Alex Salmond to be challenged for Alba party leadership

Alex Salmond’s bid to become the elected leader of the Alba Party is to be challenged by a former journalist who aims to stop the new political organisation being run as a “carbon copy” of the SNP.

Alba party leader Alex Salmond has been nominated for the position again. Picture: Lisa Ferguson/JPIMedia

Media lecturer and blogger, Rob Brown, said there should be no “coronation” of Mr Salmond as leader, and raised concerns that "devotion” to the former first minister among Alba members could stifle debate and obscure transparency in how the party will be run.

Mr Brown, who joined Alba shortly after it was launched ahead of the Holyrood elections earlier this year, said many members were still waiting for membership cards and numbers, which are needed to be able to nominate for official positions as well as to be able to vote.

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And in leaked documents seen by Scotland on Sunday, other members are demanding the scrapping of the draft party constitution which “contains many errors and inconsistencies and fails to provide democratic accountability of party officers to members”.

Many Alba members quit the SNP after becoming discontented with alleged lack of transparency around internal appointments and finances as well as a belief it was not pushing for independence quickly enough.

However Mr Brown said “the dream of independence” will remain just that if Mr Salmond is “spearheading the cause” and accused Inverclyde councillor, Chris McEleny, of “an almighty faux pas” in a tweet in which he described Alba as “Alex Salmond’s party”.

In a blog post Mr Brown wrote: “After much delay, the process for choosing Alba’s first elected office bearers and crafting its constitution – over which Cllr McEleny is presiding – has only just got underway.

"His clear signal that the leadership role is already in the bag for Mr Salmond suggests this breakaway party isn’t all that different to the one from which it broke away.

"What is on the cards – if ordinary Alba members sit back and allow it – isn’t a proper party leadership contest but a coronation.”

As a result, he said, he was “throwing his hat in the ring” but questioned whether there was time to raise 50 nominations.

Mr Brown said: "I am concerned, as are others that we have not yet received membership details, despite being told they would be sent out within four to six weeks of joining. Without them no member can make nominations, and they cannot vote.”

Albs is due to hold its first national conference in September in Greenock, and Mr Salmond, who was appointed leader ahead of the election, has already been nominated to continue in the role.

Nominations close on Monday and party sources say that Mr Brown is unlikely to reach the threshold to be put on the ballot paper.

However, concerns about transparency have also been raised in conference motions which call for Alba to be run “using processes that are democratic, transparent and accountable to members”, for there to be “no appointees on the NEC of National Council” and for all national committee members to be elected on a one member one vote system.

Cllr McEleny said: “Alba’s national office bearers will be elected on a one member one vote basis, this will ensure we are one of the most democratic member led parties, not just in Scotland, but in Europe.”

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