Nicola Sturgeon silent on Alex Salmond as bitter rival plots dramatic return to Holyrood

The SNP chief, who took over the party leadership from Mr Salmond when he stood down in 2014, has yet to react to the launch of his new pro-independence movement. She made no mention of her predecessor or his new party as she hit the campaign trail with SNP candidates.

The former First Minister unveiled his bid for a dramatic return to Holyrood when he confirmed he will stand for the Alba Party on the North East regional list section in May’s Scottish Parliament election.

Launching the new party in an online event, Mr Salmond said: “Today Alba are hoisting a flag in the wind, planting our Saltire on a hill.

“In the next few weeks we will see how many will rally to our standard.”

The Alba Party launch comes after a turbulent period for Ms Stugeon and Scotland’s SNP Government.

Mr Salmond He has accused senior figures within the SNP of mounting a conspiracy against him, after he successfully challenged the way the Government handled harassment claims made against him by two women.

A Holyrood inquiry into the Government’s botched handling of those complaints was critical of both Ms Sturgeon and her administration, as it concluded the two complainers were “badly let down”.

Mr Salmond was last year cleared after a criminal trial of a series of allegations, including a charge of attempted rape.

He insisted that after the series of court cases and inquiries, it is now “time to move on”.

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He said: “I have wanted to talk about the future of Scotland for the last three years. Now I have got the opportunity thanks to the Alba Party.

“That’s what I intend to do, and I intend to do it in an entirely positive way.”

He said the party has been set up to win seats using Holyrood’s regional lists.

The proportional representation system at Holyrood sees MSPs elected from constituencies, with additional members elected from eight regional lists in a bid to ensure each party’s total number of MSPs is in proportion to the percentage of votes it receives.

He said his new party will help “reinforce the momentum behind the independence cause”.

The Alba Party has said it will field at least four candidates in each of the regional lists.

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