A third Aberdeenshire councillor elected as an SNP member has joined Alex Salmond’s new Alba political party, arguing he is “doing what so many other people are thinking”.
Brian Topping, who represents the Fraserburgh and District ward, has announced he has left the SNP after serving as a councillor for the party for 37 years.
Mr Topping has been invited by the new party to stand as an Alba candidate in the North East of Scotland list in the upcoming election.
The latest defection comes after former SNP councillors in Aberdeenshire Leigh Wilson and Alastair Bews confirmed they had joined Alba this weekend.
Mr Topping said: “I am honoured to have been asked to stand for Alba and will be proud to stand with Alex Salmond in the forthcoming contest.
“Many of us in the national movement are feeling reinvigorated over the last few days with more discussion about independence than there has been for years. It is like the best days of the Yes campaign of 2014.
“People are beginning to realise that list votes for the SNP are wasted with up to a million votes cast for no return in MSPs. If these votes come to Alba we have the opportunity to create a supermajority in the next Scottish Parliament.
“I will be urging my constituents to cast both votes Yes – the constituency vote for SNP but the regional list vote for Alba.
“I have written to my local branch and to the SNP centrally to explain my decision.
“However, having canvassed opinion locally I am doing what so many other people are thinking.
“Although I have many friends in the local SNP the national leadership have disgraced themselves with their tawdry comments over the last few days.
“In contrast in Alba we have been given one primary directive.
“Everything we say and do is to further the cause of Scottish independence and our campaign will be entirely positive locally and nationally”.
When Mr Bews and Mr Wilson revealed they had joined Alba this weekend, the pair said that “concern has been growing among some independence supporters that the SNP has no plan to achieve a referendum on independence”.
The pair joined Mr Salmond’s new party having left the SNP to sit as independent councillors last year citing “personal reasons”.
Mr Wilson said: “I feel re-energised by this new party and I fully expect there to be a market for the kind of things we are saying.”
Mr Salmond announced Alba last week, and said it is aimed at building a “super-majority for independence” at Holyrood in May’s election.
The party will only be fielding candidates in the regional lists.
Councillor Gwyneth Petrie, leader of the SNP group at Aberdeenshire Council, wished Mr Topping well, and noted their disagreement on how best to push for independence.
She said: “The SNP group acknowledge and thank Brian for his many years of service as an SNP Councillor, and wish him the best for the future.
“We strongly believe that ‘both votes SNP’ is the best way to push forwards towards independence, however this is something on which Brian has reached a different conclusion, and he has therefore made the decision to leave the party.”