FRIENDS. We are gathered here today to mark the demise of the Alba Party, whose time with us will rightly be remembered as nasty, brutish and thankfully short.

It cannot be stressed enough how much the Scottish independence movement has dodged a bullet in seeing off Alex Salmond and his acolytes. Well before the Scottish electorate roundly rejected his party’s prospectus, we already knew that Salmond was not the messiah our movement needed. Almost an achievement in itself, repeat polls found that the former First Minister was less popular in Scotland than Boris Johnson.

Salmond’s return to Holyrood would have been a gift for Unionists; a divisive and deeply unpopular figurehead tethered to the cause of independence who would have been plastered on every campaign leaflet for the Union – an ever-present reminder of the failures of 2014 looming over the shoulder of Nicola Sturgeon’s frozen smile. If you thought Ruth Davidson had overstayed her welcome on campaign literature despite opting out of any form of democratic accountability, it would have been nothing compared Salmond’s presence.

Beyond that, however, what could the Alba have really achieved if a few of their candidates had managed to scrape their way into the Scottish Parliament? We would have been subjected to five years of Salmond making increasingly unrealistic and unattainable demands around independence, occasionally turning to camera with a signature chuckle of disbelief as they were shot down over and over; a performance for his core audience that would only have made independence appear increasingly frivolous, unhinged and irresponsible to the rest of Scotland.

Nor, as a parliamentarian, would Salmond’s concern have been the wants or needs of the residents of the North East region, but only how best to further radicalise the fringes of the Yes movement for his own personal gain.

It would be unfair to lay the wreath of failure purely at the feet of the former First Minister, however – his fellow candidates are reason enough to have rejected his party.

Hardly the list of trailblazing stalwarts of independence that it was promoted as, the party’s candidate list was a positive who’s who of political careerists who had worn more rosette colours than Alba had members. The jewel in the party crown, of course, being a former boxer stepping into the political ring for the first time; a walking source of punnery that likely tickled Salmond right up until someone unearthed some previous tweets.

The National: FALKIRK, SCOTLAND - APRIL 30: Alex Salmond, leader of the Alba Party, is seen during a campaign event at The Falkirk Wheel on April 30, 2021 in Falkirk, Scotland. Scotland goes to the polls next week, May 05, in the local elections. (Photo by Peter

READ MORE: What went wrong with Alex Salmond's Alba campaign, and what comes next?

With a slate of candidates who opposed reproductive healthcare and reportedly accused LGBT organisations of trying to lower the age of consent, how could we say no?

Yet despite the underwhelming candidates and Salmond’s staggering levels of unpopularity across Scotland, the launch of the Alba Party came loaded with the expectation that independence activists should fall in line and vote as they were told to. Unsurprisingly, we weren’t interested.

And when the party failed to pick up a single seat, when the region Salmond where served for decades returned a measly 2.6% of the vote for his ego project, the former First Minister’s entourage fell back to more familiar territory and found the real reasons for the party’s failure, none of which were their own fault.

Conceding early on Friday, Salmond eschewed traditional definitions of what would be considered a good election result, with registering as a political party alone his definition of success.

There’s quite a gulf between “for the supermajority” and having filled in a form, but Salmond crossed it, though given that he failed to register in time to actually get the party’s logo on the ballot, it’s questionable how well even that was handled.

Yet until this moment, even with the evidence in front of their eyes, there was still a faction within our movement that believed the newly-minted Alba Party could have easily gained upwards of 12 seats.

Salmond tapped into the frustrations of the Yes movement’s fringes, who didn’t see independence moving fast enough, and used them to brush off his tarnished career – much like the way his party cynically adopted the same populist anti-trans rhetoric that had been used as a wedge issue in the SNP and came with an oven-ready voter base.

This faction wants a fast and simple route to independence, but there are no shortcuts and no electoral games that can hasten our journey. A Yes vote will come from the people of Scotland when we bring them with us, not through insults online and attempts to lock others out of the democratic process. We were already on our way long before anyone had made reference to a so-called supermajority.

Alba voters were played, caught between a quest for revenge and a press hostile to independence who saw an opportunity in Salmond’s unpopular return to politics.

If the small number of MPs and councillors who defected to Alba had a shred of dignity, they would recognise how democratically malignant their presence has become and resign, giving Scots the opportunity to reject them all over again.

Now the rest of us can get on with building the progressive, independent Scotland we’d hoped for.