Former SNP leader Alex Salmond has announced the launch of a new pro-independence party which will run in May’s Scottish Parliament election.
Scotland’s former First Minister said the Alba Party, which he will lead, will field at least four candidates in each regional list during the elections on 6 May.
Chris McEleny, an SNP councillor in Inverclyde, is among the candidates after resigning to stand in the West of Scotland for the new party.
It comes after Mr Salmond announced plans to take legal action over the “conduct” of top civil servant Leslie Evans who he claims failed to take “real responsibility” for failings highlighted in reports about the government’s investigation of harassment complaints against him.
In a statement on Friday, Mr Salmond set out his aim for the new party, which he said would work towards a "successful, socially just, environmentally responsible, independent country".
He said: "Today I'm announcing the public launch of a new political force, the Alba Party.
"Alba will contest the upcoming Scottish elections as a list-only party, seeking to build a super-majority for independence in the Scottish Parliament.
"Over the next six weeks we will promote new ideas about taking Scotland forward - giving primacy to economic recovery from the pandemic and the achievement of independence for our country.
"We expect to field a minimum of four candidates in each regional list and we're hoping to elect Alba MSPs in each area of Scotland.”
‘A flag in the wind’
Mr Salmond said the last Holyrood elections had one million “totally wasted independence” votes on the regional list, but the number could reach 90 with the Alba Party.
“Today, Alba is hoisting a flag in the wind, planting our Saltire on a hill,” he said.
“In the next few weeks, we’ll see how many will rally to our standard.”
The former SNP leader told potential supporters to vote for his old party in constituency seats or an “independence” party.
Mr Salmond added: “The Alba Party is a list party, we are standing only in the list.
“We are not challenging the SNP in the constituencies.
“Indeed we are saying vote SNP or for an independence party on the constituency section.
“We are giving that support.
“Our campaign that we have launched is going to be entirely positive.”
‘An entirely positive thing’
He went on to address the strategic aim of the new party, which he said is “to secure independence”.
“We think building that substantial majority in the Scottish parliament is the key to unlock that question and it’s the key to the way forward,” Mr Salmond added.
“If Alba helps and it is helping because we are not standing on the constituency ballot, we expect that to be dominated by the Scottish National Party, but if Alba can help by contributing independence-supporting MSPs and their expertise they’re contributing to the new platform that we’re going to have to build on independence, meet the new political realities, ideas to get us out of the pandemic in an economic sense as quickly as possible, if we can contribute these then that’s an entirely positive thing.”
Mr Salmond said he hopes to build an independence “super majority” in Scotland’s parliament.
The former First Minister revealed earlier this week that he was preparing more legal action over the conduct of the government’s top civil servant Leslie Evans.
It followed an independent investigation by James Hamilton QC which found Nicola Sturgeon had not breached the ministerial code over her handling of harassment claims against Mr Salmond.
He had previously been successful in a legal challenge of the government’s unlawful investigation into complaints against him and he was awarded more than £500,000.
Mr Salmond was acquitted of all 13 criminal charges brought against him in March 2020, including sexual assault, indecent assault and attempted rape.
Additional reporting by PA.