Alex Salmond: Yes campaign reborn and argument for independence supermajority 'unassailable', says Alba leader
The Yes campaign of the summer of 2014 is “now reborn in political form in the ranks of Alba”, while regional list votes for the SNP in May would be the “ultimate wasted votes”, the party’s leader Alex Salmond announced on Saturday.
In the pro-independence party’s first candidates’ conference, he called for voters to choose #BothVotesYES in the constituency and regional ballots in the May election – the SNP in the former and Alba in the latter.
This would achieve a “supermajority” for independence in the Scottish parliament, the party claims – while the former first minister stated that independence supporters who backed the SNP on the list vote were guilty of "ridiculous posturing". Alba is running four candidates in each regional list of Scotland.
Mr Salmond was introduced at the online conference by Tasmina Ahmed-Sheikh, the former MP who was one of several figures to defect from the SNP to Alba in the last few days.
He said the newly launched Alba Party is already “legion – the Alba Party are many” – and he stressed the diversity of its 32 candidates, noting that the list includes 18 women, three ethnic minority candidates, and “one former first minister”.
He also stated: "Why should independence-supporting colleagues not want there to be an independence supermajority? Why would they rather that the indy numbers were lighter and the unionist numbers heavier in the Scots parliament?
"That is, in my estimation, ridiculous posturing for any independence supporter, caused by the realisation that SNP votes on the regional list are the ultimate wasted votes.
“Our argument for the independence supermajority is unassailable. More MSPs supporting independence – what’s not to like?… The cause of Scottish independence is beyond party,” he said. He added that while the “heavy lifting” has been done by the SNP, the cause of independence “has never been the SNP’s sole preserve – they hold no arbitrary authority over it”.
Alba will make its mark in this election campaign, he said – and will "make a substantial contribution to the noblest cause of all – the cause of independence for our country”.
He also said the 2014 campaign for a Yes vote in the referendum "most resembles our new party" and suggested "the Yes campaign of the summer of 2014 is now reborn in political form in the ranks of Alba".
Earlier, Alba said more than 4,000 members had signed up in the week since it had launched, including two sitting MPs.
An SNP spokeswoman said: "It's clear that the SNP is the only party serious about governing Scotland, and the only party with the ambitious policies needed to deliver a strong, fair and green recovery and protect our NHS.
"Only giving both votes to the SNP in May can re-elect Nicola Sturgeon as First Minister and put Scotland’s future in Scotland's hands – not Boris Johnson’s."
He was commenting just days after a Survation poll put Alba trailing behind all five of Scotland’s major parties, with just a 3 per cent share of the list vote.
However, the party’s first MP defector Kenny MacAskill insisted it was “early days” and that party leaders were “relaxed” about recent polling.