FORMER Scottish justice secretary Kenny MacAskill has been elected depute leader of the Alba Party at their inaugural conference in Greenock.

MacAskill ran against Glasgow councillor Michelle Ferns for the position, beating her by 837 votes to 323 at stage one.  

Alex Salmond was elected leader unopposed, while other office bearers were also confirmed. Caroline McAllister became women’s convener unopposed, Eva Comrie was elected at stage one for the national equalities convener role, Corri Wilson was elected at stage one for the membership support convener role and Mike MacKenzie became local government convener.

The National:

Hoping for indyref2 permission from Westminster has “as much chance of success as a hungry orphan pleading for more in Dickens’s Oliver Twist”, MacAskill said in his speech.

Every democratic channel needs to be applied to the push for independence, he told Greenock Town Hall. He called for leadership and courage.

Speaking to conference following his election, Alba MP MacAskill addressed his party's poor performance in the Scottish Parliament election.

"We didn’t get the result we wanted in May," he said. "Others have to answer why, when Scotland’s situation is so critical and the plight of many Scots so perilous, they preferred to see unionist MSPs returned, rather than those committed to independence. 

“But we’re alive and we’re kicking. We’ve a party to build, elections to fight and a cause to deliver. What’s more we intend to do so."

Meanwhile this morning Inverclyde councillor and father of Alba general secretary Chris, Jim McEleny, defected from the SNP.

READ MORE: What's happening at Saturday's SNP and Alba Party conferences?

“Since the election there has been no progress on independence whatsoever,” he said.

“The coalition with the Green Party just seems like a distraction to cover kicking independence into the long grass. All we hear is that independence will be a priority after the pandemic is over but the reality is that Covid makes independence more vital now than ever and without it we are going to be saddled with the policies Westminster impose on us such as removing the Universal Credit uplift - which thousands of people in Inverclyde rely on - and more Tory austerity."

The Alba conference continues over the weekend.