SCOTT MacDonald’s Long Letter from the SSP (February 20) is a welcome contribution to what I am sure will be an ongoing discussion in the pages of The National, and across the Yes movement. This is the discussion on how to secure the maximum number of pro-indy MSPs in 2021 through a “Max the Yes” strategy. In brief, that means the whole of Yes getting behind the SNP in the constituencies, then voting for another pro-indy grouping on the list.

Scott himself makes the case well for the Max the Yes strategy, and it is indeed logically true that because of the way the additional member system works, the SNP could get a million votes on the regional lists in 2021 and not win a single list seat. Their vote will be divided by the huge number of constituencies they win.

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Alternatively, a pro-indy group or parties standing ONLY on the list can make all of those indy votes count towards getting pro-indy MSPs elected, and Unionists booted out.

This is an argument that has largely been won.

The area of debate and discussion – which I hope can be conducted in a comradely and constructive fashion – will now increasingly focus on whether we “Max the Yes” best through a single, open, and transparent alliance representing all of Yes, and containing Yes groups and individuals as well as the smaller Yes parties, or whether that goal is best served by having a range of pro-indy parties or alliances to choose from on the list.

Scott restates the SSP’s current position of standing as its own entity articulately. It’s a position I completely understand, but there is a long way to go, and I would urge Scott and the SSP not to close any doors on working with, or standing as part of, the Aye Alliance a year in May.

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As someone who was a member and office bearer of Scott’s party at the time some of the early triumphs he refers to took place, and as the person who chaired the Max the Yes/People’s Alliance/Aye Alliance conference of more than 30 Yes groups in Glasgow a few weeks ago, I would wish to assure Scott and the whole of the SSP that the Alliance is no “Trojan Horse”.

The classical allusion requires something to be hidden, to leap out in surprise once taken through the gates, in order to be valid. But from the outset we have made it crystal clear that if possible we want to stand on the list as a single Alliance that represents all of Yes, and includes all of the smaller indy parties. If I may quote from the statement of aims and objectives agreed unanimously by the Alliance and which heads up the People’s Alliance Facebook page: “We want to build a single Alliance of the smaller Yes parties, Yes groups and Yes activists to stand on the list across the regions of Scotland – preferably unopposed by the SNP – to maximise the number of pro-independence MSPs, and minimise the number of Unionists elected, on the list.”

And from our conference resolution “(we) undertake to write to all of the smaller independence parties no later than the end of March inviting them to join and participate in the Alliance.”

We will be asking the Greens, SSP and Solidarity, and others to participate – but not dominate – as we proceed. And we have outlined in our statements of aims and objectives, “parties involved would be able to raise and argue their own programme, and groups and individuals would vote in Parliament (if elected) on other matters according to their conscience.”

We ask only that participants are committed to independence, fighting for indyref2, and to supporting the Scottish people and Scottish Government through any negotiations with rUK that result from the successful winning of our independence goal.

People and Yes groups are committing to the Max the Yes/Alliance concept daily and in increasing numbers, but I fully understand why some, especially political parties with their own name and tradition, may wish to keep a “watching brief”. It is up to those of us already committed to the Alliance concept to convince others to join us in what could be an electrifying and transformative project for Scottish independence politics.

We expect no-one to approach this uncritically or without questions, but let’s all approach it with a spirit of generosity, open minds and open hearts.

Steve Arnott