THE ALBA Party are hindering attempts to secure independence for Scotland, Nicola Sturgeon has suggested.

The First Minister speculated that the party has been born out of Alex Salmond’s love for the “limelight” and accused her predecessor of “misleading” the Yes movement.

The SNP leader also rejected an apparent peace offering from her former mentor, who she said she could not do business with until he acknowledged “how people feel about how he behaved while he was first minister”.

Salmond is aiming to help achieve a pro-independence “super majority” in the upcoming election by winning seats in the list vote.

But Sturgeon cast doubt on his plans. She told the Record: “At the end of the day, we’ve got to win independence fair and square. We can’t game, or cheat, our way to that.”

The First Minister insisted the only way to secure independence is to win a majority in Parliament and persuade the bulk the population to back Yes.

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She said of Alba: “I think the real danger is that it could hinder that exercise”, explaining: “One, people don’t like the idea that you are trying to game an electoral system but, secondly, once you start doing that you are effectively gambling with the outcome of the election and it could quite easily backfire and undermine the ability to get that majority that then provides the foundation for an independence referendum.”

Salmond has raised hopes about alternative routes to independence if Westminster continues to reject a Section 30 request.

He has spoken of street demonstrations and possibly appealing to international onlookers to garner support.

The National: Alex Salmond

But Sturgeon commented: “There is no shortcut here. We will only become independent when a majority of people in Scotland want it and are prepared to vote for it, and we are able to do that in a democratic, legitimate – and seen to be legitimate – process that then can win support and recognition in the international community.

“If you don’t have all these components ... then no so-called alternative actually delivers independence. Any serious politician who tries to tell people there’s an alternative way of doing it that doesn’t tick all these boxes I think is misleading people.”

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Salmond was investigated by Sturgeon’s government over complaints of harassment. The probe was later found to be unlawful. The former first minister was later cleared of all charges in court.

But Sturgeon accused her predecessor of showing a lack of contrition.

Asked if she would consider working with him again, she said: “If Alex had walked out of the court room and shown any sense of acknowledgement of what had been conceded in the courtroom, and the aspects of what he told me, maybe there is a foundation.

“The first step before anybody else can try to come to terms with that is that Alex has to himself show any sort of sign of acknowledging how people feel about how he behaved while he was first minister.

“He hasn’t done that and, therefore, I’m not sure what the basis would be for me to sit down with him and have that discussion.”

Salmond said last week he would like to do business with the First Minister, but Sturgeon rejected the offer.

She explained: “Alex wants to move on because it suits him now to say that he wants to move on “But there are a number of women out there who believe he behaved inappropriately towards them and he has shown, even now, no sense of reflection or contrition, or even an acknowledgement of that.

“And therefore, he may want to move on but there are people who I think will find it harder to do that.”

The Alba Party have been approached for comment.