Scottish independence: Alex Salmond launches Alba party to rival SNP after civil war

Alex Salmond today announced that he is launching a political party to rival the SNP after his civil war with Nicola Sturgeon.

The former First Minister said Alba will be fielding candidates at the elections in May, saying he wanted to secure a ‘supermajority’ for Scottish independence.

The intervention risks causing major problems for Ms Sturgeon, who is trying to use the vote as a platform for pushing to get another referendum as early as this year.

In a pitch to catapult himself back into the front line, Mr Salmond appealed for Scots to ‘rally to our standard’. 

‘Today, Alba is hoisting a flag in the wind, planting our Saltire on a hill,’ he said.

‘In the next few weeks, we’ll see how many will rally to our standard.’  

Alex Salmond today announced that he is launching a political party to rival the SNP after his civil war with Nicola Sturgeon

Alex Salmond today announced that he is launching a political party to rival the SNP after his civil war with Nicola Sturgeon

Alex Salmond today announced that he is launching a political party to rival the SNP after his civil war with Nicola Sturgeon

The move takes Mr Salmond's extraordinary public spat with Ms Sturgeon (pictured campaigning in Rutherglen today) into a new phase

The move takes Mr Salmond's extraordinary public spat with Ms Sturgeon (pictured campaigning in Rutherglen today) into a new phase

The move takes Mr Salmond’s extraordinary public spat with Ms Sturgeon (pictured campaigning in Rutherglen today) into a new phase

‘I’m announcing the public launch of a new political force: the Alba Party,’ Mr Salmond said in a statement broadcast on Twitter.

‘Alba will contest the upcoming Scottish elections as a list-only party under my leadership, seeking to build a super majority for independence in the Scottish Parliament.’

Mr Salmond used the statement to say he will stand as a candidate and introduce three other hopefuls – including two who have apparently defected from the SNP.

They were Cllr Chris McEleny, laywer Eva Comrie, and businesswoman Cynthia Guthrie. The first two were expected to stand for Ms Sturgeon’s party.

Mr Salmond, who has previously served as both an MP and an MSP, said he hoped there could be 90 pro-independence politicians returned at the election if his ploy succeeds. 

A majority at Holyrood requires 65 – with polls suggesting the SNP is on track to get that number despite its support being hit recently.

He said the last Holyrood elections had one million ‘totally wasted independence’ votes on the regional list. 

The move takes Mr Salmond’s extraordinary public spat with Ms Sturgeon – the fallout from which has been hammering backing for splitting up the union – into a new phase.

He sparked a rift that threatened to tear the SNP apart by accusing senior figures in the part of conspiring to get him out of public life by fuelling harassment claims. 

In a bid to dampen a backlash for taking on his old party, he told potential supporters to vote for the SNP in constituency seats.

‘The Alba Party is a list party, we are standing only in the list,’ he said.

‘We are not challenging the SNP in the constituencies.

‘Indeed we are saying vote SNP or for an independence party on the constituency section.

‘We are giving that support. Our campaign that we have launched is going to be entirely positive.’ 

Earlier this week Mr Salmond announced he is taking the Scottish Government to court yet again in his first public statement since Ms Sturgeon survived two inquiries.

The former first minister accepted the verdicts of the parliamentary committee and Hamilton Inquiry – albeit hitting out at their ‘manifest limitations’.

Ms Sturgeon was out and about campaigning in Rutherglen today as Mr Salmond delivered his latest bombshell

Ms Sturgeon was out and about campaigning in Rutherglen today as Mr Salmond delivered his latest bombshell

Ms Sturgeon was out and about campaigning in Rutherglen today as Mr Salmond delivered his latest bombshell

But he railed that nobody had resigned over the Government’s botched harassment investigation into him, and singled out the country’s most senior civil servant. 

He said he was now bringing legal action against the ‘conduct’ of permanent secretary Leslie Evans for her role in the handling of sexual harassment claims against him. He was awarded more than £500,000 in a judicial review and later cleared of allegations in a trial. 

The Holyrood inquiry conducted by a committee of MSPs was highly critical of Ms Evans in its report published this week. She has defended her handing.

The report also accused the current First Minister of misleading Parliament in a potential breach of the ministerial code.

But Ms Sturgeon dismissed this verdict as ‘partisan’ and instead concentrated on the independent probe by James Hamilton QC, which ruled she did not break the code.

Ms Sturgeon was also cleared of claims made by Mr Salmond of orchestrating a concerted conspiracy to bring him down.  

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