Alba Party

The Alba Party is a Scottish nationalist and pro-independence political party in Scotland. The party was founded by the retired television producer Laurie Flynn, with the former first minister of Scotland Alex Salmond taking over as leader. Salmond launched the party's 2021 Scottish Parliament election campaign in March 2021, with the party planning to stand list-only candidates. Two Members of Parliament (MPs) in the House of Commons defected from the Scottish National Party to the Alba Party on 27 March 2021, and several other high-profile figures from the SNP including members of its governing body and former MPs joined the party in the days following Salmond's announcement.

Alba Party
Alba Pairty
Pàrtaidh Alba
LeaderAlex Salmond[1]
Depute LeaderKenny MacAskill[2]
General SecretaryChristopher McEleny[3]
Founded8 February 2021
RegisteredPP12700
Split fromScottish National Party[4]
Headquarters1 Lochrin Square
92–98 Fountainbridge
Edinburgh
EH3 9QA
Membership (2021)Increase ≈6,000[5]
Ideology
Colours  Blue and   white
House of Commons (Scottish seats)
2 / 59
Scottish Parliament
0 / 129
Local government[10]
15 / 1,227
Website
www.albaparty.org

HistoryEdit

BackgroundEdit

Alex Salmond served as leader of the Scottish National Party (SNP) from 1990 to 2000 and from 2004 to 2014, and as first minister of Scotland from 2007 to 2014. His deputy and successor as first minister and leader of the SNP was Nicola Sturgeon who has held both positions since. Salmond resigned from the SNP in 2018 following accusations of sexual misconduct, which he denied.[11] He was acquitted of charges made against him in a subsequent court case in 2020.[12] Later that year, the possibility of Salmond leading a new party supporting Scottish independence was discussed, in the context of a feud between Sturgeon and Salmond, who accused Sturgeon's "inner circle" of plotting against him.[13] Polling conducted in July 2020 reported that 40% of those who voted SNP at the 2019 general election would back an independence-supporting party backed by Salmond.[13][14]

FoundingEdit

The party was founded and registered with the Electoral Commission by the retired television producer Laurie Flynn on 8 February 2021.[15] Alba (pronounced [ˈal̪ˠapə] in Scottish Gaelic) is the Gaelic name for Scotland.[16] On 26 March 2021, Salmond announced at the party's election launch that he had joined the party and would become the new leader, taking over from Flynn, after "discussions with Laurie and others from other list parties" over the prior weeks.[17] During the announcement of candidates, it gained its first elected member, councillor Chris McEleny, who previously had served as the SNP group leader on Inverclyde Council[18] and an SNP candidate for the forthcoming 2021 Scottish Parliament election.[19] The MPs Kenny MacAskill and Neale Hanvey, as well as the former MP Corri Wilson, joined the party on 26 March.[20][21] The SNP's national equalities convener, Lynne Anderson, also defected to Alba.[22] BBC Scotland's political editor Glenn Campbell said the list of defectors to the party included "those who fear that gender self-identification for trans people poses a threat to women's rights" as well as politicians who personally support Salmond and his approach to Scottish independence.[23]

2021 Scottish Parliament electionEdit

The party announced plans to stand at least four candidates for the list vote in every region in the 2021 Scottish Parliament election.[24] Intended candidates include Salmond standing for the North East Scotland region as well as former SNP members Chris McEleny standing for the West Scotland region, Eva Comrie for the Mid Scotland and Fife region (for which she was previously the SNP candidate),[25] and Cynthia Guthrie for the South Scotland region.[17][26] Caroline McAllister, the SNP's women's convener and depute leader of West Dunbartonshire council, joined the party and was announced as a candidate in the West Scotland region.[27] The party endorsed voting for the SNP in the constituency vote while voting for the Alba Party for the list vote, in order to ensure more pro-independence MSPs are elected.[1]

On 26 March 2021, the leader of Action for Independence, former SNP MSP Dave Thompson, stated that the party would be standing down all their candidates in order to support Alba.[28][29] Tommy Sheridan, a former MSP and convicted perjurer who had been seeking election as part of Action for Independence, joined the Alba Party on 28 March.[30] On 29 March, former professional boxer Alex Arthur was announced as a list candidate, whilst former SNP MPs George Kerevan and Tasmina Ahmed-Sheikh and former SNP MSP Jim Eadie joined later that day.[31][32]

Sturgeon and the SNP criticised the new party, questioning Salmond's fitness to take public office given the sexual harassment claims against him.[33][34] Sturgeon said she would refuse to have any dealings with Salmond unless he apologises to the women who had accused him of harassment.[35] Lorna Slater, co-leader of the Scottish Greens, also criticised the new party, describing it as "a party thrown together by a disgruntled ex-first minister as part of his vendetta against our first minister."[36] Neil MacKay called the party "Trumpian" and "a hotchpotch of social conservatives and nationalist fundamentalists" in his Herald column.[37] The party was also criticised after it was revealed that candidate Alex Arthur had tweeted anti-vaccine statements and remarks referring to Romanians as fat and using the pig emoji.[38] The party was further criticised as "cynical" for using women's rights as a campaign issue despite making misleading statements about one of their candidate's role in Glasgow City Council's equal pay dispute, Salmond's history of complaints for inappropriate sexual conduct, and candidate Jim Walker referring to Sturgeon as "a cow".[39][40]

During the Alba Party's Women's Conference, Central Scotland candidate Margaret Lynch claimed that the Scottish Government was funding LGBT rights groups that wanted to lower the age of consent to 10 years old. The SNP described this as "deeply homophobic and untrue" and Lynch was condemned by Scottish Greens co-leader Patrick Harvie. When asked by The Scotsman whether Lynch's position was also that of the party, Alba refused to comment.[41] Former SNP councillor Austin Sheridan left the Alba Party, describing Lynch's comments as "hideous" and stating there was "no way I can be part of a party that tolerates such views."[42] Lynch later clarified her comments in an article in The Times, in which she continued to claim that trans rights would allow access by "sexual predators",[43] and in The Scotsman repeated her accusation that LGBT organisations which received "£2.8 million of Scottish public funds" have signed a letter advocating lowering the age of consent to 10 years of age.[44] LGBT charity Stonewall called on Lynch to retract her false allegation and apologise.[45]

The party failed to win any seats in the election,[46] after attracting only 1.7% of the vote.[47] Salmond said that the party's results had been "creditable" given its recent founding.[48] Other commentators argued that Alba had benefitted Sturgeon individually by removing some of her most vocal internal party critics from the political scene.[49]

Post-electionEdit

On 28 June 2021, the Electoral Commission rejected all seven of Alba's official descriptions. In a round up of recent decisions, the Commission said all seven proposed ballot paper slogans failed to "meet the requirements of a description".[50]

PoliciesEdit

The party is Scottish nationalist, advocating Scottish independence, as an "immediate necessity".[51] The party describes its objective as being to build a "socially just and environmentally responsible" Scotland.[52] Its platform also opposed proposed changes to the Gender Recognition Act until a citizens assembly can be formed to discuss and debate the perceived conflicts between sex and gender based rights.[53]

Alba supports a future independent Scotland joining the European Free Trade Association (EFTA).[54] The party claims to be "social democratic"[55] on its website, and has politicians with a variety of positions as members, such as Tommy Sheridan on the left-wing,[56] Kenny MacAskill on the centre-left,[57] and Tasmina Ahmed-Sheikh on the centre-right.[58][59]

LeadershipEdit

Leader of the Alba PartyEdit

Leader of the Alba Party
Name Entered office Left office Photo
1 Laurie Flynn 8 February 2021 unknown
2 Alex Salmond 25 March 2021
(announced)[60]
Incumbent  

Depute Leader of the Alba PartyEdit

Depute Leader of the Alba Party
Name Entered office Left office Photo
1 Kenny MacAskill 11 September 2021
(announced)[61]
Incumbent  

General Secretary of the Alba PartyEdit

• Cllr Christopher McEleny, 4 June 2021 - Present

RepresentativesEdit

MPsEdit

Name Former party Constituency Date defected
Kenny MacAskill Scottish National Party East Lothian 26 March 2021
Neale Hanvey Kirkcaldy and Cowdenbeath

CouncillorsEdit

Following Salmond's announcement, eleven councillors had joined the party by the end of March. All eleven had been elected as SNP candidates, though three had already left that party.[62] This included three councillors on Aberdeenshire Council[63] and two on North Lanarkshire Council.[64]

Electoral performanceEdit

Scottish ParliamentEdit

Election Regional Total seats +/– Rank Government
Votes % Seats
2021 44,913 1.7
0 / 56
0 / 129
  6th Not in parliament

ReferencesEdit

  1. ^ a b Heffer, Greg (26 March 2021). "Alex Salmond becomes leader of new pro-independence Alba Party ahead of Scottish elections". Sky News.
  2. ^ Webster, Laura (11 September 2021). "Alba conference: Kenny MacAskill elected Alba party's depute leader". Greenock Telegraph. Retrieved 11 September 2021.
  3. ^ Mcilkenny, Stephen (11 September 2021). "Christopher McEleny appointed General Secretary of the Alba Party". Greenock Telegraph. Retrieved 11 September 2021.
  4. ^ McCall, Chris (30 March 2021). "Former SNP MP joins Alex Salmond's new Alba Party as defections continue". Daily Record. Retrieved 30 March 2021.
  5. ^ Grant, Alistair (30 July 2021). "Alex Salmond's Alba Party welcomes 6,000th member as 65-year SNP loyal quits". The Herald. Retrieved 30 July 2021.
  6. ^ Brooks, Libby. "Alex Salmond launches new independence-focused Alba party". The Guardian. Retrieved 28 March 2021.
  7. ^ Brooks, Libby. "Scottish opposition offered easy hit by Alex Salmond party launch". The Guardian. Retrieved 28 March 2021.
  8. ^ "Alex Salmond Will Lead a New Scottish Party Into May Election". Bloomberg. Retrieved 28 March 2021.
  9. ^ Davies, Gareth; Sanderson, Daniel (26 March 2021). "Alex Salmond returns to politics to lead new pro-independence Alba Party – watch live". The Daily Telegraph. ISSN 0307-1235. Retrieved 26 March 2021.
  10. ^ "Local council political compositions". Open Council Data UK. Retrieved 18 July 2021.
  11. ^ "Ex-SNP leader Alex Salmond resigns from party". BBC News. 29 August 2018. Archived from the original on 1 April 2020. Retrieved 27 March 2021.
  12. ^ "Alex Salmond acquitted of all charges in sexual assault trial". The Guardian. 23 March 2020. Retrieved 29 March 2021.
  13. ^ a b O'Toole, Emer. "Tommy Sheridan urges Alex Salmond to 'sweep up votes' with new Yes party". The National. Archived from the original on 23 September 2020. Retrieved 26 March 2021.
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  38. ^ Hutcheon, Paul (30 March 2021). "Boxer Alex Arthur apologises for "fat" beggars claim after being announced as candidate for Alex Salmond's Alba Party". The Record. Retrieved 30 March 2021.
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  41. ^ Matchett, Conor (11 April 2021). "Alba candidate criticised for 'dangerous and irresponsible' claims about age of consent by charity". The Scotsman. Retrieved 12 April 2021.
  42. ^ Marlborough, Conor (13 April 2021). "Former SNP councillor quits Alba Party amid 'hideous' claims against LGBT groups". The Scotsman.
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  54. ^ Wilson, Louise (21 April 2021). "Alba backs EFTA membership in manifesto". Holyrood Website. Retrieved 19 May 2021.
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  58. ^ https://www.prospectmagazine.co.uk/magazine/interview-tasmina-ahmed-sheikh-the-snp-has-a-right-wing-and-here-she-is
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  62. ^ "Open Council Data UK".
  63. ^ Beattie, Kieran. "Two former Aberdeenshire SNP councillors join Alba".
  64. ^ "Two further SNP figures defect to Alex Salmond's Alba Party". HeraldScotland.

External linksEdit