TWO further SNP figures have defected to Alex Salmond's Alba Party. 

North Lanarkshire councillor Shahid Farooq and Dot Jessiman, a member of the SNP's ruling national executive committee [NEC], announced the move today.

They follow a string of other defections including MPs Kenny MacAskill and Neale Hanvey and former SNP MSP Jim Eadie. 

Mr Farooq will contest the regional list in Glasgow while Ms Jessiman will stand on the North East list.

Mr Farooq said: "There is huge enthusiasm for the new party across the communities of Scotland

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"It has galvanised the national movement. I am looking forward to the election contest since it gives the chance to speak about independence.”

He has been a councillor in North Lanarkshire since 2012.

Ms Jessiman, who represented north-east grassroots SNP members on its NEC, said: “I am proud to stand with Alex Salmond in the North East of Scotland. 

"Alba is putting down real roots in our communities and opportunity for Scotland beckons. 

"Instead of wasting list votes on the SNP, the switch to Alba opens up the prospect of an independence supermajority in the next parliament. 

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"My message in this election is both votes YES; SNP in the constituencies and Alba for the regional list”

"I’ve now joined the Alba Party to stand in the North East of Scotland and make sure we can get a supermajority for independence in the Scottish Parliament."

The latest announcement follows a row over social media posts by two Alba candidates.

Economist Dr Jim Walker apologised for calling Nicola Sturgeon "a cow" on Twitter, while former champion boxer Alex Arthur also apologised for likening Romanian beggars to fat "pigs".