By Joe Sweeney.
I sat down with Alex Salmond last month to get a quick interview with him while he was up in Inverness.
Here is how it went:
I’m sitting with Alex Salmond in The Chieftain Hotel in Inverness.
He’s just launched the Wee Blue Book in Inverness.
Alex, tell me why I should give you my vote, because that’s what everybody wants to know?
“It’s The Wee Alba Book, the wee blue book was its great forerunner in the referendum campaign and lots of folks have fond memories of it.
“This is the updated new case for independence, looking at what’s happened since 2014 and it’s going down a storm, I’m in the meeting here in Inverness and meetings around the country, I think that there are about 30 taking place over the next month.
“That brings us to why vote Alba, because Alba is the only party to see independence as an urgency, something that should happen now, for the here and now, not for the hereafter.
“That is the case we’re taking to people, now every Alba candidate including the fab four in the highlands are putting forward issues for their wards, as you would expect in a local election.
“With running this across the country, people want us to demonstrate that we want to see action on independence, we don’t want to see any more delays, we don’t want prevarication, we don’t want excuses, for we want action on independence and to see it as a matter of urgency for the Scottish people.”
In the last election the SNP told us vote one and two for SNP, that this would give us a super majority, that failed.
Personally, I’ve always voted for independence, I voted SNP one and two, yet we’ve got loads of non-independence supporting candidates voted into the Scottish Parliament.
What most people will probably want to know is should they vote SNP first or should the vote Alba first and SNP second, or vice versa?
“What we’re saying is that you should vote Alba first in the wards where we have Alba, we have 111 candidates around Scotland, and 4 in the highlands, and then you should vote for another independence candidate as your second preference and so on.
“So, what we are saying is vote down the list, vote till you boak as they say of independence candidates 1, 2, 3, 4, and 5 and therefore you don’t lose anything, because you know if Alba gets knocked out then your vote transfers to the SNP or another independence supporting candidate.
“Now the SNP are saying only vote for them, they are not even saying vote for The Greens, which is just almost as daft as they did last year, in a single transferable vote system, you have preference voting and therefore people should take advantage of that.
“You should vote down the line for independence, so you’re saying Alba, one, and then another independent supporting candidate as your second and third preference?”
If you get a foothold in Scottish Politics, when would you like to see a referendum?
“I’m not even restricting myself to a referendum, when I came to an agreement about a referendum in 2014, then The Edinburgh Agreement as it was, because that was the way to get a test of independence.
“But let’s just say Boris Johnson says no, you’re not getting one, then you have to have a strategy, you can’t just say that, well thats that we’ll pack up our bags and go home.
“On the contrary, you have to have a campaign which involves popular demonstration, peaceful action, you have to have legal moves, you have to have diplomatic moves, you have to have a backstop, you have to have a plan B, you have to say, right, okay, if you don’t give us a referendum, we’ll make the general election the test.
“As long as it’s a democratic test that’s the main thing.
“That requires urgency, requires commitment and requires determination, you know that’s in short supply at the present moment, hopefully Alba can inject it into this campaign and be the grit and the independence oyster.”
How are you enjoying this now compared to being an MP in the past and being First Minister, how are you enjoying your new life?
“I’m doing the meetings which I’m doing every day, I mean, last night was Arbroath on the sixth of April, you know the anniversary of the declaration independence, today its Inverness, tomorrow its Falkirk and then on Saturday I’m back in Aberdeen shire, I love it, I love these meetings, because remember for obvious reasons, we haven’t had the opportunity to do Town Hall type meetings for some considerable time.
“This is very much what Alba needs as a grassroots party going to the people discussing the issues about independence, craving the resolve and the interest that comes from these sorts of meetings and take them right across the country.
“This one of thirty meetings we are doing between now and polling day, every one of them is going to be hugely entertaining so I’m having the time my life.”
What sort of reception are you getting, how are you being received?
“It’s great, we are playing to packed houses, even in these times, we’re getting a great reception, great crowds and there’s real interest in this book, The Wee Alba Book is causing real interest because a lot of people in the independence movement in particular think that there are new issues we’ve got to argue about.
“There are issues about Europe, borders, currency, trade, these are all big issues and The Wee Alba Book explains some of it, it does it in a matter of fact conversational way which people find interesting.
“It’s also got few little gizmos, you know there are QR codes, you put a smartphone, which I know you’ve got because you’re holding it in front of me and scan the QR codes and you get an expert talking about Scotland finances, it’s really engaging the way it’s done.
“It’s causing a lot of interest and it’s the right publication at the right time in terms of helping to reinvigorate the independence campaign.”
So, you still believe?
“Absolutely” he said with conviction.