ALEX Salmond launched his new Alba party too late for it to succeed in the Holyrood election, one of its MPs has admitted.

Kenny MacAskill said the May 6 poll was “too soon” for the pro-independence list party, but insisted it would continue and play a part in Scottish politics.

He also criticised the SNP for a "denial of basic electoral arithmetic" in refusing to help Alba deliver its goal of a Holyrood supermajority for independence. 

He predicted the SNP’s rhetoric on independence in the coming parliament would not be matched “by tangible actions, let alone progress” and it would increasingly frustrate Yes supporters. 

He said that “attacks of women’s rights” would increase as a result of the SNP and Greens reforming the Gender Recognition Act, and forecast an accelerating “general drift to centrism rather radical action”.

Mr MacAskill, a former SNP justice secretary who is now the Alba MP for East Lothian after defecting to Mr Salmond’s party in March, makes the comments in an article for new edition of the Scottish Left Review.

Despite starting out claiming it could return around 20 MSPs, Alba failed to have any of its candidates elected and got just 1.7 per cent of the regional vote.

The party was formally registered with the Electoral Commission in February by journalist Laurie Flynn, although Mr Salmond did not launch it until March 26.

One reason it was so late was that until the spring Mr Salmond was still involved in the Holyrood inquiry into his fight with the Scottish Government after repeatedly delaying his own testimony before it.

Mr MacAskill said: "For Alba, it was too short a campaign with an almost total media blackout, disgraceful given past indulgences to UKIP."

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Writing in the SLR, Mr MacAskill criticised the SNP for refusing to step aside for Alba on the regional list, and so blocking a Yes supermajority at Holyrood.

During the election, Nicola Sturgeon accused Alba of trying to game Holyrood's voting system and stuck to her campaign mantra of “both votes SNP”.

As Alba predicted, the SNP did so well in constituencies (winning 62 of 73) that it struggled to win any list MSPs, getting just two in return for more than 1m list votes, two fewer list MSPs than it got in 2016.

Mr MacAskill accused the SNP of a “denial of the basic electoral arithmetic”, something which was “all the more ironic given Unionist tactical voting to save constituency seats, thus, denying the SNP an overall majority”. 

He went on: “The electoral debate was changed by Alba’s arrival and it’ll continue to play a part in Scottish politics.

"Indeed, the outcome and some early declarations by the First Minister give further impetus to the Alba’s twin track push for independence and the promotion of a radical agenda.

"This election was too soon for Alba to succeed but the outcome justifies its birth, and ensures its necessity.” 

He said that, instead of the impetus and energy of a Holyrood with Alba in it, the constitutional debate would return to the “sterile” ground of a tussle between Ms Sturgeon and Boris Johnson over the transfer of referendum powers to MSPs under a Section 30 order.

HeraldScotland: Kenny MacAskill, Alba MP for East LothianKenny MacAskill, Alba MP for East Lothian

He said: “That sterile debate will continue as it suits both SNP and Tory to posture that they’re pushing hard for or defending vigorously respectively - even if the reality is that it’s a charade where both know it’s not happening anytime soon. 

“But at least it keeps their partisan audience satiated.

“Even that charade has now been manifestly rendered dated with the declaration that there’ll be no independence referendum before a coronavirus recovery.

"Well, how long’s that to be?

“The pandemic’s easing and vaccinations are being rolled out but the full economic impact is still to be felt. It’s going to get worse still as factories and businesses come out of furlough or rather don’t - either staying shut permanently or with a greatly reduced staff.

“It’s not that a recovery’s starting. It’s that the worst is still to come. Johnson doesn’t require to veto a Section 30 Order. All he has to say is ‘now is not the time’.”

He said the Scottish Government would remain “impotent or, at best, beholden to Westminster” during the recovery as it lacked its significant fiscal and borrowing powers.

“The house construction and building retrofitting so necessary for job creation, stimulation of the economy and the addressing of global warming will be limited. 

“Instead, it’ll be Westminster pet projects that’ll be funded all delivered centrally and plastered with the obligatory Union Jack.

"Prospects for recovery, therefore, will be hindered from the outset and the journey to independence, which alone can change it, further delayed.”

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He said that outcome would make many SNP supporters “see the merits of Alba’s case”. 

He explained: “Rhetoric on independence from the SNP Scottish Government will not be matched by tangible actions, let alone progress.

"Frustration at SNP on the constitution will also be mirrored on social and economic policy.

"Attacks on women’s rights will increase through the SNP/Green coalition on the Gender Recognition Act at least, if not on wider policy areas, and the general drift to centrism rather than radical action will only accelerate.” 

He said there remained opportunities for Alba, including next year’s council elections.

“There’s no cavalry coming over the hill from UK Labour and if it cannot win in England, it shows only independence can save Scotland.

"So, it’s game on for Alba,” he said.