Alex Salmond launches Alba Party in bid to re-enter frontline politics

Peter Stoddart, YCL Student Officer

This afternoon (26 March 2021), Former First Minister, Alex Salmond announced he was launching a new pro-Independence Party ahead of the Scottish Parliamentary elections in 6 weeks time.

The Alba Party” is expected to run in each of Scotland’s 8 regions and as part of the launch, Salmond announced the Party was aiming to ensure “the Independence Supermajority“, calling on SNP voters to vote tactically to ensure a majority of pro-Independence MSPs are returned to Holyrood.

Salmond said: “The party’s strategic aims are clear and unambiguous … The tactics are to stand on the regional list to secure the supermajority for independence in our Parliament.”

In Scottish Parliamentary elections, the Additional Member System is used, offering voters 2 votes. 1 for a local constituency MSP, and another which is in support of a Party, rather than a candidate, in a multi-member region where 7 MSPs are elected, supplementing the local constituency MSP.

One of the functions of AMS, designed to restrict the chances of a majority government, ensures that, regardless of the votes, one political party cannot win all the Constituency seats as well as the Regional seats.

This is why Salmond says he has decided to launch this new Party.

He argued there were “nearly one million wasted SNP votes on the regional list” and only four SNP MSPS were elected in that way. He said, together with the SNP, “The number of independence supporting MSPs in the Parliament could reach 90 or even more.” As part of the launch, Salmond announced 4 candidates, including himself, one of whom is a sitting SNP councillor and another who was set to top the SNP list in Central Scotland.

In typical nationalist fashion, the former SNP leader concluded: “Today, Alba are hoisting a flag in the wind, planting our saltire on a hill. Yeah eIn the next few weeks we shall see how many will rally to our standard.”

Despite Salmond’s claims about the need for an additional pro-Independence Party, many rightly argue this is just the latest in a long line of bids to reclaim the centre stage, following on from a long and drawn out legal fight against the Scottish Government following sexual assault allegations. It is hard to dismiss this point, given the only thing Salmond cares about more than independence is massaging his own ego.

From across the political landscape, the Party’s launch has been met with derision, with some SNP activists remarking that this will draw out the division within the SNP, allowing them to present on a united front. Given the electoral system, it is indeed unlikely that the Party will steal seats from the SNP, although it could steal votes.

There will likely be concerns from the SNP however, that Salmond’s presence in the election will only serve to remind voters of the continuing fiasco at the heart of the Scottish Government. Despite 14 years in Government, with an abysmal track record, recent polls have shown that this seems to be the only thing capable of putting a dent in the SNP. In addition, given the defections announced as part of the Party launch, it will be interesting to see who else, if any decides to leave the SNP in support of the new Party.

The Greens will also likely take a hit. They’ve been badging themselves as the “alternative” Indy vote for nearly a decade, and having a rival in that sense will only hurt their brand, irrespective of any actual policy comparators.

I’d argue it unlikely to see the Alba Party return any MSPs in May, particularly given Salmond’s record has been, rightly, dragged through the mud in recent months. In addition, I think SNP supporters will see this for the ego-trip it is and Labour and other opposition parties shouldn’t be too quick to judge this as being a nail in the coffin of the SNP. Nonetheless, the Party’s launch is yet another twist in road to the Scottish Parliamentary elections in May.

YCL General Secretary and Holyrood Candidate in Glasgow, Johnnie Hunter, told Challenge, “the corrupt infighting at the heart of the Scottish government is now due to be another side show in this election, with another party on the ballot whose only answer to the problems working people in Scotland face seems to be ‘independence’ and nothing else. As ever there is no detail about what that independence will look like, and whose class interests it will serve.

He concluded, “it’s shameful that Alex Salmond is prepared to show his face publicly after admitting to persistently harassing women. Scotland’s Communists will be fighting this election on genuine issues – a strategy to beat COVID-19, a post pandemic recovery and real powers for the people of Scotland. Every single vote for a Communist candidate is a powerful declaration that working people aren’t prepared to accept Tories in power – whether they’re Eton Tories or Tartan Tories.

Peter Stoddart

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