AS ALEX Salmond’s defence QC put it in his summing up at the former First Minister’s criminal trial last year, “There’s something that doesn’t smell right in the whole thing”.

There’s a dubious whiff coming off Mr Salmond's Alba Party too.

For an outfit which professes to be about securing independence, it seems to be going about it in an odd way. 

Instead of trying to convert wavering No voters or attract disaffected Remainers, its pitch has been very much to the already persuaded. 

Rather than try to build support for independence with a broad appeal to the nation, it has revelled in process, jargon and Nationalist touchstones like the Declaration of Arbroath.

This is a party trying to carve out a space for itself deep inside the Yes movement, not expand it.

It takes it as read that the country wants independence, it just lacks the means to get there. 

Of course, you could put this down as a necessary phase for such a party.

First get yourself known, then get elected, then build on that.

But its stated aim is also an immediate push for independence.

Mr Salmond said negotiations with London should start in “week one” of the next parliament.

Yet Alba’s narrow, internally-focused approach is unlikely to improve support for independence.

It will have won over few if any converts, and may well have dissuaded more soft Yes voters to think twice.

The curious smell hovering over the enterprise got stronger on Tuesday as Mr Salmond held a campaign event.

From the outset, the former SNP leader has said the aim of Alba is to get a “supermajority” of pro-independence MSPs at Holyrood in May. 

The combined total of SNP, Green and Alba members could hit 80 or 90, he reckons, piling pressure on Boris Johnson to concede Indyref2.

Or if not, then make it look as if he is a lone and obdurate Tory Prime Minister defying a whole parliament, and hence defying the people.

But asked to define a supermajority in terms of MSP numbers, Mr Salmond came over rather coy.

The best he could do was to rule out the one definition of supermajority which is used at Holyrood. 

The 2016 Scotland Act says any Bill changing how MSPS are elected must be passed by a supermajority of “at least two-thirds of the total numbers of seats for members of the Parliament”, meaning at least 86 of the 129.

So would Alba be using that established definition?

“That is not the definition of supermajority we’re using,” Mr Salmond said, without, despite repeated asking, spelling out what definition Alba was using.

Perhaps it’s all the children’s books I’ve been reading the nippers during lockdown, but it put me in mind of both Dr Seuss and Lewis Carroll. 

The former gave us the thneed, the baffling fad with a terrible cost. 

“A Thneed’s a Fine-Something-That-All-People-Need!” says the product's unscrupulous inventor.

While in Through the Looking Glass, Humpty Dumpty grandly tells Alice that whenever he uses a word “it means just what I choose it to mean - neither more nor less”.

It’s like that with Mr Salmond’s fuzzy supermajority. It’s a gimmick. Neither more nor less.

It has no definition he’s willing to be measured by, no legal weight, no substance, a light-as-air slogan that means whatever he can get away with, a device to tickle the home crowd.

One, moreover, which he admits may do nothing to change Mr Johnson’s mind on a referendum.

Any why would the PM, given all the downsides for him in doing so?

But Alba is predicated on more than a piece of linguistic fluff, of course.

It is based on Alex Salmond.

As a series of recent opinion polls have shown, that cuts both ways. 

While he undeniably has a base within the Yes movement, he is largely unloved by the electorate as a whole.

His evasive non-answers yesterday about whether Russia was behind the Salisbury poisoning - wholly unrelated to his well-paid gig with Kremlin TV, you understand - will have done nothing to improve his ratings.

But a profound lack of popular appeal and a rickety platform are not the obstacles you might think.

Not if the aim of Alba is to get Mr Salmond and a handful of his cronies into Holyrood so they can torment Nicola Sturgeon into moving on and make the SNP ripe for his return.

That plan could be hugely advanced by persuading just one in seven SNP supporters from 2016 to switch their list votes to Alba next month.

If Mr Salmond manages that by giving them a blast of bracing old time religion - and it is entirely possible - then the SNP fears several of its MSPs and MPs will jump ship and boost Alba’s numbers still further.

Mr Salmond has been pretending his new party can have a symbiotic relationship with his old one.

He urges people to vote SNP in constituencies and Alba on the list.

No harm, no foul, all above board and mutually advantageous.

But any party that poaches parliamentarians, personnel, money and members from another is clearly not a partner, but a rival.

For months Mr Salmond’s online amplifiers in the blogosphere have been pumping out his trashy persecution conspiracies, and have now switched to anti-SNP attack tales.

The message is clear: a timid Ms Sturgeon cannot be trusted with the cause, but bold Mr Salmond can.

Alba doesn’t smell like an offer of help to achieve independence. 

It smells like a takeover bid.