SNP's Kenny MacAskill defects to Alex Salmond's new Alba Party


SNP’s Kenny MacAskill becomes party’s first Westminster MP to defect to Alex Salmond’s new Alba Party

  • Kenny MacAskill has represented East Lothian in the Commons since 2019 
  • He insisted the switch would bolster, not derail, the independence movement 
  • Ex-SNP MP Corrie Wilson is also joining the former first minister in the election 

Alex Salmond has bagged his first high-profile defection after Westminster MP Kenny MacAskill quit the SNP to stand for Alba in May’s Holyrood elections.

Mr MacAskill, who has represented East Lothian in the Commons since 2019, insisted the switch would bolster, and not derail, the independence movement.

Announcing his move, he said: ‘I will be joining the newly formed Alba Party to deliver that supermajority for independence through the list vote which I believe is essential to achieving our national independence.’ 

Ex-SNP MP Corrie Wilson is also joining the former first minister, fuelling speculation more disillusioned nationalists could be primed to desert Nicola Sturgeon.

Alex Salmond has bagged his first high-profile defection after Westminster MP Kenny MacAskill (pictured together previously) quit the SNP to stand for Alba in May's Holyrood elections

Alex Salmond has bagged his first high-profile defection after Westminster MP Kenny MacAskill (pictured together previously) quit the SNP to stand for Alba in May’s Holyrood elections

Alex Salmond yesterday announced that he is launching a political party after his civil war with Nicola Sturgeon

Alex Salmond yesterday announced that he is launching a political party after his civil war with Nicola Sturgeon

Ex-SNP MP Corrie Wilson is also joining the former first minister, fuelling speculation more disillusioned nationalists could be primed to desert Nicola Sturgeon (pictured)

Ex-SNP MP Corrie Wilson is also joining the former first minister, fuelling speculation more disillusioned nationalists could be primed to desert Nicola Sturgeon (pictured) 

The SNP’s Westminster leader, Ian Blackford, played down the defection and said he was glad the party was shot of Mr MacAskill.

In a bitter swipe, he said: ‘After yesterday’s events this is the second least surprising news in Scottish politics. He has been an increasing embarrassment to many in the SNP and his departure is somewhat of a relief.’

Mr MacAskill, who was Scotland’s justice secretary in Mr Salmond’s government, yesterday hinted at his defection with an article defending the new party.

In an article for The Scotsman, he wrote: ‘As a list party, Alba won’t be seeking to win converts from those who oppose independence. They’ll neither be pitching to them nor expecting backing from them.’

Scotland operates a version of proportional representation, and Alba is only fielding ‘list’ candidates rather than standing in the first-past-the-post constituency contests that could have inflicted more serious damage to the nationalists. 

Pollsters say that means it is more likely to hurt opposition parties, who typically end up with most of the list seats.  

Yesterday Mr Salmond launched his rival political party which he said would deliver a ‘supermajority’ of pro-independence MSPs. 

‘Today, Alba is hoisting a flag in the wind, planting our Saltire on a hill,’ Mr Salmond said. ‘In the next few weeks, we’ll see how many will rally to our standard.’ 

Mr MacAskill, who was Scotland's justice secretary in Mr Salmond's government, yesterday hinted at his defection with an article defending the new party

Mr MacAskill, who was Scotland’s justice secretary in Mr Salmond’s government, yesterday hinted at his defection with an article defending the new party

Mr Salmond used the statement to say he will stand as a candidate in the North East regional constituency and introduce three other hopefuls – including two who have also defected from the SNP.

They were Cllr Chris McEleny, laywer Eva Comrie, and businesswoman Cynthia Guthrie. The first two were expected to stand for Ms Sturgeon’s party.

It prompted fury from the SNP – which Mr Salmond used to lead but is now estranged – amid fears that Alba will drag the election battleground onto second referendum territory, which could distract from other issues.

It also opens up a new rift in his long-standing feud with Ms Sturgeon, who he once groomed to be his successor but has since accused of orchestrating a plot to destroy him.

Ms Sturgeon was cleared of such accusations by a parliamentary committee this week.

Scotland operates a version of proportional representation, and Alba is only standing 'list' - or 'additional' MSP - candidates rather than running in the first-past-the-post constituency contests that could have inflicted more serious damage to the nationalists. Pollsters say that means it is more likely to hurt opposition parties, who typically end up with most of the list seats. The chart shows the result from the last Holyrood election in 2016

Scotland operates a version of proportional representation, and Alba is only standing ‘list’ – or ‘additional’ MSP – candidates rather than running in the first-past-the-post constituency contests that could have inflicted more serious damage to the nationalists. Pollsters say that means it is more likely to hurt opposition parties, who typically end up with most of the list seats. The chart shows the result from the last Holyrood election in 2016

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