Kenny MacAskill claims SNP members ignored in deal with Greens

A former SNP MP has criticised the negotiations between Nicola Sturgeon and the Scottish Greens for ignoring the views of “rank and file” members as well as those of elected representatives.

Kenny MacAskill, who quit the SNP for Alex Salmond’s new Alba party earlier this year, said the decision not to involve members in the “co-operation agreement” that is being finalised could spur more of the SNP membership to switch parties.

Despite his swipe at the ongoing party talks, which are said by sources to be 98 per cent complete and will have to be approved by Scottish Greens members, Mr MacAskill also urged both the SNP and Scottish Greens to back his plan for an “independence convention” to be established after next year’s council elections.

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The convention proposal, which is to be put to the vote at Alba’s first conference in Greenock next month, would, he said, “give legitimacy and democratic authority to the ongoing independence campaign”.

Alex Salmond's Alba Party will hold its conference next month.

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Mr MacAskill also suggested the convention could involve people from pro-union parties who backed federalism, or who were “appalled at the lack of democracy on display from the UK Government”.

He said: “If the members approve the motion, then Alba would go into the council elections saying we would establish such a convention, and would encourage all pro-independence elected representatives to get involved. The SNP missed a trick in 2019 after the general election in failing to establish such a convention and then, of course, Covid happened.

“It would be a convention for all those who believe in democracy – and who are appalled at the lack of democracy on display from the UK Government, which constantly refuses to accept the will of the Scottish people to grant a referendum despite election results.

"They may not even want to go as far as independence. They may support federalism, but overall they would see that the status quo is not an option.”

Asked why the SNP or Greens would want to be involved in an Alba convention, Mr MacAskill said: “It has been the intention of the SNP leadership to freeze out Alba, but not of the membership as a whole. Do I expect Nicola Sturgeon to get on board? Not at this point, but things will have changed by then.”

He added: “For example, the coalition deal has not been put to the rank and file SNP membership and there’s been no discussion with the Westminster or Holyrood groups.

"For ordinary members, they’ve been treated as badly over this as they have over funds. At some stage this [the deal] will have to be discussed by members and I would not be surprised if more move to Alba.”

Another motion to be debated at the Alba conference demands that independence be negotiated with the UK Government at the same time as membership of the European Free Trade Association (EFTA), with Scotland having a second EU referendum in the future.

The motion states that membership of the EFTA “could be negotiated within weeks rather than years and in parallel with independence negotiations with the UK”.

It adds: “Questions of whether Scotland joined the customs union and/or full EU membership would be decisions for an independent Scottish parliament subject to ratification by the Scottish people.”

The SNP has been asked for comment.

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