Polling guru John Curtice warns ‘unpopular’ Alex Salmond to struggle in election

Alex Salmond 'is not a popular politician' says John Curtice

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Alex Salmond was unveiled as leader of Scotland’s newest political party – which is fielding 32 candidates on the regional list section of the Holyrood ballot. He has said he is “confident” membership of his party will “overtake that of the Liberal Democrats” on Friday, claiming thousands of people have already joined Alba. But John Curtice said recent opinion polls show only 14 percent of Scots regard him “favourably”.

Speaking to Channel 4 News, Sir John said: “The truth is that Mr Salmond is not a very popular politician.

“We’ve had a couple of opinion polls recently, only 14 percent of people in Scotland said they regard him favourably.

“He would have to succeed in maxing out everybody who thinks favourably of him.

“That of course is inevitably down to be a pretty tall order.”

It comes as Nicola Sturgeon has insisted Mr Salmond is now hindering, and not helping, the cause of Scottish independence.

The SNP leader also questioned the message it would send to women if Mr Salmond was re-elected to Holyrood in May’s election.

With the one opinion poll carried out since the new party – which is only fielding candidates on the regional list section of the ballot – putting them on 3 percent, Ms Sturgeon stressed that “we shouldn’t assume that Alex Salmond is going to return MSP to Holyrood”.

But she insisted she “could not envisage” working with him or his new party.

Scotland 'split down the middle' on election says Curtice

There has been a very public falling out between the First Minister and her former friend and mentor, resulting from the Scottish Government’s handling of sexual harassment allegations that were made against Mr Salmond dating back to when he was in power.

And speaking to PA Scotland, Ms Sturgeon made clear: “I can’t and don’t envisage working with him, or his new party.”

She stated: “That’s not about personal differences. It is firstly because what I think he is doing hinders the cause of independence rather than helps it.

“In the short term that is because I think…..there is a risk that asking people to gamble with their vote actually jeopardises an SNP majority.

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“But beyond that, the tone and the approach he is striking I don’t think is necessarily particularly helpful to building a majority of the population behind independence.”

Ms Sturgeon, who succeeded Mr Salmond as First Minister and SNP leader in 2014, added: “We can’t bulldoze our way to independence, we have to build support, persuade people, win trust and confidence.

“And when I listen to what is coming out of his new outfit I fear that is more likely to drive the undecided former No voters that we need to attract away from the independence cause rather than to us.”

The SNP leader said she did not know yet what Mr Salmond’s new Alba Party “stands for politically, in terms of policy”, but she added that “any party that can attract the seal of approval of Nigel Farage sounds alarm bells ringing in my head”.

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