Nicola Sturgeon launches another attack on Alex Salmond as Alba recruits 4,000 members

Nicola Sturgeon has launched an attack on her rival Alex Salmond as his new party Alba recruits 4,000 members, as a devastating poll shows the new party is only predicted to get three per cent of the vote.

Alex Salmond would have been ‘wanting and expecting’ a larger number of politicians to defect to his new party from the SNP, Nicola Sturgeon has claimed.

The former Scottish first minister made a dramatic return to frontline politics a week ago, when he was unveiled as the leader of the new pro-independence Alba Party.

The party claims its recent swell of membership puts it ahead of the Scottish Liberal Democrats

More than 4,000 members have joined Alex Salmond’s Alba Party in the week since its launch, the party has said.

That includes two MPs who were elected under an SNP banner, the former Scottish justice secretary Kenny MacAskill, and Neale Hanvey.

Speaking about the defections, Ms Sturgeon said: ‘I suspect, knowing him as I used to, Alex Salmond would have been wanting and expecting a bigger defection of elected representatives from the SNP to his new party.

‘Kenny MacAskill has obviously not been that comfortable in the SNP for some time, so he has made his decisions, and he is entitled to make that decision.

‘I don’t know Neale obviously as well as I know Kenny. My principal experience of Neale during the 2019 election was having to suspend him from SNP membership because of anti-Semitic comments.’

She stressed that while individuals ‘make up their own minds on what party, if any party, they want to be members of’, she also questioned if there was a ‘duty’ for parliamentarians who switch allegiance to put themselves forward for re-election as part of their new party.

Such politicians ‘maybe have a duty to allow the voters to decide’, she stated.

The news comes as Alex Salmond recruited 4,000 members to his Alba Party in the first week of its launch, the party claims.

Alba founder Laurie Flynn said the milestone was surpassed on Friday afternoon, with membership numbers now at 4,100.

According to the party, its membership figure gives it more supporters than the Scottish Liberal Democrats.

The news comes after a Survation poll found that Alba is on track to win just 3 per cent of the votes on the regional list

The news comes after a Survation poll found that Alba is on track to win just 3 per cent of the votes on the regional list

The assertion is based on a listing of the party’s membership on its Wikipedia page, which shows numbers at 4,085 as of December 2018.

Mr Flynn said: ‘Little did I think when I founded the party the impact that it would have.

‘After exactly one week since our public launch, our membership has surged past that of the Liberal Democrats, a party which has been in existence for 150 years.’

However, the news comes after a Survation poll found that Alba is on track to win just 3 per cent of the votes on the regional list – which would leave the new party without a single seat.

It also showed that Mr Salmond is the most unpopular of Scotland’s mainstream political leaders, with 71 per cent of Scots viewing him unfavourably.

Despite this, Mr Flynn remained optimistic and added that Alba was ‘Scotland’s new political force’.

The Survation survey was done for newspaper publisher DC Thomson also found that more than half of those asked believed Mr Salmond was detrimental to the cause of independence.

On Thursday, the former first minister said his party’s membership figures are one of the reasons why it should be permitted into the leaders’ debates, and refused to rule out taking legal action if Alba was not invited.

The proportion who said they had a negative view of Mr Salmond was 71 per cent, with 56 per cent for Boris Johnson.

Polling expert Professor Sir John Curtice told The Courier newspaper: ‘The headline is that it looks as though it’s all over for Salmond, though he might just get a seat in the North-East himself.’

Deputy SNP leader Keith Brown said: ‘To ensure Nicola Sturgeon is the First Minister to lead us out of the pandemic, people need to give both votes to the SNP on May 6.’

An Alba spokesman said: ‘These early indications put Alba within touching distance of representation across Scotland. With five weeks still to go Alba’s support can only grow as we approach polling day.’