Alex Salmond’s masterful launch of The Alba Party

Alex Salmond has launched The Alba Party to campaign for an independent Scotland and it’s a masterclass in political marketing.

The name is excellent. “Alba” means “Scotland” in Scottish-Gaelic. It’s an authentic name for a nationalist party and its historic nature gives an emotional resonance.

The logo is superb. It uses a chunky cross which is symbolic of the saltire from Scotland’s Saltire flag. It also has ‘Alba’ written in capitals underneath in a contemporary-looking sans serif font.

The lead version of the cross featured in the logo is white in colour (to match that of The Saltire), but the visual identity provides scope for using it in multiple colours.

One iteration of Alba’s logo uses the yellow deployed in the brand identity of their frenemy The Scottish Nationalist Party (SNP).

Alba has a simple and motivating proposition: create a pro-independence “supermajority” by supporting the SNP in the constituency vote and Alba in the regional list vote.

In Scottish Parliamentary elections voters get two votes; the first , the constituency ballot, uses the first-past-the-post electoral system and the second, the regional ballot, uses proportional representation.

Alba argue that in 2016 voting for the SNP in both constituency and regional ballots led to “1 million wasted pro-independence list votes”.

This encouragement of tactical voting means that Alba are not explicitly opposing the SNP. This provides psychological permission for longtime SNP supporters to vote for Salmond’s new party.

The promotional content that Alba have made so far is of a good quality.

Lots of it pulls on the heart strings through the use of simple emotive language like “now is the time” and imagery of crowds carrying national flags.

But they’re not neglecting making a rational case; they’ve created a series of simple, shareable graphics which suggest that the best way to guarantee a majority for independence in the Scottish Parliament this year is to share votes between Alex Salmond and Nicola Sturgeon.

The timing for the launch of the party is perfect. Salmond is riding high having been recently cleared of all sexual assault charges, whilst Sturgeon is emerging from a period of intense pressure to resign and criticism of her government’s conduct.

In addition, Purdah – the period of time pre-election that prevents the government from making new announcements – began the day before Alba’s launch, meaning Sturgeon can’t use the levers of the state to help quash Salmond’s advance.

Salmond is a divisive politician but his skill as an operator is undeniable. The launch of Alba is another case study in his mastery of political campaigning.

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