Scottish Election 2021: Galloway warns of Catalonia-style unrest if Salmond reaches Holyrood
George Galloway has warned of a “recipe for trouble in Scotland” if Alex Salmond “has the whip hand” in the next Scottish Parliament.
The All For Unity founder said if a pro-independence majority is elected to Holyrood on May 6, including MSPs from Mr Salmond’s Alba party, then Scotland would be on “the road to Catalonia”.
His warning came as he launched his party’s manifesto, which calls for a second Scottish referendum to only take place if more than 50 per cent of all Scottish adults cast their ballot for a party pledging independence.
The document also says if a referendum does take place and a majority of Scots vote to leave the UK, individual regions of the country should be allowed to opt either to remain in the union or become part of an independent country.
Despite a new poll which saw his party included in the category of “other” and only polling two per cent – down two percentage points from a previous poll – Mr Galloway rejected a suggestion All For Unity was “irrelevant” and that he was “losing the argument” by getting involved in the constitutional debate rather than focusing on economic policies.
He said it was “a great pity the elections in Scotland are not fought on left-right issues but this election, if we lose it, is the first stage of the next part of the neverendum which if Alex Salmond has the whip hand is explicitly, he’s not hiding it, is explicitly the road to Catalonia.”
He added: “It’s mass street protests, immediate negotiation with the British government, it will be, very quickly, civil disobedience, it’s a recipe for trouble in Scotland – pushing and shoving trouble like Catalonia at best, and other kinds of conflict at worse.
“We have no alternative but to make this election about defending the union. We would support a government of national unity, but we cannot put our head in the sand like an ostrich and pretend that if the nationalists get back in, they will not further turn the screw on the existence of the union.
“We believe in the union why should we be apologetic about it? I believe in it for the same reason I believed in the Transport and General Workers Union, because unity is strength, and divided we fall.”
A spokesperson for Mr Salmond’s new Alba Party, dismissed Mr Galloway’s remarks, and said: “There has been no movement towards independence for the last five years despite a majority for independence in the Parliament. That is why we are aiming for a supermajority. All of us in the independence movement, including Alba, know the route to independence has to be a legal one.”
Mr Galloway said he believed it was possible for All For Unity to win a seat in every region, resulting in eight MSPs, and defended the decision to go up against other pro-union parties.
"If we were irrelevant the Conservative party would not be having a collective nervous breakdown about us,” he said. “Why should they [votes] go to other parties? The voters plainly have more confidence in us than other parties, that’s democracy.
“We’re fishing for votes from people who didn’t vote last time, which is almost half the population… among Labour, Liberal, Brexit party, UKIP... we’re fishing for votes in the whole of the river.
“I’ve been in politics a long time and my feeling is there’s a significant number of people who don't believe that the current crop of politicians in Holyrood are up to the job. They’re not fighting hard enough to defend the union, to save us from the partition of the neverendum. If I’m right about that, that may well be translated in the ballot box on May 6.”
The party leader Jamie Blackett said he believed they had been “handicapped” by not being on the televised leaders debate – which may have affected the party’s polling. He also questioned whether All For Unity was “lumped under other” and not asked about separately.
“If we were on the menu as All For Unity I suspect there may well have been people who would have said they would vote for us. We’re only a new party and there’s four weeks to go, and so there’s everything to play for. Given we are right to left across the spectrum, and fishing in the whole of the river, including soft Nat voters who may come to us than the old parties, there’s everything to play for.”
Mr Galloway also claimed to be “more Labour than Anas Sarwar” and “more pro-Union than Douglas Ross” and was the candidate “the separatists feared”.
In its manifesto, the party says the Scottish Government should be renamed the "Scottish Executive", and powers should be devolved to the regions of Scotland, rather than remaining with central government.
The manifesto states the SNP's "14 years of corruption and failure have shown the constitution settlement to be flawed", and calls for all Scottish funding to be "properly accounted for and audited each year by an external auditor".
On independence it says it would introduce a Canada-style Clarity Act, so no second referendum should be held until a clear majority of all Scottish adults entitled to vote – rather than just those who do vote – cast their votes for pro-independence parties. It also says that should a referendum be held, Scots living in every part of the UK should take part and the wording of the vote should be Leave or Remain, rather than Yes or No.
It adds that any “geographical democratic deficit” should be dealt with by a second vote, where Scotland’s regions could either ratify independence or choose to stay in the UK.
Mr Galloway said he would not want to see either Scotland become independent or broken up by region, but demand in some areas to remain part of the UK would be "unstoppable".
"Starting in Orkney and Shetland, I don't believe that they will allow themselves to be dragged into an independent Scottish state.
"I know that in Dumfries and Galloway, where the great majority – more than two-thirds – oppose separatism, that the demand to remain in Britain would probably become a cause celebre and probably become the settled will of the people."
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