Alex Salmond claims Nicola Sturgeon's plans for indyref next year is 'stretching credibility'

Scotland needs pro-independence councils to ensure the cooperation of local government if a "plebiscite" is held without Westminster's consent, Alex Salmond has said.

It came as the former first minister argued Nicola Sturgeon's plan to hold a second referendum next year is "stretching credibility" and not many believe it will happen.

Elsewhere, he accused his successor of a "dishonourable" attempt to blame former SNP minister Derek Mackay for the CalMac ferries fiasco.

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Speaking to Scotland on Sunday, Mr Salmond insisted the election of Alba Party councillors next month would send "an electric shock" through Scottish politics. Alba failed to get any MSPs elected to Holyrood last year.

Former first minister Alex Salmond

He said a "plebiscite" on independence is "one of the tactics you would have" if Westminster said no to a repeat of the 2014 referendum.

He added: "Now if you had a plebiscite in Scotland, you would need the co-operation of local government to hold it. You just would.

"And therefore you don't want to have a situation where any of Scotland's local authorities are in unionist hands, because they would say no to doing it."

Mr Salmond said the SNP telling people to vote for it and no other party "is consigning local authorities to unionist control".

Alex Salmond at Alba Party conference at Glasgow's Hampden Park.

He believes a referendum held without Westminster's consent would "survive a test of legality" in the courts.

However, he argued this “is not the only democratic way to get assent for independence".

He said: "What you require to get Scotland to independence is a democratic test of legitimacy.

"Now whether that is a section 30 [2014-style] referendum, whether it's a plebiscite, whether it's a general election, whether it's a Scottish election, what you require is a democratic test of legitimacy."

Asked if he thinks Ms Sturgeon is serious about Indyref2 next year, Mr Salmond said: "I think it's stretching credibility to understand how it's meant to be organised in that timescale."

Asked if the First Minister is duping voters, he said: "The straight answer would be no, because I don't think there's many people believe there’s going to be a referendum next year, so by definition the answer would be no."

Speaking before an event at the Eagle Inn in Coatbridge, Mr Salmond criticised the First Minister’s “attempt to lump the blame on Derek Mackay” for the ferries fiasco.

Ms Sturgeon previously named Mr Mackay, who resigned as finance secretary in 2020 following messages sent to a 16-year-old boy, as the transport minister at the time a botched contract for two new CalMac ferries was signed. However, she insisted her government operated under “collective responsibility”.

“I think the attempt to blame Derek Mackay was dishonourable and not true,” Mr Salmond said.

He said he had spoken to Mr Mackay “probably once since he left office”, adding: "But I'm not not speaking to him. If Derek wanted to phone me for advice or anything then I'd quite happily give it."

Polls show Mr Salmond is hugely unpopular with voters. Asked if he worried he was hindering Alba as much as helping it, he said: "I've had levels of popularity in polls which all politicians currently in Scotland could only dream about, and I never went about boasting at the time.

"My ratings, I think, will vary with Alba's fortunes."

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