Alex Salmond has vowed that “no North Sea oil worker will be left behind” if his newly-formed Alba party picks up seats at next week’s Holyrood elections.
Scotland’s former First Minister was speaking at the launch of Alba’s new “Digivan” as he looked to drum up votes outside Aberdeen Beach Ballroom.
The new vehicle, which has large video screens affixed to either side, will tour the north-east between now and polling day broadcasting Mr Salmond’s plans to push Westminster for a second Scottish Independence referendum.
Addressing a group of around 70 onlookers and Alba supporters, he also outlined plans to make Aberdeen an “energy powerhouse” while criticising the Scottish Greens’ oil and gas stance – who Mr Salmond said would “close down the industry and fling tens of thousands of people out of work”.
He added: “Aberdeen will be the energy powerhouse of Scotland and we mustn’t regard it as a problem, like the Green Party do, we should regard it as an opportunity – we cannot leave any oil and gas worker behind, and Alba never will.
“I think the future for Scotland is in renewable energy, but I also think oil and gas has a valuable role to play for many, many years to come.
“We should be moving quickly into carbon capture and hydrogen technology whilst making sure we keep that expertise in oil and gas.
“But Aberdeen isn’t just an oil and gas capital, this is an energy capital and one of the great energy capitals of the world – it’s a huge asset.”
Mr Salmond said that – unlike the Scottish Greens promise to halt North Sea oil and gas extraction – he would do “exactly the opposite”.
“I say these are skills and specialisms that are valuable and vital, and we must use them to invest in the new hydrocarbon technologies and also to provide that expertise”, he said.
The former First Minister also described Scotland’s energy potential as “enormous” due to decisions he took against “fierce oppositions” from opposition leaders during his time in office.
He said: “We are now self-sufficient in renewable energy, but I don’t want to stop there, I think we can go three or four times our own needs in renewable electricity and this is just the beginning of extraordinary potential for Scotland.
“Over the last seven years some of the impetus has been lost, but I want to see that impetus reinjected.
“People told me ten years ago that you could never power Scotland with renewables, but it’s happening on a regular basis right now – there are many days in Scotland where renewable power is more than 100% of its electricity requirement.”
New polls have suggested that Alba could grab around two seats at next week’s Holyrood election, however Mr Salmond said he is aiming for one for each of Scotland’s eight local authority areas as his “minimum target”.
He also said he would have “no problem” working alongside former close ally Nicola Sturgeon in the Scottish parliament.
“It won’t be a problem as any sensible politician accepts the verdict of the people”, he said. “I’m a sensible politician and so is Nicola Sturgeon.
“What the polls show is that the SNP will gain no seats at all on the list, which is inevitable because the more seats in the constituency, the less they win on the list.
“This time it will be zero, zilch, so that’s why Alba has such an attractive message for independence supporters to make their vote count on the regional list.”
Scottish Greens co-leader Patrick Harvie said: “The Scottish Greens have a positive vision for the future of the north east.
“We know that thousands of jobs can be created as we move to a renewables powered future. And by providing a jobs guarantee to those currently working in the oil and gas industry we can secure their future too.
“Alex Salmond has form on this issue, of course. His government completely failed to plan for the closure of the Longannet coal fired power station in Fife, leaving nearby communities in the lurch – it’s quite remarkable that he wants to repeat that calamity in Aberdeen.
“It’s vital that government begins working with communities and trade unions on the transition now.
“Salmond is right about one thing though; he is exactly the opposite of the Scottish Greens.
“While we offer a positive vision of Scotland’s future he has nothing new to say.
“That’s why we’re asking the people of Scotland to vote like our future depends on it this Thursday; for bold climate action, for a green and fair recovery from the pandemic and to put Scotland’s future in Scotland’s hands.”