Drums, pipes and banners, suitably distanced, surrounded party leader Alex Salmond when he appeared in Inverness to launch Alba’s Highland campaign.
He galvanised around 30 of the new-party faithful with promises of an imaginative and fresh reconstruction plan for Scotland after Covid and of independence.
He said: “We’re going to take some stopping.
“If I was to sum up the ALBA party I would say it’s a bit like the Yes campaign of the high summer of 2014, reborn as a political party.”
He introduced three ALBA candidates standing for the Highlands and Islands regional list, Kirk Torrance, Judith Reid and Gaelic-speaking Josh Robertson, whom he personally thanked for taking time to teach him how to pronounce ‘ALBA’ correctly.
Mr Salmond also hit back after the P&J pointed out that posted campaign leaflets from the ALBA party did not bear his name or any comment or mention of him.
He said: “The leaflet that went out in the Royal Mail was done six weeks before I was asked to leader of the party, because it takes time to produce that leaflet.
“All the other leaflets have me on the branding.
“We’ve had three leaflets since then which all have me on, a party broadcast on Wednesday night which had me on it, and all the polls should show a breakthrough.”
He said he was confident support for ALBA will increase when the campaign for independence gets underway, as was the case in 2014.
“When we started, support for independence was running about 28%, and when we finished the campaign it was running a 45%, so the way to increase the support for independence is to actually campaign for it and also to have as many groups of possible,” he said.
“One of the lessons I learned from the first independence referendum was when we made independence an SNP project, we had a ceiling on independence support.
“It was when it was broadened to encompass the wider Yes campaign, with all these groups from different points of view, but all united on independence, that’s when the support for independence started to move forward.”
Mr Salmond denied he is a liability to the ‘supermajority’ project, predicting a supermajority of 80 or even 90 independence supporting MSPs.
He said: “Last time, 100,000 SNP votes managed to elect one list MSP, but if half of these people go to ALBA we’ll have four ALBA MSPs from the Highlands and Islands.
“It was even more decisive in the north east, where 137,000 SNP votes on the list elected nobody, zilch, zero.
“And if half of these people vote ALBA then four would be elected from ALBA so I think it’s possible to look at 80, perhaps 90, of a supermajority of independence supporting MSPs.”
He went on: “There’s been seven polls so far in this campaign.
“ALBA is four weeks old and there’s three of these polls that show ALBA would make a breakthrough with seats across Scotland.
“All of these polls have one thing in common. They attach my name to the name of the party.”
Mr Salmond said his media prominence was key in getting the media to take note of the party.
“There’s five other independence parties been mooted over the last year and none of them could make a breakthrough because they didn’t get any prominence in the media.
“The only way it could happen was if you had ALBA being taken note of and that’s happened of course – we’re seeing a significant upsurge in ALBA support as a result.”