By Bill Heaney
The gloves are off already just five weeks before the Scottish Parliament elections. Look out for blood on the walls of the SNP headquarters in Edinburgh now that Alex Salmond, the former SNP leader, has 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, the former SNP leader said: “ 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.”
However, Nicola Sturgeon was quick to retaliate by hoisting her own flag in the form of a poster, smearing Salmond for the inappropriate way he dealt with women staff members at his official residence, Bute House in Charlotte Square, Edinburgh.
This was despite the fact that he was cleared of all the sex-related charges against him by a jury at the High Court in Edinburgh. He also won a judicial review case against the government and was awarded £600,000 to meet his legal costs.
Sturgeon’s fierce attack against her one-time best friend and mentor in politics has come despite the fact that Salmond was cleared by a jury
It’s a poster featuring the Scottish Saltire with a warning: “All Ladies Be Aware.”
The launch comes after a turbulent period for the SNP and the Scottish Government, led by Salmond’s successor Sturgeon. 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 has not had to wait long for Sturgeon to make it a dirty fight as is expected when one-time friends fall out.
However, 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.
The Alba Party will only be standing candidates in the regional lists in an attempt to boost separatist numbers in Holyrood. They want people to vote SNP 1 and ALBA 2.
Earlier this weekend, it emerged that MP Kenny MacAskill left the SNP to join the Alba Party.
And then locally Cllr Caroline McAllister, right, the self-styled women’s champion on West Dunbartonshire Council, joined him, defecting from basket case, SNP controlled West Dunbartonshire Council and its controversial leader, Cllr Jonathan McColl.
McAllister was recently a victim of SNP dirty tricks and in-fighting when she was dropped from the selection panel for a candidate to take on Labour’s Jackie Baillie in the Dumbarton seat at Holyrood.
Not only was she dropped, the whole selection panel was dropped and SNP big best Mike Russell was parachuted in from Argyll to conduct the proceedings.
In the end, Michelle Campbell, a BAME member of the SNP, was chosen for that role.
In 2016 only 4 SNP seats across Scotland were achieved from over 953,000 votes whilst 45 Unionist seats were achieved from 956,000 votes. SNP 1 and Alba 2. supports the SNP max the constituency seats with Alba maxing the regional seats.
“No wonder over 10,000 joined Alba within 9 hours of its launch yesterday,” one Alba supporter said.
He added: “I think there are serious questions about Nicola Sturgeon she mounts attack after attack on an innocent man.
“Salmond by comparison, ever the statesman is, saying that the focus has to be economic recovery and escaping the death grip of Boris Johnson and his government.
“Accordingly Alex is calling for voters to support the SNP to max the Constituency seats with them thereafter supporting party Alba.
“In recommending this strategy Salmond is supporting the SNP to secure the maximum they can , whilst Alba adds maybe another 30 seats to deliver a, thumping 90 plus seats.
“With the SNP currently having 61 seats and anticipate taking maybe 64 to 66 in May, Salmond’s Alba will be a huge fill-up to the SNP.
“Salmond’s support for the SNP should therefore be very welcome and Nicola Sturgeon should be grateful. The logic of SNP 1 and Alba 2 makes so much sense.
“Let’s not spoil it. Our country, our people need support and a powerful super majority Hollywood that can deliver. Exciting times, very exciting times ahead!”
Meanwhile, in response to the new ALBA 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”.
Speaking about the plans, Ross 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.”
Scottish Liberal Democrat campaign chair Alistair Carmichael however insisted that the Tory leader’s politics were “far too dark and divisive”.
Tory leader Douglas Ross has a knack for uniting the fans of opposing teams.
Carmichael said: “Lib Dems will work with others to deliver a constructive and ambitious plan for recovery, but Douglas Ross’s politics are far too dark and divisive.
“We will focus on winning seats and ensuring that the next government is focused on putting the recovery first, not independence.
“As a football referee Douglas Ross has a knack for uniting the fans of opposing teams. As a party leader he seems to do the exact opposite.”
Anas Sarwar said Ross “needs to grow up”.
The Scottish Labour leader added: “He needs to recognise that we are in the middle of a pandemic.
“He needs to recognise that this election is not some kind of game, it’s not some kind of battle, it’s not about party politics, it’s not about individual politicians fighting with each other – it’s about focusing on a national recovery.”
Ross later said it was “incredibly disappointing that other parties won’t even come to the table to discuss how we can work together”.
The Tory leader, even with his limited experience of politics, must know that this election will set the political heather on fire during the next six weeks.