ALEX Salmond has offered to “take Keir Starmer’s place” after the BBC announced that the Labour leader had not accepted an invitation to take part in a leader’s interview.

The Alba Party leader quipped that “unlike Keir Starmer, I'll actually mention the word Scotland” as he spoke to The National from his party’s General Election campaign launch in Glasgow on Friday.

Alba are fielding 19 candidates in the Westminster election, including former parliamentarians Kenny MacAskill, Neale Hanvey, Corri Wilson, and George Kerevan.

As they are fielding enough candidates (at least 10), Alba have been given a party political broadcast on the BBC, which will be aired ahead of Scotland’s opening match against Germany at the Euros on June 14.

The party has celebrated the timing of their broadcast, with Salmond joking to BBC journalists at the campaign launch: “All is forgiven.”

However, asked about the BBC failing to extend Alba an invitation to a leader’s interview with Nick Robinson, while Starmer has not confirmed he will appear, Salmond told The National: “I'll take Keir Starmer's place. This is the BBC London big opportunity.

“Firstly, I'll be a lot more interesting. Secondly, unlike Keir Starmer, I'll actually mention the word Scotland in an interview.

“So from the Scottish viewers’ perspective, BBC London should book me since they cannae get Starmer.”

Asked about Alba’s omission from debates, he went on: “I think it's a disgrace. I mean, I've been through all this before.

“You can go back to 2005 and I was telling the broadcasters, ‘look, the SNP requires fair treatment. We're going to become a political force.’ Oh no, no, they weren’t interested.

“By the time you got to 2015, of course they were scrambling to get the SNP's voice heard.”

Salmond added: “If you qualify for a party election broadcast – and Alba does twice over – then you're entitled to broadcast coverage so it's the public, the people that can then judge which candidate they want to vote for.

“Apart from the fairness and the democracy of it, there's also the sheer toleration of the viewers.

READ MORE: Alex Salmond hits back at Andrew Neil over claims about Scottish independence

“I mean, nobody who watched the Rishi Sunak and Keir Starmer face-off would say ‘we want to see a replay of that debate’. And the four-way male debate of STV. We called it Stone-age television: STV.

“We're in an age where vital, important figures like Ash Regan and the lady who co-leads the Greens [Lorna Slater], they should be heard in debate. It's not for rather tedious men getting to speak. That's antediluvian television.

So from a viewer's point of view, as well as from a political fairness point of view, then obviously Alba would be good to include.”

Alba's three key focuses for the General Election – outwith independence

Alba leader Alex Salmond speaking at his party's election campaign launch (Image: Colin Mearns)

Elsewhere at the campaign launch, Salmond told party members and press that Alba would be focusing on three key issues, other than independence.

The first he said was a plan for a “real” publicly owned national energy company, after Labour were forced to admit that their pledged “Great British Energy” will just be an investment vehicle to pump public cash into the private sector.

Secondly, Alba are focusing on a push to save the oil refinery at Grangemouth, fielding former justice secretary MacAskill as their candidate in the area.

Salmond said Alba were “not prepared to tolerate Scotland being the only country in the developed world as a major oil producer, who doesn't have the capacity to refine our oil and gas products”.

And thirdly, the former first minister said his party would “be bringing forward policies on housing to show how you can mobilise capital to attack the greatest social problem in Scotland: the fact that people don't have a roof over their heads that's safe, warm, and secure”.

Rishi Sunak and Douglas Ross: 'Mutley and Dick Dastardly'

Prime Minister Rishi Sunak left a D-Day commemoration event early (Image: PA)

He also used his speech to the party to condemn Rishi Sunak and Douglas Ross, the Tory and Scottish Tory leaders respectively.

Sunak, Salmond said, had proven he is not fit to be prime minister by leaving D-Day commemoration events early in order to return to the UK for a political interview with ITV.

And Ross he said would get his “comeuppance” for ousting the sick former minister David Duguid from the running in Aberdeenshire North and Moray East.

Salmond said: “Douglas Ross, or Dick Dastardly as I’m now calling him, swept aside a wounded colleague for his own preferment, somebody literally on their hospital bed, so he could grab their seat.

“Incidentally, that is where I stay in the north east of Scotland. I can tell you that Douglas Ross is going to get his comeuppance. Behaviour like that is not tolerated.

READ MORE: 'Simply untrue I'm unable to stand,' says David Duguid after Douglas Ross U-turn

“Where Douglas Ross is Dick Dastardly, then the Prime Minister must be Mutley.

“Leaving veterans to rush back to London for a political interview to explain why you weren't lying in the first debate. I mean, everybody in the country knows there are lies, damned lies, and Tory statistics.

“But the rush to stop D-Day veterans on the 80th anniversary of D-Day. Somebody who does that, they're not fit to be a politician, never mind fit to be a prime minister.

“The Tory Party's descent into self-destruction is clear.”

Salmond has said he will not be standing in the Westminster election, but will instead seek a return to the Scottish Parliament at the 2026 elections.

Alba are aiming to win 15% of the regional list vote at those Holyrood elections, returning some 20 MSPs and forming the “strong left arm” of a pro-independence coalition, Salmond said.