THERE’S been quite a bit of criticism in the National Conversation pages about SNP members or MPs and councillors who have defected to Alba. Cliff Purvis’s letter of April 22 is particularly vehement, although I remember an earlier letter referring to those who have moved to Alba as “fifth columnists”.

In his letter of April 25, Frank Wood outlines very clearly why many former SNP supporters have moved to Alba. There is no doubt that more detailed information is coming from Alba.

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One of the questions of current interest that Alba raises on its election leaflet is “Why are our energy bills soaring when we are more than self-sufficient in gas and generate enough renewable energy to power every home in Scotland?” And the answer given is “Because Westminster controls all Scotland’s resources.” It’s the same with other energy we generate that is sent to England because they need it. We are actually charged for sending it to them. If we were independent, then we would calculate how much electric we were sending (exporting) to them and charge them for it. No doubt we would take into account what it cost us to use our grid as far as the border with England and add those charges into the price we charged for it. Instead of enjoying that financial benefit, we are actually financially penalised for supplying England with energy! Those charges are why Longannet power station was forced to close.

If we had control of our own energy programme, instead of Westminster giving it all to private industry, we could have all the wind turbines made here in Scotland. We have the workforce and the skills. Instead, the turbines will be manufactured elsewhere (overseas – probably in the far East) and only assembled at Leith. And what is the Scottish Government doing about it? Absolutely nothing! You see, this is not a devolved matter so if Holyrood raises it, they are politely told to get back in their box. That is one of the things that’s wrong about our present situation. Every power that actually matters, everything that could be modified to the benefit of Scotland, is held by and controlled by Westminster.

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Scotland voted by 68% to 32% to remain in the EU. England voted the other way and, because of their much larger population, swung the vote against us. Our parliament should have made immediate representations to Westminster to find some way for Scotland to remain in, even if England left. The threat should have been made that if this didn’t happen, an immediate further referendum would be held asking the Scottish people to decide on independence and remaining in Europe.

Instead we were told, “We can’t have a referendum now as we have to find some means of keeping Scotland in.” Ian Blackford even told Westminster, “We will not be dragged out against our will!” But we are out – against our will. So then we were told, “We can’t have a referendum now because we have to try to get the best possible deal for Scotland.” And, of course, we are well aware we got the worst possible deal. But it should never have reached that stage. By then we should have been out of the UK and negotiating the continuation of our EU membership.

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Then came Covid, and we couldn’t have a referendum then because we had to deal with the pandemic. All the way through the Covid situation we were told how much better we could have dealt with it, and how much quicker and more effectively we could have recovered from it, if we were independent. But we are not independent, because the Scottish Government didn’t act when it should have.

So, I joined Alba. Not because I am a fifth columnist or because I want to disrupt any chance of getting independence, but simply because I am fed up with the SNP continually delaying any referendum for no valid reason. Like Frank Wood, I really do feel the SNP need a wake-up call. Hopefully they will get one from the local elections.

Charlie Kerr