Stephen McNeice
Stephen McNeice

13.22 28 Apr 2021


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Former Scottish first minister Alex Salmond has suggested Nicola Sturgeon is ‘sounding a bit rattled’ by the electoral threat posed by his new pro-independence party.

He says he hopes his new party Alba will win enough seats in next week's parliamentary election to allow Scottish politicians 'face down Boris Johnson' over a second independence referendum.

Mr Salmond led the SNP between 2004 and 2014, resigning the role in the wake of the unsuccessful Scottish independence vote.

In recent months, a very public row has broken out between Mr Salmond and his successor Nicola Sturgeon.

The political row centres around the Scottish government’s handling of sexual misconduct allegations against Mr Salmond (Mr Salmond was acquitted of all the charges last year).

The former first minister has been strongly critical of the government’s handling of the allegations.

While an inquiry has cleared Mr Sturgeon of breaching the ministerial code, the row has made enemies out of former political allies and cast a significant shadow over the conduct of Ms Sturgeon’s government.

Mr Salmond has in recent weeks been announced as the leader of the new Alba pro-independence party - a party that will contest the parliamentary election on May 6th.

Ms Sturgeon, meanwhile, has claimed the new party is "perhaps more about helping the cause of Alex Salmond" than helping the cause of independence.

On The Pat Kenny Show, Mr Salmond insisted that’s not the case.

Nicola Sturgeon 'sounding a bit rattled' ahead of Scottish election – Alex Salmond

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He said: “I think Nicola sounds a bit rattled, doesn’t she? The latest poll has Alba gaining eight seats from a standing start, which is quite exceptional.

“That would put us in a very powerful position - not because we want to be in government, because we don’t. What we want to do is inject some urgency into the cause and case for Scottish independence.”

Mr Salmond said even if Alba will put forward a motion in the Scottish parliament instructing the government to start negotiations with Westminster on Scottish independence if Alba wins even a few seats next week.

The party's main hope is that pro-independence parties and politicians will gain a ‘supermajority’ - accelerating the timetable for any future referendum.

Mr Salmond said: “We think with a reasonable switch of independence-minded people to Alba, we could end up with 80, perhaps 90 MSPs supporting independence in a Scots parliament of 129.

“That would give us the sort of majority we need to face down Boris Johnson, to make sure we get an opportunity to vote Scotland to independence within the next couple of years… as opposed to waiting for ‘some time’”.

It's less than a decade since the first independence referendum, with many questioning whether a second vote would be successful.

However, Mr Salmond said support for independence was below 30% before the start of campaigning for the 2014 referendum - rising to just under 45% in the final vote.

He believes there’ll be a further change of the dial towards independence ahead of any future vote.

He argued that independence shouldn't be the project of a single party - but rather something supported by different groups from different parts of society.

Main image: Nicola Sturgeon (l), (picture by: Jane Barlow/PA Wire/PA Images) / Alex Salmond (r) (picture by: Jane Barlow/PA Wire/PA Images)

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