Nicola Sturgeon has said there are “significant questions” about Alex Salmond’s return to politics
The former SNP leader confirmed he will be standing for the Alba Party on the North East regional list section in May’s Scottish Parliament election.
Launching the new party in an online event on Friday, the former SNP leader said: “Today Alba are hoisting a flag in the wind, planting our Saltire on a hill. In the next few weeks we will see how many will rally to our standard.”
The launch comes after a turbulent period for the SNP and the Scottish Government, led by Salmond’s successor Sturgeon.
She tweeted: “These are serious times, and the country needs serious leadership.
“For a steady hand to steer us through crisis, a bold policy platform to kickstart recovery and the chance to choose independence when the crisis has passed, make it #BothVotesSNP”
She told Radio Clyde News: “There are significant questions about the appropriateness of his return to public office.”
Salmond said his party would be carrying a “positive” campaign and urged voters to back the SNP or another pro-independence party in the constituency seats.
The Alba Party will only be standing candidates in the regional lists in an attempt to boost separatist numbers in Holyrood.
Earlier this weekend, it emerged that MP Kenny MacAskill left the SNP to join the Alba Party.
The former justice secretary will stand as a candidate on the Lothian regional list.
Meanwhile, in response to the new party, Scottish Conservative leader Douglas Ross has requested a meeting with Scottish Labour leader Anas Sarwar and Scottish Liberal Democrat leader Willie Rennie in a bid to “rediscover the Better Together spirit”.
He insisted that action was needed because Friday’s launch of the Alba Party – which will see Mr Salmond run as a candidate for the North East region – had “changed the nature of this campaign”.
Speaking about the plans, Ross said: “It is clearer than ever before that the dividing line in this election is now over another independence referendum.
“I think that is an extremely sad state of affairs when we should be focused on our recovery and rebuilding after Covid-19 and sorting out 14 years of failure from the SNP Scottish government.
“But there is no doubt that the Nationalists, whether they be Nicola Sturgeon’s Nationalists or Alex Salmond’s Nationalists, want to take us through another divisive independence referendum.
“That means we can’t focus on our recovery and rebuilding.
“That’s why I am asking for all the pro-UK parties to do what we did in 2014 and come together, put political differences aside, and stop this drive towards another independence referendum.”
Scottish Liberal Democrat campaign chair Alistair Carmichael however insisted that the Tory leader’s politics were “far too dark and divisive”.
Carmichael said: “Lib Dems will work with others to deliver a constructive and ambitious plan for recovery, but Douglas Ross’s politics are far too dark and divisive.
“We will focus on winning seats and ensuring that the next government is focused on putting the recovery first, not independence.
“As a football referee Douglas Ross has a knack for uniting the fans of opposing teams. As a party leader he seems to do the exact opposite.”
Anas Sarwar said Ross “needs to grow up”.
The Scottish Labour leader added: “He needs to recognise that we are in the middle of a pandemic.
“He needs to recognise that this election is not some kind of game, it’s not some kind of battle, it’s not about party politics, it’s not about individual politicians fighting with each other – it’s about focusing on a national recovery.”
Ross later said it was “incredibly disappointing that other parties won’t even come to the table to discuss how we can work together”.