Ash Regan’s defection is a major boost for Alba
Ash Regan, a former SNP minister who resigned over the controversial gender recognition bill, has joined the Alba Party, becoming its first ever MSP. Regan said he was motivated by his commitment to women’s rights and independence, and accused the SNP of being “complacent and arrogant” in power. He also said he was impressed by Alba’s vision of a Scotland United front to advance the constitutional cause.
Regan’s defection is a major boost for Alba, which failed to win any seats in the 2021 Scottish Parliament election, despite being led by former First Minister Alex Salmond. The party has been struggling to gain traction and credibility since its launch in March 2021, and has faced criticism and mockery from the SNP leadership and supporters.
Humza Yousaf’s response is dismissive and churlish
Humza Yousaf, the current First Minister and SNP leader, responded to Regan’s defection with a dismissive and churlish tone. He said he was “not bothered” by Regan’s move, and claimed that Alba was irrelevant and had no influence on Scottish politics. He also suggested that Regan was motivated by personal ambition and resentment, rather than principle.
Yousaf’s response was criticised by some commentators and activists, who accused him of being out of touch and arrogant. They pointed out that Regan had served as a minister alongside Yousaf, and had resigned on principle over the gender recognition bill, which has divided the SNP and the wider independence movement. They also argued that Yousaf should not underestimate Alba’s potential to attract more SNP defectors and supporters who are disillusioned with the party’s direction and performance.
Alba Party aims to create a Scotland United front
The Alba Party aims to create a Scotland United front to drive forward the constitutional issue, and to challenge the SNP’s dominance and complacency in Scottish politics. The party advocates for a more radical and urgent approach to achieving independence, and for a more democratic and inclusive process of drafting a new constitution for Scotland. The party also supports a range of progressive policies on social justice, environmental protection, economic development, and international relations.
The party has been reaching out to other pro-independence parties and groups, such as the Scottish Greens, the Scottish Socialist Party, the Radical Independence Campaign, and Women for Independence. The party has also been working with independent nationalist MPs in Westminster, such as Angus McNeil, who recently left the SNP over its lack of action on independence. The party hopes to form a Scotland United bloc in various forums and platforms, to put pressure on the UK government and to mobilise public support for independence.
SNP faces internal divisions and external challenges
The SNP faces internal divisions and external challenges that could undermine its position and credibility as the leading force for independence. The party has been rocked by scandals and controversies involving some of its senior figures, such as former First Minister Nicola Sturgeon, former Finance Secretary Derek Mackay, former Justice Secretary Michael Matheson, former Health Secretary Jeane Freeman, and former Chief Executive Peter Murrell. The party has also been accused of mismanaging some of its key policy areas, such as health, education, justice, transport, and Covid-19 response.
The party has also been criticised for its lack of vision and strategy on independence, and for its reliance on opinion polls and legal challenges to justify its inaction. The party has been reluctant to pursue alternative routes to independence, such as a consultative referendum, a plebiscite election, or a unilateral declaration of independence. The party has also been alienating some of its core supporters and allies by pursuing divisive policies on gender identity, land reform, drug decriminalisation, NATO membership, and currency union.
What will happen next?
The political landscape in Scotland is changing rapidly and unpredictably. The defection of Ash Regan to Alba is a sign of the growing discontent and frustration within the SNP and the wider independence movement. It is also a sign of the growing confidence and ambition of Alba as an alternative voice for independence. The question is: what will happen next? Will more SNP members follow Regan’s example and join Alba? Will Alba be able to build a Scotland United front with other pro-independence parties and groups? Will the SNP be able to overcome its internal divisions and external challenges? And most importantly: will Scotland be able to achieve its long-awaited independence?