Alba will strengthen independence but weaken Sturgeon.

Youtube/Alba Party

By Derek W Gardiner

Nicola Sturgeon's monopoly on Scottish politics may be about to come to an end with her old mentor launching a new political party that already has 2 MPs and six councillors with more surely to follow. It was almost like watching an election night with the number of defections that were coming in from the "Salmondite" wing of the SNP, such as former Justice Secretary Kenny McAskill who served in Salmond's cabinet and is now a Westminster MP.

The SNP is a broad coalition of people who have come together in the pursuit of an independent Scotland and the party has historically been a liberal centrist one, sometimes dubbed the "Tartan Tories" under Sturgeon's leadership it has moved further to the left and gone into coalition with the far-left Scottish Greens. Many on their own side have become disturbed at the SNP's attacks on freedom of speech through the Hate Crime Bill, their endless public spending pledges coupled with a complete disregard for the economy over lockdown and their obsession with rejoining the EU when many of their own voters had voted leave.

Alba provides a home for these people who do not like the hard-left direction of the SNP or want a more radical push towards independence. One of their most recent recruits, former socialist MSP Tommy Sheridan said that Nicola Sturgeon's leadership should be looked at if she didn't call another independence poll this year. Additionally, those who would otherwise vote Green in order to give pro-independence parties a majority under the list system may now opt for the Alba party effectively uprooting the SNP's gardening section.

However, this should be a worrying development for unionists. Independence supporters now have a party who is likely to gain most constituency seats as well as one that has the potential to scoop up several list seats at their disposal. This is likely to leave the unionist opposition with a much-reduced voice unless we have similar coordination between parties with Conservatives voluntarily standing down candidates in areas where Labour are likely to win and Labour doing likewise.

The silver lining to all of this is that Salmond may demand Sturgeon's political head as a price for supporting an SNP minority government and steer the party towards a more sensible approach on issues such as Brexit, with the Alba party policy being to join EFTA rather than seeking to rejoin the EU, for example, and have a more jobs and business friendly recovery.

With the first televised leaders' debate, tomorrow night set not to include Mr Salmond or George Galloway of Alliance for Unity, it won't have quite the same entertainment value as one that did. Michelle Ballantyne, despite being a leader of a political party with representation in Holyrood is also not invited. Never the less the next few months will prove very interesting and we may end up with another one of the "rainbow parliaments" we used to get at Holyrood.