Salmond announces plan to stand for Holyrood as he launches Alba 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."