THE SNP's women's convener, Caroline McAllister, has become the latest senior politician to defect to the Alba Party, the National can reveal.

She has resigned from Nicola Sturgeon's party and her role on its ruling body and will stand as a Holyrood election candidate on the west of Scotland list for the new pro-independence party led by Alex Salmond.

She is the second member of the party's ruling body to make the switch.

McAllister joins MPs Kenny MacAskill and Neale Hanvey, former MP Corri Wilson, as well as councillors Chris McEleny and Lynne Anderson, the SNP's national equalities's convener, in joining Alba.

READ MORE: Alex Salmond's Alba Party poses 'real threat' to the Union, David Mundell warns

Currently the depute leader of West Dunbartonshire Council, McAllister was elected as the SNP's women's convener on the party's ruling National Executive Committee (NEC) last year. She stepped down from this NEC role as she gave up her SNP membership. It is unclear whether she will continue in the role of depute leader of the council.

She is also the founder of the SNP Women’s Pledge group, which opposes aspects of the Scottish Government’s planned reforms of the Gender Recognition Act.

The Scottish Government wants to make it simpler for transgender people to receive a gender recognition certificate.

Currently a transgender person requires medical evidence and a two-year period of living as that gender before they’re eligible for the certificate, but under Scottish Government plans – put on pause ahead of the May election – they can obtain it through self-declaration after six months.

The SNP’s Women’s Pledge group raised fears the proposals had the potential to put women’s sex-based rights at risk, a position which drew criticism from other party activists during an intense internal party debate surrounding the proposed reforms.

READ MORE: Holyrood 2021: Second SNP MP defects to Alex Salmond's Alba Party

McAllister told The National: "I am delighted to join the Alba Party. As the former SNP National Women’s Convener, I’m really looking forward to working with my colleagues in the Alba Party to ensure women’s rights are front and centre of the new Scottish Parliament I hope to be a member of."

Outside politics, McAllister works in social care supporting vulnerable adults.

Anderson, a councillor in North Lanarkshire since 2017, who was also a member of the SNP Women's Pledge group, added: "As a councillor, and the former SNP National Equalities Convener, I’m really looking forward to a positive campaign reflecting an inclusive and tolerant Scotland. Securing a supermajority for independence in the upcoming elections is crucial in delivering the fairer independent Scotland we seek."

Outside politics she has built a career in environmental protection and has worked for the Scottish Environment Protection Agency and also in planning roles.

In a dramatic development on Friday, Salmond announced he would heading the Alba Party and would be standing as a candidate in May as part of plans to gain an independence "supermajority" in Holyrood.

It has decided not to stand candidates for constituency seats calling for supporters to vote for the SNP in that part of the ballot.

Instead, the Alba Party is planning to stand at least four candidates in all eight of the regional lists.

Its launch comes after a turbulent period for the SNP and the Scottish Government, led by Salmond's successor, Nicola Sturgeon.

Salmond will contest the North East Region for the Alba Party, MacAskill, who is the MP for East Lothian, the Lothian region, and Hanvey, the MP for Kirkcaldy and Cowdenbeath, the mid-Scotland and Fife region. Wilson, who was SNP MP for Ayr, Carrick and Cumnock from 2015-17,  will stand in the South of Scotland list.

McAllister and McEleny will be candidates on the West of Scotland list for the party, while Anderson will stand on the Central Scotland list.

Lawyer Eva Comrie will stand in the Mid-Scotland and Fife region. Comrie was previously an SNP candidate for this list.

Businesswoman Cynthia Guthrie, CEO, of the Guthrie Group, will stand in South of Scotland.

At his press conference on Friday, Salmond revealed the Alba Party was founded earlier this year by former TV producer Laurie Flynn, a long time independence supporter.

At its launch the party said its aims were: "National Independence for Scotland as an immediate necessity, and overwhelming priority, achieved by democratic means through a vote of people resident in Scotland."

The SNP have been approached for comment on McAllister's move to the Alba Party.

They have previously attacked those switching to the new party.

On Saturday, Ian Blackford, the SNP's leader at Westminster, fiercely criticised MacAskill's move.

“He has been an increasing embarrassment to many in the SNP and his departure is somewhat of a relief,” Blackford said.

“He should now resign his seat in the House of Commons to let a by-election take place.”