Falkirk South by-election result (first preference votes):
SNP 39.2% (+3.5)
Conservatives 38.9% (+6.8)
Labour 15.7% (-11.4)
Greens 6.2% (+1.1)
Our regular commenter 'Independence for Scotland' made an intelligent point about the reaction of SNP leadership loyalists to this result - they've said Alba have demonstrated themselves to be an irrelevance because they didn't stand a candidate. But the same people would undoubtedly have slammed Alba for splitting the vote if they had stood a candidate, which suggests that somewhere along the line the criticisms are intellectually dishonest.
The reality is, of course, that local elections (including by-elections) are conducted by a preferential voting system, which means Alba can stand without doing any harm whatsoever to other pro-independence parties, as long as they urge their voters to give lower preferences to the SNP and the Greens. The much trickier issue is first-past-the-post contests - ie. Westminster general elections, Westminster by-elections and Holyrood by-elections. In those cases, the vote can genuinely be split and in the worst-case scenario a unionist might end up winning unnecessarily. My own personal view is that Alba should sit out first-past-the-post elections unless there's an exceptionally good reason - with an example of an exceptionally good reason being that there are sitting Alba MPs in two Westminster constituencies. If there's a snap general election at any point, I think it would make strategic sense for Alba to pour all its resources into defending East Lothian and Kirkcaldy & Cowdenbeath, and not actually stand anywhere else (unless there are other defectors, of course).