FORMER Scottish Tory leader Ruth Davidson has said that Alex Salmond’s move back into frontline politics “comforts” her because he puts off more voters than he inspires.

In a column for The Times, the Conservative peer took particular aim at the Alba leader after he spoke at a rally for independence in Glasgow on Saturday.

Salmond used the rally, held at the same time as the King’s coronation in London, to call for all pro-independence parties to stand under a single banner at the next General Election.

But Davidson claimed that the former first minister’s involvement was a boon to the Unionists due to his unpopularity in the polls.

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The former Scots Tory leader wrote: “If it quickened the pulse of the disputed number of watchers, it gladdened the heart of everyone who cares about keeping the UK together because there is a reason the more sensible elements of the SNP have been erasing Salmond from their shared political history to the point of almost making him an unperson.”

In response, an Alba spokesperson called Davidson's arguments "vacuous", saying that Davidson feared the return of Salmond as a credible voice for Scottish independence.

Elsewhere in the column, Davidson highlighted how all three SNP leadership candidates – Ash Regan, Humza Yousaf, and Kate Forbes – had initially pledged to speak at the All Under One Banner rally. However, after Yousaf accepted an invitation to the ceremony in London and Forbes pulled out sick, only Regan actually spoke.

The National: Ash Regan, Humza Yousaf and Kate Forbes will find out who will become the next FM at about 2pm on Monday (Paul Campbell/PA)

“In truth, no one at the top of the SNP could credibly have headlined the event,” Davidson claimed. “This was for a group of people who want – indeed, need – to believe that independence is coming and in short order, too.”

She argued that “the true believers have forgiven all sins”, but polling suggests that Salmond is actually deeply unpopular with the Scottish public.

“A regular tracker poll of Scottish political attitudes by Savanta shows Salmond’s approval ratings are catastrophically dismal at -47,” Davidson wrote in The Times. “Compared with his two successors – [Nicola] Sturgeon on +10 and Yousaf on -12 – he is clearly a terrible choice as the face and voice of the grassroots nationalist movement.

“If he were capable of public wounding, it would cut Salmond deep to know he’s almost doubly as unpopular in Scotland as the supposedly ‘hated’ Conservative prime minister he often rails against.

“I fought hard to keep the UK together during the referendum campaign and still believe in our shared future. The idea of Salmond using SNP disarray as an opportunity to re-enter the stage comforts me politically because, for every die-hard he inspires, he puts off a handful of wavering voters.

“There is something queasy, though, about watching some rehabilitate this self-styled ‘no angel’ so quickly and comprehensibly. Even if he is an auld bruiser.”

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An Alba Party spokesperson said: “Baroness Davidson’s vacuous column drips a mixture of malice and fear. Malice because when Alex was first minister her leadership of the Tories in Scotland never got her anywhere except weekly humiliations at First Minsters Questions.

"Fear because just as the SNP is engulfed in problems the last thing Unionists want to see is the re-emergence of a credible voice for Scottish independence. Having to wheel out a superannuated Tory peer is a sign of that panic since their current leader is hardly up to the job.

"Alex of course did not re-enter the political stage on Saturday but by the hard yards of 54 public meetings on independence in communities the length and breadth of Scotland over the last year. That is why support for Alex and Alba is now rising and rising fast.”