An economist who will stand as a candidate for Alex Salmond’s new party has apologised for calling Nicola Sturgeon a “cow”.
When he launched the pro-independence Alba Party on Friday, the former First Minister repeatedly vowed to run a positive campaign. He said his candidates would be supportive of the SNP in constituencies, seeking only second, regional votes in an effort to secure an independence "super-majority".
However, it emerged that Jim Walker, chief economist at Hong Kong-based Alethia Capital who is standing in Central Scotland, had tweeted “what a cow” on Saturday in response to a video in which the First Minister called Mr Salmond a gambler.
He also used social media to call Ian Blackford a “pathetic little man” after the SNP’s Westminster leader criticised MP Kenny MacAskill after he defected to Mr Salmond’s new party.
Another of Mr Salmond’s candidates, the boxer Alex Arthur, also apologised on Monday within hours of his move into politics being announced “for any unintended offence” after it emerged he had compared “Romanian beggars” in Edinburgh to “big juicy overfed pigs”.
Dr Walker, who in December suggested that “multiple currencies” including Bitcoin could be used in an independent Scotland, on Tuesday said he was now “mortified” to have called Ms Sturgeon a cow on Saturday.
He added: “I freely apologise to her for the comment and also to my fellow Alba candidates. We must follow totally the leadership of Alex Salmond and rise above all negativity as we make the case for our noble cause of independence for our country.”
Meanwhile, it emerged that George Kerevan, a former SNP MP, had also defected to Mr Salmond’s new party.
Mr Kerevan, who lost his seat at the 2017 election, quit the SNP alongside two other members of the party’s left wing Common Weal group.
In a joint statement, they said their attempts to persuade the SNP to adopt “genuine radical, anti-market policies” had been “thwarted”. They also hit out at a lack of internal democracy, saying the SNP in its present state was “unreformable”.
Mr Salmond said: “This will be a huge boost to our policy development as a party as Alba moves forward, especially in the areas of economics and environmental policy.
“We are delighted to welcome them and together help us work towards securing a supermajority of pro-independence MSPs at Holyrood.”
Brian Topping, an SNP councillor in Aberdeenshire for 37 years and a Brexit supporter, was also announced as a defector to Mr Salmond’s party and is likely to stand for election in north east Scotland.
It was also confirmed on Tuesday night that Jim Eadie, the former SNP MSP for Edinburgh Southern, would be standing for Alba in the Mid Scotland and Fife region.