SNP MP MacNeil ‘had no intention’ of joining Alba Party

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

SNP MP Angus MacNeil said he “had no intention” of joining Alex Salmond’s Alba Party.

Mr MacNeil’s closest political ally, Inverclyde councillor Chris McEleny, made the jump when the party was launched last week and will now stand on the party’s West Scotland list.

Both Mr MacNeil and Mr McEleny have pushed for a “plan B” for Scottish independence from within the SNP, but to no avail.

With speculation rife about his possible departure from the party, Mr MacNeil told the National it was never a thought in his mind.

Alex Salmond
The former first minister announced the launch of the party last week (Andrew Milligan/PA)

“I had no intention of joining, it was never something I intended to do,” he said.

“I can’t say that I am unhappy that there is a change in the dial on the focus on independence in this election.”

There have already been a number of high profile defections from the SNP to Alba, including current SNP MPs Kenny MacAskill and Neale Hanvey, as well as Mr McEleny and former MP George Kerevan.

Upon Mr MacAskill’s departure, he was branded an “embarrassment” by SNP Westminster leader Ian Blackford, who described the defection as a “relief”.

But Western Isles MP Mr MacNeil said he would not encourage such backbiting between the two parties.

“The more parties of independence the better, eventually of course all parties will be parties of independence – same story in every country,” he said.

“Also I won’t be encouraging snide or smearing remarks about the Alba Party. We should instead be arguing against those trying to block independence, not denigrate those who are for it, and keeping the discourse positive.”

He added: “It makes the Scottish election very interesting indeed. Anybody who thinks independence is important will be pleased there are now two serious parties of independence rather than one.”

Despite the tactical voting pitch from Alba, which is calling for independence supporters to give them their votes on the regional list to create a “supermajority” for independence, Mr MacNeil said he planned to give both of his votes to the SNP.

He told the paper: “I can see the argument people have when they use calculators and logic.

“If all SNP votes were to transfer on the list to Alba you would have 30 odd Alba seats and 30 less London party MSPs, but of course that is using logic and sense. Using politics as I do and have to do, it’s both votes SNP of course.”