Hanvey will hold dual mandate if elected to Holyrood

Craig Paton, PA Scotland Political Reporter
·3-min read

Former SNP MP Neale Hanvey will hold a dual mandate if he is elected to Holyrood as part of Alex Salmond’s new party.

The Kirkcaldy and Cowdenbeath MP announced over the weekend he would leave the party and join Alba, which was launched on Friday by the former first minister to garner a “supermajority” for Scottish independence.

The launch of the party saw a number of high-profile defections from the SNP ranks, including fellow MP and former Scottish justice secretary Kenny MacAskill.

Kenny MacAskill
The former Scottish justice secretary was the first big name departure from the SNP (David Cheskin/PA)

However, Mr Hanvey said he did not know if other MPs would follow suit, although he said they would be welcome.

Speaking to BBC Radio Scotland’s Good Morning Scotland programme, Mr Hanvey said he planned to continue on in Westminster, even if he won a seat on the regional list at the Scottish Parliament in May.

“I think that’s a very real advantage for my constituents, it means that they effectively have a one-stop shop for both parliaments and that would enable me to act in their interests in both parliaments simultaneously,” he said.

The SNP in recent weeks has attacked Scottish Tory leader Douglas Ross over his intentions to sit in both Holyrood and Westminster if he is elected to the Highlands and Islands region.

Mr MacAskill said upon his defection he would not stand to retain his seat at Westminster, however Mr Hanvey made no such declaration on Tuesday, saying: “It is my intention that we have no further need to stand for any seats in Westminster.”

He added: “I’m not a career politician, I’m doing this to achieve independence for Scotland, that is my absolute ambition so I’m going to keep focused on that rather than talk about my career ambitions for another term in either the Scottish Parliament or the Westminster Parliament.”

When asked if more of his former SNP colleagues were set to defect, Mr Hanvey said: “I really don’t know.

“They would be more than welcome, I don’t see there being a tremendous amount of conflict between being in the SNP at Westminster and the Alba Party at Westminster.

“We have very little, unfortunately and quite starkly, influence over policy from Westminster, even when it’s being forced on the people of Scotland even against the majority vote of Scottish MPs.

“I’m much more focused on how I can utilise my position in Westminster in concert with a position in Holyrood to maximise the impact on behalf of the people of Scotland to secure our independent future.”

Following Mr MacAskill’s decision to leave the party, SNP Westminster leader Ian Blackford described the move as a “relief”, adding: “He has been an increasing embarrassment to many in the SNP.”

Mr Hanvey said Mr Blackford should “reflect” on his comments.

“That’s a matter now for Ian and the rest of the SNP group,” he said.

“If they want to be ungracious, I don’t really want to comment on that or give it any further fuel.”