The Guardian view of Alex Salmond: the politics of revenge

Figcaption The Guardian View Of Ale Salmond The Politics Of Revenge
Posted at: Author: Rain TV UK

The return of Alex Salmond to frontline politics is a symbol of decay, not renewal, in Scottish politics. His decision to launch a new political party to contest upcoming elections for the Holyrood parliament will not highlight a new shared idea of an independent country that nationalists could unite behind.

It will instead provide the stage for Mr Salmond’s revenge on his successor as Scottish National party leader, Nicola Sturgeon. For two years Scottish politics has been consumed by this rivalry. The scorched-earth politics of Scottish nationalism has been brutal. The shabby way in which serious matters pertaining to allegations of sexual harassment leading to acquittal in a court case have become part of hyper-partisan politics revealed the depths to which politicians were capable of sinking.

Ms Sturgeon is an effective communicator, a trait that has won her deserved praise during the pandemic. She has faced no effective opposition and ought to easily win May’s election. Her aim is to secure a mandate so large Boris Johnson could not ignore nationalist demands. Mr Salmond’s entry into the race changes the dynamics. Although he and Ms Sturgeon were once both in the gradualist wing of the independence movement, Mr Salmond has adopted a more fundamentalist cast.

What Mr Salmond is likely to focus on in his campaign as leader of the Alba party, if his political shift is any guide, will be the questions that Ms Sturgeon does not have an immediate answer for. When would an independence referendum be held? What sort of question should Scottish voters face? What if Mr Johnson rejects the demand for a section 30 order to allow another independence poll? Should Scotland go it alone with a Catalonia-style poll to demonstrate it’s time to break up Britain? If Mr Salmond wants to be seen as a man in a hurry – impatient for a second referendum in contrast to Ms Sturgeon’s more cautious approach – he is likely to have his responses ready.

The Holyrood elections work on a proportional basis. Voters pick a constituency member and then vote for a party regionally. Mr Salmond’s new party is aiming to pick up seats in the list vote in the Scottish elections, which is meant to make the representation in Holyrood more proportionate. In 2016 the SNP won 59 seats in the constituency section with 46.5% of the vote, but its 963,000 votes in the list section, about 40% of the list vote, only garnered four seats. Mr Salmond will be hoping to lure voters here and from the Greens, who are also pro-independence.

A good showing for Mr Salmond would be bad news for Ms Sturgeon. Scottish independence is a high-stakes gamble. The status quo is not without risks from Brexit and an uncertain recovery from the pandemic. A lack of respect for integrity is creeping into Scottish politics. Voters will not be pleased if they find politicians in charge who have little vision for the future beyond their own electoral survival.

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