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by Margaret Taylor
15 February 2023
Alex Salmond: Sturgeon's departure leaves no clear strategy for independence

Alex Salmond: Sturgeon's departure leaves no clear strategy for independence

Former First Minister Alex Salmond has said the resignation of his successor Nicola Sturgeon has left the independence movement with “no clear strategy for independence”.

Sturgeon, who has led the party and the country since Salmond stood down following the unsuccessful 2014 independence referendum, resigned from the first minister’s post during a news conference this morning.

Salmond, who left the SNP in 2018 and has led the pro-independence Alba Party since 2021, praised his former protégé’s talents as “a first rate political communicator and election winner” but said her departure leaves two questions for the SNP to answer.

“One is that the movement has been left with no clear strategy for independence,” he said.

“The previously accepted referendum route has been closed and the de facto referendum/election proposal is now, at best, up in the air.

“Secondly there is no obvious successor. There are a range of able people in the SNP but they will now be tested in the fire of leadership inheriting a range of serious government policy challenges.

“It is to be hoped that those voices which wish to reunite the national movement emerge to win that contest.”

Salmond and Sturgeon were once close political allies but fell out over her government’s mishandling of sexual assault allegations against him. Salmond was later acquitted of all charges following a trial in 2020.

Since leaving the SNP he has been highly critical of her government’s policies, in particular accusing her of being too cautious in the pursuit of a second independence referendum and of being too dogmatic in her championing of gender reforms.

During the press conference to announce her departure Sturgeon refused to be drawn on who her potential successor might be and joked that she would not be offering that person any guidance as she knew what it felt like to have a predecessor commenting from the sidelines.

Other opposition politicians have praised Sturgeon’s commitment to public service, with Scottish Labour leader Anas Sarwar saying that while the two of them have "disagreed passionately about what is best for our people, I have never for a moment doubted her passion for Scotland”.

Scottish Conservative leader Douglas Ross said he was glad the first minister had taken the decision to go but added that “whatever our differences, it is right we recognise that political leadership is always demanding and takes its toll on a person and their family”.

Scottish Liberal Democrat leader Alex Cole-Hamilton said Sturgeon’s “talent has undoubtedly shaped Scottish political life” while Scottish Greens co-leaders Patrick Harvie and Lorna Slater said she has “truly been a major figure in Scottish and UK politics in her decisive, tireless and collaborative leadership through unprecedented challenges”.

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