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Alex Salmond calls on MPs to obstruct Westminster proceedings in Alba closing speech

ALEX Salmond has closed the Alba party conference with a speech that called on pro-independence MPs to obstruct the procedures of Westminster.

Speaking to delegates at the Albert Halls in Stirling the former First Minister said that the “gradualism” of the SNP’s approach to independence was no longer working.

He called on SNP MPs to “play Parnell” with Westminster, referring to the Irish nationalist MP Charles Stewart Parnell who drew attention to Irish issues in the 19th century by using the technical procedures of parliament to disrupt the Commons’ ability to function.

In July, Alba MPs Neale Hanvey and Kenny MacAskill were ejected from the Chamber for refusing to sit down and shouting that Scotland needed an independence referendum – action that Salmond said should be emulated.

He said: “What we need is parliamentary action just as Kenny and Neale demonstrated in the summer.

“What did one day of parliamentary action achieve apart from giving the Speaker apoplexy? Certainly the impact is time limited.

“But let us say it was happening every day with every nationalist MP taking part.

“With a determined band of 50 you could bring Westminster to a halt until Scotland’s democratic rights are respected.

“In short, we should play Parnell with Westminster to further the cause of Scotland.”

“You’ve got to seize the moments” 

 

Speaking to The National, Salmond said that the SNP needed to exploit the current chaos within the UK Government for the cause of independence.

“You’ve got to seize the moments,” he said. “Liz Truss is as bad as it gets and there’s always the chance that things will stabilise again so we should strike now.

“The idea that this Westminster government has the ability to exercise a veto I find ridiculous, they don’t have the strength to do that.

“Everything that Parnell did was within the rules and they are still huge opportunities to gum up the works of Westminster, I did some of them!

“There’s nothing new in this, it’s just a question of determination.”

Salmond also called on the Scottish Parliament to immediately introduce a bill legislating for another independence referendum, claiming that to do so would strengthen the government’s legal case for holding one.

He claimed that if Alba had successfully elected MSPs into the Scottish Parliament at last year’s elections then such a bill would already have been introduced.

He told delegates: “Because if you are going to end up in court then your chances will be infinitely higher if you go armed with a bill passed by a democratic parliament with a democratic mandate.”

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As well as criticising First Minister Nicola Sturgeon’s decision to refer Scotland’s right to hold a referendum to the Supreme Court, he told delegates that the party had “commissioned an opinion from one of Scotland’s to KCs on the real legal basis of Scotland’s right to self-determination.”

It comes as the Scottish Government prepares to release its paper on the future of Scotland’s economy and currency in an independent Scotland.

However, Salmond was sceptical whether the paper would add anything new to the debate surrounding Scotland’s future economy.

He said: “I thought initially that it might be an opportunity to rip up the Growth Commission but then John Swinney referred to the Growth Commission on Question Time on Thursday night.

“That doesn’t augur well. When I advocated a sterling agreement back in 2014 sterling was a stable currency and we were going to be partners in the European Union.

“Sterling is now an unstable currency and Brexit has happened. The world has changed.”

Earlier in the conference the party passed motion that emphasised their commitment to an independent Scotland without nuclear weapons.

The motion agreed that Scotland should not seek NATO membership, with many delegates deriding the Scottish Government’s softened approach towards hosting nuclear weapons as part of NATO.

“Ally only of voices for peace in the world”

 

ALBA Party General Secretary Chris McEleny said: “As an independent country that is a member of NATO, the risk of Scotland being dragged to conflicts we do not support would be real.

“The increasing seduction of our politicians by NATO forces would inevitably lead to a roll back of the speed at which Scotland removed Trident from the Clyde.

“An independent Scotland’s defence should exist to keep our people safe and to be an ally only of the voices for peace in the world.”

Alba have also now resolved to officially become a semi-abstentionist party.

This semi-abstentionist stance passed as an amendment to a motion calling for full abstentionism (as is practised by Sinn Fein).

However, the party resolved to maintain the presence of its MPs in Westminster albeit in a manner that forges a more adversarial relationship to the UK parliament.

Alba MP Neale Hanvey told The National: “We cannot be there to cross the T’s and dot the I’s for the Tories. That can’t be the purpose.

“I want to deliver independence for Scotland, that’s my absolute ambition.

“So, whilst I’ve been on select committees, held the government to account and made a meaningful contribution, it doesn’t achieve anything for Scotland. It really doesn’t.

“As good a contribution as some of the SNP members make, being smart on your feet in Westminster means nothing to people who have so little in Scotland.

“Being a good parliamentarian from Westminster’s perspective is not what we were sent down there to do.”



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