I SEE unionists are complaining about Alba "gaming" the electoral system. A bit late, or perhaps hypocritical, as the system has been there since 1999, and was deliberately structured for the non-democratic purpose of preventing one specific party, the SNP, from achieving a majority.

As for Nicola Sturgeon’s complaint about Alba, it is her own fault. Dave Thompson, a couple of years ago, did the arithmetic and suggested a separate but linked list independence party. Some of us saw the sense and expected her to bring him in for discussion, and agree to it with some degree of SNP control, such as a common platform and commitment to support the SNP for government.

Had she not dismissed his idea, “supermajority” would be her slogan now, because an SNP-supported but separate list party would have left little electoral space for Alba to elbow into.

Ms Sturgeon’s error of rejection arose in my view from the false belief, nurtured by the cult of personality, that she is the one and only who matters in, and to, the independence movement. As she is finding out, that it is not so.

Jim Sillars, Edinburgh.


ALBA MP Neale Hanvey believes that in the coming election a majority of nationalist MSPs would be representative of the electoral system, not the electorate. He is right. In the 2016 election, the SNP secured 46.5 per cent of the constituency votes and 41.7% of the list votes on a turnout of 56%. Its share of the electorate was therefore only 24.64%. Hardly a resounding mandate for independence.

The same thing will happen in the 2021 election, so the idea of a "supermajority for independence" is a non-starter.

William Loneskie, Lauder.

* IF Alex Salmond were to achieve a supermajority in the Scottish Parliament which roundly defied the balance of the wishes of the Scottish electorate, it might not ignite civil commotion but it would be a text book formula for that outcome. Perhaps Mr Salmond, from his dalliance with Russian culture, feels ready for the task of unrepresentative governance.

Michael Sheridan, Glasgow.


ANDREW Dunlop (“Salmond v Sturgeon divide shows that independence campaign has lost its bloom”, The Herald, March 30) joins a growing list of unionist commentators fervently hoping that Alex Salmond’s Alba Party will derail progress towards an independent Scotland.

Nowhere in the article was there a vision of Scotland’s future or what radical initiatives his Conservative Party might offer Scottish voters to address problems such as inequality and child poverty. The familiar themes of stoking fear of borders and currency predominate, insinuating that the Union is forever and that now will never be the time.

Baron Dunlop of Helensburgh asserts that the Alex Salmond affair has shown deficiencies in Scotland’s governance. I actually agree with him on this point; after May’s election an urgent reassessment of the role of the Lord Advocate and the Crown Office is required. However, when considering how Scotland is governed, I would gently remind the noble Baron that he is an active member of the largest undemocratic assembly outside of China. As a member of the House of Lords he has never been elected to the Holyrood or Westminster parliaments yet he held executive office as Under Secretary of State for Scotland for two years under David Cameron and Theresa May. I doubt if Baron Dunlop sees the hypocrisy of his position on this point or the irony of his accusation that Alex Salmond is “gaming” the election while his colleague, Douglas Ross, was attempting, and failing, to facilitate a unionist electoral pact.

I fear Andrew Dunlop’s aspirations for the Alba Party to tarnish the First Minister and take seats from the SNP are misplaced. If anything, Mr Salmond's intervention is a greater threat to unionist list seats, particularly in the six regions where the SNP have no list seats due to their large constituency vote. The days of Scotland being governed by the ennobled and the entitled are coming to an end and the activities of unelected politicians such as Andrew Dunlop are one of the main drivers of the desire to put our future in the hands of the Scottish people.

Iain Gunn, Elgin.


THE US has Donald Trump (Make America Great Again), England has Boris Johnson (Global Britain) and now Scotland has Alex Salmond (Supermajority for Indyref 2).By their own admission, all "Men Behaving Badly". God help us.

As a long-time independence supporter, I was pleasantly surprised when Alex Salmond stepped down after the referendum in 2014. He had had a remarkable career and had been the outstanding politician of his era despite having some fairly obvious flaws, but there were signs that he was already losing the plot and Nicola Sturgeon appeared to be the ideal successor. Apart from a lack of flexibility in the independence campaign, tying himself rigidly to the pound sterling and offering no alternative to EU membership, Mr Salmond had already lost a lot of my respect when sooking up to Rupert Murdoch, Mr Trump and royalty.

However, my heart sank when he came back to the forefront as an MP, as it was clear that his ego wouldn't allow him to remain in the shadows for long. I suspect that the unholy mess the SNP has got itself into is closely connected to his continuing to interfere from the sidelines both then and after losing his seat at Westminster. Not for Mr Salmond fading out of the limelight with a cushy number somewhere while writing his memoirs and playing golf.

By his own admission, his conduct has been less than honourable and I hope that his tarnished reputation will dissuade the vast majority of independence voters from supporting his new party. Sadly, history as exemplified by Messrs Trump and Johnson shows us that this is not always case. I can only hope that the Scottish electorate is more discerning and sends Mr Salmond home to think again with his tail between his legs.

Gordon Evans, Glasgow.


COMING from France where the National Rally gets 25 per cent of the vote, I have always been surprised that there was no populist far-right nationalist party in Scotland. This has probably changed with the creation of the Alba Party.

The National Rally in France defines itself as economically left-wing. It believes it protects the working class, and takes pride in being socially conservative. It claims to defend the "average Frenchman" and "common sense", against the "betrayal of inevitably corrupt elites". This ideology is replicated across the European far right, from Lega Nord to Vox.

Alba does not have any policies or a manifesto, but it is clear to see where it has positioned itself already.

The presence of ex-79 Group members, like Kenny MacAskill and Alex Salmond, shows that its leaders want to present themselves as an old-fashioned socialist party on economic matters, class reductionist and radical.

Their stance on social issues is transparent too. Alba rapidly defined itself as socially conservative: Mr Salmond repeatedly used anti-LGBT terminology in his commentary about women’s rights and defines his nationalism as the kind that trumps any progress on social issues. "Get indy done" clamoured some of his supporters a few weeks ago.

Despite Mr Salmond’s calls for unity, Alba is miles away from the inclusive nationalism the SNP or the Greens stand for. The SNP and the Greens should stay well away from Alba.

Jérémie Fernandes, Elgin.


WHATEVER else Alex Salmond has done, by creating a new political party he has opened up the possibility of igniting the independence argument beyond the increasingly intemperate SNP-led debate and, by so doing, giving the electorate the chance to think of independence beyond the narrow SNP-dominated focus. In this context, Scotland's printed media should also be mindful both of its language and tone and allow for all views to be fairly and accurately represented. Let us avoid the bitter rancour of 2014.

Steven J Main (Dr), Bathgate.


IT was another cornflakes-choking moment this morning when I read that the First Minister had pilloried those who "put self-interest ahead of the country’s best interests’’ ("Sturgeon calls for ‘both votes’ for SNP and has new dig at Salmond", The Herald, March 30).

Those of us who witnessed the very recent Holyrood inquiry and therein Ms Sturgeon’s recounting of several seemingly-selective attacks of amnesia will shake our heads at that remark. The SNP and its newly-born fellow nationalist party simply do not do irony.

Alexander McKay, Edinburgh.

* AN agonised yelp from a fellow Herald reader in the newsagent's this morning: "An eighty million pound ship museum! The bloody idiots cannot even build a toaty wee ferry" ("£80m bid to celebrate past and future of shipbuilding on Clyde", The Herald, March 30).

Donald Macaskill, Glasgow.

Read more: Labour and the Tories have most to fear from Alba