Alex Salmond defends Alba Party candidate spreading irresponsible lie about Stonewall and age of consent

Leader Alba Party Alex Salmond 

Alex Salmond has defended an Alba Party candidate who lied about Stonewall wanting to lower the age of consent after she received “threats of violence”.

Margaret Lynch told an Alba Party online women’s conference on Saturday (10 April) that Stonewall and LGBT Youth Scotland were advocating for reducing the age of consent to 10-years-old. The claims were flatly denied by both LGBT+ charities who said they were “appalled” by Lynch’s remarks, demanded she retract her accusations and apologise.

Lynch’s comments resulted in a flurry of backlash online, prompting a defence from Salmond. In a statement, the former first minister revealed Lynch’s comments led to a deluge of threats against Alba women.

He said the conference was a “safe space” where “Alba women were encouraged to express their concerns over a range of subjects”, and that people who “threaten our women candidates” will be “held to account”.

Salmond continued: “Women participating are entitled to do so without being subjected to Twitter pile-ons or, even worse, threats of violence. Thus we are drawing the line.”

He added: “In an election campaign people often do and say foolish things but we shall not have our female candidates bullied or threatened. That stops right now.

“Apart from anything else Margaret Lynch was defending the rights of women in Scottish society while these keyboard warriors were in nappies.”

“Let me be clear. As the first minister who introduced equal marriage in Scotland, I would never tolerate any homophobic behaviour,” Salmond said.

He declared Alba candidates are “entitled to speak their minds at safe space events without being traduced or intimidated”, and the party will “protect their right to do so”.

Stonewall and Scottish Greens condemn Alba Party candidate for ‘sinister myths about LGBT+ people as paedophiles’

In response to Lynch’s comments, Nancy Kelley, CEO of Stonewall, and Colin Macfarlane, director of Stonewall Scotland and Northern Ireland, said in a joint statement that they are “appalled by the baseless and offensive accusations”. The statement added that Lynch, by making the remarks, repeated “deeply harmful myths about LGBT+ people as paedophiles and sexual predators”.

Alex Salmond also claimed that “among tweets that have been reported to the police” are a Scottish parliamentary candidate from the SNP and another from the Scottish Greens. Salmond also said media who “fan the flames of this disturbing behaviour” will be reported to the “appropriate regulator”.

A Police Scotland spokesperson told The National they had “received a complaint, which is being assessed”.

In response to Salmond’s statement, a spokesperson for the Scottish Greens told PinkNews: “The Scottish Greens have a zero-tolerance approach to violence. This tweet was unacceptable, and we instructed the member to remove it, which has now been done. This matter will now be dealt with through our internal complaints and conduct process.

“The party also has a zero-tolerance approach to homophobia, including dangerous and sinister conspiracy theories which associate LGBT+ people with paedophilia. This is the worst kind of hate speech, so is shocking to see the Alba Party defend it.”

The Alba Party had previously defended Lynch after her comments. It acknowledged that the LGBT+ organisations had made a “positive impact on the lives of many in Scotland”. But, the party said: “If the organisations do not support what they have signed up to it is for them to say or provide clarification, it is not for women that attended our women’s conference to defend concerns that women have raised based on fact.”

The Alba Party’s defence of Lynch and her comments led to Austin Sheridan, an LGBT+ former SNP councillor who recently joined Alba, to publicly quit the party. He said in a statement on social media that “to think a party would defend such a person with these hideous views is beyond me”.

“There is no way I can be part of a party that tolerates such views and does nothing to address them directly,” Sheridan said.

The SNP has been contacted for comment.