ANOTHER SNP MP defects to Alex Salmond's new Alba party

ANOTHER SNP MP defects to Alex Salmond’s new Alba party as Scots independence movement descends deeper into chaos with the ex-First Minister refusing to say he ‘forgives’ Nicola Sturgeon

  • MP Neale Hanvey has announced that he is joining Alex Salmond’s new party
  • Ex-justice secretary Kenny MacAskill said yesterday he was defecting to Alba
  • Mr Salmond said Ms Sturgeon only ‘viable’ option for First Minister in elections
  • But he dodged whether he forgives her after bitter row over harassment case  

Another SNP MP has announced they are defecting to Alex Salmond’s new party as the Scottish independence movement descends further into chaos.

Neale Hanvey, who represents Kirkcaldy and Cowdenbeath at Westminster, declared that he is joining Alba and will be a candidate at Hoylrood elections in May.

The move comes after former SNP justice secretary Kenny MacAskill said he was deserting Nicola Sturgeon – sparking the party to respond that his departure is a ‘relief’.

Meanwhile, Mr Salmond turned up the heat again this morning by making clear he has not ‘forgiven’ Ms Sturgeon for the bitter row over the Scottish government’s handling of harassment complaints against him. He was awarded more than £500,000 and later cleared at a trial. 

But he admitted that she is the ‘only viable’ candidate to be First Minister after the elections in May, and said the drive to split up the UK would be his priority over ‘personal differences’.   

‘I’m not saying forgive. I’m saying these sorts of things – when it’s the future of a country at stake – you have to put the past behind you, and campaign for the future,’ he told Times Radio.


Kenny MacAskill MP (left) announced yesterday he was deserting Nicola Sturgeon to stand for the newly-launched Alba party in May’s Holyrood elections. Neale Hanvey (right), who represents Kircaldy and Cowdenbeath at Westminster, has also declared that he is joining Alba

Alex Salmond announced on Friday that he is forming Alba to get a ‘super majority’ for independence at Holyrood

Nicola Sturgeon struggled to hide her frustration at the situation on the campaign trail yesterday 

In a statement overnight, Mr Hanvey – elected to Gordon Brown’s old seat in 2019 – said: ‘Like so many, I have been angered by our powerlessness in the face of Brexit and share the frustration of many who feel the aspirations of the independence movement are being ignored.

‘The Alba Party provides a tonic for our movement with an unashamedly optimistic vision for Scotland’s impending transition to an independent European nation.’

In an extraordinary escalation yesterday, the SNP’s Westminster leader Ian Blackford said Mr MacAskill’s departure was ‘somewhat of a relief’ and demanded he resign his seat to trigger a by-election.

Mr MacAskill then shot back at Mr Blackford’s ‘dispiriting’ attack – and accused him of damaging the independence cause.

Meanwhile, Ms Sturgeon called Mr Salmond a ‘gambler’ who has ‘serious questions to answer’.

The long-standing feud between the two SNP big beasts has reached a new level as the crucial Holyrood election campaign kicks off.

He is the first high profile SNP figure to jump ship after the former first minister launched his rival pro-independence party yesterday. 

Announcing his move, he said: ‘I will be joining the newly formed Alba Party to deliver that supermajority for independence through the list vote which I believe is essential to achieving our national independence.’ 

Mr Salmond today conceded that Ms Sturgeon is the ‘best’ candidate for First Minister in May – but suggested that was because she is the only ‘viable’ option to lead a pro-independence government.

‘I have no ambition to be in government. I am not standing to be First Minister, I am standing for the Alba Party on the list to build an independence super-majority,’ he told the Sunday Mail. 

He added on Times Radio today: ‘Whatever personal differences have come entirely second, and I’m saying that is what I would do. 

‘And incidentally I believe that’s exactly what Nicola Sturgeon would do as well. 

‘Because some things are a lot bigger than personalities or individual disagreements and the future of a country is certainly one of these.’ 

In a brutal retort at Mr MacAskill yesterday, Mr Blackford said: ‘He has been an increasing embarrassment to many in the SNP and his departure is somewhat of a relief.

‘That he is joining a party with serious questions to answer about his leader’s suitability for public office is no surprise.’

He called on Mr MacAskill to resign his Commons seat to allow his constituents to elect someone who will ‘focus on their interests, rather than self-interest’. 

Mr MacAskill hit back by telling Sky News: ‘I think that’s very dispiriting from Ian Blackford. The Yes movement encompasses not just the SNP, not just the Alba party, but people of no party. They support the cause of independence which transcends everything. 

‘I think that’s what Ian Blackford should be fighting for, and not opposing those who are also fighting for that cause.’ 

He dismissed demands that he ought to resign from the Commons, saying he was seeking a dual mandate by standing in May’s Scottish elections. 

Mr Neale had a controversial career with the SNP. Last month he was removed as vaccine spokesman after posting a message on a crowdfunder page raising money to bring a defamation action against Aberdeen North MP Kirsty Blackman and others.

Mr Hanvey was previously suspended by the SNP for using anti-Semitic language on social media.

He apologised for any offence caused in the days following his suspension, and was later reinstated. 

Ex-SNP MP Corrie Wilson is also joining Alba, fuelling with more disillusioned nationalists believed to considering abandoning Ms Sturgeon. 

Scotland operates a version of proportional representation, and Alba is only fielding ‘list’ candidates rather than standing in the first-past-the-post constituency contests that could have inflicted more serious damage to the nationalists. 

Pollsters say that means it is more likely to hurt opposition parties, who typically end up with most of the list seats.   

SNP Westminster leader Ian Blackford said Mr MacAskill’s departure was ‘somewhat of a relief’

Scotland operates a version of proportional representation, and Alba is only standing ‘list’ – or ‘additional’ MSP – candidates rather than running in the first-past-the-post constituency contests that could have inflicted more serious damage to the nationalists. Pollsters say that means it is more likely to hurt opposition parties, who typically end up with most of the list seats. The chart shows the result from the last Holyrood election in 2016

The return of Mr Salmond to the political front line risks causing major problems for Ms Sturgeon, who is trying to use the vote as a platform for pushing to get another referendum as early as this year.

Her extraordinary public battle with her predecessor as SNP leader has already hammered support for breaking up the UK, which had been surging to record highs before the explosive inquiries into bungled handling of harassment allegations. 

The prospect of Mr Salmond mounting a high-profile campaign over the next six weeks will dash Ms Sturgeon’s hopes of moving on from the infighting after she was controversially cleared of breaching the ministerial code and survived a confidence vote.

But Scottish Tory sources warned that the 66-year-old re-entering the fray also ‘heightens the threat’ of a majority at Holyrood for holding another referendum on breaking up the UK, pointing out because of the electoral system north of the border Alba could end up with 20 seats on a relatively small share of the vote. 

Scotland operates a version of proportional representation, and Alba is only standing ‘list’ candidates rather than running in the first-past-the-post constituency contests that could have inflicted more serious damage to the nationalists. 

Pollsters say that means it is more likely to hurt opposition parties, who typically end up with most of the list seats.

Source: Read Full Article