Former Scottish Justice Secretary Kenny MacAskill has become the first Scottish National Party politician to defect to Alex Salmond’s new Alba party.
The SNP called for a Westminster by-election in response and said his departure was ‘somewhat of a relief’ after Salmond launched his latest political project on Friday as a way to create a ‘supermajority’ of independence supporters in Holyrood.
In an open letter to workers in his party, MacAskill said: ‘I will join the newly formed Alba party in providing the supermajority for independence through list voting which I believe is essential to achieving independence. of our nation.”
In launching the party, Salmond denied it would compete with the SNP, which he led for more than two decades, and said he would only run candidates on regional lists where voters would make two choices. He said the presence of other pro-independence parties in parliament would make the Westminster government’s position in refusing the power to hold a second independence referendum “fundamentally weaker”.
The announcement came after Salmond this week threatened further legal action against Leslie Evans, Scotland‘s top civil servant, saying he felt compelled to do so because she ‘still refuses to accept real responsibility’. for the costly failures of the internal investigation into the harassment allegations against him.
But testimonies this week included in the official MSP report from the two women who originally filed sexual harassment claims against him claimed there was a culture of complicity around Salmond’s allegedly inappropriate behavior during his time as prime minister, where a “blind eye” has been closed.
On Saturday, SNP leader Nicola Sturgeon told Radio Clyde: “There are significant questions about the appropriateness of [Salmond’s] return to public service given some of the concerns raised about his conduct, but that’s up to voters to decide.
“The SNP are offering a political program to kick-start the recovery and then of course once we are out of the crisis the option to choose independence so we can shape the future of Scotland, if the people want it. want, they have to vote SNP to get this. Elections are not games [or] an opportunity to play with the future of the country.
When asked if she expected more defections from her party, she replied: “People will make up their own minds. I’m not too worried about it. If people want to do that, it’s up to them.
Former SNP councilor Chris McEleny is also a candidate for the Alba party in the upcoming Scottish general elections.
SNP leader in Westminster, Ian Blackford, said: “After yesterday’s events, this is the second least surprising piece of news in Scottish politics. [MacAskill] has been a growing embarrassment for many SNP members and his departure is a bit of a relief.
“That he joins a party with serious questions to answer about its leader’s suitability for public office is no surprise. He is now expected to step down from his seat in the House of Commons to allow a by-election immediately so that the people of East Lothian can elect a new MP who will focus on their interests rather than their own interests.
Lib Dem MP Alistair Carmichael added: “Kenny MacAskill wants to be upgraded from SNP MP for East Lothian to Alba Party MSP for Lothians. I’ll be interested to see how he continues that role from his home in Banffshire.