A SECOND Glasgow councillor has defected to Alba in the SNP’s flagship local authority. 

John Letford, who was sacked as SNP whip by council leader Susan Aitken last year, announced he had quit the party to campaign for Alex Salmond’s new vehicle.

He joins former SNP councillor Michelle Ferns, who defected last month and is now the top-ranked Alba candidate on the regional list for Glasgow.

Mr Letford had already announced he would be standing for re-election in the Maryhill ward next year.

However the defection is an embarrassment to Nicola Sturgeon, who represents the Glasgow Southside seat, and has been highly supportive of Ms Aitken’s leadership.

It also adds to the SNP’s woes in Maryhill, where the party’s MP Patrick Grady, is under investigation for alleged sexual misconduct.

Mr Letford, a councillor since 2012, said he had given his support to Alba as he considered voting for the SNP on the regional list a waste.

Mr Salmond argues that by standing only on regional lists, Alba can pick up list votes that would otherwise be squandered on the SNP under Holyrood’s voting system.

He says that if people vote SNP in constituencies and Alba on the list it could create a “supermajority” for independence, a number he has yet to define.

However Ms Sturgeon has insisted a simple majority is a clear and sufficient mandate for another independence referendum, and the supermajorty concept is unhelpful.

She has also urged people to use both their votes for the SNP, not lend one to Alba.

Campaigning alongside Mr Salmond in Glasgow this evening, Cllr Letford said: “I have left the SNP and joined the Alba Party because I want to work towards achieving Scottish independence. 

“I have been a Councillor in Glasgow for nine years, was the Council Group Business Manager for five years and City Convener for Democratic Renewal for three years. 

“I can think of no greater democratic renewal for my country than achieving independence by campaigning with Alba for a super-majority in the Parliament. 

"By voting for Alba on the List, pro-independence supporters can send a strong team to begin the process of negotiating our independence. 

“I want to be a part of that and I am delighted to join the Alba family. 

"Finally, I would encourage voters in Maryhill to vote for Bob Doris (SNP) in the constituency and our inspirational Alba candidates Michelle, Ailsa, Shahid and Lynn on the List.” 

Welcoming Cllr Letford to the Alba fold, Cllr Ferns added: “John has has been a formidable and tireless representative for his ward of Maryhill since 2012. 

“I have no doubt that he will bring that same enthusiasm and commitment to the Alba party. 

"John is highly regarded in his ward and has played a pivotal part in managing the administration in Glasgow City Council. 

“He is right to say that this election is an opportunity to to put country before party and to push Independence to the top of the agenda at Holyrood. 

“Voting SNP in the constituency and Voting ALBA on the list, is the best way to make sure both of your votes for independence are counted.

“I look forward to working with him as part of the ALBA family and pursuing a supermajority for independence in the Scottish Parliament.”