I ENJOYED this weeks feature in the Sunday National on Chris McEleny’s campaign in Gourock (On the campaign trail: A defector’s thoughts on Alba ‘breakthrough’, Apr 24).

Having hoped on two occasions he would be elected depute leader of the SNP, and having been a supporter of his “Plan B” route to Scottish independence (which back in 2019 Ian Blackford said wasn’t needed as an SNP win in the General Election would blow Boris Johnson’s opposition to a referendum away), I was naturally quite annoyed when he left the SNP to join Alex Salmond’s Alba party before last year’s Holyrood elections.

However, time is a great healer and although I didn’t back Alba last year, I will be backing them this year because the SNP really do need a wake-up call.

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From my local perspective, every time McEleny gets an issue in the press he always explains the relevance of local issues to why Scotland needs to be independent. It’s this level of strategy that we need in local government. The last thing we need is Labour councils having the signs above the door changed to SNP ones but councils still failing local people.

The more pro-independence councils the better, and we need them to be councils that actually explain to people how much more could be done if Scotland were independent. As far as the SNP are concerned, they would be wise to have the new councillors they get elected read Chris McEleny’s playbook, as that’s the way to boost support for independence at a local level.

Frank Wood
Port Glasgow

WHY do the Alba party continually say they have two MPs?

People in Scotland voted for SNP candidates and got them elected. Then two of them decided to defect to another party – while negatively decrying SNP and all we are trying to achieve. Surely they should have resigned their positions? No-one voted for them as Alba candidates.

I laugh through gritted teeth each time I hear a reference in Westminster to “the honourable member” – where is the honour in these two sitting with a huge salary, pretending they got there honourably when in reality, they are there under false pretences?

Jan Ferrie

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I WOULDN’T vote for someone who defects to the opposition but doesn’t trigger a by-election. How can Alba voters be sure McEleny won’t just change party after they’ve elected him?

Ross Anderson
via thenational.scot

CLIFF Purvis has one substantial point in his letter of April 22, namely that since the vast majority of the independence movement has plumped for the “preferred route” of a referendum, we should all just shut up about any other route. The problem is that his advice, which echoes what appears to be the position of my party, the SNP, may well be suicidal.

Assuming that the Scottish Government does seriously intend to fulfil their promise of a referendum in 2023, there can be no guarantee that they will be able to do so, even leaving aside the growing difficulty of getting the necessary bill into law and all the administrative steps completed in time.

After the bill is passed by Holyrood, London has four weeks within which to refer it to the Supreme Court with a claim that it exceeds Holyrood’s legislative competence. If London does refer it, and if the Supreme Court agrees with that interpretation, the bill will not become law and there will be no referendum – full stop.

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No-one knows whether London will refer it, or what decision the court would make, but there is certainly a real chance, perhaps even a likelihood, that both contingencies will occur. In that event, Mr Purvis’s view leaves the movement up the creek without a paddle.

There is absolutely no need for the Scottish Government to lead the country into such an impasse, because there exists (and has always existed, since long before referenda came into vogue) the alternative route of a General Election under an independence manifesto. No serious political entity maintains that a referendum is the only way, except – heaven help us! – the SNP. No UK Government has ever said, or would ever say, that they could shackle Scotland to the Union against the will of the Scottish people.

Until the whole process of setting up a referendum is completed, we cannot know if it will be possible, unless London gives prior confirmation that they will not obstruct it. The Scottish Government should know that the best chance of getting cooperation from London is by telling them that we don’t need it, and that Scotland can and will hold a legal and democratic vote on independence under our own hand, by election if necessary, about which London could do nothing.

That should be Ms Sturgeon’s clear message to the people of Scotland and to the UK Government, with a rider that if London springs an election before the referendum is set in stone, the SNP will turn that election into an independence plebiscite.

Alan Crocket