A South Ayrshire councillor has announced his decision to join Alex Salmond’s Alba Party, making it the second defection from the SNP in a week.
Why did Chris Cullen leave the SNP?
Chris Cullen, who represents Ayr East Ward, said he was inspired by Ash Regan, a former SNP leadership candidate who crossed to Alba on Saturday. Regan made a speech at the Alba conference, where she said that the party offered hope and renewed optimism for the Scottish independence movement.
Cullen said he felt that the SNP had failed to deliver on independence and had strung along its members. He also expressed his opposition to the SNP’s gender recognition reforms, which he said were discredited.
What is the Alba Party and what does it stand for?
The Alba Party is a pro-independence party founded by former First Minister Alex Salmond in March 2021. The party aims to create a “supermajority” of pro-independence MSPs in the Scottish Parliament by contesting the regional list seats.
The party claims to have over 6,000 members and has four MPs, two MSPs and two councillors in its ranks. The party’s policies include holding a referendum on independence within the first year of the next Scottish Parliament, abolishing the monarchy, creating a written constitution, and promoting Scottish culture and languages.
How has the SNP reacted to the defections?
The SNP has dismissed the defections as insignificant and accused the Alba Party of being divisive and damaging to the cause of independence. The SNP leader and current First Minister Nicola Sturgeon has said that she will not work with Salmond or his party, and has urged voters to back the SNP with both votes in the upcoming election.
The SNP has also defended its record on delivering for Scotland and advancing the case for independence. The party says it has a clear mandate to hold another referendum once the Covid-19 pandemic is over, and that it has the support of a majority of Scots for its vision of a fairer and more prosperous country.
What are the implications of the defections for the Scottish election?
The defections are unlikely to have a major impact on the outcome of the Scottish election, which is scheduled for May 6. The SNP is still widely expected to win a majority of seats and form the next government, while the Alba Party is projected to win only a handful of seats at best.
However, the defections could signal some discontent and disillusionment among some SNP members and supporters, who may feel that the party has become too complacent or cautious on independence. The defections could also increase the tensions and animosity between the SNP and the Alba Party, which could harm the unity and coherence of the pro-independence movement.
Will Scotland become independent anytime soon?
The question of Scottish independence remains unresolved and contentious, despite the 2014 referendum that resulted in a 55% to 45% vote in favour of staying in the UK. Since then, Brexit, Covid-19, and political scandals have changed the landscape and shifted public opinion.
According to recent polls, support for independence is slightly higher than support for staying in the UK, but still below 50%. The outcome of the Scottish election could affect the prospects of another referendum, as well as the negotiations and relations between Scotland and Westminster.
However, even if Scotland votes for independence in a future referendum, there are many challenges and uncertainties ahead. For instance, Scotland would have to decide whether to join or rejoin the EU, NATO, or other international organizations; how to manage its economy, currency, and public services; how to deal with its borders, trade, and security; and how to maintain its cultural and historical ties with the rest of Britain.