It’s the Alex Salmond Show, not the Alba Party - Readers' Letters

Imagine a world in which Nicola Sturgeon and Alex Salmond worked effectively and well together.

Alex Salmond's re-entry into the political fray has added spice to the upcoming election

They decided well in advance of the Holyrood 2021 election that they were going to engineer a situation whereby the SNP contested only constituency seats, and Mr Salmond would put together an entirely new party to contest the party list, taking advantage of the peculiarities of the Holyrood voting system to give the nationalists a supermajority. Each party was comfortable with the role they had to play, and respected the role of the other, and they agreed a common manifesto in advance, and made sure all their activists understood exactly what was being planned.

The result could have been devastating for other political parties, but this is not the world in which we live. Salmond and Sturgeon hate each other, no plan has been discussed, and both will work against each other to ensure that if ever independence did become a possibility, that they will be the one in charge, and more importantly, that the other does not get the honour.

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Like all nationalists, Mr Salmond does not do self-awareness, and is not as popular as he thinks he is. He lost his Westminster seat to the Tories in 2017. If you are a nationalist leader in Scotland and the Tories are more popular than you are, then it is time to call it a day.

Mr Salmond likes to say “we”, but it is just him. He says “they” will develop a policy agenda, but he means “he” will develop a policy agenda. This is not the Alba Party, but the Alex Salmond Show, and we know how few people watch that, enough to cause embarrassment to his own side, but not enough to make a difference for the cause he purports to support. Salmond is a complete liability not just to his fellow travellers but to the country as a whole.

Victor Clements

Aberfeldy, Perthshire

Rigging election

When we set up the Scottish Parliament, list MSPs were specifically created so that voters who did not elect winning candidates in constituency seats would get representatives in parliament. The openly stated single aim of Alex Salmond's new party – "to build a supermajority for independence" – is to rig the election by allowing voters who are already fully represented by electing SNP constituency MSPs to also grab a share of the list seats, without winning a single extra vote.

If it had existed in 2016 and had taken a third of the SNP’s list vote, the pro-independence parties would have got more than 60 per cent of the seats despite having less than 50 per cent of the vote.

It may be letter-of-the-law legal, but it's manipulative and anti-democratic.

When Labour dominated the constituencies, some members and MPs suggested the party should attempt a similar scam by standing candidates under a different party in the list. I'm proud that Donald Dewar didn't attempt to do this. Salmond is clearly less scrupulous.

Archie Flockhart

Irvine Place, Aberdeen

Political partners

A Scotsman headline reads "Salmond's bid to take on the SNP" (March 27). This is followed by analysis by two journalists and three columnists, all of whom signally fail to correct the impression given and present the reality of what Alex Salmond stated over and over again at his press conference to announce the launch of the Alba Party. Namely, his exhortation to his potential supporters to vote for the SNP in the constituency contests and for Alba in the regional votes.

The presentation of that reality is left to the comments of pollster Chris Hopkins of the Savanta ComRes polling company who says that Salmond is "essentially manipulating the list system to gain support for independence". Doubtless this will cause much disquiet and outrage among other political parties and their supporters. The fact that some of these supporters have been vigorously campaigning for tactical voting to stop the SNP is likely to be conveniently forgotten.

As further indications of Mr Salmond's behaviour and character have emerged, whether he is a fit person to lead a political party is a moot point indeed, but a view of his press conference would appear to indicate that he has lost little of his legendary self-confidence. I say "press conference" – he was subjected to some very brutal questions which he avoided answering very deftly. He also took the opportunity to wheel out a couple of bloggers disguised as journalists who showered him with sycophantic adulation with a soft question attached. But, if he is to make many more pronouncements as leader of Alba, let's at least hope he learns how to correctly pronounce the word.

Gill Turner

Derby Street, Edinburgh

Jobs on the line

There's an irony to Scotland's Greens promising to create 100,000 sustainable jobs the day after Alex Salmond's Alba Party made their five in Holyrood unsustainable. The sheer acridity of the invective hurled by a remarkable cross-party consensus of SNP, Tories, Labour, LibDems and Greens against the upstart shows they're far from alone fearing for their future.

There are 56 regional or 'list' MSPs owing their survival to the vagaries of the D’Hondt system – the more a party wins constituency seats, the greater their handicap in the regional vote, no matter how many regional votes they get. Scotland's Greens have gamed the system (and their meager support) for two decades by only standing for regional seats.

Now with Salmond they face electoral wipeout, and constituency winning parties may kiss goodbye to perhaps half their regional MSPs. For the irony is that many disgrunted Tory, Labour and Lib Dem voters see in Salmond a superior counterweight to an out-of-control Sturgeon than proffered by their own insipid parties of equally arch careerists, illustrated by Ruth Davidson's cavalier retirement this week to a life of slothful ease in the House of Lords at the ripe old age of 42.

Mark Boyle

Linn Park Gardens, Johnstone, Renfrewshire

Name game

In the same spirit of scepticism as shown by Brian Wilson in his article about Scotland’s brand-new independence party (Scotsman, 27 March), could I suggest an appropriate moniker for Alex Salmond and his specious reasons for wanting back into Holyrood?

How about Perfidious Alba Yin?

John Tavner

Coopers Lane, Dedham, Essex

Stolen flags

In her recent thought-provoking article Joyce McMillann opened with the self-evident truth that "you can't eat a flag" (Scotsman, 26 March).

Flags are, essentially, visible symbols. Look at a Saltire flown, say, over a public building and the first thought ought to be "ah, Scotland".

As a consequence of one of the greatest thefts of modern political times, the Saltire has been appropriated by the SNP, so many people looking at this flag will think "ah Nicola" (as perhaps a few years ago they might have thought "ah, Alex"). The Tories might well be obsessed with the Union flag but at least they have not stolen it.

Charles Jackson

Arniefoul, Angus

Winging it

Re your report on Glasgow’s parakeet population (27 March), I can confirm the parakeets have advanced slightly further than you suggest: a trio has been resident on the edge of Templehill Woods in Bearsden for most of the winter.

We must hope for our native ecology that they are more like the Roman Legions and less like the grey squirrel, and this proves to be their northern limit.

James Robinson

Woodvale Avenue, Bearsden

China crisis

China’s retaliation against western sanctions (Scotsman, 27 March) was entirely to be expected.

I don’t doubt that the consumer boycott of some western brands, which was reported in television news on 25 March, was orchestrated by the Chinese government and social media, but its swiftness suggests that this met with a ready response.

In recent years, the middle classes in China have greatly increased in numbers and affluence, and middle classes tend to be patriotic and well-disposed towards the government that they think has increased their prosperity. I have no wish to defend any of China’s domestic or foreign policies, about which my knowledge is second-hand, but the likely consequence of this action, in the short term, will be to rally support in China behind President Xi, and to marginalise his opponents.

If pursued over a longer term, it will divert diplomatic effort and financial resources, east and west, from the great threat of climate change to an unproductive squabble. Picking a fight against the world’s second largest (perhap largest?) economy is a high-risk strategy. Let us not march into a cold war with our eyes wide shut.

Roger West

Swanston View, Edinburgh

Aulder Alliance

Congratulations Scotland on your first win in Paris since 1999 – fantastic. The victory must taste very sweet . . . but thank you, as well, for handing the Six Nations championship to Wales. Diolch yn fawr iawn!

Scotland ignored their "Auld Alliance" with France and, instead, did a big favour to the little nation with which it has a far older alliance.

We call the South of Scotland "Yr Hen Ogledd" – our "Old North", the land whence Ceredig came south with his family to drive out Irish invaders, and thereafter lend his name to my county: Ceredigion.

Lyn Jenkins

Gwbert, Cardigan, Ceredigion, Wales

Man of the match

The pundits are finding it difficult to pick a man of the match in Scotland's stunning victory on Friday night.

To me it seemed easy: the wee French guy who kept the ball in play at the end.

Colin Hamilton

Braid Hills Avenue, Edinburgh

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