Salmond: Sturgeon is best First Minister candidate

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He told Sky's Ridge on Sunday: "During the Parliament I served in, Alex Salmond and indeed John Swinney, the Deputy First Minister of the Scottish Parliament, stood on a dual mandate and represented both Westminster and Holyrood".

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

Speaking on the campaign trail on Saturday, Ms Sturgeon said: "I take no pleasure whatsoever in saying this but I think there are significant questions about the appropriateness of his return to public office given the concerns that have been raised about his behaviour previously but that's for voters to judge and decide". We live in a democracy.

The statement comes after Mr Salmond announced plans to take legal action over the "conduct" of the Scottish Government's top civil servant Leslie Evans.

The SNP's Westminster leader Ian Blackford said: "He has been an increasing embarrassment to many in the SNP and his departure is somewhat of a relief".

Neale Hanvey followed East Lothian MP Kenny MacAskill in joining the newly-formed operation.

While 58 percent of people saw Sturgeon favourably, only 14 percent felt the same towards Salmond, with almost three-quarters registering unfavourable opinion of him, according to polling by Opinium Research and Sky News.

Today, Alba is hoisting a flag in the wind, planting our Saltire on a hill.

He added: "This isn't just the Alex Salmond party or even the Alex Salmond and Kenny MacAskill Party, it's a party for those who support the cause of independence and who want to make sure we grasp that nettle which is badly required because of the risks and challenges that we face".

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"In the next few weeks, we'll see how many will rally to our standard".

The SNP leader also said that although Salmond was cleared past year of sexually assaulting nine women while he was Scotland's first minister, "even if I just base this on what he told me, I know he didn't always behave appropriately towards women, and he hasn't shown in public a single sign of reflecting on that".

The Alba Party will only be fielding candidates in the regional lists in an attempt to boost separatist numbers in Holyrood.

Scottish Conservative leader Douglas Ross argued against holding another referendum.

"We cannot have another divisive independence referendum, that distracts the Government and the Parliament from what should be our key priority, which is rebuilding post-Covid".

The 129 Members of the Scottish Parliament (MSPs) are elected on the additional member system, with each elector having two votes.

Scottish Labour campaign co-chairman Neil Bibby said: "The defection of the controversial Neale Hanvey to the Alba Party reveals the utter disarray that the SNP is in".

Mr Ross said: "The fact is we are in the middle of a global pandemic, we are still seeing people in Scotland losing their lives, we are seeing people in Scotland anxious about their livelihoods".

"He needs to recognise that this election is not some kind of game, it's not some kind of battle, it's not about party politics, it's not about individual politicians fighting with each other - it's about focusing on a national recovery".

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