Salmond: Route to independence should not be ‘pigeon-holed’ into a referendum

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

Alex Salmond has said the route to Scottish independence should not be “pigeon-holed” into holding a referendum.

The leader of the newly formed Alba Party said, if there is an independence supermajority in Holyrood after this election, the parliament should instruct the Scottish Government to start negotiations with Westminster.

During those talks, the UK Government may require a referendum or consultation to ensure independence was the will of the Scottish people.

Mr Salmond was speaking during a press briefing on Thursday, where he also said he does not believe his party will suffer with female voters as a result of allegations made against him in the past.

When asked about the path to Scottish independence after a successful election for his party, Mr Salmond said: “I don’t think that the pigeon-holing of this debate into a Section 30 referendum or a public consultation or a ballot elsewhere is either straightforward with the people or the way to proceed which has the statecraft required to get a result from Westminster.

“I don’t think you should tell in advance your negotiating opponent what you’re going to do or the time scale you intend to do it on.

“I think you should begin negotiations and those negotiations have an infinitely higher chance of succeeding if the First Minister has a substantial independence majority in the parliament at her back, than they would have if she was in a precarious parliamentary position with regard to independence.”

He added: “Pigeon-holing yourself into one route and one time scale has limitations over the advantages of taking the substantial independence supermajority in the parliament and taking direction from that and taking the parliament instead of a single party in the drive to independence in Scotland.”

Over the past two years, Mr Salmond has been accused by women of sexual impropriety, of which he was cleared in the High Court in Edinburgh, but he maintains these allegations will not impact his party’s standing with women.

Alex Salmond in Holyrood committee
Alex Salmond insisted his party would have no issues with female voters as a result of allegations made against him (Andy Buchanan/PA)

“I remember last Friday I was told by a metropolitan journalist that we would find it difficult to attract formidable women campaigners to our cause,” he said.

“As you’ll see from our candidates list, not only is there a substantial majority of women on the candidates list, but they include some of the most formidable feminist campaigners in Scotland including the former equalities campaigner of the Scottish National Party and the former women’s convener of the Scottish National Party.”

He added: “I think the candidates list demonstrates already that many formidable women campaigners are rallying to the Alba standard, and I expect we’ll see exactly the same thing as the campaign proceeds with the general voting public.

“So no, I don’t think that’s going to happen, I think what people are going to respond to is the positive message Alba are going to be putting forward in the campaign.”

Mr Salmond was also asked repeatedly about his party’s stance on the European Union and whether they would support rejoining the bloc, however, he said they would wait until after their conference to develop such policy positions.