Alex Salmond has announced his Alba party will not contest the forthcoming Rutherglen and Hamilton West by-election.

A decision was made today at a meeting of the Alba National Council with the former First Minister saying the party wants to give the SNP a chance to "fly solo" as it fights off a resurgence in Scottish Labour popularity. 

The party said it is continuing to encourage it fellow nationalists the SNP to agree to a “Scotland united” strategy.

This would see just one pro-independence candidate put forward in each Scottish constituency.

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Speaking at a meeting of the party’s national council in Rutherglen, Alba leader Alex Salmond said: “The SNP leadership seem to think they can go it alone in Rutherglen and in the next General Election.

“We have decided to stand aside at this by-election to give them the maximum opportunity to prove they can successfully fly solo.

“We believe that four pro-independence candidates already in a first past the post election risks handing the seat to the unionist Labour Party.”

Alba also announced today plans for a general election strategy discussed at the party's meeting held in Rutherglen. 

Mr Salmond added: “We are also fundamentally opposed to this by-election taking place at all.

"By combining with the Labour Party to treat Margaret Ferrier with such disproportionate disdain the SNP have created their own problem in Rutherglen and should be now left to face it.

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“However, for this to succeed they will have to reclaim their own party from a leadership who have lost their way on both governance of Scotland and strategy towards independence.

“ALBA still stand ready to move forward with a Scotland United approach but now are also making preparations or a wide scale intervention across Scotland at next year’s General Election.

"To that end we have formally opened our General Election candidates’ list today.”