Only through speaking as one voice can Scotland achieve independence
THE Famous Alva Games are held on the second Saturday in July each year. They started in 1845 and are the last surviving Games and Sports in Clackmannanshire.
In true Scottish tradition it’s either bucketing rain or the sun splits the skies. It is an international event with competitors and visitors from across the globe taking part in athletics, Highland dancing, caber, shot put, hammer, cycling, visitors and children’s races and the shows.
There are the skirls and drumbeats of our beloved Bowmar Pipe Band and it’s all topped off by the four hill races up Torry, from age 12 to the awe-inspiring British Championship Hill Race. Each Games is a resounding success due to the year-round efforts of a dedicated committee and local volunteers.
It’s a cause for celebration, recalling memories of days and friends gone by as well as fun and looking to the future with hope.
But if you were to climb the magnificent backdrop of the Ochil Hills, your gaze would fall upon a county where one in four children lives in poverty; where many single adults struggle on zero-hours contracts; and where the working poor depend on food banks, with third sector organisations desperately supporting those in increasing need and looming dire straits.
Where mums and dads will do without to give their children a little pocket money to go to the shows and buy a candy floss or a burger. Where grandmothers and aunties will shiver so they can turn the cooker on to make a hot meal – or instead starve to afford a wee heat.
Clackmannanshire is Scotland in miniature with the ills which plague it: the worst drugs-related deaths in Europe; alcohol-related deaths; suicide; infant mortality; lower life expectancy – all of these multiple times more prevalent in our most deprived areas than in the least.
We know poverty kills. We know it is the greatest most awful driver of inequality. Hungry children don’t learn and childhood want has a permanent impact, eroding life chances and reducing our country’s ability to thrive and prosper.
We know Scotland’s resources have for centuries bankrolled Westminster and continue to do as so the theft of our oil, gas, and wind and wave power continues.
We know the billions spent on the abomination on the Clyde, on weapons of mass destruction, on illegal wars, would not be part of an independent Scotland. We know there is a majority within Scotland for independence, because independence is normal and the only means by which we will address poverty.
With independence there will come the power to control all our resources and spend on priorities nominated by the people of Scotland, not imposed by a government we did not elect and whose ambitions are not ours. Clackmannanshire has an SNP-controlled council, an SNP MSP and an SNP MP. Nearby, in Fife, Dundee and Perthshire the political landscape is similar – and the problems and fears of many remain the same.
Colleagues in the Alba Party equalities group will hold a series of events in Dunfermline on July 20, Dundee on July 27, Glenrothes on August 1 and Perth on August 3 – then, in common with friends from other parties and organisations – we will listen to audiences of Scots worried about housing and energy costs, food bills, health issues – all the everyday matters which trouble individuals, parents, carers, friends and neighbours.
We will explain, as Kenny MacAskill said last week, in a Westminster debate on tax, that independence is about the type of society you want – we must not take from the poor and give to the rich; we cannot impoverish our young future generations. We must avoid the mistakes of the 1980s and create the chance to build a better society.
The ONS cost of living survey last week reported one in 20 adults ran out of food in the last two weeks; half of adults bought less when food shopping; one in 10 parents living with a baby or toddler ran out of food as did one in seven renters. This is the price of remaining in the Union.
Alba’s plans to ease pressures faced across the country include raising the Scottish Child Payment to £40 per child per week; extending free school meals to all primary and secondary pupils in Scotland; and introducing universal access to sports facilities for under-18s.
We favour a progressive tax system including a windfall tax and a luxury goods tax.
We believe an independent Scotland should be a democratic republic where citizens have rights embodied in a written constitution.
The values of the Alba Party are shared by many friends within the independence movement. From feedback at our national assemblies, from 59 Wee Alba Book events, from speeches at All Under One Banner, Hope Over Fear and Yestival, we know those who support Scottish independence see that the momentum is with our movement, and the only way to achieve the electoral mandate authorising the commencement of negotiations on the terms of the independence settlement is by harnessing the power of Scotland United.
Those who insist one party has a monopoly on the power to shape the destiny and the future of the people of this country, born and yet to be, have no moral place so to do if the aim is the freedom our nation needs.
We know a majority of Scottish seats in a Westminster election can be gained on little over 30% of the popular vote. Having 56 SNP MPs did not a referendum make, nor did 35 or 40-odd.
The success of a country and of a national campaign for self-determination cannot be secondary to the promotion of one party.
We know that a majority of seats and a majority of the popular vote give international credibility.
Those in my home town and throughout Scotland who are hungry and afraid, skint, unwell or plain scunnered deserve to see a national convention of politicians and civic Scotland driven by a determination to secure our country’s freedom.
That in tandem with Scotland United, where independence-supporting parties will agree one candidate per constituency to maximise the independence vote, will not only make us all in this movement stronger for Scotland, but Scotland will speak with one voice loudly and clearly to the world.
In other words, Scotland United will never be defeated.
[This article was first published in The National on the 16th of July 2023]