2007 - 2021

Alba Voice – Vote Independence on 5th May

On St Andrew’s Day 2010 we announced our plans to encourage voters to spoil their ballots and write INDEPENDENCE on their AV forms. Today we repeat that call and ask for volunteers to leaflet, blog and twitter their support for the Alba Voice campaign.

Since then the campaign has grown in support. Click on Wales wrote: “The idea is for voters to write ‘INDEPENDENCE’ across the AV ballot, thus spoiling their papers. Spoilt ballots must, by law be counted. The plan – essentially, to force the British State to host, pay for and count a referendum they didn’t want to have – is groundbreaking in UK politics.”

Stuart Mackay wrote: “AV is just a smokescreen for change. It’s British politics at it’s dire turgid worst. It’s puerile tinkering dressed up as change.” Adding simply: “There is no cost to spoiling your ballot, it’s a claim for real democracy.”

Caitlin O Hara responded saying: “At last someone with some life and energy. I’m supporting the Bella campaign because it proves that we exist. Anything to sink the Cleggoron nightmare”.

Scotnatus wrote: “There is a certain elegance about this protest action. The spoiled vote is on a referendum ballot which emphasises the ConDemLab hypocrisy in having their AV referendum but denying one on independence.”

Alex Buchanan wrote: “I think it’s a good idea mainly because in doing something you not only get noticed but you also feel empowered [look at the student demos]. I also think the lack of concern for the effects of the AV vote and Royal wedding on the Scottish parliamentary election requires a response.”

Naysayers, feinthearts and the terminally liberal have qualms about any actions such as these, but can you imagine the response of the British establishment faced with a renewed SNP majority, a failed AV vote and viral and virile campaign sabotaging the AV poll? An insurgent campaign for self-determination demanding real democracy and real constitutional change is the last thing the Bullingdon Club Cabinet could stomach.

The reality is that the longer the AV ‘campaigns’ drone on the less anyone cares.

Support has spread across the UK. In England Toque wrote: “I don’t see the point of AV and remain completely unconvinced by any argument that it is an improvement on FPTP – as far as I can see it’s just a sop to the Lib Dems designed to put off any move to a proportional system. It’s a cynical referendum that deserves to be scuppered. “

Alex Porter from Newsnet Scotland wrote: “We fully support this great initiative. It is a time to stand up to the captured mainstream media in Scotland. It is a time not for defenceless victimhood, apathy and deference but of determined struggle, engagement and defiance. We are no longer content to complain – we are waking Scotland up!”

None of the independence parties have made it their core message in this campaign. There’s good reason for this, it’s been a campaign where the SNP have fought on their record in office and their vision for the future. The Scottish Greens have campaigned on ecology and the SSP and Solidarity have campaigned for socialism. This is an opportunity to put the issue back on the map and remind the political authorities that the issue is live.

Dumb and Dumberer
Supporters and opponents of AV bring together the worst of both worlds. With John Reid on one side and Nick Clegg on the other, it’s difficult to tell which you’ rather see fail most. Either result will be a slap in the face for Dumb & Dumberer in Downing Street:  A ‘Yes’ vote for AV would, we’re told be a disaster for David Cameron, a ‘No’ vote we’re told would be a disaster for Nick Clegg. Either way the campaigns are descending into farce.

A low vote in England (we’re told) would be an electoral muddle. This is the likeliest option. After foisting this charlatan referendum on Scotland and Wales on the day of our national elections, the disgraced ConDem government have further muddied the waters of the nonsense AV poll and pundits now fear mass indifference south of the border. An uninspiring campaign and the rejection of Nick Clegg’s credibility means there’s widespread disdain for the whole botched issue.

Paul Bickley, senior researcher at public theology think tank Theos, told Channel 4 News: “Both campaigns are trying to create interest by using exaggeration and hyperbole and over-egg the extent change would make… but FPTP and AV are close cousins, if not Add Pollsiblings, and in some senses a change would not make that much of a difference.”

So let’s turn a miserable little compromise into a voice for real change. You now effectively have 3 votes for independence on the 5th May – let’s make our voice heard. AV=Alba Voice. Vote Yes Yes Yes for independence!

So with this in mind  we call for all Scots who support our country’s independence to write the word INDEPENDENCE in bold letters across the AV voting slip on 5th May.


We need supporters to contact us and we will mail you leaflets and email you badges and logos and twibbons to add to your website, facebook page etc

Contact us at: [email protected] We also need financial support, so if you want to support our work go here.

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  1. Aucheorn says:

    We can ALL write INDEPENDENCE across the ballot paper and if it does not interfere with a clearly marked “X” for YES or NO the vote will be counted.

    That way all these papers so marked WILL survive the count and be kept for future researchers.

    We should vote yes, it’ll piss off Cameron and if YES win they’ll prevaricate so much it won’t matter to us as we will have left Wasteminster.

  2. Crazy Daisy says:

    I’ve already decided to do this! Saor Alba

  3. This is a fantastic web site, congratulations and many thanks to those of you run it.
    With great respect I am a reluctant unionist entirely unconvinced by these arguements or indeed the banality of spoiling ballot papers on a serious question.
    We stand on the brink of an ecological melt down and unless radical change takes place in our lifestyles within the next few years then there will be a severe denigration in the quality of many lives across the planet and we will have passed the point where our eco systems can heal themselves.
    That our energies at this critical time should be diverted by a cause which in many , though I grant you not all, cases is driven by indulgent self serving sentimentality seems worrying.
    Nobody can doubt Alex Salmond’s political genius which outshines any other in the parliament, but this is not the right moment to be wasting energy on dismantling a political union and becoming a banana republic without the advantage of having any bananas.

    1. bellacaledonia says:

      Are you following the debate on renewable energy? With a target of 100% renewables this country can lead the way. To go further than this, block nuclear power completely, and utilise our natural resources responsibly and effectively we need the full range of political powers that come with Independence.

      Anyway, nows a time for action, using the discredited AV vote to raise the idea of Independence on 5th May

      Vote for Independence three times on 5th May. You know it makes sense.


  4. James Kelly says:

    I fully support a Yes vote in the referendum. As a matter of principle, AV will be a somewhat (not dramatically, but somewhat) better system than the current one, and as it happens it will also be good for the Scottish national movement – it will kill Labour’s argument in Westminster elections that you ‘have to vote for us to keep the Tories out’ stone dead. In future, voters will be able to say “no problem, I’ll give you my second/fourth/seventh preference, ahead of the Tories”.

    It’s also worth bearing in mind the potential impact of Scotland voting Yes in this referendum, and England voting No – which on current polling now seems perfectly possible. Duvergences like that always make the media sit up and take notice – remember the ITV phone vote ‘referendum’ on the monarchy a decade ago in which only Scotland voted for abolition? It would certainly have a far greater impact than 0.1% or 0.2% of the electorate spoiling their ballots in particular way, which is basically what we’re talking about here. And of course those ballots won’t even be counted separately – they’ll just be lumped in with all the other spoiled ballots.

    From my own perspective I’ll be voting for independence twice on May 5th – it’s simply not possible to do it three times.

    1. bellacaledonia says:

      You’ve got a very precise estimate of our campaigns impact James, 0.1% Wow!

      I’m not sure how interested in making the media sit up and take notice, nor what great impact some people voting No2AV and some people
      in the south of the UK voting Yes2AV would make? It all seems a bit odd, why would that make a difference to the independence movement?

      1. James Kelly says:

        It wasn’t that precise an estimate, actually – it was 0.1% to 0.2%. I’ll be duly impressed if you manage a lot more, but I’m still unclear how even 2% would advance the cause of independence. Everyone knows the core vote for independence is far, far higher than that – what exactly will it have proved? It will be a very minor curiosity and then swiftly forgotten.

        On yoyr latter point, any divergence in view between Scotland and the rest of the UK drives the point home that this is a country with its own distinct political culture. And if you find that suggestion ‘odd’, frankly I can’t think of anything much odder than the notion that a huge difference can be made by a very small percentage of people scrawling the word “independence” on a ballot paper that asks the question ‘Yes or No to electoral reform?’.

        But as I started by saying, I regard AV as preferable to the current system as a matter of principle, so that’s my main reason for voting Yes. I know that some people don’t have a view one way or the other, in which case spoiling their ballot in an unusual way might seem the way to go. But personally I intensely dislike sitting on the fence, and I’m not about to start now in an important referendum.

  5. bellacaledonia says:

    I think the people who don’t have a view one way or another are unlikely to be motivated to take a form of direct action.

    Your welcome to your view James but I’m not sure how anyone would be sitting on the fence by taking part in our campaign?

    People are coming to support the campaign because they are sick of the liberal politics and deceit which it represents (ie gradualist inconsequential constitutional reform – heard anything about House of Lords reforms in the past decade?)

    I don’t think there’s any problem in driving home the point that this is a country with its own distinct political culture, given expected electoral results.

    The movement for self-determination needs to find expression and new forms of protest and campaigning, not just sit around and wait for the Calman proposals to allow Scotland to legislate on airgun licences. There’s a sort of desultory passivity to much of the opposition we’re hearing.

    1. James Kelly says:

      “but I’m not sure how anyone would be sitting on the fence by taking part in our campaign?”

      By spoiling their ballot paper in a referendum on electoral reform, rather than taking a view on the issue in hand. But it’s funny you should put it that way, though, because I seem to recall a few months ago Bella describing those of us who actually wanted to participate in the AV referendum as ‘fence-sitters’ – now that really was perverse! The ‘desultory passivity’ jibe carries on in much the same vein. However, I’m intrigued by Aucheorn’s suggestion that it would be possible to both write ‘independence’ on a non-interfering part of the ballot paper and have a Yes vote counted – I’ve no idea if that’s the legal position, but it’s certainly worth looking into.

      For the record, I’m not remotely interested in waiting around for Westminster to grant us the power to legislate on airguns – that’s why I’ll be voting SNP twice to make a real independence referendum happen.

      By the way, I’m confused by your repeated reference to a rejection of ‘liberal politics’. Liberal is the most multi-functional word in the political lexicon – by some definitions I would consider liberal politics to be a thoroughly good thing. What does it mean in this particular context?

  6. bellacaledonia says:

    This could become tedious. We would be taking a view on the issue at hand and deciding it was a worthless exercise.

    I don’t see how the AV campaign impacts at all on voting, so your twice SNP vote seems like a good idea, we are simply offering a third vote for independence.

    The Liberalism I’m referring to is the belief that tinkering with the way people are elected to Westminster represents significant change. It doesn’t. So its the liberal view that incremental changes cumulatively create a better society. I believe this to be disproved. More often they are used to inoculate the system against real change.

  7. bellacaledonia says:

    Theres one good solid reason why this campagn is necessary. Namely,to counterpose Independence to irrelevant tinkering with the Westminster voting system.

    If like Jamrs a voter in Scotland feels that AV is better than FPTP or that voting different to England will register a difference in attitudes then vote Yes.

    This campaign is aimed at galvanising Scots who are sick of sops, fudges and worthless distractions into registering their dissatisfaction with this pointless charade.

    Take your pick, but recognise that getting out and registering the first two votes for pro-independence parties is the more important task of the day.

    I’ll enjoy writing INDEPENDENCE across London’s worthless piece of scrap paper. Try it. It’ll feel good. 🙂

    Kevin W

  8. burdzeyeview says:

    I agree with Kevin. I want electoral reform but do I care if we have it for UK elections? No. Cos whatever and however Scotland votes is dismissed by the UK – and frankly a Yes vote for AV up here and a No vote down here will do as absolutely no good at all.

    AV is a blunt instrument – why are we Scots prepared to do the Lib Dems dirty work for them, when they are colluding with the Conservatives to inflict such pain on our people and communities?

    We should boycott the referendum but use the opportunity to “talk” independence. Something that very few others have been prepared to do in this election.

    Alex Salmond did not proceed with a referendum bill because he wanted the chance to take the case directly to the people in this campaign. He has not. Independence and more importantly its benefits and what it can deliver for Scotland has scarcely been mentioned because apparently voting for a party who promise the status quo is the way to bring about change.

    I will be participating in this protest for all of these reasons and more. If we want independence to happen, we need to use every electoral opportunity to talk about it and get it on the agenda. It’s that simple.

    1. James Kelly says:

      I hope and pray that 2010 is the last UK general election that Scotland participates in, but should we really be putting all our eggs in that basket? I find it really hard not to ‘care’ about the conduct and outcome of Westminster elections for as long as they affect us – otherwise we might as well go down the Sinn Fein route and become abstentionists.

      “why are we Scots prepared to do the Lib Dems dirty work for them, when they are colluding with the Conservatives to inflict such pain on our people and communities?”

      With respect, Kate, I find that sort of argument utterly incomprehensible. This referendum isn’t about whether we collaborate with the Lib Dems or with Tory cuts – it’s about whether AV or FPTP is a better electoral system, and the Yes campaign is thoroughly cross-party. Millions of votes are wasted in every general election under FPTP, two-thirds of MPs are ‘elected’ on the basis of minority support, voters feel obliged to vote tactically for a party they dislike to have a chance of giving their vote any value, etc, etc – I’d suggest these issues do matter, in Scotland as much as anywhere else.

  9. Tocasaid says:

    Turn out for the AV vote will be derisory anyway. My say on the matter is that neither system is to my liking and that I won’t shore up the London Lib Dems pathetic attempt to kid us on that they’re ‘very’ different to the Tories they share power with.

    If they are that different, give us an independence vote.

    Saor Alba.

    1. Ray Bell says:

      “Turn out for the AV vote will be derisory anyway.”

      It will be better in Scotland and Wales, for obvious reasons. I think it will be low in England.

  10. Aucheorn says:

    Polling Station staff have been instructed wherever possible to issue the AV Ballot paper where the voter is entitled to receive one, if the voter declines the AV Ballot paper the register is to be marked in a particular way. These are the instructions from THE COUNTING OFFICER in London.

    So please make life easier for the Polling staff, take the paper and use as in my previous post or spoil it, your choice.

    1. Doug Daniel says:

      Is there anywhere online this can be verified? I tried to search for information but couldn’t find any. This could be another good option.

      1. Aucheorn says:

        I’ve done the training !

        I’m not permitted to say more !

  11. Vronsky says:

    I’m dying to see what algebra you can invent on May 6th that apportions independence a share of the spoiled ballots, and why that fraction of a fraction is epochal and world changing. But I’m just a liberal, I suppose.

  12. Michael Gardiner says:

    There will be a queue of people a mile long telling you this is irresponsible and ineffective. I think your reading of democratic process is absolutely right. It can be a struggle to explain this to people, but proactively refusing to give a mandate to British managerial politics is, I think, the democratically responsible thing to do. The first-ever national partly-proportional elections in Britain took place in Scotland, not as a result of agreeing with the British political classes’ attempt to reshuffle power, but in a struggle against it. (Compare, for example, Scottish devolution with the UK Executive’s out-and-out attempt to fix the result of the 2000 GLA elections). And from the democratic demand in Scotland came the possibility of more open and first-principles discussion on educational inclusion, healthcare, civil liberties, and all the other issues which are obviously lost on a British level. Go it alone, don’t dignify the corrupted question with an answer, but make your commitment heard. The right thing to do in my opinion.

    1. bellacaledonia says:

      Thanks Michael

  13. Dougie Strang says:

    It could be that we are about to witness a profound shift in Scottish politics on May the 5th. Check out Newsnet’s recent article if you haven’t already: http://www.newsnetscotland.com/scottish-politics/2176-is-the-sun-setting-on-labours-scottish-empire.html

    As such, a significant percentage of spoiled ballots would simply be the icing on the cake. Go for it Alba Voice!

  14. Doug Daniel says:

    I’m undecided what to do in this referendum. I’m going to be offshore on 5th May (absolutely gutted that I won’t be able to stay up for the results – hopefully they’ll take ages to announce the winner like last time around) so I’ve had to appoint a proxy to vote for me. Unfortunately, while this particular proxy is in favour of Scottish independence, she’s not in favour of spoiling ballot papers. So I’m left with three options:

    1) Get her to vote “Yes”, because as pointless as this referendum is, AV is marginally better than FPTP
    2) Get her to vote “No”, because it annoys me that Nick Clegg and his band of Orange Bookers sold out their party for this pointless little referendum, and you get the impression a No result will be disastrous for him (I’ve also been getting fed up of the way the “Yes To Fairer Votes” campaign has latched onto the AV vote as if it’s the silver bullet they’ve been campaigning for since the dawn of time, when it’s really just a sop to the Lib Dems)
    3) Tell her not to accept the referendum ballot paper and just opt out of this pointless referendum completely.

    I might end up opting for option 3, such is my utter, UTTER indifference to this referendum on the English parliament’s voting system.

    Incidentally, I don’t know if it’s a case of collective consciousness or if it’s just that Bella’s idea has given birth to other movements, but there are “spoil your ballot” campaigns elsewhere, such as Cornwall and Wales.

  15. GordonWright says:

    We all know that the unionist argument of if you want Independence then vote in a majority of independence supporting parties would rapidly change to said parties being “multi-issue”.

    We need an independence referendum and in its absence meantime we must use all legitimate means of expressing our desires for this. AV is a cop out a sop and supports the major parties. Proposing it as “more proportional” is a fraud on the electorate. Let’s use the opportunity to press for real change,… for independence.

  16. Jimbo says:

    Then of course, thanks to all the purposely wasted papers, we’ll have so many spoiled votes that other countries will be saying that the bloody stupid Scots couldn’t even get a Yes/No vote right. They are indeed too stupid to govern themselves.

    Yup, wind up the idiot Nats to spoil their papers then Dave gets to keep the Tory stranglehold – sounds like a good Tory plan. Who’s the genius fifth columnist among us who proposed this jolly jape?

    The first post on this thread from Aucheorn is the way to do it. That way you get two bites of the cherry.

  17. vera says:

    “we’ll have so many spoiled votes that other countries will be saying that the bloody stupid Scots couldn’t even get a Yes/No vote right”

    No we won’t. Don’t do the pinched nose vote, Scots! Vote independence! 🙂

  18. Johnj says:

    On behalf of all English Taxpayers id just like to say….Hurry up!.

    PS: Scotland is an EU Region ruled from Brussels, not ‘London’, and rule from Brussels is not ‘Independence’.

    Best of luck.


  19. cynicalHighlander says:

    I shall be writing INDEPENDENCE on my AV vote but am still unsure as to leave it in the valid or spoilt category still tossing coins on that.

  20. Castle Rock says:

    “Scotch EU Regional Assembly

    Project funded by English taxpayers”

    I’m all for free speech but do we really have to read the racist guff of Johnj on here?

    If I want to read guff like that I can go to the comments on the TelegraphGuardianDaily Mail, etc, where likeminded people like Johnj spout their bile on a regular basis.

    Maybe he’s got confused in his inebriated racist state and stumbled on here in error?

    Here’s hoping.

    1. bellacaledonia says:

      You may be right Castle Rock…

  21. Junius says:

    I hope and pray that you will get your independence very very soon; it really can’t come soon enough for either us on both sides of the border.

    Much more of the ranting of Johnj and Castle Rock and it will be pistols at dawn. However, I do think it is a little risky to be deliberately antagonising the 50 million or so sitting right on your doorstep – push us too far and the divorce settlement may not be to your liking. Just a wee hint, as my granny would say.

  22. Well done to the Bella Caledonia team an inspiration to all that is Scotland.
    Great photo of the Bruce statue we remember that night well. What about a plug to the blog.


    Remember today is just another step in the long road. “THE STRUGGLE GOES ON”

    Saor Alba!

  23. Kenny says:

    Trying to find results of referendum that count the spoilt ballots. It seems that they are ignoring spoilt ballots. Can anyone explain this?

    1. James Hunter says:

      You don’t say 🙂

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