ALEX Salmond has said his new Alba party will contest next year’s council elections, breaking a pledge to let its members decide whether to do so.

The former First Minister said the pro-independence group, which won 1.7 per cent of the list vote at the Holyrood election, had “too much credibility” to stop now.

He also announced Alba would open its inaugural conference on September 18, which he called an "auspicious date", despite it being the anniversary of the Yes campaign losing the 2014 referendum. 

He blamed a lack of TV coverage for impeding Alba’s progress at Holyrood, saying the BBC and others deliberately saw to it that Alba was “squeezed out of it”.

Opinion polls suggested Mr Salmond was one of the party’s biggest problems, as he has lower personal approval ratings than Boris Johnson in Scotland.

Last Sunday, Mr Salmond said he and Alba’s 31 other Holyrood candidates had consulted on whether to stand in the 2022 local elections. 

He said all agreed to put forward a motion to conference recommending it, but stressed: “It will be up to the delegates, of course, it will be up to the membership.”

However, in a new video message Mr Salmond said he wanted to tell Alba’s members about “some important decisions that have been made in the last few days”.

He said the 32 candidates were of one mind that “the party will continue”.

He said: “The general view is that we’ve built up too much credibility and too much support just to let it go. 

“This is something valuable that has been created, something which is establishing itself in the Scottish political firmament. 

“We’ve got 5000 members, we’ve got two members of parliament, we’ve got councillors the length and breadth of Scotland, so therefore Alba will continue.

“The second decision is we’re going to contest local elections next year.”

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He said Alba’s platform for local government would mean it could fight “on equal terms” with its opponents, despite its past treatment by broadcasters.

However the STV system used for council elections makes it even harder for Alba to achieve a breakthrough, as winning a seat requires at least 20 per cent of the vote, whereas list MSPs can be elected with just 6%.

It is understood the timing of the autumn conference was a factor in the change of plan on council elections, with a September decision seen as too late to be practical.

A source said the membership would therefore be asked to “rubberstamp” the decision that Mr Salmond and the other Holyrood candidates had already made.

The move is despite many defectors to Alba complaining that the SNP was too autocratic and top-down.

Although September 18 is the anniversary of the No vote against independence, Mr Salmond insisted it was “an auspicious day” to start Alba’s two-day conference.

He said every Alba member would be entitled to attend and vote as a delegate.

“What a significant event that’s going to be as a result.”

He added: “Having established ourselves it’s now time for Alba to grow. 

“There is a mandate for independence and we must see that mandate exercised. 

“Our objective, because we are not an ordinary political party, is to help secure the independence of our country.

"Alba has a role, it has a significance, and that role will develop, grow and bloom over the next few years.

"Alba is rising. “