Where we stand
We want to push for bolder, more courageous policy-making.
ALBA Party Leader Alex Salmond rounds up the week following the fantastic ALBA Party Inaugural Conference in Greenock Town Hall on the 11th and 12th of September 2021.
Below is the list of bold new motions endorsed by the ALBA Party membership at the Inaugural Conference at Greenock Town Hall in September 2021.
1. Independence Convention
ALBA believes that Scottish independence is an overwhelming and immediate priority for the people of Scotland and notes with growing concern the failure of the Scottish Government to implement successive electoral mandates from the Scottish people to progress this aim.
ALBA demands that the Scottish Parliament instruct the Government to commence independence negotiations with Westminster. If the British Government refuses to engage, or even accept a referendum process, then we propose a cross party campaign of parliamentary action, peaceful popular mobilisation, legal moves in the domestic and international courts and diplomatic initiatives to enforce the sovereign will of the Scottish people.
After the local elections next May there should be called an independence convention comprised of all elected representatives of the Scottish people to co-ordinate and give legitimacy and democratic authority to the ongoing independence campaign.
2. Strengthening Scotland’s Institutions
Conference wholeheartedly endorses the intentions of the Scottish Parliament's 'founding mothers and fathers' on the Constitutional Convention that a devolved Scotland should abandon the 'Westminster model' of secretive government, of legislature dominated by its executive and of public policy made by unelected bodies created through the gift of patronage;
Conference believes that the reality of devolution in Scotland has strayed much too far from this vision, lacking transparency, being overly centralised and relying as much as ever on the power of patronage;
Conference wants to see strengthened transparency rules, strengthened committees in the parliament, strengthening of local government powers against central government and the executive through decentralisation to create localised and participatory democracy and openness and democracy in all the institutions of government;
Twenty years since devolution conference therefore backs a commission to examine and propose reforms for Scotland’s institutions to help and if necessary require them to live up to the Parliament's founding ideals of power sharing, accountability, openness, transparency and equality.
3. Establishment of an Independence and Democracy Committee
Conference resolves to set up a small committee charged with exploring in detail the precise pathways that can convert the sovereignty of the Scottish people into a living democratic system of which we can be confident and proud, one which embodies the hopes and aspirations of the Scottish people and breaks with the top down governance of remote and self-regarding elites.
The social, economic and political problems created by the modern world, the critical lack of national independence and the associated paralysis occasioned by an uncaring and corrupt Westminster government are so considerable that Scotland must explore and apply innovative ways of involving the huge talents of its ordinary people, its cultural activists, artists and innovators, its workers, inventors and investors, business people and public servants, educators and professional groups.
The aim here is to prepare, ahead of independence, the thorough consideration and mapping out of enhanced and new shapes and forms of transparency and accountability, ones that complement the Scottish Parliament, councils and draws on all key components of civil society.
In this way the new Scotland being born will become a home of realised rights and economic and social freedom for all.
4. Council Tax and Council Funding Crisis
Conference calls for the abolishment of Council Tax; calls for immediate increases in funding from the Scottish Government to all 32 of Scotland's local authorities to fully mitigate the impact of the COVID pandemic on Council budgets; and to replace Council Tax with a progressive system of local government funding.
5. Women and Equalities
Conference recognises that by dint of birth and happenstance, we are not all created nor do we live our lives as equals. Scotland’s history involves multiple injustices where chance or privilege have dictated outcomes, and today, poverty continues to be the biggest driver of inequality and a blight on our society.
These days should by now be past. Surely this modern world and an independent Scotland can cater for all without loss to any.
The Scotland we strive to create, envisions a level playing field where we can become truly equal to each other and where everyone’s rights are respected and protected, but, vitally, not at the cost of others. Conference instructs all Alba political representatives to protect and preserve women's rights, not at any expense to others, but as a safeguard for women and girls.
Conference believes women have the right to discuss all policies which affect them, without being abused and silenced.
Conference believes women have the right to maintain their sex-based protections as set out in the Equality Act 2010. These include female only spaces such as changing rooms, hospital wards, sanitary and sleeping accommodation, refuges, hostels and prisons.
Conference believes women have the right to refuse consent to males in single sex spaces or males delivering intimate services to females such as washing, dressing and counselling.
Conference believes women have the right to single sex sports to ensure fairness and safety at all levels of competition.
Conference believes women have the right to organise themselves according to their sex class across a range of cultural, leisure, educational and political activities.
Conference acknowledges and promotes all of the protected characteristics of the Equality Act 2010 which are age, disability, gender reassignment, marriage or civil partnership, pregnancy or maternity, race, religion or belief, sexual orientation and sex.
Crucially, Conference understands the controversy and pain which have characterised Scotland’s recent attempts at reform; there has been much heat and at times little light.
Conference invites and will endorse a citizens' assembly on how best to reform the Gender Recognition process in a respectful, sensitive and positive fashion.
Conference acknowledges that no single protected characteristic is more virtuous or more worthy of recognition and safeguarding than another. They are all fundamentally important, each on their own, and as a collective.
We’re all equal in Scotland.
6. Scotland’s Role in the Climate Emergency
Conference notes the ambition of the Scottish Government’s climate change legislation from 2009 onwards in reducing green house gases, the upcoming COP26 in Glasgow and the recommendations of our fellow citizens in Scotland’s Climate Assembly.
However almost half of the total Scottish reduction in emissions to date have come from the outstanding success of renewables and the decarbonisation of the electricity supply.
Conference therefore supports the following immediate action to secure Scotland’s position as a responsible global citizen and to assist in a green recovery from COVID-19.
- Firstly the establishment of a Scottish National Renewables Corporation to harness the benefits of Scotland’s renewable endowment for the Scottish people, to finance Scotland’s research base in new energy technologies and to support our transition to a low carbon energy sector in Scotland.
- Secondly the formation of a National Housebuilding Company with the aim of trebling Scotland’s public housebuilding programme to the highest standards of energy efficiency and to supervise and further support the retrofitting of affordable energy efficient measures into the existing housing and building stock, private and public around half of which will need to convert to a low or zero carbon heating system by 2030.
- Thirdly to urgently examine and test all the proposals from the Climate Assembly against legislative and policy action with a clear plan for implementation.
Further Conference proposes that the City of Aberdeen and the North East of Scotland is designated as a World Energy Capital and, building on the initial establishment of the Energy Transition Zone (ETZ), the organisation developed to be permanently core funded by the Scottish Government, to represent and promote the World Energy Capital to every country in the world and all appropriate organisations and individuals therein.
The World Energy Organisation then formed in the World Energy Capital will progress the research, development and deployment of the production, storage and distribution of all energies including floating offshore wind, other marine renewables, green hydrogen, carbon capture and storage with the aim of leading the worldwide transition to a zero carbon energy future.
7. Green Imports
Conference welcomes the recent final report from Scotland's Climate Assembly, 100 Scots selected at random and tasked to come up with proposals to tackle climate change in Scotland. One of the key recommendations (supported by 95 per cent of participants) was to pursue a strategy of Green Import Substitution, de-incentivising environmentally-harmful imports and instead replacing these with domestically made, environmentally-friendly alternatives. This would help Scotland establish and grow innovative land-based businesses, advanced design partnerships and low carbon manufacturing industries;
Conference calls for an industrial strategy which encourages the use of locally sourced goods and materials wherever possible to reduce carbon emissions and increase Scotland's domestic productive capacity;
Conference recognises that some of the powers needed to deliver this are reserved at Westminster, but there are ways this can be done under devolution; calls for public procurement contracts to be designed to give domestic businesses the best chance of success and deliver long term contracts to give businesses the confidence to scale up.
8. Elected Head of State and Written Constitution
When sovereignty is secured with an independent Scottish state, a most important post independent action will be the engagement of the people in framing the fundamental law, the supreme law, in a written constitution, by which Scotland will govern itself.
Alba acknowledges the work already done by a variety of groups on a proposed constitution for an Independent Scotland protecting the rights of all our people. Alba considers that a series of citizens’ assemblies followed by a referendum will be the appropriate mechanism for consultation, participation and approval.
Alba recognises that when the people are free and independent, they must fashion the instruments with which we are to govern ourselves - the division of powers, the extent of those powers between the parliament and the executive, the franchise, the electoral system, freedom of speech, a free media, independence of the judiciary, how judges are appointed, the relationship between government, police and people, and the principles and values that self-describe us as the nation we want the international community to see and for Scottish citizens to experience.
The written constitution starts from the principle that the people are sovereign in keeping with the Scottish constitutional tradition and as such ALBA will propose to the consultation that, once the term of the much respected present monarch is over, Scotland should move to an elected head of state with similar powers to the Uachtarán na hÉireann.
9. A Scottish Model of Legislation for Prostitution
ALBA agrees with the Scottish Government’s NHS guidelines on Commercial Sexual Exploitation which outlines the harmful effects on prostituted women: that a majority suffer high levels of physical violence, rape and post-traumatic stress; that there is a significant effect on mental health; and that there is a significant link with drug abuse.
ALBA recognises the successful legislative approach to prostitution pioneered in Sweden for more than 20 years, now also adopted in Norway, Finland, Iceland, Canada, Republic of Ireland and Northern Ireland and France, which focuses on reducing demand for commercial sexual exploitation. ALBA further acknowledges that in countries where prostitution is legalised there is an associated increase in human trafficking, child prostitution and other forms of criminality.
ALBA therefore supports the development of a Scottish model of legislation that
- decriminalises the sale of sex,
- criminalises the purchase of sex, and
- offers suitable support for those wishing to exit commercial sexual exploitation.
We further agree that such action is in accordance with the Scottish Government’s Equally Safe strategy, in particular the statement that commercial sexual exploitation, including prostitution and human trafficking, is a form of violence against women.
10. Supporting Scottish Wool Industry
This conference calls for the British Wool Marketing Board to be disbanded as it is unfit for purpose and does not meet the needs of Scottish farmers nor the Scottish textile industry.
Conference calls for the Scottish Parliament to be immediately devolved the powers required to establish a Scottish farmer and textile industry-led non departmental public body which will not only guarantee a fair price for Scottish wool but will also address the lack of processing mills within Scotland and campaign for Scottish wool to be used in the production of tartan over imports from Australia and New Zealand. This will not only improve the carbon footprint of Scottish products, but will protect our farmers who have been disproportionately negatively impacted by the UK Government's decision to leave the European Union.
11. Nuclear Weapons
The Alba Party is opposed to the manufacturing, hosting and use of Nuclear weapons and calls on the negotiating party of an independent Scotland to ensure the removal of Weapons of Mass Destruction, and all associated Nuclear materials hosted at HMNB Clyde, from day one of Scotland being re-established as an independent nation.
Conference notes that the RNAD Coulport Depot, which is used to mate Trident Missiles to Nuclear Warheads before loading onto Nuclear Submarines, is ideally placed to harness wind energy potential.
Conference therefore calls on the Scottish Government of an independent Scotland to commence construction of Europe’s largest Renewable Energy Windfarm at the current home of Trident immediately after Weapons of Mass Destruction are removed from Scottish Soil.
Conference calls on the Government of an independent Scotland to endorse the United Nations Treaty on the Prohibition of Nuclear Weapons (TPNW).
12. Nuclear Energy
Conference calls for a halt to the extension of regulations to permit doubling of cracks in the reactor core at Hunterston Nuclear Power Station (from a maximum of 350 to 700) and any other nuclear power station in Scotland.
Furthermore, Conference calls for a halt to the importation of any form of nuclear waste and for the Scottish Government to refuse co-operation with any expansion of nuclear power in Scotland.
13. The Future of Scotland’s Ferries
Conference notes with great regret the chaos that has prevailed across many CalMac ferry routes over recent months.
Conference notes that this has been extremely detrimental to the local economies of island communities, particularly as these communities struggle to recover from the Covid pandemic.
Conference recognises the continued failure of Scotland’s ageing Ferry fleet has been exacerbated by CMAL’s disastrous procurement arrangements for the construction of two new ferries at Ferguson’s Shipyard in Port Glasgow.
Conference believes that the Ferguson’s Shipyard can have a bright future integral to a renewed industrial strategy on the Clyde.
Conference notes that a lack of Scottish Government leadership has contributed to this situation and considers that CalMac and CMal’s governance arrangements are no longer fit for purpose, and that the ongoing interim leadership of the Ferguson’s Shipyard is a barrier to protecting and creating jobs at the yard.
Conference therefore calls for the amalgamation of CalMac, CMAL, and the Ferguson’s Shipyard to create a new Ferries Scotland body which will be responsible for the design, construction, ownership, and operation of Scotland’s ferry fleet.
Conference demands that the Scottish Government directly awards the renewal of Scotland’s entire ferry fleet to Ferguson’s Shipyard and that the Scottish Government robustly defends any attempt by the UK Government to block such a policy of direct award.
Conference further calls for meaningful representation of island communities on the board of the new Ferries Scotland body.
Conference notes that the industrial potential of the Clyde Waterfront is under the ownership of Peelport Group; welcomes the work of the Save Inchgreen Drydock campaign group; and condemns the lack of investment that has been made in the Inchgreen Drydock - Scotland’s largest dry dock – and calls on the Scottish Government to bring Inchgreen Drydock into public ownership to support efforts to reindustrialise the Clyde.
14. Scotland’s Recovery from Covid-19
Conference gives thanks to the extraordinary efforts of all health and social care staff and the scientific community in their ongoing response to the Global Covid-19 pandemic.
Conference welcomes the progress being made with the vaccination of adults in Scotland and indeed across the UK and its importance to building resilience to the deadly impact of Coronavirus.
Conference calls for offers of vaccination to be extended to young people as a matter of urgency both for their own health and wellbeing, but also as a means of breaking the known chain of infection from seeding in this group and being transmitted upwards through each age demographic.
Conference recognises that Lateral Flow Device (LFD), and Polymerase Chain Reaction (PCR) tests, are vital components of the ongoing surveillance of COVID and the continued monitoring for the emergence and behaviour of any new Covid variants.
Conference notes with concern the continued reliance on surveillance technologies such as imported LFDs which fail to identify around 60% of infectious cases, that these have been recalled on safety grounds in the USA for “presenting a risk to health” but continue to be used in the UK.
Conference supports non-pharmaceutical controls, such as social distancing, the use of face-coverings and diligent hygiene practices but notes with caution that any wholesale and premature relaxation of such preventative measures may hamper suppression of infection and contribute to the conditions that enable new Covid variants to emerge.
Conference therefore calls on the Scottish Government to act independently of the UK Government’s “Surrender Strategy” and urgently bring forward a robust surveillance and viral suppression strategy to complement the ongoing vaccination programme.
Conference further calls for urgent investment to allow the Scottish NHS to continue treating Covid cases and enable recovery of vital life-saving clinical services such as general surgery, cancer care and other life-saving treatments to address the backlog of cases caused by Covid related service disruption.
Conference recognises the emergence and impact of so-called “Long covid” on the health of those people impacted, their work capacity and social security support needs.
Conference calls for National Long-Covid care services to be established and effectively resourced to deliver consistent, evidence-based, and effective management and care.
Conference condemns the failure of the UK Government to make even a modest commitment to a Life Sciences Partnership Fund as called for by the Association of Medical Research Charities (AMRC).
Conference calls on the Scottish Government to make the resources available to Scottish NHS and life sciences experts to lead the way on Long-COVID research to ensure those affected are not left behind and can return to an active and productive life.
Conference calls for an urgent public inquiry into the impact of Covid by both Scottish and UK governments. Conference believes that Independence is not an alternative to recovery but an essential requirement of the process of building back as a country.
Conference calls for the immediate transfer of Covid recovery powers to the Scottish Parliament which will allow the Scottish Government to be in the driving seat of economic recovery.
15. Sustainable Food
Conference deplores the current situation where many people in Scotland do not have access to healthy, affordable food and that we as a country depend on long food chain supplies and unsustainable global food production systems.
Conference believes that radical reform of the current food production and distribution system is needed in Scotland so that more food can be produced locally, sustainably and ethically and made available to the public in the areas where it is grown. Conference also believes that the development of local small-scale agricultural and horticultural production should be supported strategically by the Scottish Government, that a network of local food outlets should be developed to complement and, indeed, provide an alternative to supermarket supplies, that community growing initiatives should receive more strategic government support, and that all children in Scotland should have the opportunity to learn about food growing and healthy eating through ongoing practical learning during their nursery, primary and secondary education.
16. Protecting Scotland’s Battlefields
Conference recognises that Scotland has many Historic battlefields and that we are currently and imminently at risk of losing our history and heritage through the growth of developments on Scotland’s Heritage Sites.
The Battle of Culloden at Culloden Moor, situated on the outskirts of Inverness the Capital of the Highlands, was the last major battle fought in the British Mainland.
The Highland Clearances and the Act of Proscription that followed the Battle of Culloden were a direct attack on the Highland way of life. They are often untold but remain a dark chapter in Scotland’s history.
The Highland culture was demolished, the Gaelic native language and the wearing of Tartan were banned and outlawed.
Since the mid-nineteenth century the battlefield has been a place of pilgrimage for people from Scotland and throughout the world.
Some visitors are descendants of those who fought.
Others are gripped by the extraordinary story. With ongoing archaeological research and fresh historical interpretations, the story of Culloden is far from over.
Conference believe that such is the importance of these heritage sites and their place in Scottish history that their story should be taught as an integral and fundamental element of the Scottish Education System in all Scottish schools.
Yet, Culloden like so many other Heritage Sites and Battlefields are constantly under threat from development and developers.
Conference notes that Culloden Battlefield is one of the most visited sites in Scotland and that the Battlefield, boundary and surrounding areas have and will continue to be under threat from companies and individuals attempting to develop them.
Conferences recognises that the Tourism Sector is one of the most important sectors for our Scottish economy, with, on average, 14 million people visiting Scotland each year.
Spending by tourists in Scotland generates around £12 billion of economic activity for the wider Scottish supply chain and contributes around £6 billion to Scottish GDP, representing about 5% of total Scottish GDP.
Conference expresses concern at the danger which Commercial and housing development has on our historic Battlefields and the recent and current attempts to develop parts of Culloden Battlefield.
Conference believes that there is a moral duty on our generation to preserve, not just Scotland’s Natural Heritage, but also historic areas like Battlefields.
Conference asserts that any detrimental development, individually or corporate, should be prevented from building on our Sites of Historical, Cultural and Natural Beauty.
Conference calls on the Scottish Government to resource Historic Environment Scotland adequately so that it can protect historic Battlefields and urges changes in Planning legislation to enable the prevention of developments in these areas.
17. Reducing Drug Deaths and Secondary Harm
Conference notes current drugs policy is a reserved issue to the UK parliament under the Misuse of Drugs Act 1971 and subsequent amendments, which creates difficulties between the issues of criminal justice and health - both devolved; believes that harm reduction can take place under devolved powers which have neither been explored nor used by the current Scottish Government.
Conference notes that progress has been made in this topic by organisations in England, such as The Loop, which has, with Home Office approval, been allowed to test illegal street drugs at festivals across England and has been widely used successfully in other countries such as Portugal, The Netherlands and Switzerland.
Conference further notes that many drugs related deaths in Scotland are because of users using substances, they believe to be of one type but then appears to be an alternative or just as dangerous a stronger version of it, in some cases leading to accidental overdose or complicating matters by mixing drugs.
Conference understands such deaths are disproportionately high in areas of deprivation.
Conference calls on the Home Office and stakeholders and service users involved in harm reduction efforts, to adopt and adapt their tested system for use in Scotland to treat drug use as a health issue as opposed to a criminal justice issue.
18. Social Security Powers and a Real Living Wage for Unpaid Carers
Conference expresses its disappointment that The Scottish Government has failed to implement the full range of Social Security benefits available to Scotland.
Conference notes that this continued failure undermines the credibility of the Scottish Government's ongoing criticism of welfare reform, the universal credit uplift withdrawal or their stated ambition to tackle poverty and deprivation; key drivers of the current drug death crisis.
Conference calls for a complete overhaul of the benefits assessment system used to process PIP and DLA claims making this a fairer and more compassionate process where no claimant feels they are having to “fight” the system.
Conference understands the current systems in place cause claimants to face months of assessments and appeals which have led to mental distress and more worryingly the deaths of many of the claimants before any award is issued. The introduction of Personal Independence Payments (PIP) in 2013 with many previously successful Disability Living Allowance (DLA) claimants being refused PIP as this award uses a scoring system that does not recognise the nature of their disability further exacerbates the impact of the UK Government's continued Welfare reform failures. Conference notes that this is a significant issue with children currently assessed using the DLA criteria who upon turning 16 years old are then required to apply for PIP. Many of these young adults are then refused PIP despite no material change to their disability status or their ongoing needs.
Conference recognises the invaluable role Unpaid Carers contribute to Scotland’s social fabric. Conference calls for Unpaid Carers to receive the equivalent of the Real Living Wage. Conference notes that the current weekly Carers Allowance payment of £67 with a minimum qualifying requirement of 35 hours per week, undervalues the vital role carers fulfil to the care recipient and to Scottish society.
Conference believes the role of an unpaid carer is central to giving the recipient the choice (as is their right) to remain living in their own home rather than in a care facility. The 35 hours per week commitment needed to qualify for Carer’s Allowance is equivalent to £1.90 per hour, ten percent of the estimated £19 per hour it would cost to fund the care if provided by a Care Provider Service.
19. Child and Family Poverty
A Five Point Plan to Reduce Poverty
Conference notes the continuing and unacceptable levels of child and family poverty in Scotland, exacerbated by Covid-19 and the imminent and callous removal of the £20 per week boost to universal credit payments, and therefore demands, as part of our campaign in the local elections, the following five measures to immediately alleviate and directly tackle this shame of Scotland:
- A £500 annual payment to every low income household in Scotland
- Universal free lunches and breakfasts to all nursery, primary and secondary pupils in Scotland, provided on an all year round basis.
- A doubling of the Educational Maintenance Allowance to assist 30,000 of school and college students from poorer families to continue in education.
- Universal free access to sports facilities for the under 18s benefiting 1 million children.
- Increase the Scottish Child Payment to £40 per week for 400,000 children in quarter of a million households.
20. Scotland in the World
ALBA adopts the policy that Scotland shall join EFTA immediately after the Scottish Parliament acquires the competence to sign international treaties and the powers to abide by them. This will allow Scotland to gain access to the European Economic Area and effective free trade with the EU, thus mitigating the negative effects of Brexit.
- Conference condemns the democratic outrage of the UK government removing Scotland from the European Union (EU) and removing our European citizenship. This was done against the expressed will of the Scottish people, Scotland’s MPs and Scotland’s parliament.
- Conference further condemns the failure of the Scottish Government to protect Scotland’s place in the EU and their failure to give Scots a choice despite their many mandates and promises to do so.
- Scotland lost single market membership which includes the four freedoms; to live or work in any EU country; to sell goods anywhere in the EU; to provide services anywhere in the EU; and the free movement of capital.
- EFTA membership could be negotiated in weeks rather than years and could be negotiated in parallel with independence negotiations with the UK, and would be welcomed by existing EFTA member countries, provided independence is achieved democratically and peacefully. On becoming an EFTA member, Scotland could rejoin the EEA within a few months.
- In contrast, applying to become a member of the EU is likely to take several years, and cause serious delay to mitigating the damaging effects of Brexit.
- EFTA membership would enable Scotland to negotiate to become a full EU member in due course if the people of Scotland so choose while enjoying the benefits of free trade in the meantime, thus being in a much stronger negotiating position with the EU for potential membership.
- Conference holds that it is an urgent economic necessity for Scotland to re-join the European single market as soon as the Scottish Parliament acquires the competence to sign international treaties, and the powers to abide by them. To achieve this conference believes that Scotland should become a member of the European Free Trade Association (EFTA). This would also give Scotland membership of the European Economic Area (EEA), the single market along with Iceland, Norway and Liechtenstein.
- Conference thereby instructs the party to campaign for EFTA membership for Scotland and to negotiate speedy EFTA membership in parallel with independence negotiations with the United Kingdom government.
- Further benefits of EEA membership include the reinstatement of free movement of Scottish and EEA citizens between EEA member countries, and participation in EU programs such as Erasmus student exchange and those covering research and development, education, social policy, the environment, consumer protection, tourism and culture.
- EFTA membership does not encompass Common Agriculture and Common Fisheries and an independent Scotland would be able to negotiate the best deal for our Fisheries and Farms.
- This would reduce the economic damage of Brexit and ensure that Scotland started life as an independent country in a stronger economic position than it had as part of the UK.
- Questions of whether Scotland joined the Customs Union and of full EU membership would be decisions for an independent Scottish parliament subject to ratification by the Scottish people.