Scottish election 2021: Alba face ‘failure’ if they don’t take seats from unionist parties, says polling expert

Alex Salmond’s party are facing “failure” if they don’t take votes from unionist parties, a leading pollster has suggested.

Political research director Chris Hopkins suggested the Alba Party should also keep the former first minister out of the spotlight, but claimed there was still time to turn around early poll results.

The Savanta ComRes expert was speaking to The Scotsman after a bombshell Survation poll for DC Thomson out on Thursday put Alba on just 3 per cent share of the list vote.

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While the result left Alba trailing behind all five of Scotland’s major parties, Mr Hopkins claimed it was close enough for optimism.

The polling makes grim reading for Alex Salmond's hopes of a "supermajority"

He explained: “Them being on 3 per cent isn’t a disaster, but they do only have a month to break through.

“Unless that 3 per cent is made up of 6 to 7 per cent in some regions and zero in others, they are not going to break through and all this talk of a super-majority and what Salmond is hoping for won’t come to fruition.

“If they don’t take seats away from the unionist parties, it’s a failure.”

The pollster claimed Alba’s issues were not just time, but also the difficulty of differentiating themselves from the SNP.

Mr Hopkins said: “They are going to need more than electoral maths. They need an argument for SNP voters, especially ones who don’t like Salmond to vote for them.

“There is a big pool of SNP list voters for them to tap into, but they don’t really have time.

“They will need other policies, but their whole thing is ‘please lend us your list vote from the SNP because without getting some list MSPs they won’t get enough for a mandate for independence’.

“While differentiating themselves from the SNP is useful, it’s a tightrope as they’re quite open in encouraging their supporters to vote SNP in the constituency vote.

“We haven’t seen something like this in UK politics before, something that is essentially trying to manipulate the voting system.”

The recent polling would see Alba struggle to claim a single regional seat at Holyrood.

More than half of respondents told pollsters that Mr Salmond was “hindering the cause for Scottish independence”, compared with only 17 per cent who thought he was helping the movement.

Mr Hopkins also claimed they were hamstrung by the leadership, with relations between the two parties being non-existent.

He said: “It shouldn’t take a lot to achieve 6 per cent or 7 per cent of the vote, especially when you’re taking advantage of SNP list voters when a lot of those votes are wasted.

“But they are clinging on to the coattails of the SNP while the SNP are trying to kick them away.

“Time isn’t on their side, nor is Alex Salmond’s reputation and popularity, but if I was them I wouldn’t have him front and centre of things going forward.”

Speaking after the Survation survey, polling expert Professor Sir John Curtice claimed “it looks as though it’s all over for Salmond, though he might just get a seat in the north-east himself”.

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The party’s first MP defector Kenny MacAskill yesterday insisted Alba would distinguish themselves with domestic policies.

He explained: “We’re on 3 per cent after three days. We’re relaxed about it, our votes headed in the right direction.”

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