Scotland’s political parties have been reacting to Alex Salmond’s announcement that he is fronting new party Alba.
The former first minister unveiled the pro-independence party in a statement on Friday.
Alba intends to run candidates in the regional list vote for the Scottish Parliament but not in constituency seats – a tactic which it says could lead to a “supermajority” in Holyrood for independence.
The SNP, which Mr Salmond led for two periods between 1990 and 2014, said there are questions about the “appropriateness” of his return to office.
An SNP spokesperson said: “This is perhaps the most predictable development in Scottish politics for quite some time.
“At this time of crisis, the interests of the country must come first and should not be obscured by the self-interest of someone who shows no sign whatsoever of reflecting on serious concerns about his own conduct – concerns which, to put it mildly, raise real questions about the appropriateness of a return to public office.
“The SNP has led the country through the last 12 months of the Covid pandemic, and at this election we offer the experienced, responsible and forward looking leadership that the country needs.”
Mr Salmond responded to the SNP statement by saying: “Alba will be a positive campaign and we shall not rise to any negative bait.
“If this was the most predictable development in Scottish politics, then as far as I know very few if any people have actually predicted it.
“It’s somewhat easy to say something’s predictable after the event.”
Scottish Conservative leader Douglas Ross said: “Alex Salmond is a discredited figure who admitted appalling behaviour towards women during his time as SNP first minister and right-thinking people will want nothing to do with him or his new party.
“The Scottish Conservatives are the only party in Scotland with the strength and determination to take on all Nationalists – whether that’s Nicola Sturgeon’s SNP or Salmond’s rabble.
“This election has become even more important. There is a stark choice between destructive nationalist separation and a positive future for Scotland and our place in the United Kingdom.”
Scottish Labour leader Anas Sarwar said: “The people of Scotland deserve so much better than the score-settling and old politics that the SNP and Tories are offering.
“We are still in the midst of a pandemic. Lives and livelihoods are still at risk.
“This election must be about our national recovery and the people of Scotland’s priorities, not the old arguments between personalities who believe their interest matters more than the national interest.
“Our politics must be better than this. Scottish Labour, under my leadership, will focus on Scotland’s recovery.”
Scottish Liberal Democrat campaign chairman Alistair Carmichael said: “There are no questions about Scotland’s future to which Alex Salmond is the answer.
“This astonishing announcement shows just how divided the SNP are.
“A few years ago no-one could have imagined that the former first minister and his protege would be at one another’s throats.”
A spokesperson for the Scottish Greens said: “This election should be about putting forward a positive vision for Scotland’s future, not settling personal vendettas.
“This public meltdown is all about the fragile ego of a man disgraced by his own behaviour.
“The Scottish Greens are asking people to vote like our future depends on it; for bold climate action, to build a green recovery from the pandemic and to put Scotland’s future in Scotland’s hands.”