ECONOMY

How constitution has dominated Holyrood election campaign during pandemic

T

he 2021 Scottish Parliament election has been dominated by the constitution, despite taking place during the coronavirus pandemic.

The launch of the new pro-independence Alba Party, led by former first minister Alex Salmond proved to be the first major talking point in the campaign.

Mr Salmond launched the party, which is only fielding candidates on the regional list section of the ballot, with the aim of winning a “supermajority” in Parliament for independence.

But his return to frontline politics came shortly after a very public dispute with his successor, SNP leader Nicola Sturgeon.

Details of the breakdown in their relationship were revealed for all to see when the pair separately gave evidence to a Holyrood committee investigating the Scottish Government’s handling of sexual harassment allegations against Mr Salmond.

Ms Sturgeon made clear she does not think her former boss – who was cleared of a series of sexual assault allegations in March 2020 – is a fit and proper person to stand for election.

She has also been insistent that the SNP will not work with Alba after the election.

For Ms Sturgeon, the election has in part been focused on her record of leadership during the pandemic.

Alex Salmond harassment allegations

However as Scotland looks to recover from the virus that has claimed the lives of more than 10,000 people north of the border, she has insisted independence is key to building a better nation.

The SNP and the Scottish Greens have argued that the powers independence would bring over areas such as the economy and employment could be crucial in the recovery.

Ms Sturgeon has refused to say exactly when a second vote on independence could be held – saying only it should take place after the immediate health crisis is over and not before the end of 2023.

But pro-UK parties Labour, the Conservatives and the Liberal Democrats have accused Ms Sturgeon of planning another independence vote in the midst of the pandemic – something they insist would damage Scotland’s economy and recovery.

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