By Democrat reporter
Nicola Sturgeon has said there are “significant questions” about Alex Salmond’s return to politics
The former SNP leader confirmed he will be standing for the Alba Party on the North East regional list section in May’s Scottish Parliament election.
Launching the new party in an online event on Friday, the former SNP leader said: “Today Alba are hoisting a flag in the wind, planting our Saltire on a hill. In the next few weeks we will see how many will rally to our standard.”
The launch comes after a turbulent period for the SNP and the Scottish Government, led by Salmond’s successor Nicola Sturgeon, above.
She tweeted: “These are serious times, and the country needs serious leadership.
“For a steady hand to steer us through crisis, a bold policy platform to kickstart recovery and the chance to choose independence when the crisis has passed, make it #BothVotesSNP”
She told Radio Clyde News: “There are significant questions about the appropriateness of his return to public office.”
Salmond said his party would be carrying a “positive” campaign and urged voters to back the SNP or another pro-independence party in the constituency seats.
Earlier this weekend, it emerged that MP Kenny MacAskill left the SNP to join the Alba Party.
The former justice secretary will stand as a candidate on the Lothian regional list.
Meanwhile, in response to the new party, Scottish Conservative leader Douglas Ross has requested a meeting with Scottish Labour leader Anas Sarwar and Scottish Liberal Democrat leader Willie Rennie in a bid to “rediscover the Better Together spirit”.
He insisted that action was needed because Friday’s launch of the Alba Party – which will see Mr Salmond run as a candidate for the North East region – had “changed the nature of this campaign”.
Ross told Sarwar and Rennie: “We’ve got to address this. If we don’t the Nationalists will dominate our politics.”
He said: “It is clearer than ever before that the dividing line in this election is now over another independence referendum.
“I think that is an extremely sad state of affairs when we should be focused on our recovery and rebuilding after Covid-19 and sorting out 14 years of failure from the SNP Scottish government.
“But there is no doubt that the Nationalists, whether they be Nicola Sturgeon’s Nationalists or Alex Salmond’s Nationalists, want to take us through another divisive independence referendum.
“That means we can’t focus on our recovery and rebuilding.
“That’s why I am asking for all the pro-UK parties to do what we did in 2014 and come together, put political differences aside, and stop this drive towards another independence referendum.”
Speaking in response to Salmond’s announcement on Friday, Scots Labour leader 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.
“Our politics must be better than this. Scottish Labour, under my leadership, will focus on Scotland’s recovery.
“We can’t trust the divided SNP with recovery, nor can we trust Boris Johnson’s Tories.
“I am fighting this election to deliver a National Recovery Plan for Scotland and to focus on what unites our country, not what divides us.”
Scottish Liberal Democrat campaign chair Alistair Carmichael MP said: “There are no questions about Scotland’s future to which Alex Salmond is the answer.
“This astonishing announcement shows just how divided the SNP are. A few years ago no one could have imagined that the former First Minister and his protege would be at one another’s throats.
“It shows the arrogance of the nationalists that they want to use the Scottish Parliament as an arena to fight their own feuds instead of being a forum to put recovery first and to make life better for the people of Scotland”
A Scottish Greens spokesperson added: “This election should be about putting forward a positive vision for Scotland’s future, not settling personal vendettas. This public meltdown is all about the fragile ego of a man disgraced by his own behaviour.
“The Scottish Greens are asking people to vote like our future depends on it; for bold climate action, to build a green recovery from the pandemic and to put Scotland’s future in Scotland’s hands.”