Alex Salmond's return has been hard for his accusers, says Sturgeon

Alex Salmond’s return to politics has been particularly difficult for the women who made complaints against him, Nicola Sturgeon has said, as polling revealed that Salmond’s newly formed Alba party is unlikely to win any seats in May’s Holyrood elections.

Sturgeon said she “didn’t want to spend too much time talking about a party that doesn’t look, on early polling, as if it’s going to get any MSPs elected”, before reiterating her belief that “there are big questions about the appropriateness of his return to public office”.

The first minister said: “I know some of the women that made complaints against him and I therefore know that having him put himself forward like this is not making things easier for them.

“If you have somebody who has behaved in some ways, by his own admissions, inappropriately towards women, albeit not criminally and nobody is arguing that, … then I do think that [returning to politics] does pose risks of sending entirely the wrong message to people, to women in particular.”

Polling for the Courier on Friday morning, the first to gauge support for the new party that Salmond claims can help secure a supermajority for independence in the next parliament, found Alba trailing on 3%, meaning it is on course not to send any candidates to Holyrood.

Sturgeon was asked on Friday to clarify her comments at this week’s BBC Scotland leaders’ debate that she would like to see a second vote on independence in the first two years of the new parliament, with the caveat that this should be “after the crisis has passed”.

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She said: “That will be for a new parliament to judge in terms of when that is actually the case. The World Health Organization’s views on when we’re in and out of a pandemic is certainly part of that … but getting the country through this is going to continue to be my focus.

“But as we come out of the crisis, then recovery is not a neutral concept. What kind of a recovery you want, what kind of country you’re trying to recover to, involves value-based judgments and that’s where the question of where decision-making and powers lies becomes important.”

Sturgeon said she could find common ground with the Scottish Labour leader, Anas Sarwar, after he announced plans to launch a “clean up Holyrood” commission after the election in the wake of what Sarwar described as a crisis of trust in the parliament brought about by the fraught inquiries into the Scottish government’s handling of sexual harassment complaints against Salmond.

But she added: “What I would caution Anas is what we’ve seen in past months … [is] a full-frontal assault from the Tories on the institutions of devolved government. I don’t think there’s any doubt that Conservatives see it as part of their anti-independence platform to undermine trust in the Scottish parliament.”



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