Carmichael: Alex Salmond is not the answer to Scotland’s future

Former Scottish first minister Alex Salmond has announced he will lead the pro-impendence Alba party, which was registered just four months ago. He told a press conference today: “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.”

Scottish Lib Dem leaders responded: “There are no questions about Scotland’s future to which Alex Salmond is the answer.”

Responding to the announcement from Alex Salmond that he will stand for the Scottish Parliament, Scottish Liberal Democrat campaign chair Alistair Carmichael MP said:

“This astonishing announcement shows just how divided the SNP are. A few years ago, no one could have imagined that the former First Minister and his protege would be at one another’s throats.

“It shows the arrogance of the nationalists that they want to use the Scottish Parliament as an arena to fight their own feuds instead of being a forum to put recovery first and to make life better for the people of Scotland.”

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This entry was posted in News and Scotland.


  • Brad Barrows 26th Mar '21 - 3:50pm

    This development is a game-changer for the election. A growing number of SNP voters are realising that voting SNP on the List Vote is a wasted vote in most of the country as the SNP does so well at winning constituencies that they find it impossible to gain MSPs on the List where MSPs are allocated by corrective PR. If as few as 1 in 8 SNP voters decide to vote for this new pro-independence party, it would win 8 MSPs (one in each regional list) and 1 in 4 could lead to the new Party winning 16 MSPs. These extra MSPs will come mainly at the expense of the Unionist Parties which currently gain most of the List Seats. If 1 in 2 SNP voters prove willing to vote for the new Party to help get rid of a Unionist MSPs, the election result could well be an SNP government with a rival pro-independence party as the main Opposition. As I say, a real game-changer.

  • Don’t underestimate Salmond he is a big personality and has support. People laughed at Farage and look what happened. It may take a few years, but he could be the one that leads Scotland in the next independence referendum.

  • ““It shows the arrogance of the nationalists that they want to use the Scottish Parliament as an arena to fight their own feuds instead of being a forum to put recovery first and to make life better for the people of Scotland.”

    I’m afraid not, Alistair. All it shows is the ego, arrogance and futility of Yesterday’s man, Alec Salmond – a thoroughly busted discredited flush. It might even improve the SNP by syphoning off a few of it’s less savoury elements.

  • Paul Barker 26th Mar '21 - 4:51pm

    The argument that this will help The Nationalist cause ignores the sad fact that relations between rival Parties are often hostile. This becomes more so where the Rivals agree about most things. When there is nothing to argue about but personalities then personalities become the argument, its hard to be polite when you are arguing that your opponent is not fit to hold office.

    Salmond is massively unpopular in Scotland, minus 63% approval in the latest Poll & the group among which he is least unpopular are Tory Voters.

    The big question is how Voters react to seeing Nationalists attacking each other.

  • In anticipation of John Peters :

    “The Glasgow Herald : “NEWS 43 mins ago

    SNP MP Joanna Cherry dismisses claims she is poised to defect to Alba party”.

  • John Marriott 26th Mar '21 - 7:15pm

    Mr Salmond seems intent on becoming Scotland’s version of Nigel Farage. How many parties did the latter lead in his time? However such a move might for the Scottish Independence movement in general and the SNP in particular prove to be the opposite of ‘divide and rule’.

  • What this actually shows is how flawed the AMS voting system is. List votes for a party already over represented in the constituency vote arena wasted vote but when cast for a party with a different name standing for the same thing they count.

    I’m not sure how you correct this. Maybe have one vote and use the constituency votes to decide the lists?

  • Peter Watson 26th Mar '21 - 7:34pm

    @David Raw “In anticipation of John Peters…”
    Some very impressive precognition!
    ( or a sneaky peek at the “Recent Comments” list? 😉 )

  • Very clever as it is not a direct confrontation with the SNP, but allowing nationalists and independence supporters to vote twice for like minded parties. That way the parliament will be made up by a majority of independence supporting parties with a reasonable request for independence and drown out the now marginalised unionist supporting parties. As unionists tend to be either below the 45% mark it means a sizeable Scots wishing to remain in the UK losing their voice. As neither the SNP or Alex Salmond or even the greens show any attempt to bridge the divide are we seeing the reverse of Northern Ireland happening. For the lib Dems what can you do. Be the party of devolution, press SNP on what they want and highlight the hard border issues as it will happen. Also maybe support the Orkney and Shetland self governing status and press for a suitable accommodation within Westminster.

  • Doug Chisholm 27th Mar '21 - 7:54am

    Salmonds ego trip will definitely damage the SNP and the Greens. Of course as he implies these losses will be offset by the election of Alba be backers. The unknown is how much damage the nationalist parties will suffer due to this gratuitous factionalism. I think the recieved wisdom is that the public are turned off my parties that are split. So we will see.

  • In anticipation of Doug Chisholm, a poll in the Glasgow Herald last night showed the Greens more than doubling their seats to 11 with the Lib Dem’s Still on 5.

  • Russell Simpson 27th Mar '21 - 10:50am

    @Brad. @Marco. The problem of fair representation using AMS/MMP has not been helped by Scotland breaking itself into regions (similarly STV in Ireland). To be truly proportional, fairer and easier to explain they should have adopted the German/NZ model where the overhang problem barely arises and can be easily accomodated. What needs to be understood by the public is that under AMS/MMP the 2nd (party/list) vote is by far the most important vote. Having already got 4 more MSPs than their 42% of votes warranted, they would not have been allocated an extra 4. You need to end up with the situation that the Greens, eg, by getting 7% of the vote, ends up with 7% of the seats. Listening to Nick Robinson talking on Radio4 Today this morning about how Salmond is manipulating the system made me despair. But then why am I suprised when 7 years ago the good people of the UK chose to not spend a couple of minutes to understand how AV works.

  • Taking the Raw/Chisholm arguments, can anyone point to the Greens, in the past, picking up list votes from the SNP constituency votes by smart thinking SNP supporters.
    After all the Greens do support independence.
    The follow on from that, Glasgow Herald polls apart, once Salmond’s tactics are fully understood, where might such voters go?

  • Brad Barrows 27th Mar '21 - 11:35am

    I saw that poll though the fieldwork was before the announcement by Alex Salmond. The next opinion poll will be hugely important as if it shows the Alba Party gaining enough support to win seats it will benefit from gaining credibility and may then start to build further support.

  • Marco – this has been a known flaw in the AMS system, and one of the reasons why I’m very clear that STV is superior. You could amend as you suggest, but the list system is supposed to help smaller, genuinely independent interests.

    AMS is supposed to compensate for the unfairness of First Past the Post, and it is easily an improvement on FPTP, but still doesn’t give fully proportional results, especially if some parties and voters try to game the system, and it means that we can still get a situation where a majority of seats represent a minority view.

    There’s a lot of head scratching to work out if and how the system could artificially boost representation of nationalists in Holyrood, and while we might speculate on how significant it might be, the fact that so much energy is devoted to trying to find a way to game the system is unhelpful. More than that, the fact that it’s being used by political activists to try to game the system over a binary issue encourages entrenched thinking, which is what a PR system is supposed to discourage.

    As a party that supports PR, it’s easy enough for us to be scathing of attempts to game the system and point out that a majority of MSPs based on a minority of actual votes is not a legitimate majority, but that’s going more difficult for Labour and especially the Tories with their continued support for FPTP at Westminster.

  • If the UK govn wanted to be nasty about a referendum they might suggest that parts of Scotland that want to stay in the Uk should be allowed to break off from Scotland, who would then have to pay for a convoluted border if they wanted to rejoin in the EU (reverse logic as Scotland as part of the UK does not want to abide by the overall decision to leave the EU). In some ways it is a pity that Covid has obscured the effects of leaving the EU, though.

  • @ Fiona “As a party that supports PR, it’s easy enough for us to be scathing of attempts to game the system and point out that a majority of MSPs based on a minority of actual votes is not a legitimate majority,”… Is that why Willie & Co are on both constituency and regional list ballot papers ?

    Interesting to note Ross Greer (a 26 year old rising star in the Scottish Greens who bested Piers Morgan two years ago) say the Salmond launch was a “public meltdown of a disgraced has-been” and the (Alba) party’s creation was motivated by a “personal vendetta”. Hard not to agree with that.

    And….. last summer the Glasgow Herald carried a poll showing “Alex Salmond now almost as unpopular as Boris … › news › 14 Aug 2020 — The YouGov survey found the former First Minister had a net approval rating of minus 42 among Scots voters, compared to -50 for the Prime Minister”.

    Some of us, in an idle moment, might suppose they deserve each other.

  • Brad Barrows 27th Mar '21 - 12:47pm

    I agree that STV is the best system for a number of reasons and it also also makes sense from the point of view that it is already used for local government elections. Unfortunately, the Liberal Democrats agreed on the AMS system, with Labour, as part of the Constitutional Convention that prepared the ground for the Scotland Act that set up the Parliament.

  • Russell Simpson 27th Mar '21 - 1:13pm

    @Fiona. It’s not so much a flaw of AMS/MMP as a flaw of the way it was implemented in Scotland (ie breaking up Scotland to the regions). No one in NZ or Germany is complaining. The occassional overhang can be easily corrected and AMS/MMP has the benefit of maintaining constituencies.

  • With the imminent independence of Scotland on the horizon, where a super majority of independence supporting SMPs. Should we as lib Dems be preparing the ground now for the inevitable bun fight.
    It will cause the collapse of Tory government and a vacuum that Lib Dems can step into.
    So here are a few suggestions.
    1. This country will be more leave focused then ever. So perhaps a more cooperation with the EU and international partners be a major plank.

    2. Shetland, Orkney Isles be offered considerable home rule if they wish to remain with the ruk.

    3. A hard border between Scotland and England will be on the cards as a EU inclined Scotland will try and harmonise itself quickly with the EU. So what should be put in place to allow Scots wishing to remain in the ruk etc.

    4. Scottish and RUk liability and assets and fair and equal distribution. But insistance that RUk does not pick up the tab for Scottish expenditure from a set date.

    5. Armed services with Clyde fleet remaining with Scotland, we need to talk about the Faslane and ship building. The Royal Navy5has never built war ships abroad since the second World War, so what needs to be done to bring it south. What should be offered to ship yard workers, NHS workers etc who want to remain in the UK.
    I am sure there is a list, but if our brightest minds can start figure out a positive position now, it will show Lib Dems as a forward thinking party

  • john oundle 27th Mar '21 - 6:38pm


    In the event of another Scottish referendum Sturgeon’s idea for a second vote (as she proposed for the UK EU vote) would be fine.

    This would be held two years after the first vote to allow for negotiations to be completed, but during this time the UK money tap would be turned off to enable Scottish voters to get an idea of real life separation.

  • Paul Barker 27th Mar '21 - 6:40pm

    One thing the entry of Alba does is to make the results completely unpredictable, it might help the Nationalist Bloc or do the opposite. With the right amount of Votes Alba could wipe out The Green contingent without gaining any Seats itself. We will know when the Results are announced & not a moment before.
    We may look back on this Week as the beginning of the disintegration of Scottish Nationalism or its triumph, we just have to wait & see.

  • @ Paul Barker “With the right amount of Votes Alba could wipe out The Green contingent without gaining any Seats itself”.

    As a resident of the Lothians rather than Kent, I’m sorry but I would change that to, “with the wrong amount of Votes, Alba could wipe out The Green contingent without gaining any Seats itself”.

    I merely observe that the Scottish Green Party has provided some excellent individual MSPs over the last five years and influenced the SNP for the better. In many ways, they have a progressive record which a more radical Liberal Party would have done well to aspire to.

    But as you say, we have to adopt an Asquithian ‘wait and see’ to find out what probably the most sophisticated electorate in the UK comes up with.

  • @ Dan ” a vacuum that Lib Dems can step into”………………

    …… if they choose to rediscover the more radical elements of their Liberal heritage.

    Tagging along with the Unionist Tories between 2010-15 got them into their present pickle.

  • @ David Raw,
    Yes to a bit of Radical Liberal please. We played to safe and been apologetic for years and not offered much to the country. So we need some eye catching initiatives

  • Paul Fisher 27th Mar '21 - 9:41pm

    Let the Scottish people, the citizens of Scotland decide their future. I wish them well if they can rid themselves of the English domination of their national life. Best the LibDems think about their own argamenon.

  • Brad Barrows 28th Mar '21 - 1:22pm

    @Paul Fisher
    There have been 17 General Elections in the 62 years since 1959, resulting in 38 years of Conservative governments – and the Conservatives were rejected in every one of those elections by the people of Scotland. Having a Scottish Parliament allows some degree of escape from Conservative government policies but Westminster still retains the key economic levers over Scotland and, with the Internal Market Act, is seeking ways to interfere more in devolved areas. This is not a sustainable state of affairs.

  • Paul Barker 28th Mar '21 - 2:34pm

    We seem to be seeing a wave of defections from The SNP to Alba, mostly among those who find Sturgeon not Nationalist enough & a bit too “liberal”. As a Liberal & an Internationalist I find that heartening but I doubt it will help Us in the short term.

    I believe that our current problems are the result of Covid & nothing else & I have no idea when or even if they will end, we just have to keep on & hope.

  • “I believe that our current problems are the result of Covid & nothing else”

    What’s your excuse for the previous ten years of problems?

  • @ Paul Barker “a wave of defections from The SNP to Alba”.

    Actually, it’s TWO. Not sure what constitutes a wave in Mr Barker’s bit of England, but here it’s more like a couple of drips in a puddle than a rushing Spring tide in the Forth.

    One (close chum of Salmond) was out of favour since being sacked as Justice Minister by Ms Sturgeon after the Megrahi business. I suggest Mr Barker looks up the other one to find out about what sort of bother he was in just over a year ago.

  • Paul Barker 28th Mar '21 - 5:06pm

    @David Raw
    Thats 2 MPs but I was referring to the ” Leaked List” of Alba members which seems to include a number of prominent SNP figures – that story is still in its early stages.

    The last Decade has actually seen a lot of movement in Our support – just 18 Months ago we were Polling at 20%. Our present situation where we are stuck around 7% began last Summer & is entirely down to the Covid “Lockdown” on Politics which gives a massive advantage to Parties in Government. We just dont know what our Support would be like in “Normal” times or when those times might return.

  • @ Paul Barker “The last Decade has actually seen a lot of movement in Our support – just 18 Months ago we were Polling at 20%, Our present situation where we are stuck around 7% began last Summer & is entirely down to the Covid “Lockdown”. Oh, Aye ?

    The 7% you cite is the same as the 7% in the last opinion poll before the May, 2015 Election – which compares to 27% in the last opinion poll before the 2010 Election. I don’t recall any Covid in 2015, so what could possibly have gone wrong ?

  • Rob Davidson 28th Mar '21 - 6:59pm

    The wikipedia page for the Scottish voting system ( additional member system) has a section on ‘decoy lists’ as used in Italy, where a party presents an alternative version of itself in the list to soak up the top-up seats that its primary persona would miss out on because of constituency-based success.
    The SNP defectors to Alba (now 2 of them, giving Alba more presence in Westminster than the UK’s Greens or Scottish Labour) are openly talking about the aim for a super-majority and even Dougie Ross (leader of Scottish Tories) is talking about this tactic: vote Sturgeon in your constituency, vote Salmond in the list and get a pro-independence supermajority.
    The cat is out of the bag – the SNP voters will quickly get the idea with so many people openly talking about it. And, it will not be at all difficult for Scot Nats to split their vote at the ballot in this way – not when it’s two SNP legends at the respective helms.
    Even if only half of the usual SNP voters adopt the strategy, the SNP would be on at least 57 seats and Alba would be on around 21. Goodnight McVienna.
    The academic question is whether Salmond has been sticking the knife in (so to speak) in order to make all this look like it’s antagonistic rather than collaborative campaigning.
    But the practical question is twofold: 1) will Johnson allow a 2nd referendum when the ScotNats get their supermajority 2) what part will Lib Dems play in the inevitable referendum – whether it’s legal or not?

  • John Barrett 28th Mar '21 - 9:12pm

    I wrote to the Secretary of State for Scotland in the late 1990’s, at the time the electoral system for the new Scottish Parliament was agreed, to say that there was at least one obvious flaw in the list system, in that any party which was set to win the majority of constituency seats could easily form an agreement with another group or party to stand in the regional lists under another name, and to then work together for their common policy or cause, after the election.

    This would effectively abuse the purpose and proportionality of the list system, to deliver a political win for whoever did it effectively.

    It was a long time coming and we shall now have wait to see if it works.

  • David Evans 29th Mar '21 - 3:25am

    Paul Barker – You say ‘The last Decade has actually seen a lot of movement in Our support – just 18 Months ago we were Polling at 20%, Our present situation where we are stuck around 7% began last Summer & is entirely down to the Covid Lockdown.’ and ‘We just dont know what our Support would be like in “Normal” times or when those times might return’.

    Well you might not know, but as someone who has doubted your oft repeated prediction of the inevitable implosion of the Labour party, let me have a go.

    For five years we had the worst leader our party has ever had, whose ambition was to prove that coalition works – and he proved it worked – for David Cameron’s Conservatives! Our vote share plummeted from 23% to under 8% and our MPs fell from 57 down to 8. Of our next two leaders, Tim Farron at least stopped the ship from sinking, but the Conservatives delivered a Brexit Majority, when we had too few MPs to be able to do anything about it. Under Vince, we then progressed temporarily because we were anti Brexit and pro a People’s vote and as you say we rose in the polls to around 20%.

    Unfortunately and catastrophically, we then had a leader who claimed she wanted to be Britain’s next Prime Minister and went for a quick election and Revoke. Again our support collapsed and this time we helped get Boris Johnson elected!

    I would suggest that with two catastrophic leaders out of four, and Brexit decided, we are in danger of finding that our current level of support is in fact “Normal times” and better times will only return when we get a series of leaders prepared to put in the hard work over many years to prove to the British people that they are in it for the long run and not just a looking for a quick easy fix.

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