Martin Keatings Stands with Action for Independence
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ONE of Scotland’s best-known Indy campaigners has joined umbrella group Action for Independence (AFI) as he eyes a regional list seat in Mid Scotland and Fife at next year’s Holyrood election.
Disability rights and carers’ campaigner Martin Keatings, who is also convener of Forward as One, and is leading legal action to establish that the Scottish Parliament does not require a section 30 order for indyref 2, announced the move yesterday as he formally declared he had joined AFI. He said previously that he did not want to stand under a political party and be “restrained” by its policies.
However, now he said he wanted to sweep up the 120,000 yes-supporting list votes in Mid Scotland and Fife. Such votes, he argues. are ‘going to waste’ because the SNP’s popularity saw them gaining so many constituency seats that they got no regional list seats.
He said “ AFI’s ‘Max the Yes’ strategy was the best way to win those regional list seats and, as an AFI member he will seek nomination for AFI's top of the list candidacy in Mid-Scotland and Fife when the process opens later this year.
Keatings said the choice facing Scotland in next year’s poll was clear: “We stand at a crossroads in terms of Scotland’s fate: a choice between a hard Tory Brexit and all of the destructive policies that will soon follow from Westminster, or the chance to define our own future.
“I have fiercely defended my status as an independent because it has given me the flexibility and the latitude to give praise and constructive criticism in equal measure. “However, now is not the time to be complacent and I need to fully acknowledge that if I stand on the regional ballot as an independent and am elected, any votes which are cast for me over and above the threshold that would see me elected, would go to waste. “At the same time, I have concluded that standing with a party would see me lose my independent status, thus restraining me through party politics.
“The SNP gain no seats in the regional list in Fife and their increasing popularity in the constituency ballot means that in Fife, over 120,000 yes-supporting votes will go to waste. Our mission therefore must be to ensure that the maximum number of ‘Yes’ candidates irrespective of party are elected to the Scottish Parliament in May 2021.
The campaigner, who has mounted a challenge in Scotland’s highest court on the possibility of Scotland going it alone with indyref2, added that the movement could not afford to be complacent. “We must marshal all of our resources as a movement to ensure that Scotland becomes an independent nation,” he said.
“It is for this reason and more that over the past few weeks I have been in conversations locally in Fife and nationally, expressing my intention to formally seek nomination for the first place regional slot in Mid Scotland and Fife, retaining my independent status whilst standing with fellow Yes candidates in order to maximise the Yes Vote with AFI.”
Although Mr Keatings has joined AFI as an individual, it is thought likely that his pro-independence group Forward as One, which has tens of thousands of followers, will also sign up.
Former SNP MP and Interim AFI leader, Dave Thompson, said he was delighted with their new recruit.
He said: “Martin is a high-profile figure in the independence movement, along with Forward as One, and we are delighted to have him on board.
“This development, coupled with Solidarity joining last month, will help broaden AFI’s appeal across the Indy spectrum and to this end we will shortly be contacting other parties urging them to discuss uniting with AFI as we maximise the number of indy-supporting list MSPs in next year’s poll.”