Second SNP MP defects to Salmond’s new Alba party

The current MP will stand as an Alba candidate in May's Holyrood elections.

Second SNP MP defects to Salmond’s new Alba party PA Media

A second MP has left the SNP to join Alex Salmond in the newly formed Alba party.

Neale Hanvey, MP for Kirkcaldy and Cowdenbeath, confirmed the move on Sunday.

He will stand in May’s Holyrood elections as an Alba candidate for the mid-Scotland and Fife seat. 

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.

On joining Alba he said: “The people of Scotland will always be my priority and it’s therefore a very real honour to be standing for Alba and an independence supermajority.”

Fellow MP Kenny MacAskill confirmed he was joining the new party on Saturday.

SNP National Equalities Convener Cllr Lynne Anderson is also set to join MacAskill and Hanvey. 

Ian Blackford has called for a by election to contest MacAskill’s seat as he called the MP an ‘increasing embarrassment’.

The party’s Westminster leader said: “After yesterday’s events this is the second least surprising news in Scottish politics.

“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 its leader’s suitability for public office is no surprise.”

Responding to Hanvey’s defection, Lib Dem MP Alistair Carmichael said: “Like paint chipping off an old and decaying wall, Neale Hanvey’s defection is the latest episode in the nationalist’s bitter, twisted and divided civil war.”

Scottish Labour campaign co-chair Neil Bibby said: “The defection of the controversial Neale Hanvey to the Alba Party reveals the utter disarray that the SNP is in. 

“Neale Hanvey and Kenny MacAskill must both stand down and give their constituents the chance to elect politicians more interested in guaranteeing Scotland’s recovery than endlessly refighting yesterday’s war.”

Meanwhile Douglas Ross has accused Scottish Labour and Liberal Democrats of “ignoring the elephant in the room” by refusing to make a unionist coalition.

Scottish Conservative leader was speaking after Scottish Labour leader Anas Sarwar told him to “grow up” and Lib Dem MP Alister Carmichael described him as being “divisive”.

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.”

Following the launch of the Alba Party, Scottish Labour leader Anas Sarwar said: “The people of Scotland deserve a parliament focused on national recovery, not SNP infighting.”

The Scottish Greens said in a statement: “This election should be about putting forward a positive vision for Scotland’s future, not settling personal vendettas.”

The Alba Party will only be standing candidates in the regional lists in an attempt to boost pro-independence numbers in Holyrood.

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