A Fife Alba MP elected under the SNP banner has insisted he doesn’t owe anyone a by-election, despite another electoral humiliation for his new party.
Neale Hanvey, MP for Kirkcaldy and Cowdenbeath, says it would be “ludicrous” to hold a by-election to show whether or not his constituents still support him, adding he has “no cause” to answer.
Mr Hanvey was elected as an independent MP back in 2019 as he was suspended from the SNP over allegations of anti-Semitic social media posts – he did however still appear on the ballot paper as an SNP candidate as the suspension came too late into the election campaign.
He later went on to re-join the SNP before defecting to Alex Salmond’s Alba Party in the run-up to the 2021 Holyrood election.
However Alba failed to win any seats at that election – and have suffered another blow after winning absolutely nothing in the 2022 council elections either.
We spoke to Mr Hanvey who believes he still has the support of his constituents despite the lacklustre support for his new party across the country.
By-election would be ‘ludicrous’
When asked if Mr Hanvey should subject himself to a by-election vote, he said: “No, that is ludicrous.
“I was elected as an independent and there was no call for a by-election when I joined the SNP and there is no cause for me to answer about joining the Alba Party.
“I won that election on independence in horrendous circumstances.
“To suggest I owe the SNP a by-election is ludicrous, no one has any claim over my victory whatsoever.”
He also blamed Alba’s poor performance in the council elections on the SNP, saying the party sent a “very clear message” to not vote for any other independence-supporting party.
Doubt over IndyRef2 in 2023
Alba Party’s main goal is to campaign for Scottish independence.
First Minister Nicola Sturgeon has said she would like to hold IndyRef2 as early as next year – Mr Hanvey however has said he does not believe this will actually happen.
He has also warned the SNP to be prepared for more of its members to defect to Alba if an independence referendum is not held in 2023.
He said: “The SNP won the election on a very clear commitment to deliver an independence referendum next year.
“Now it is up to them to come up with the goods.
“Alba didn’t get the vote to demand anything but we will continue to campaign for independence, that is the whole point of the party being established.
📢 Commenting on today's election results, ALBA Party Leader @AlexSalmond says, “ALBA is undaunted and will continue to press hard on the urgency of independence…"#ALBAforIndependence 🏴https://t.co/NKyFmTapbj
— ALBA Party (@AlbaParty) May 6, 2022
“The first minister is really up against it.
“Alex Salmond had an enormous victory in 2011 and secured and delivered a referendum within 18 months.
“Those 18 months are just about to start slipping away from Nicola Sturgeon.
“If the first minister is serious about having a referendum in 2023 she needs to get her skates on.
“But I personally don’t believe that will happen.
“Based on my experience in the SNP group there is a lukewarm interest in independence and I know there is zero work being done to progress it.”
Mr Hanvey said he now believes the SNP are happy to be a devolutionist party rather than an independence party, and added: “There is no love lost between the SNP leadership and me.
“But I still have a lot of friends in the SNP and many have told me if they don’t deliver in 2023 they are finished, and Alba has to be ready for that as a party.
“It is the final straw for them.”
Plans to stand in next general election
Looking ahead beyond 2023, Mr Hanvey has also indicated he intends to stand as an Alba candidate in the next general election, which is due to be held before January 24, 2025.
However despite saying he will not hold a by-election before then, he said he has no wish for a “lengthy” career in the House of Commons.
He said: “In 2019 the SNP leadership lead attacks on me to try and see I lost the Kirkcaldy and Cowdenbeath seat.
“They did everything they could to stop me from winning that election.
“But I was not prepared to hand over a seat I proved was winnable to my opponents.
“I stood for election because I thought we were going to be tasked with the job of progressing independence.
“I didn’t come into politics for a career – I had a successful career in the NHS, so I have no ambition for a lengthy career in Westminster.
“I lived in London for 16 years and I don’t enjoy going there and I don’t enjoy that the majority of my former SNP colleagues don’t speak to me.
“But I would rather stand and fall on a platform of honesty and hope in a future general election than stand on a tissue of lies.”
The SNP has been approached for comment.