Alex Salmond warns reuniting SNP a 'big challenge' for Humza Yousaf after bitter leadership race

27 March 2023, 19:03 | Updated: 5 April 2023, 08:44

Mr Salmond also praised Ms Forbes as a "clearly outstanding candidate", and said the new leader should "let bygones be bygones" and invite his rivals back into the fold.
Mr Salmond also praised Ms Forbes as a "clearly outstanding candidate", and said the new leader should "let bygones be bygones" and invite his rivals back into the fold. Picture: LBC / Alamy

By Chris Samuel

Alex Salmond has warned that reuniting the SNP will be a "big challenge" for new leader Humza Yousaf, after a leadership contest that laid bare bitter divisions within the party.

Appearing on Tonight with Andrew Marr, the former SNP leader said the disorderly character of the early stages of the leadership campaign hadn't furthered the cause of independence, and the fact that Mr Yousaf was elected by a minority vote meant that the former health secretary has a job in his hands to bring warring factions of the party together.

"Thats a challenge," he said, "he's got a big challenge to reunite the party.

Mr Salmon said if he were in Mr Yousaf's position, he would be "immediately offering the hand of friendship" to leadership rivals Kate Forbes and Ash Regan, whom he said "had the best independence policy".

He also praised Ms Forbes as a "clearly outstanding candidate", and said the new leader should "let bygones be bygones and invite them back into the fold".

Read more: Andrew Marr: The SNP have a new leader, but the reputational damage caused by the leadership race will only help Labour

Read more: Prince Harry lost friends and suffered from 'paranoia', court hears in bombshell privacy battle with the Daily Mail

Asked whether he thought Mr Yousaf's reference in his speech to a "broad civic movement" when addressing independence suggested a lack of urgency, Mr Salmond said: ‘If Humza means that he's now converted to the idea of an independence convention, to bring together the fractured independence movement, not just the political parties incidentally, but the think tanks like Common Weal, the grassroots pressure group, that'd be a good thing.

"But it shouldn't be seen as a means of delaying the independence initiative. It should mean that you're uniting the independence forces to take on the Westminster establishment.

He added: "And that shouldn't be a matter of prevarication and delay, it should be a matter of urgency and necessity."

Mr Yousaf succeeded in the voting run-off with 26,032 votes, or 52.1 percent, after predecessor Nicola Sturgeon announced last month that she was standing down after more than eight years as Scotland's First Minister.

Appearing on Tonight with Andrew Marr, Mr Salmond congratulated Humza Yousaf, but said uniting the SNP would be "a challenge".
Appearing on Tonight with Andrew Marr, Mr Salmond congratulated Humza Yousaf, but said uniting the SNP would be "a challenge". Picture: LBC

He saw off current Scottish Finance Secretary Ms Forbes and former community safety minister Ms Regan in what was the SNP's first leadership contest for almost 20 years.

Mr Yousaf said he was "honoured" to be entrusted by the SNP membership after winning the leadership election.

Alex Salmond: Humza Yousaf should take Scottish independence seriously

He said: "It is hard for me to find the words to describe just how honoured I am to be entrusted by our membership of the SNP to be the party's next leader and to be on the cusp of being our country's next first minister.

Mr Yousaf paid tribute to colleagues Ms Forbes and Ms Regan, adding: "It's felt we've seen each other more than our respective families.

Mr Yousaf won with 52% of the vote
Mr Yousaf won with 52% of the vote. Picture: Getty

"You both have put in an incredible shift and I know that collectively we will work hard as part of Team SNP."

He will replace Ms Sturgeon as party leader right away but it will take a vote by MSPs, due to take place at Holyrood on Tuesday, to decide whether he will be named first minister.

More Latest News

See more More Latest News


Official says rescuers see helicopter that was carrying Iran’s president

Taiwan President

Lai Ching-te inaugurated as Taiwan’s president which will likely bolster US ties

Rescue teams’ vehicles are seen near the site of the incident of the helicopter carrying Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi in Varzaghan in north-western Iran

Helicopter carrying Iran’s president apparently crashes in mountainous region

The "real-life" Martha from Netflix's Baby Reindeer bombarded Labour leader Sir Keir Starmer with a vile 276 email spree over eight months, reports claim.

Real-life Martha from Baby Reindeer bombarded Keir Starmer with vile email spree, reports claim

Rachel Reeves has said Rishi Sunak and Jeremy Hunt are gaslighting Brits over the economy - as Labour analysis claims high inflation has cost workers almost the equivalent of a 1p hike in tax.

Reeves accuses Sunak of gaslighting Britain on economy as research claims Inflation 'costs UK same as 1% tax hike'

Prime Minister Rishi Sunak is set to offer the first government apology for the infected blood scandal as the public inquiry into the disaster publishes its final report.

Sunak set to apologise for infected blood scandal which killed 3,000 as inquiry publishes report

Iran's president is missing after a helicopter he was travelling in crashed - with sources in Tehran warning his life is in danger.

Pictured: Iranian president's helicopter taking off just moments before crash in adverse weather

File photo dated 16/10/13 of HMP Barlinnie in Glasgow. The Scottish Government has been accused of moving at a 'snail's pace' in refreshing the prison suicide prevention strategy. The documen

'Up to 23,000 criminals each year to avoid jail' if Government loosens sentences as prisons fill up

Pep Guardiola has hailed his history-making Manchester City side but admitted his future at the club is in doubt after his sixth top-flight win.

'It's insane': Pep Guardiola hails Manchester City record-breakers as side wins fourth Premier League in a row

Iran's President Ebrahim Raisi is feared dead after his helicopter crashed in the repressive nation's north-west.

Who is Ebrahim Raisi?: Iran's President nicknamed 'The Butcher of Tehran' feared dead after helicopter crash

The helicopter carrying Iranian President Ebrahim Raisi takes off at the Iranian border with Azerbaijan after President Raisi and his Azeri counterpart Ilham Aliyev inaugurated dam of Qiz Qalasi, or C

What we know so far about incident involving helicopter carrying Iran president

Sean "Diddy" Combs has broken his silence and apologized after a distressing video was shared of him physically assaulting his former girlfriend Cassie in 2016.

'I'm disgusted': Sean 'Diddy' Combs breaks silence on shocking footage of him physically assaulting ex

Producer-director-writer John Krasinski attends the premiere of Paramount Pictures’ IF at the SVA Theatre in New York

John Krasinski’s IF hits box office nerve with £27.5m North American debut


Democratic Republic of Congo’s army says it foiled coup attempt

Flowers are placed outside the FD Roosevelt University Hospital, where Slovak Prime Minister Robert Fico is being treated, in Banska Bystrica, central Slovakia

Slovakia PM Robert Fico remains in serious condition but prognosis ‘positive’

The number of small boats arriving in the UK is 2,600 higher than this time last year

Number of migrants arriving in UK in small boats nears 10,000 - 2,600 higher than this time last year