THE FORMER deputy leader of the SNP has declared his support for the Alba Party – insisting that the “arithmetic is incontestable” to back Alex Salmond’s new party on the list vote.
Jim Sillars, who was a Labour MP in the 1970s, joined the SNP in 1980 and won the 1988 Glasgow Govan by-election for the party before becoming deputy leader of the SNP.
The news is not a huge shock given his comments after the formation of the Alba Party last month, in which Mr Sillars said Mr Salmond’s new project “gives the independence voters a party that is not the SNP – which many, including me, with justification, believe is tainted with political corruption, and which is grossly incompetent in a whole range of its activities”.
In February, Mr Sillars called for “revolt” in the SNP to remove its leadership from power.
At the 2016 Holyrood election, Mr Sillars came out in support of left-wing party, RISE, stating he “couldn’t care less” if the SNP expelled him for pledging support to a rival party.
The RISE party, which hoped to win seats on the list ballot in a similar fashion to Alba, was a complete flop and was deregistered in November last year.
Mr Sillars has set out the “political logic” for independence supporters backing Alba on the list ballot at May’s election.
In an article for the Yours for Scotland blog, Mr Sillars said: “The arithmetic is incontestable. SNP list votes are truly wasted ones. I know, I have been at counts and seen them pile up and up, without winning a single seat.
“A list vote for Alba cannot be a wasted one, because it will count, and will return MSPs committed to independence.
“Alba’s strategy is the same as all other parts of the independence movement, and the aim of a supermajority is a tactic towards bringing that strategic aim to fruition.
“Once in place, that supermajority will need to devise and develop other tactics to advance independence. That will mean working from within parliament in close partnership with the movement outside of Holyrood. That has to march hand-in-hand with the post-pandemic reconstruction, which will be the people’s most immediate priority.”
Mr Sillars also praised Mr Salmond for his “tactical ability” in setting out “that there are many ways to skin the Westminster cat”.
He added: “The supermajority is critical, but what was important also was his recognition of how essential it is to mobilise the people and come at Boris Johnson from a number of angles.
“Salmond has a grip on statecraft. That is what we need in the parliament, and for the nation. That is what that List vote for Alba will deliver.”
Mr Salmond said: “Jim Sillars is a serious voice in Scottish politics.
“Jim said that he would take a close look at Alba and our developing policy positions before deciding how to vote. I am therefore delighted to have his heavyweight endorsement for our campaign.”