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Alex Salmond threatens broadcasters with legal action over TV debates

Alex Salmond threatens broadcasters with legal action if he is barred from taking part in live TV debates ahead of the Scottish elections as he says there is an ‘unanswerable’ case for including his new Alba Party

  • Alba leader is to write to broadcasters and regulator Ofcom to demand a place
  •  He was was unveiled as leader of Scotland’s newest political party last Friday
  • Two SNP MPs have already defected along with a handful of councillors
  • Alba fielding 32 candidates on the regional list section of the Holyrood ballot

Alex Salmond demanded his new Alba Party be included in TV debates in the run-up to May’s Scottish Parliament election today – and threatened broadcasters with legal action if he does not get his way. 

The former SNP leader insisted there is an ‘unanswerable’ case for doing so and will write to the television stations and regulator Ofcom in a bid to ensure ‘fairness and parity of coverage’ in the election campaign.

It comes less than a week after Mr Salmond was unveiled as leader of Scotland’s newest political party – which is fielding 32 candidates on the regional list section of the Holyrood ballot.

Mr Salmond said he is ‘confident’ membership of his party will ‘overtake that of the Liberal Democrats’ on Friday, claiming thousands of people have already joined Alba.

Mr Salmond said: ‘We have waited until the declaration of candidates before writing. Now given our strength, the case for Alba participation in debates and fair coverage is unanswerable. We expect a positive reply.’

Mr Salmond said he hopes his new political project does not have to take legal action to be included in Holyrood election TV debates, but claimed he would be ‘strongly tempted’.

The Alba Party leader said: ‘I’m certainly not ruling that out.’

The former SNP leader insisted there is an ‘unanswerable’ case for doing so and will write to the television stations and regulator Ofcom in a bid to ensure ‘fairness and parity of coverage’ in the election campaign

The Alba Party was not included in the first televised debate of the Scottish election campaign, which saw Nicola Sturgeon – Mr Salmond’s successor as SNP leader and First Minister – take on her rivals from the Tories, Labour, the Lib Dems and the Greens.

The Alba Party’s list of Holyrood candidates includes Mr Salmond himself and two members who were elected as SNP MPs at Westminster in the last general election – former Scottish justice secretary Kenny MacAskill and Neale Hanvey, who was suspended from the SNP when he was elected to the Commons in 2019.

Mr Salmond said: ‘It is less than a week since launch and already Alba has a comparable number of members to the Liberal Democrats and the Greens and are contesting seats across Scotland.’

Labour only currently has one Scottish MP, and Mr Salmond highlighted that his party has ‘double the Westminster parliamentary representation of the Labour Party in Scotland’.

The Alba Party was not included in the first televised debate of the Scottish election campaign, which saw Nicola Sturgeon – Mr Salmond’s successor as SNP leader and First Minister – take on her rivals from the Tories, Labour, the Lib Dems and the Greens.

Mr Salmond insisted the importance of arguments over independence in the campaign means it is crucial his party is included in further debates.

He said his name had been ‘mentioned a number of times with no recourse’ in that first television debate.

He added: ‘There is however a further important reason favouring Alba inclusion in the leadership debates – the dominating issue of the election is independence. If the TV companies stick to their present position, every debate will be imbalanced three to two against independence. With Alba’s representation, at a stroke, the independence argument will be balanced three apiece.’

Speaking at an online press conference, Mr Salmond said: ‘Already, after less than a week since launch, we are a national party putting up a serious challenge and can argue we have got a significant following already.

‘We are firmly of the opinion at the rate of membership increase that our membership will overtake that of the Scottish Liberal Democrats.

‘We expect in the coming weeks to overtake the membership of the Green Party and the Conservative Party as well, unless they of course have an unexpected surge in membership.

‘I think the Alba Party has added some excitement to the Scottish political scene, I think we would add something distinctive to the political debates.

‘I think more people will watch if Alba are participating than will watch if Alba are excluded in the debates.’

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