Scotland’s latest political party launched, in its own special way, last Friday, quickly becoming a haven for a few of Scotland’s more colourful political characters.
Left, right, Yes or No, our country is full of politicians, activists and government ministers who just can’t seem to stay off the front pages, for all the wrong reasons.
Let us look, then, at the country’s newest parcel of brogues in the Alba Party.
Mr Hanvey, a former NHS worker, was elected as MP for Kirkcaldy and Cowdenbeath in 2019 as an “independent” after he was discovered to have shared anti-Semitic tropes on his Facebook page.
His support had been withdrawn by the SNP in the run up to the December vote.
He was re-admitted to the SNP in May 2020 after attending an education course at a Holocaust centre.
The MP was also sacked earlier this year as the party’s vaccine spokesperson at Westminster after posting a message on a crowdfunding page raising money to bring a defamation action against Aberdeen North MP Kirsty Blackman and others.
After the allegations came to light Mr Hanvey apologised “unreservedly” for the offence he caused.
In his defection statement, Mr Hanvey said he was “proud” to have been elected as an “independent”. The SNP did not stand a candidate in the constituency.
He will stand on the Mid Scotland and Fife list.
The former justice secretary was elected as the SNP MP for East Lothian in 2019, having left Holyrood in 2016.
At the outset of the second Covid lockdown, Mr MacAskill wrote to his constituents to plead with them to follow the rules and stay home.
The former solicitor decided to stay in his Banffshire holiday home, almost 200 miles away from his Dunbar office, to which he made several visits.
SNP Westminster leader Ian Blackford branded Mr MacAskill an “increasing embarrassment” following news of his party switch on Saturday.
Announcing his intention to stand on the Lothian list, Mr MacAskill will also not stand down as an MP.
Former first minister Alex Salmond announced he was returning to front-line politics to lead the Alba Party.
Mr Salmond was cleared of 13 charges of sexual assault — including attempted rape — following a trial at Edinburgh High Court in 2020.
Taking the stand, he described having a “sleepy cuddle” with a woman who was not his wife in Bute House after drinking the Chinese spirit Maotai.
Married-man Mr Salmond told the court: “I have never attempted to have non-consensual sexual relations with anyone in my entire life.”
Mr Salmond also hosts a show broadcast on Kremlin-sponsored propaganda channel Russia Today (RT), although he has put a pause on it during the election campaign.
RT allows no criticism of President Vladimir Putin and often pedals conspiracy theories in its news reporting.
Mr Salmond will stand on the North East regional list.
Former boxing champion Alex Arthur has announced he is to stand as an MSP for the party on the Lothian regional list.
Mr Arthur won a gold medal for Scotland at the 1998 Commonwealth games and was crowned WBO super featherweight world champion in 2008.
Hours after his announcement, the “big hitter” issued an apology after a number of social media posts were discovered which carried anti-vaccine and anti-immigrant sentiment, as well as others mocking homeless people.
One said: “Them Romanian beggars in Edinburgh ain’t hungry!! Just drove past them all ready to switch up begging posts and ALL em fat as big juicy over fed pigs.”
In a statement, Mr Arthur went on to say his comments on beggars had been “misinterpreted”.
— Alex Arthur MBE (@AlexArthur1) March 29, 2021
He said: “I am a working class boxer who shoots from the hip. I don’t have spin doctors. But I want to clarify some points, and apologise for any offence that could have been avoided if I’d thought more about my words.
“We were told that there was no evidence that the vaccine stops transmission, and as a young and healthy man I am not in any of the risk groups. Since then it’s become clear that vaccinations are working, and are the way we will get out of this pandemic and all of the destructions it’s causing.
“Any comments about beggars that now look inappropriate are being misinterpreted, but that is my fault for the wording. I am not in anyway racist as anyone who knows me will confirm. I have an issue with genuine homelessness whoever it is, and will work to help tackle that. I have seen first hand the damage that poverty causes.
“I apologise for any unintended offence, but do not want it to distract from my central cause which is all of the people who live in Scotland. I can add a lot of real life experience that professional politicians don’t have, and we can’t leave things to people who have never put a foot wrong.
“I will make no further comment on this, much as people want to cause me trouble for their own purposes. Now that I am trying to be a politician, I will not hold my tongue, but I will mind it.”
Convicted perjurer Tommy Sheridan announced on Twitter he and wife Gail were backing the Alba Party at the upcoming election.
The Celebrity Big Brother contestant and former MSP was jailed in 2010 after being convicted of perjury following his libel claim for damages against the now-defunct News of the World. He had been found guilty of telling lies in court.
Mr Sheridan has been kicked out or left every political party he has joined since the 1980s, including Labour, Scottish Militant Labour, the Scottish Socialist Party. He quit as co-convener of Solidarity in 2016 before returning in 2019.
Denise Findlay, who was elected to the SNP conduct committee in 2019, was reportedly part of the investigation process into “independent” MP Neale Hanvey’s anti-Semitic Facebook posts.
She quit after a number of anti-Semitic Tweets of hers were discovered, including one in which she said Israel = Nazis, a contravention of the working definition of anti-Semitism.
Ms Findlay subsequently apologised “profusely” after being challenged on her remarks by us.
Former Dundee University rector Craig Murray was all set to stand on the Lothian regional list under the Action for Independence party banner, right up until Mr Salmond announced his intentions for Alba.
Murray, 62, was found in contempt of court last week after reporting on his blog information which could “jigsaw identify” the complainers in the High Court trial against Alex Salmond (where Mr Salmond was acquitted of all charges, and the complainers granted life-long anonymity).
Immediately after the Alba announcement, Action for Independence announced it would be standing down from the campaign and backing Mr Salmond’s party.
— AFI | Action For Independence | #MAXtheYES (@action4indy) March 26, 2021
Murray faces up to two years in prison under the Contempt of Court Act.
And the rest…
Aberdeenshire councillors Leigh Wilson and Alastair Bews have joined the Alba Party.
The pair left the SNP last summer, citing “personal reasons”.
Former Ayr, Carrick and Cumnock SNP MP Corri Wilson has also joined the Alba Party, and will stand on the South of Scotland list.
North Lanarkshire councillor Lynne Anderson, who was the SNP national equalities convener until Sunday, has announced she has joined Alba, as has Caroline McAllister, the SNP’s women’s convener and depute leader of West Dunbartonshire Council.
Inverclyde councillor and former SNP group leader Chris McEleny — a vocal proponent for a “plan B” route to independence — was one of the first to announce his candidacy for the Alba Party, alongside Eva Comrie and Cynthia Guthrie.