Nicola Sturgeon has accused Alex Salmond of attempting to “gamble with” or “game” Scotland’s electoral system as she hit out at “misleading” claims about shortcuts to Scottish independence.
The first minister said that the launch of the Alba party was not a “friendly gesture” towards the SNP but insisted she is concentrating on winning a “simple majority” for her party ahead of the Scottish Parliament elections on May 6.
Ms Sturgeon appeared on BBC Good Morning Scotland on Thursday as Alba confirmed it will stand four candidates in every regional list across the country.
The new party will not stand in constituencies but hopes to create a “supermajority for independence” by picking up votes in each of the eight regional lists, where MSPs can be elected with just 6% of the vote.
Ms Sturgeon was asked on the programme whether Scotland’s additional member system means a list vote for the SNP could potentially be a waste. However, she dismissed this and the plan put forward by Mr Salmond.
“You only have to cast your mind back to the days when Alex Salmond was leader of the SNP and he didn’t say what he is saying now,” Ms Sturgeon said.
“What he said then, and he was right then, is that the only way to make sure you get the government you want is to vote for the party that will be that government.
“Anything else is trying to gamble with the system, game the system, take a chance on the outcome of the election.
“And if you want to see an SNP government elected that then has the ability to deliver an independence referendum, then you don’t get that by voting for somebody else – you only get that by voting SNP.”
Ms Sturgeon insisted there are two things required to win independence – a majority in the Scottish Parliament to bring about a referendum and, “crucially”, winning majority support among the Scottish population.
“Anybody who tries to suggest there’s a shortcut to that, or that we can somehow game or trick our way to independence, frankly, is misleading people,” she said.
“It’s got to be through a process that is not just legitimate but seen to be legitimate so that it can command respect and authority at home and internationally as well.”
Ms Sturgeon suggested Mr Salmond would be disappointed with the number of SNP figures who see his party as a better alternative, adding: “I’m not sure there are as many SNP members as Mr Salmond might have been hoping for that have seen it that way.”
She added: “What I know is that I lead a party that has a growing membership right now, actually, and a party that has a commanding position in the opinion polls.”
Asked about her comments that Mr Salmond is a “gambler”, she said: “Everybody knew Alex Salmond was a gambler because he has never made any secret of it. He backs the horses on an almost daily basis.”
The Alba party has been approached for comment.