfall for Scotland as a nation from this natural bounty? Where’s the wealth that should flow along with the energy from this vital resource?

“Where’s the benefit for those communities, such as my own in East Lothian, which will be able to see the turbines on their hills and off their shores. Scotland is Energy Rich, yet Scots are fuel poor?

“It is no comfort to those unable to heat their homes in my constituency that they may see the turbines turning either on or offshore. Indeed, that just adds insult to injury.

“What’s in it for them and for their Nation from this natural bounty, that our land and communities have been blessed with?

“Where’s the payment for or financial compensation for our renewable energy, being taken south or even sold abroad?

“Where’s the jobs in Scotland and in its communities from the industry itself that should follow, never mind the supply chain required to maintain it?

“Where’s the businesses that should be locating next to this clean and cheap energy, along with the technology that’s required for it and even springs from it?

“The turbines that are coming off our shores, should see our current yards vibrant and almost every estuary in Scotland required for their construction. Yet BiFab and Arnish lie dormant, and the work is going south or abroad, whether to the Netherlands or even Indonesia. That’s simply unacceptable and with energy policy largely reserved the UK government must take the blame.

“Where’s the payment for the resource being transmitted south. What cash has been received or compensation made for the asset taken?

“It seems that the payment to the Scottish Government amounts to precisely zero? There’s nothing being paid in either regular payments for the energy provided or even a lump sum in lieu. The only payment to be made will be a very modest remittance to Crown Estate Scotland for the cabling landing on the foreshore. A few bawbees, as we say in Scotland, hardly what’s received in Saudi Arabia or Norway for their natural bounty.”

In conclusion Mr MacAskill stated:

“The Eastern Link project deserves support. But there must be compensation for Scotland for the energy flowing from it as there must be benefit for the communities where it lands.

Following on from its first natural bounty in oil and gas, Scotland has been blessed with a second in offshore wind. It’s essential that our country and her communities now benefit from it.”

In response to the SNP attack on ALBA, an ALBA Party Spokesperson said:

“The SNP are in a blind panic lashing out because their members are taking stick from ordinary Scots.

“The absurdity of fuel poor Scots living in energy rich Scotland is the burning issue of the day and the continuing theft of Scotland’s natural resources is the point, or at least it should be for any MPs making the case for independence.

“The SNP are taking stick from their members and all nationalists for walking out on a debate this week on the dominant issue of the independence case led by Kenny MacAskill. They claim it wasn’t a walk out but over half a million people have watched the video, many of them thanks to the SNPs own protestations, looked at the behaviour and have judged for themselves.

“The SNP boast about having had 16 adjournment debates since ALBA was formed but in that time ALBA with two MPs have had five, plus three Westminster Hall debates and two ten minute rule bills, on key subjects such as Covid contracts, ferries and links with Europe and electricity standing charges. That is a far higher work rate.

“However the issue is not as Pete Wishart seems to think - the gold star for Westminster good attendance - but the SNP’s synchronised walk out on an issue which means most right now to every Scottish family and all independence supporters. If he doesn’t understand that then he really has been at Westminster for far too long.”

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