A piece in today’s Times:
Alex Salmond is returning to frontline politics by launching a new party, splitting the Scottish independence movement.
The new group, called the Alba Party, will aim to produce a “supermajority” for independence at the Holyrood election in May.
It will only stand on the regional lists, the proportional representation vote where members of the Scottish parliament are elected alongside first-past-the-post constituencies.
The SNP is expected to win the vast majority of constituencies but far fewer list candidates.
Salmond said that the new party would stop “wasted votes” — in effect urging SNP voters to withdraw their support for Nicola Sturgeon’s party on the regional list and back his new party instead.
“The tactics are to stand on the regional list to secure the supermajority for independence in our parliament,” he said.
“We intend to contribute policy ideas to assist Scotland’s economic recovery and to help build an independence platform to face the new political realities.”
“At the last election there were nearly one 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. They would all be totally wasted independence votes.
“If Alba wins regional list seats the wasted votes end. The number of independence-supporting MSPs in the parliament could reach 90 or even more.
“The initiative for independence should then be led by the parliament uniting the parties.
“Boris Johnson has already said no to the SNP proposals. He will find it much more difficult to say no to a parliament and a country.
“And the independence debate will be recast not as the Tories against the SNP but Boris Johnson against Scotland’s parliament representing Scotland’s people.”
The SNP has branded the launch an exercise in vanity that shows “no sign of reflecting on serious concerns about his own conduct” or pandemic recovery.
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.”
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