Alex Salmond is setting public health policy for his new Alba party with help from Scotland’s former chief medical officer, Sir Harry Burns.
The respected adviser wrote a paper as an “outside expert” for Alba’s latest conference – but has not endorsed the political party for the election.
His input is being heard along with strategies for the party’s official positions on public health, currency, a written constitution and future links with Europe if Scotland becomes independent.
Sir Harry served in the Scottish Government from 2005 to 2014, leaving months before the independence referendum.
He worked closely with Mr Salmond and with Nicola Sturgeon, who was health secretary before becoming First Minister.
Party candidates including MPs who defected from the SNP will take part in Saturday’s conference as they prepare for next week’s official manifesto launch.
Mr Salmond is standing for election to the Scottish Parliament in the North East regional ballot on May 6.
Polls have varied with some suggesting Alba will fail to get anyone elected, while others show how a small increase could send five members to Holyrood.
Alba members want to push for immediate independence negotiations with the UK Government.
Conference chair Tasmina Ahmed-Sheikh said: “What Scotland needs, and now has in Alba, is a party which is backing independence as an immediate priority but also can provide a badly needed but constructive social and economic critique of the government’s programme.”
On Friday outgoing SNP MSP Alex Neil urged his party to work with Mr Salmond to achieve a “supermajority” for independence.
Mr Neil served as a minister in Mr Salmond’s government.
‘Only an SNP government can deliver referendum’
SNP leader Nicola Sturgeon said on Thursday a “simple majority” of independence-supporting MSPs should be enough for another referendum.
A spokeswoman for the SNP said: “It’s clear that only an SNP government can deliver an independence referendum and give people in Scotland a choice on the country’s future, once the crisis of Covid has passed.
“The only safe way to ensure that Nicola Sturgeon is re-elected as First Minister and that Scotland’s future lies in Scotland’s hands – not Boris Johnson’s – is to give both votes to the SNP on May 6.”