The Scottish National Party (SNP)’s ambitions in this year’s Scottish elections could be upended as Mr Salmond launched a new party to challenge his predecessor. He unveiled the Alba Party today, a new pro-independence group, aiming to topple Ms Sturgeon after months of tension. Investigations into the Scottish government’s handling of sexual harassment allegations against Mr Salmond, of which he was acquitted, has led to a drawn out saga, splitting the SNP into two camps. An independent inquiry by senior Irish lawyer James Hamilton examined whether the SNP chief misled Holyrood found Ms Sturgeon had given an “incomplete narrative of events” to MSPs, but concluded this was a “genuine failure of recollection” and not deliberate.
A Holyrood inquiry, however, found that Ms Sturgeon did mislead Parliament, adding that her government “badly” let down women who lodged complaints against Mr Salmond.
The row has gripped Scotland for years, and even led former BBC journalist Andrew Neil to warn “these are dark, even dangerous days in Scotland”.
Mr Neil made the worrying claim in a column for MailOnline.
He said: “These are dark, even dangerous days in Scotland. The stramash between the country’s two most famous politicians, Alex Salmond and Nicola Sturgeon, has resulted in vital public documents being censored or banned.”
The journalist was referring to a ruling made by a Holyrood enquiry – it decided that it would not publish submissions, including Mr Salmond’s, on the basis that to do so would contravene reporting restrictions introduced to protect the identity of complainants.
In February, The Spectator magazine won a legal action in its attempts to make Mr Salmond’s submission heard in the inquiry
But after SNP complaints, the Parliament eventually decided to pull its publication of Mr Salmond’s submission.
Mr Neil added: “The fact it took The Spectator to go to a Scottish court speaks volumes for the sad state of the Scottish media.
READ MORE: Andrew Neil enraged SNP in row over over £15bn Scottish deficit
John Curtice, professor of politics an polling expert, wrote for the BBC this week that an SNP win may make it harder for Prime Minster Boris Johnson to stop an independence vote.
He said: “It was the SNP’s success in winning an overall majority in 2011 that paved the way for the independence referendum in 2014.
“If the SNP were to repeat that feat it would be more difficult for the prime minister simply to say ‘No’ to another referendum.
“From the figures in our chart, the SNP might just miss out on an overall majority – or might just make it. With the outcome of the election seemingly on such a crucial knife edge, it looks as though there will be an intense battle for every vote between now and polling day in May.”