Where we stand
A Manifesto to 'Shake Things Up'
History will look back at the years 2021 to 2026 as among the most significant of the 21st century. They are the years when fundamental change will begin – or when it won't. This is not one of those times when 'a bit more of the same' has any chance of being enough. 'A bit more' will not be enough to face up to the economic challenges before us as the pandemic begins to become manageable and gradually ends. 'A bit more' will look pitiful in the face of the enormous and life-threatening challenges of climate change. 'A bit more' is not going to make any greater difference to economic inequality and the horror of poverty than 'a bit less' did up until now. 'A bit more' is not going to reverse the threats to our public services. Every single person the length and breadth of Scotland who, at some point or another throughout this Covid crisis, has said to themselves 'afterwards, things must be different' will not get what they are asking for because of 'a bit more of the same'.
The first decade of Scottish devolution was a time of comparative stability in Scotland. It even may have made us a little complacent. The second decade, scarred by the austerity of the Cameron and Osborne years, broke our complacency and led to a historic independence referendum. While Scotland didn't quite feel ready to take that step, it was then further rocked by Brexit.
But across the era of Scottish devolution we have been, in truth, too timid not too radical. The gap between what Scotland says it wants to be and what Scotland has done to make it happen, has just been too big. It does not mean we haven't achieved good things – we certainly have. But there just haven't been enough 'good things' and they've just not been big enough.
Timidity is no longer an option. Scotland needs to shake itself up, to shed its caution and start to face up to what is ahead. And if we do face up to it then it will take very little time to realise that, well, we're just not powerful enough to do all of what needs done. Yes, we could have done more to use the powers of devolution – but even if we now exhaust them to the greatest possible extent, it will not be enough. The challenges are just too big.
So should we leave it to London? Well, the UK Government has already made clear that what is ahead may not be called 'austerity', but in many ways it looks very much like it. And this time the crises are just so much bigger. To say, 'Keep our heads down and let Boris Johnson lead us forward', will make as much sense to many as to say, 'Thank goodness it was Margaret Thatcher who led Scotland forward through the deindustrialisation of the 1980s'. If madness is doing the same thing again and expecting a different result, then surely 'leave it to London' is madness.
Does this mean there is an excuse not to be more courageous in how we use the powers of the Scottish Parliament? No, it does not. We must be more courageous. But does that mean we should just get on and make do? No, it does not. So is this a choice, an either/or? Of course not. Scotland is perfectly capable of both getting on with what it can do, and fighting to change what it can't do, all at the same time.
That is what ALBA is about. We're a new political party which thinks Holyrood has become just a bit too cosy; a bit too comfortable. We want to shake it up; to rattle a few cages. We want to push for bolder, more courageous policy-making at Holyrood.
But above all we want to ensure that by standing in this devolved Scottish Election we make it the last one ever. That the next time voters in Scotland go to the polls to elect people to come to Holyrood and serve our nation, they do so in an independent country. And we want to make sure that the warm words and good intentions of the Scottish National Party and the Scottish Greens, both parties we respect and admire, do not slowly turn into the sound of cans being kicked further down the road.
Scotland needs to be gallus for what comes next. ALBA is here to bring that confidence.