Alex Salmond, Scotland’s former political leader, said on Thursday that his new pro-independence party had little to do with his bitter dispute with the country’s current leader, which could cost the governing Scottish National Party votes in a May referendum.
Salmond said people had been “quite upset” after he launched the Alba Party last week, stunning Scotland’s First Minister Nicola Sturgeon, his former protégé but with whom he fell out during a bitter legal dispute.
“Frankly, the cause of independence is much, much bigger than personalities,” Salmond told BBC radio.
“It’s a noble cause, a huge cause for Scotland, and everybody through history, but now, has to put aside personal differences and work for that national interest.”
If Sturgeon’s SNP wins a majority in the May 6 elections, he has vowed to hold another independence referendum. During his seven years as first minister, Salmond was Sturgeon’s mentor, and he led the secessionist movement in the 2014 independence referendum, in which Scots voted 55 percent to 45 percent to stay in the UK.
When asked about his criticism of Sturgeon’s leadership over her government’s handling of sexual harassment charges against him, Salmond replied, “Everybody in politics has to take criticism from time to time, but I’m talking about the cause of advancing Scotland’s case for independence.”
Salmond was cleared of committing multiple sex offences against women last year.
He said his aim was to maximise the number of pro-independence lawmakers and a secessionist “supermajority” in the Scottish parliament after the May elections would make it hard for British Prime Minister Boris Johnson to deny another vote.
“A supermajority in parliament, made up of not only one party, the SNP, but also other independence parties like Alba, would significantly alter the power balance, since no Tory (Conservative) prime minister wants to face down an entire parliament or people,” he said.
According to polling, voters are approximately split on whether they favor or oppose independence.