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Alex Salmond 2021 launches new independence.focused Alba party

Alex Salmond 2021  launches new independence.focused Alba party
Alba Party

Alex Salmond Alex Salmond party Alba independence-focused launches new

Fri, 26 Mar 2021 16:00:00 +0000

Former first minister says aim is to build a super-majority but his suitability as candidate questioned

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Former first minister says aim is to build a super-majority but his suitability as candidate questioned

First published on Fri 26 Mar 2021 10.09 EDT

Alex Salmond has launched a new political party in what he described as a bid to build a super-majority for independence in the next Scottish parliament, and which could also enable his own return to Holyrood.

Launching the Alba party on Friday, he denied the “new political force” would rival the Scottish National party, which he led for more than two decades, and insisted that the presence of other pro-independence parties in the parliament would make the position of the Westminster government in refusing powers to hold a second independence referendum “fundamentally weaker”.

Established parties immediately raised doubts about Salmond’s suitability to be a candidate or lead a political party, with the SNP responding that the interests of the country as it emerges from a pandemic “should not be obscured by the self-interest of someone who shows no sign whatsoever of reflecting on serious concerns about his own conduct”.

During the press conference Salmond side-stepped numerous questions about his suitability as a candidate and his previous treatment of female staff, following the publication days ago of evidence to a Holyrood inquiry that described a culture of complicity around his allegedly inappropriate behaviour during his time in office.

Salmond said that the list-only party expected to field a minimum of four candidates in each regional list, with the aim of electing Alba MSPs from every area of Scotland.

Salmond also announced he would be a list candidate in the north-east region for the Scottish parliament elections, which will be held on 6 May.

The announcement comes after Salmond threatened further legal action against Leslie Evans, Scotland’s most senior civil servant, on Wednesday, saying he felt compelled to do so because she “still refuses to accept real responsibility” for the expensive failures of the internal inquiry into harassment claims against him.

He also called for a police inquiry into the leak of the Scottish government’s botched harassment inquiry findings.

Nicola Sturgeon, who was cleared of breaching the ministerial code over her dealings with Salmond around the claims, has made clear her support for Evans.

On Tuesday, the two women who originally made sexual harassment complaints against him described a culture of permissiveness at the heart of government, where a “blind eye” was turned to his behaviour.

Following a subsequent police investigation and trial, a jury acquitted Salmond of all charges.

Salmond said an independence super-majority would make the position of the Westminster government and Boris Johnson, who has consistently said he will refuse any request from Holyrood for the necessary powers to hold a second independence referendum, significantly weaker.

He said: “It is fundamentally more difficult for the Westminster government to take on a parliament and a people than casting it as a party versus party dispute.”

Explaining that the party would only stand candidates on the regional lists, he said that “we wish the SNP well in sweeping the country on the constituency ballot”, but argued that voting for Alba would avoid wasting pro-independence votes.

“At the last election there were nearly 1 million wasted SNP votes on the regional list.

Only four SNP MSPs were elected in that way.

In yesterday’s Survation poll the SNP would elect no regional seats at all from a million votes on the list.”

He claimed that if Alba won regional list seats, this could result in 90 or more MSPs at Holyrood who supported independence.

Appealing for interested individuals to come forward, Salmond said the party was still in the process of recruiting candidates in order to meet the deadline next week.

An SNP spokesperson said: “This is perhaps the most predictable development in Scottish politics for quite some time.

At this time of crisis, the interests of the country must come first and should not be obscured by the self-interest of someone who shows no sign whatsoever of reflecting on serious concerns about his own conduct – concerns which, to put it mildly, raise real questions about the appropriateness of a return to public office.

“The SNP has led the country through the last 12 months of the Covid pandemic, and at this election we offer the experienced, responsible and forward-looking leadership that the country needs.”

Unionist parties were similarly dismissive of the announcement, but suggested it revealed deep divisions in the nationalist camp.

The Scottish Conservative leader, Douglas Ross, described Salmond as “a discredited figure”, adding that “right-thinking people will want nothing to do with him or his new party”.

The Scottish Labour leader, Anas Sarwar, said: “The people of Scotland deserve so much better than the score-settling and old politics that the SNP and Tories are offering”.

Salmond has previously served as MP and MSP for Banff and Buchan, north-east Scotland, where he continues to enjoy considerable local support.

Of the Scottish parliament’s MSPs, 73 are elected to represent first past the post constituencies, while the remaining 56 are elected by the additional member.

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Alex Salmond Alex Salmond

Fri, 26 Mar 2021 16:00:00 +0000

Alex Salmond has launched a new political party and intends to stand for election at the Scottish Parliament elections in May

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In a statement this afternoon, he 

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Salmond used a video stream to launch the new party

Alex Salmond has launched a new political party and intends to stand for election at the Scottish Parliament elections in May.

In a statement this afternoon, he said the aim was to build a “supermajority” for independence.

The party will only contest list seats but expects to field a minimum of four candidates in each regional list.

In a statement, the former first minister said: “The party’s strategic aims are clear and unambiguous – to achieve a successful, socially just and environmentally responsible independent country.

“The tactics are to stand on the regional list to secure the supermajority for independence in our parliament.”

He added:  “Today we are making an entirely positive statement and also asking people to come forward and give us support.”

Salmond confirmed he would stand on the North-East Scotland list, but he sidestepped a question about whether his name would appear on all ballot papers alongside the party name.

The other candidates for the party are former SNP councillor Chris McEleny (West Scotland) and former SNP activists Eva Comrie (Mid Scotland and Fife) and Cynthia Guthrie (South Scotland).

Salmond said a vote for his former party, the SNP, on the lists would be a “waste” though he encouraged people to back them in the constituency ballots.

He suggested extra seats for Alba could result in up to 90 pro-independence MSPs being elected.

Responding to a question from the pro-independence blogger Stuart Campbell, aka Wings over Scotland, Salmond said: “The strategic aim of Alba is to secure Scottish independence which is a substantial strategic aim.

Building that substantial majority in the Scottish parliament is the key to unlock that question and it's the key to the way forward.

“We're not standing on the constituency ballot – we expect that to be dominated by the SNP.

If Alba can help by contributing independence-supporting MSPs and their expertise, they're contributing to the new platform that we're building on independence to meet the new political realities…

“If we are able to assist, to help in achieving our country's independence then that's more than enough for me as a person and for the Alba MSPs who are elected."

Regarding independence, Salmond insisted a referendum was “by no means the only route”, suggesting international legal action was also an option if there was a supermajority in parliament.

Earlier this week, Salmond announced plans to take fresh legal action against the Scottish Government for its handling of harassment allegations against him.

It followed the publication of a report by James Hamilton which said Nicola Sturgeon had not broken the ministerial code in her dealings with the former first minister.

A separate report by a Scottish Parliament committee concluded Sturgeon had misled MSPs.

In January 2019, the Court of Session ruled the Scottish Government had acted "unlawfully" in its handling of harassment complaints against Salmond.

The former first minister was cleared of all charges of sexual assault following a criminal trial in early 2020.

Asked about the various reports at his press conference, Salmond said: "My view is that we should accept the results of everything.

The ones we like, the ones we don't like and then we move on.

"Everything I've said about everything stands as it did."

Responding to Salmond's announcement, an SNP spokesperson said: “This is perhaps the most predictable development in Scottish politics for quite some time.

“At this time of crisis, the interests of the country must come first and should not be obscured by the self interest of someone who shows no sign whatsoever of reflecting on serious concerns about his own conduct concerns which, to put it mildly, raise real questions about the appropriateness of a return to public office.

“The SNP has led the country through the last twelve months of the Covid pandemic, and at this election we offer the experienced, responsible and forward looking leadership that the country needs.

“Our plans to get Scotland through and out of the Covid crisis, and support a recovery with fairness and equality at its heart, with the opportunity to put Scotland’s future in Scotland’s hands, will the focus of our election campaign.”

Scottish Labour leader Anas Sarwar said: “The people of Scotland deserve so much better than the score settling and old politics that the SNP and Tories are offering.

“We are still in the midst of a pandemic.

Lives and livelihoods are still at risk.

This election must be about our national recovery and the people of Scotland's priorities, not the old arguments between personalities who believe their interest matters more than the national interest."

Scottish Conservative leader Douglas Ross said Salmond was now a "discredited figure" and that "right-thinking people will want nothing to do with him or his new party". 

He added: "This election has become even more important.

There is a stark choice between destructive nationalist separation and a positive future for Scotland and our place in the United Kingdom. 

"One one side is Salmond, Sturgeon and a Labour party too weak to stand up to them with the Scottish Conservatives firmly on the other."

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– March 26, 2021
Alex Salmond 2021 launches new independence.focused Alba party
Alba Party

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