Sheridan latest to join Salmond’s Alba party
Recruits: more joining Alex Salmond
UPDATED 28 March: Political firebrand Tommy Sheridan is among the latest recruits to former First Minister Alex Salmond’s new Alba Party.
He joins former SNP Justice Secretary Kenny MacAskill, who was the first to announce he was switching to the new party at the weekend, and Neale Hanvey who also said he was quitting the SNP.
Mr Sheridan, the former Scottish Socialist Party leader, had been due to stand for AfI – formerly known as Action for Independence. He currently works for the Kremlin-funded Sputnik news website, while Mr Salmond works for the RT TV channel.
Mr Hanvey, MP for Kirkcaldy and Cowdenbeath said the Alba Party provided “a tonic for our movement”.
Kenny MacAskill: believes Alba can deliver independence
He added: “Like so many, I have been angered by our powerlessness in the face of Brexit and share the frustration of many who feel the aspirations of the independence movement are being ignored.”
He follows former Scottish Justice Secretary Kenny MacAskill who announced on Saturday he would be seeking election as an Alba party MSP at the Holyrood election.
The East Lothian MP said he believes Mr Salmond’s new party, which launched on Friday, would help achieve independence.
The loss of two MPs is being seen as a growing sign of division within the SNP and a potential blow to its hopes of achieving a majority government on 6 May.
Neale Hanvey: ‘angered by powerlessness’
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.
“Scotland deserves so much better than this politics of grudge, personality and ego.
Scottish Liberal Democrat campaign chairman Alistair Carmichael MP said: “Like paint chipping off an old and decaying wall, Neale Hanvey’s defection is the latest episode in the nationalists’ bitter, twisted and divided civil war.”
In February, Mr Hanvey was sacked from his frontbench role as vaccines spokesman at Westminster. In 2019 he was was suspended by the SNP for using anti-Semitic language on social media.
A defiant SNP Westminster Leader Ian Blackford described Mr MacAskill as an increasing embarrassment to the party and said his departure is “somewhat of a relief”.
Mr MacAskill has long been a close ally of Mr Salmond and has been critical of the SNP’s leadership.
Ian Blackford: ‘relief’ (pic: Terry Murden)
Calling for a by-election Mr Blackford 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. That he is joining a party with serious questions to answer about its leader’s suitability for public office is no surprise.
“He should now resign his seat in the House of Commons to let a by-election take place immediately so the people of East Lothian can elect a new MP who will focus on their interests, rather than self-interest.”
For the time being at least, it means that Alba now has more Scottish MPs in the Commons than Labour.
Labour’s Shadow Secretary of State for Scotland Ian Murray said: “The already thin veneer that separated Alex Salmond’s party from the SNP has totally cracked in just 24 hours.
“The Scottish and Westminster Parliaments are not places for people to play at politics and Kenny McAskill must now stand down to allow the people of East Lothian to make his obsession with division history.
“The people of East Lothian deserve better than to be cast aside without a second thought.
“But what is now crystal clear for all of Scotland to see is that this new outfit just shares the same obsession with reheating old arguments as Nicola Sturgeon and the SNP.
“The truth is Scotland deserves better – and that is why Scottish Labour will focus on delivering a national recovery plan so we can build a fairer and stronger Scotland together.”
Sarwar rejects Ross approach
Scottish Labour leader Anas Sarwar has firmly rejected Conservative leader Douglas Ross’s call for a united unionist campaign to fight the nationalists.