Alex Salmond confirmed his new party, the Alba Party, would seek to stand on regional lists to “fill a void” the SNP has been unable to plug in recent elections. The former First Minister of Scotland insisted that taking over the regional seats would strengthen Nicola Sturgeon’s mandate for a new Scottish independence referendum if the SNP wins a majority in May. But polling expert John Curtice noted Ms Salmond’s strategy could backfire and make it harder for Ms Sturgeon to get the overall majority she requires.
Speaking to Times Radio, Prof Curtice said: “Actually, rather than there being lots and lots of MSPs from different parties, might the position of the independence parties be stronger if one of those parties i.e. the SNP has an overall majority on its own.
“The difficulty for the SNP is that yes, sure, for the most part, they are unlikely to win list seats in most regions.
“However, there are two regions where it did do so last time and it could do so again – South of Scotland and the Highland region.”
He continued: “The point is that where the polls are at at the moment, there’s about a 50-50 chance of an overall SNP majority and for that to be realised they probably do need to pick up two or three list seats in those two regions.
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“By standing therefore on the list, Mr Salmond is potentially making it more difficult for the SNP to get an overall majority.”
Despite Mr Salmond insisting he is ready to back the SNP in their bid to secure a mandate for a new Scottish independence, Nicola Sturgeon questioned the “appropriateness” of her predecessor returning to the political scene.
Speaking from the campaign trail, Ms Sturgeon said: “I take no pleasure whatsoever in saying this but I think there are significant questions about the appropriateness of his return to public office given the concerns that have been raised about his behaviour previously but that’s for voters to judge and decide.
“This is an election. We live in a democracy. For my part, in this campaign, I am focused on the interests of the country.”
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Asked about Alex Salmond’s claims about his Alba Party snatching a “supermajority” in spite of it having been launched only this year, Ms Sturgeon said: “I know Alex Salmond very well. He makes big claims which often don’t stand up to scrutiny.
“Alex Salmond is a gambler. It is what he enjoys doing. But this is not the time to gamble with the future of the country.”
Scottish Conservatives leader Douglas Ross accused the Scottish Labour and Liberal Democrats are “ignoring the elephant in the room” by refusing to make a unionist coalition
Mr Ross has called on unionist parties to form an alliance in an attempt to reduce the chance of pro-independence supporting candidates taking seats in the Holyrood elections.
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Mr Ross said: “They are ignoring the elephant in the room that while we will all agree that the focus has to be on our recovery from Covid-19 and rebuilding from the pandemic, we can’t do that while the nationalists are determined to take us through another divisive and damaging independence referendum.
“It’s naive in the extreme of Anas to suggest that we can somehow ignore the threat that is being posed by the SNP and the Alba Party.
“We should be focused on getting through the health pandemic and taking on the emergency that will follow, and have the Scottish Parliament 100% laser-focused on our recovery and rebuilding.
“The nationalists want to take us back to the division of the past. All pro-UK parties have to recognise that and that’s why I continue to make the offer to Scottish Labour and Scottish Liberal Democrats to work with us.
“We don’t agree on everything, we will never agree on everything, but we should agree about the threat the nationalists pose to Scotland and to the rest of the UK.”