Scotland’s ex-leader Alex Salmond launches rival pro-independence party

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EDINBURGH — Scotland’s former First Minister Alex Salmond will stand against the party he once led with a vow to help win a “supermajority” for Scottish independence.

Speaking at a press conference Friday, Salmond announced the creation of his new pro-independence Alba Party. It will compete with the Scottish National Party he once led for a combined 20 years.

“The party’s strategic aims are clear and unambiguous — to achieve a successful, socially just and environmentally responsible independent country,” Salmond said.

The former first minister — who left the Holyrood Scottish Parliament in 2016 — has been embroiled in a public feud with his successor Nicola Sturgeon over her government’s handling of harassment complaints made against him.

On Tuesday and Wednesday, the release of two separate inquiries into the affair cleared Sturgeon of breaking the ministerial code but also criticized her government’s conduct. Salmond has said he intends to move on from the issue, but has vowed fresh legal action against the Scottish government.

His new party will stand candidates using Scotland’s regional list system. In Scotland’s electoral system, citizens are given a constituency vote and a regional vote.


For more polling data from across Europe visit POLITICO Poll of Polls.

Most pre-election polling indicates the SNP are set to dominate the constituency system, which Salmond’s party will not be standing in.

Salmond said U.K. Prime Minister Boris Johnson — who has repeatedly rejected calls for a second Scottish independence referendum — would “find it much more difficult to say no” if his party helps to deliver a “supermajority” of pro-independence MSPs in the Scottish Parliament.

During Friday’s press conference, Salmond announced the defection of three former SNP members and politicians who would stand for his party in May’s Holyrood election.

Asked by POLITICO if he expected any more SNP politicians to join him in defecting to the Alba Party, Salmond said he is “planting our flag in the wind, and we’ll see who rallies to the banner.

“That’s the important point of making the announcements and I’ve tried today to give as much of a flavor of what the party’s about to enable us to recruit support,” Salmond said, pointing to a deadline of next Wednesday to register candidates for the election.

But a spokesperson for the SNP said, “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.”


For more polling data from across Europe visit POLITICO Poll of Polls.

Salmond was cleared of all criminal charges last year, but in court it emerged he had privately apologized for “unacceptable behavior” toward women.

Scottish Conservative leader Douglas Ross, whose party opposes Scottish independence, said, “Alex Salmond is a discredited figure who admitted appalling behavior towards women during his time as SNP first minister and right-thinking people will want nothing to do with him or his new party.”

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