Alex Salmond stands for Holyrood as leader of new party

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Former First Minister Alex Salmond has announced he will be standing as leader of a new independence party at the Holyrood elections in May.

Salmond will stand in the North East region and lead the Alba Party, which will field at least four candidates in the regional lists.

Chris McEleny, an SNP councillor in Inverclyde, has resigned from the Nationalists to stand in the West of Scotland for the Alba Party.

Eva Comrie will stand in the Mid-Scotland and Fife region and Cynthia Guthrie in South of Scotland.

He said: “Alba will contest the upcoming Scottish elections as a list only party under my leadership seeking to build a supermajority for independence in the Scottish parliament.

“Over the next six weeks we will promote new ideas about taking Scotland forward, giving primacy to economic recovery from the pandemic and the achievement of independence for our country.

“We expect to field a minimum of four candidates in each regional list and we’re hoping to elect Alba MSPs from every area of Scotland.”

Salmond added: “The Alba Party is a list party, we are standing only in the list.

“We are not challenging the SNP in the constituencies.

“Indeed we are saying vote SNP or for an independence party on the constituency section.

“We are giving that support.

“Our campaign that we have launched is going to be entirely positive.”

Salmond made the public announcement via Zoom on Friday afternoon.

The Alba Party was set up in January by retired television producer Laurie Flynn “following extensive consultation with good and trusted friends”, a party statement said.

It added: “The sole purpose of Alba is to strengthen and deepen the movement for independence through an unstinting generosity of spirit, active and lawful campaigning and the extension of our just and democratic institutions so that they are fit for the 21st century and beyond.”

Having set up the party, Mr Flynn said he was “delighted to hand over the reigns to the former first minister of Scotland, Alex Salmond”.

He added: “He is the right person to help deliver a supermajority for independence.”

This afternoon’s statement comes days after Salmond announced plans to take legal action over the “conduct” of the Scottish Government’s top civil servant Leslie Evans.

He said the Permanent Secretary failed to take “real responsibility” for failings highlighted in two reports this week about the Government’s investigation of harassment complaints against him.