Kirk Torrance, a key ally of Alex Salmond, has revealed that the former first minister had no interest in standing for election until “very recently”.
Mr Torrance, a former SNP new media strategist who was considered the “secret weapon” in the party’s 2011 landslide, said the pair’s involvement in the Alba Party had “all happened very quickly”.
In an in-depth interview, the 40-year-old also revealed the party had contacted the police about a website hacking incident, and he defended reports of Mr Salmond’s conduct while first minister as “exaggerated”.
Mr Torrance grew up in South Africa, went to university in Dundee and now lives near Keith.
He is the top Alba Party candidate in the Highlands and Islands regional list for the upcoming Holyrood election.
Mr Torrance revealed how he and Mr Salmond rekindled their partnership in a business venture after the technology expert was dragged into the Cambridge Analytica scandal in 2018.
However, asked whether they had been planning their bid for a Holyrood “super-majority” for a long time, he laughed.
“No, no. I’m not sure Alex was even interested in coming back. I’m not sure what his thoughts are on the whole thing, but I think it was very recently Alex decided to do anything,” he said.
“I think he has told me he was getting courted by all the various different list parties, including Laurie Flynn, who set up Alba.
“Then a decision was made and it was all hands on deck really, trying to get this thing ready.”
Mr Torrance was reluctant to be drawn on the allegations against Mr Salmond, insisting the Alba Party was running a “positive campaign”, motivated by the “future of this country”, and that they do not want to be “reliving such things”.
But he later said: “I think a lot of what has been said is exaggerated and not actually accurate as to what happened, in terms of Chinese whispers.
“What sort of society do we want to live in here, where people can cast aspersions on somebody?
“They can go to the two highest courts in the land and be found to be innocent. The other people found to be in breach of the law, tainted by apparent bias.
“And yet people continue to cast aspersions. It’s just not acceptable.”
There are dark clouds on the horizon and we have an opportunity.”
Despite his success behind the scenes, the 40-year-old admitted he had never held any desire to stand for election himself, until now.
“It has not ever been an ambition, I have to admit. I’m doing this out of what I feel is a necessity. There are dark clouds on the horizon and we have an opportunity,” he said.
Mr Torrance added: “I think that’s the thing that’s driving me. Difficult times require people to change course and do things that they think are necessary, and that’s the reason I’ve stood for this election.”