Alex Salmond: SNP ‘incompetence’ in power ‘hindered’ cause of independence

Former FM says there is no way 'immediately' for another independence referendum to be held.

Alex Salmond: SNP ‘incompetence’ in power ‘hindered’ cause of independence Getty Images

The SNP’s “incompetence” in government has “hindered” the cause of Scottish independence, former party leader and ex- Scottish first minister Alex Salmond has claimed.

Salmond also said there is no way “immediately” for another independence referendum to be held, as he criticised his successor, Nicola Sturgeon, for her “ill-fated, kamikaze” Supreme Court case on the issue.

During Sturgeon’s time as first minister, the Scottish Government went to the Supreme Court to see if it could hold another ballot on the future of the union without Westminster’s consent.

In November 2022, judges there unanimously ruled that the Scottish Parliament “does not have the power to legislate for a referendum on Scottish independence”.

Salmond told the PA news agency that Sturgeon’s “ill-starred, ill-fated, kamikaze venture to the Supreme Court of the United Kingdom” had been “just ludicrous from start to finish”.

Asked if he saw a way a second vote on independence could be held, he said: “No, not immediately.”

He said the Scottish Government’s performance in recent years had “hindered independence”.

Asked if devolution had helped or hindered the cause he has championed throughout his political career, Salmond said: “It helped independence when the SNP were a competent government.

“Obviously it has hindered independence when the SNP became an incompetent government in more recent years.”

He left the SNP and in the run up to the 2021 Holyrood elections launched the rival pro-independence Alba Party.

He said there were a “litany of demonstrations of incompetence” by his successors in government, citing delays to the construction of two new ferries to service lifeline routes to the islands of Scotland’s west coast as one example.

He said his former party had been “diverted into the highways and byways of identity politics” instead of “worrying about health, education, housing, transport, finishing the A9 and so on”.

The 2014 vote on independence took place after the SNP, under Salmond’s leadership, won an unprecedented majority in the 2011 Holyrood elections.

The victory led to then UK prime minister David Cameron conceding a referendum could be held, with Salmond saying that during the election campaign he had thought his party was “getting close” to winning an overall majority.

He recalled touring Scotland in the final days of the campaign, saying there were “lots of activists, lots of waves”.

Salmond said: “I thought at that point, if this lasted another week we could have an overall majority.

“I didn’t realise we were at that level. But I knew we were getting close to it.”

Salmond attributed part of the success of that election to the SNP’s second-vote strategy, in which the party told Scots their second vote, on the regional ballot, should go to them to elect him as first minister.

He added it had been a campaign where “everything went right”.

Salmond said: “Some campaigns everything goes wrong, it’s happened to the SNP in the past, but that was a campaign where everything went right.”

Speaking as Holyrood approaches the 25th anniversary of its first sitting on May 12, Salmond said people across Scotland “liked to be able to see that the Parliament had achieved things that matter, that are meaningful to the people” such as free university education.

No longer an elected parliamentarian, he said that the Scottish Parliament was “at its best and thought of the best the more ambitious it was for the country”.

Meanwhile he urged those still at Holyrood: “Keep your eye on the people’s priorities, not the indulgences of politicians.”

The SNP has been contacted for comment.

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