Salmond: Register of Alba’s success is being part of Scottish politics
The Alba Party’s register of success is its place among the furniture of Scottish politics, Alex Salmond has said.
The new pro-independence party emerged just six weeks ago with the aim of creating a “supermajority” in Parliament on the issue, targeting regional list seats.
Mr Salmond, Alba’s leader and the former first minister, tops the party’s North East Scotland regional list and he was at the P&J Live/Teca venue in Aberdeen to watch ballots being counted from early on Friday morning.
Alba has received just a 2.07% share in the regional vote for the Aberdeen Donside constituency – with the full list results due to be declared on Saturday.
He told the PA news agency he was impressed by the enthusiasm and calibre of his fellow candidates, and said the Alba Party “is here to stay” regardless of the results.
He said: “The Alba people are very hopeful that we can make a parliamentary breakthrough but it’s a tough call, we’ve only been in existence for six weeks as a political party.
“We now have a viable political party which is going to be part of the furniture of Scottish politics for some time to come.
“That is the register of Alba’s success, our existence as a political party – we’ve mounted a real challenge of this election campaign with candidates, manifesto, a terrific effort across Scotland.
“I’ve never had the election under the circumstances – there’s some ways you know, at least to get better sleep which has its benefits of course, but you miss the election night excitement and it doesn’t change the results at the end of the day.
“We injected independence into the heart of this campaign, I’m not certain that would have been as much of a concentration if our existence hadn’t been registered.
“If we get the situation again where the SNP piles up almost a million votes on the list but gets very little in terms of members elected, that have kind of vindicates the Alba argument that people should switch that to Alba and secure the independent supermajority.”
Mr Salmond said before the independence referendum of 2014, Yes support was “less than 30% but because of the campaign process of articulating the arguments… it went up through the campaign to 45%”.
He added that now it is “in a situation where that’s perhaps 50/50”, and expressed suspicions over the argument of increasing support for independence by not talking about it.
The former first minister also highlighted the continuing differences in Scotland’s politics to England after the shock Hartlepool by-election result.
Jill Mortimer’s victory helped the Tories take the constituency over Labour for the first time since it was created almost 50 years ago.
Mr Salmond told PA: “Well I think people are going to draw the contrast – there’s Boris Johnson, a more incompetent Prime Minister you would find it difficult to discover.
“He’s absolutely hopeless and hapless and yet they’ve decimated the Labour Party in the by-election, the opposition party are meant to win by-elections, not to lose them massively.
“That would point to a structural change in English politics, obviously England has an embedded Tory majority for some time now.
“It looks like it is getting more and more embedded and therefore folk in Scotland are going to have to recognise if we want Scotland to choose its own government, we want it to go its own way, establish our own priorities, make a way in the world in the future, then independence is a necessity.
“The question for us is how do we galvanise the independence movement and make sure that happens – Alba indicated during the election campaign how that might be done, whether we get a reward in terms of a breakthrough remains to be seen.”