ALEX Salmond’s Alba Party has urged the grassroots Yes movement to unite and take to the streets to secure independence after the failure of the SNP to take the initiative.
In a new video message, Alba MP Kenny MacAskill said the movement risked missing out on “an historic opportunity” to achieve its goal because of “inaction” at Holyrood.
Calling a gathering of the Yes clans, the former SNP Justice Secretary said he wanted “all good folk” to come together to plan the way ahead, even if they had to meet on Calton Hill.
He said it was clear change would have to come from “outwith” Holyrood, and was “going to require extra-parliamentary action”, including demonstrations.
He said that once Covid restrictions lifted, all arms of the independence movement should come together and work out their strategy, possibly through a constitutional convention.
He said: “I implore the Yes movement – let’s meet, let’s come together, let’s prepare, and let’s get Scotland moving towards being an independent nation once again.”
Nicola Sturgeon has said she wants a second independence referendum by 2024, Covid permitting, with independence itself in 2026.
However Boris Johnson has refused to grant Holyrood the requisite powers, saying now is not the time, when the focus should be on economic recovery after the pandemic.
Last week, Cabinet office minister Michael Gove said he did not expect Mr Johnson to allow Indyref2 before the next scheduled general election in 2024.
Mr Salmond and Alba argue the First Minister is allowing independence to “go cold”, and that unless Yes supporters take action, they will cede the initiative to Westminster.
In Alba’s latest weekly video message to members and supporters, Mr MacAskill quoted the former Yes Scotland chair Denis Canavan, who this called for “more effort” to update the prospectus for independence and act on the mandate won at the Holyrood election.
The East Lothian MP, who defected to Alba from the SNP in March, said: “ This is the time that we should be acting. Sadly, the leadership of the Yes movement is not coming from within Holyrood, it’s going to have to come from outwith, from all those groups that are out there, all those individuals and organisations that have been keeping the flame of Scotland and the cause of independence alive.
“I believed, back in 2019 when I was elected, a Scottish Constitutional Convention should have been called, so that we could have brought the elected representatives of Scotland together to face the challlenges of Boris Johnson and of Brexit.
“Sadly, despite the Scottish Government showing willingness, it’s yet to meet.
“We cannot allow similar inaction to happen to the Yes movement and the independence cause. The action and the position is going to have to be taken by those outside.
“It’s going to require extra parliamentary groups. It’s going to require extra parliamentary action.
“What we have to do, therefore, is to meet, to get together, to have all good folk come together to put forward their position, and to decide how we’re going to go forward.
“We cannot, as I say, allow this moment to pass.”
Mr MacAskill went on: “I think that we should be seeking, as lockdown restrictions lift, not only to carry out the demonstration static and otherwise that are now taking place, but we have to make arrangements for us to meet, for all those groups and individuals who have Scotland at their core, and at their heart, to come together, to decide on a strategy, to get the policy. All of which should have been done over the last few years, and hasn’t.
“But we can do it, it is being done, it’s going to have to be done by those outwith of Holyrood.
“And that’s why I would hope it’s Sunday like Dennis [Canavan] on indeed another leading stalwart would help to convene.
“It doesn’t matter where we go, there are venues, we can even meet outside on Calton Hill if the weather permits, but we’ve got to come together, we’ve got to prepare, we’ve got to get the ground laid, and this is a time that we’ve got to take action.
“So I implore the Yes movement – let’s meet, let’s come together, let’s prepare, and let’s get Scotland moving towards being an independent nation once again.”
Scottish Liberal Democrat MP Alistair Carmichael said: “Were we not still going through a global pandemic, it would be comical that Kenny Macaskill wants to literally march the Alba party up a hill.
“With his East Lothian constituency currently reporting the third highest case rate in Scotland, it’s possible his constituents might not look too kindly on people encouraging large gatherings, though I suppose that having spent a chunk of lockdown at his home in Moray he may not be aware of this.
“Scotland needs a needle-sharp focus on protecting jobs and rebuilding our health service, not more self-aggrandising displays from yesterday’s men.”