THE ALBA Party have announced they will not be contesting the upcoming Rutherglen and Hamilton West by-election.

A decision was made by the Alba National Council as the party continues to encourage the SNP to agree to a “Scotland United” strategy.

This would see just one pro-independence candidate put forward in each Scottish constituency.

Speaking at a meeting of the party’s national council in Rutherglen, Alba leader Alex Salmond said: “The SNP leadership seem to think they can go it alone in Rutherglen and in the next General Election.

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“We have decided to stand aside at this by-election to give them the maximum opportunity to prove they can successfully fly solo.

“We believe that four pro-independence candidates already in a first past the post election risks handing the seat to the unionist Labour Party.”

The announcement comes after we told how the party said that Humza Yousaf did not respond to Salmond’s proposal for a pro-independence electoral pact.

He added: “We are also fundamentally opposed to this by-election taking place at all. By combining with the Labour Party to treat Margaret Ferrier (below) with such disproportionate disdain, the SNP have created their own problem in Rutherglen and should be now left to face it.

The National:

“We also know that there is huge support among ordinary members of the SNP for a Scotland United approach to the General Election with all participating parties seeking a joint mandate to negotiate independence for Scotland as item one of their respective manifestos.

“However, for this to succeed they will have to reclaim their own party from a leadership who have lost their way on both governance of Scotland and strategy towards independence.”

Salmond added that Alba’s decision “offers one last chance for a Scotland United approach to prevail at the SNP conference”.