17:09 GMT11 April 2021
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    The Scottish National Party (SNP) has been riven with division since Alex Salmond was prosecuted for sexual offences, which he always denied. Salmond was acquitted and immediately accused the SNP hierarchy of having tried to remove him from the political landscape.

    Scotland's former First Minister, Alex Salmond, has launched a new political party in a major challenge to Nicola Sturgeon and the SNP.

    Salmond, 66, said on Friday, 26 March, the Alba Party would field four candidates in each regional list in the elections for the Scottish Parliament in May.

    In a statement broadcast on Twitter Salmond said: "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 under my leadership, seeking to build a super majority for independence in the Scottish Parliament," he added.

    ​Salmond said: "Over the next six weeks we'll promote new ideas about taking Scotland forward, giving primacy to economic recovery from the pandemic, and the achievement of independence for our country."

    ​Salmond led the SNP from 2007 until 2014 and drove up support for Scottish independence.

    He resigned after the 2014 referendum on Scottish independence in which 55 percent of Scots voted to stay in the United Kingdom. 

    © REUTERS / Russell Cheyne
    FILE PHOTO: The leader of the Scottish National Party (SNP) Nicola Sturgeon is applauded by former leader and local candidate Alex Salmond during campaigning in Inverurie, Aberdeenshire

    Sturgeon has been pressing for a second referendum, claiming that Brexit had totally changed the political landscape.

    But British Prime Minister Boris Johnson has made it clear the 2014 referendum was a "once in a lifetime" vote.

    Alba is the old Scottish Gaelic name for Scotland. Only around 60,000 people in Scotland are fluent in Gaelic.​

    The Labour Party, which was dominant in Scotland until the 2015 election, will hope Salmond's new party splits the Scottish nationalist vote and helps them make a comeback.

    ​Last month Scottish Labour elected a new leader, Anas Sarwar and on he has accused Salmond and Sturgeon of being engaged in "score settling" and "old politics."
    Mr Sarwar said on Friday: "We are still in the midst of a pandemic. Lives and livelihoods are still at risk. This election must be about our national recovery and the people of Scotland's priorities, not the old arguments between personalities who believe their interest matters more than the national interest."

    ​Salmond was acquitted of charges of sexual assault in 2020 and won £500,000 in legal costs from the Scottish government after its handling of the investigation was ruled unlawful.

    Douglas Ross, leaders of the Scottish Conservatives, said: "Alex Salmond is a discredited figure who admitted appalling behaviour towards women during his time as SNP first minister and right-thinking people will want nothing to do with him or his new party."

     

     

     

    Tags:
    Scotland, Nicola Sturgeon, Alex Salmond, SNP
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