The growth of Alba and the shoogly peg - Conor Matchett

For those on the fringes of the mainstream independence movement, the Alba Party provides a comfortable, familiar new home.

Alex Salmond after delivering his leaders speech during the first annual conference for the Alba Party at Greenock Town Hall, Greenock, Inverclyde.

In Greenock, Scotland’s newest and most bullish party established its principles in front of a rapt audience.

Traditional comfort zone policies on nuclear weapons and the speed of the march to independence were the main flavour of the weekend.

Sign up to our Politics newsletter

The party feels like the Old SNP rebadged for a generation fed up with being pushed to the fringe of the party of power.

But while this is a new party, it is not a young party, as the screech of a faulty hearing aid proved early on Sunday.

Among the more esoteric stalls where delegates could learn about the history of the Saltire and sponsor the Scottish flag for a day was a stall promoting the Craig Murray Justice Campaign.

Mr Murray, a former British ambassador to Uzbekistan, was jailed earlier this year for eight months on contempt of court charges.

Former leader of the Scottish Socialist Party, Tommy Sheridan was given one of the loudest cheers of the weekend during a speech on removing nuclear weapons from the Clyde.

Forget gradualists versus fundamentalist, this is full blooded Scottish nationalism, warts and all.

Make no mistake, however, this is a party built on the ego and personality of one man; Alex Salmond.

Without the former first minister, it is doubtful the party would exist, and it would certainly not have grown at the pace it claims it has.

But this is built on a shoogly peg.

Last week, Mr Salmond once again polled as the most unpopular politician in Scotland, below Boris Johnson.

On Sunday, he aligned himself further with the fringes of the independence movement by hiring Stuart Campbell, the controversial blogger, to edit an alternative independence White Paper.

There can be no doubt that this is a party built on the back of what has too often been disparaged as ‘cybernats’ – i.e. pro-independence supporters who make their case loudly and without contrition online.

Alba is now a party that is attempting to sell that vision to the nation.

A message from the Editor:

Thank you for reading this article. We're more reliant on your support than ever as the shift in consumer habits brought about by coronavirus impacts our advertisers.

If you haven't already, please consider supporting our trusted, fact-checked journalism by taking out a digital subscription.


Want to join the conversation? Please or to comment on this article.