Tag Archives: alex salmond

Alex Salmond to make Westminster comeback – threat to Lib Dem seat of Gordon?

Alex Salmond - License Some rights reserved by Ewan McIntoshFormer Scottish First Minister Alex Salmond has hinted he might make a comeback at Westminster, as the BBC reports:

Alex Salmond has said he has not made up his mind whether or not to stand for a Westminster seat at the next general election. The outgoing Scottish first minister was asked on the BBC’s Question Time programme if he would consider becoming an MP again. Mr Salmond said he had “absolutely decisively” not made up his mind, but agreed that the door was not closed.

Alex Salmond made his name at Westminster, as MP for Banff and Buchan for 23 years (1987-2010). However, two factors will be in his mind.

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Salmond’s bizarre public dig at critical commentator Torrance shows Scotland had a lucky escape

A couple of weeks ago, Alex Salmond picked a fight with the BBC’s Nick Robinson. Cue a mob descending on the BBC’s shiny new Pacific Quay HQ in Glasgow demanding that the journalist be sacked. In fact, much as it pains me to admit it, Robinson was actually in the right on that occasion. Salmond hadn’t answered a question he’d asked. He’d spent several minutes giving  a rambling answer about the first part of his question before lambasting the BBC for publishing a story that the Royal Bank of Scotland would move its HQ from Scotland in the event of a Yes vote. It was quite bizarre to see hundreds of people demand that a news station takes the Government line. Where else would you see that?

Yesterday, political commentator David Torrance, who is probably one of the most fair minded people around, wrote a pretty critical but in my view accurate article about Salmond for the Herald. Torrance had written a well-received biography of the First Minister some years ago. This is what he had to say yesterday:

But then blatant hypocrisy never seemed to bother Mr Salmond. The Liberal Democrats, another party which wasn’t spared his tribal warfare, were pilloried for reneging on their no-tuition-fees promise after the 2010 General Election, yet three years previously Mr Salmond had ditched a manifesto pledge to eradicate all student debt, even though it had arguably captured a significant chunk of the student vote.

And in spite of lofty rhetoric about being “positive”, divide and rule was a hallmark of his style, as was phoney outrage.

Anyone not perceived as a threat was treated with charm and thoughtfulness, but for those who fell outside that category condescension, pettiness and often downright rudeness were the order of the day.

I can think of no other politician who behaved as badly as often and, more or less, got away with it.

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Opinion: I sat on the fence for a long time

Alex Salmond - License Some rights reserved by Ewan McIntoshIn history independence (or partition) often leads to a rise in racism, disaffection, poverty, hatred and instability.  I was looking for evidence that Scottish independence wouldn’t do that.

I was looking for intelligent leadership with a coherent vision which would unite Scotland to reassure me that the positives of independence (which would include faster and more sensitive feedback loops for Scottish policy) would outweigh the negatives.  In the early stages of the campaign I saw signs of what I was looking for.

My first …

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Opinion: How to tell the SNP?

No yes scotland photo by kyoshi masamuneHow do we point out to SNP supporters that they should vote No next Thursday to save their party, without alarming No voters?

The survival of the SNP depends on a No vote.  The party exists to campaign, lobby and bully for independence achieved through a Yes vote in the referendum.  It has no other purpose.  If it wins the referendum, even by a single vote, it will have achieved its purpose and have no further reason to exist.

The SNP is not a liberation movement like the ANC or SWAPO, whose victory founded democracy in states where the previous oppression and authoritarianism meant there were no alternative democratic political parties and the liberation movements have continued while politics develops.

Scotland is a vibrant democracy.  Scottish Parliament elections change Scottish governments.  The Liberal Democrats – and Labour and the Conservatives and the Greens – have purposes related to improving people’s lives and pursue policies related to doing that in changing circumstances.

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LibLink: Willie Rennie: Alex Salmond’s future looks bleak so he turns to the past

st Andrews flag saltire scotland Some rights reserved by Fulla TWillie Rennie has been writing for the Daily Express in response to Alex Salmond’s invocation of Robert the Bruce yesterday. The First Minister has obviously given up on the detail and is sticking with the Big Picture aimed at emotional appeal. I’ve always been one for tugging on the heartstrings. I go on about it all the time. You do need to have some facts in there somewhere, though. It helps if those facts have some relation to the truth, as well.

It’s been annoying me for some time that the pro UK side has not been quick enough to rebut the ridiculous claims that the pro-independnece side makes about the NHS. They claim that it’s been privatised in England. I’m no fan of the changes in the Health and Social Care Act of 2012, but I know that health care is still free at the point of need as it should always be.  It’s been annoying that few senior Labour figures have rammed that home to the SNP, perhaps because it doesn’t suit them to do so in a Westminster General Election context.  Willie makes it perfectly clear who calls the shots as far as the Scottish NHS is concerned:

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Why 40% is the magic number in the Scottish referendum

Brazil v Scotland 22For some reason, 40% is a figure which has long exerted political significance.

That devolution for Scotland wasn’t introduced in 1979 wasn’t because a majority of those who voted didn’t want it: by 52% to 48% the Scottish voted in favour of establishing a Scottish parliament. However, a Labour MP, George Cunningham, introduced an amendment to the Scotland Act (1978) specifying a minimum turnout threshold of 40% of the electorate. The actual turnout of 33% meant Scottish devolution had to wait a further two decades.

I was reminded of …

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LibLink: Paddy Ashdown: Alex Salmond should apologise for his poor call over Vladimir Putin

paddy ashdown - paul walter“Lib Dem Statesman Paddy Ashdown”. That’s how the headline in Paddy’s Sunday Mail article describes him.

Paddy is writing in response to Alex Salmond’s comments on Vladimir Putin . As a reminder, this is what Salmond said:

Obviously, I don’t approve of a range of Russian actions, but I think Putin’s more effective than the press he gets, I would have thought, and you can see why he carries support in Russia.

“He’s restored a substantial part of Russian pride and that must be a good thing. There are aspects of Russian constitutionality and the intermesh with business and politics that are obviously difficult to admire. Russians are fantastic people, incidentally; they are lovely people.

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Menzies Campbell MP on Salmond’s “disturbing lack of judgement” over Putin

Alex Salmond - License Some rights reserved by Ewan McIntoshYou would think that politicians would have more sense than to express any sort of admiration for Vladimir Putin. Alex Salmond has followed in the footsteps of Nigel Farage. He told Alistair Campbell for GQ:

Obviously, I don’t approve of a range of Russian actions, but I think Putin’s more effective than the press he gets, I would have thought, and you can see why he carries support in Russia.

He’s restored a substantial part of Russian pride and that must be a

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I don’t care where Alex Salmond lays his head – but does he have to be so evasive about it?

The Benjamin HotelBuckwheat or memory foam, or water. Those are some of the pillows Alex Salmond could have had, according to the Telegraph when he stayed in New York’s Benjamin Hotel in 2007 when he was there on official business. But, do you know what? I’m not really that bothered. Yes, luxury hotel suites are expensive but in the world of international diplomacy and business, it’s pretty much par for the course. Sure, some people would be happier to see our politicians stay in a Bed and Breakfast with squeaky, staticky, purple nylon sheets and those duvets with flowers on that were so popular in the 70s, and a bit of thrift never goes amiss, but I’m not going to get in a lather about it.

photo by: Reading Tom
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Clash of the Cabinets: A wasted opportunity

I’m feeling a bit disgruntled today. My two governments are in the news. The Scottish and UK Cabinets have set up rival camps, glowering at each other with the City of Aberdeen providing an unwitting No Man’s Land.

How very different it could have been.

Given that these governments share responsibility in really important areas like employment, climate change, transport and energy, I think it would have been so constructive if they’d been able to organise a joint session to discuss these issues. Youth unemployment, for example,  is a significant issue north of the border and it’s something that both governments are …

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Who’s afraid of Scottish independence?

Saltire - St Andrews Flag - Scotland - Some rights reserved by byronv2The last month has seen the ‘Yes Scotland’ independence campaign take a battering.

First, Mark Carney raised doubts about Alex Salmond’s plans for a post-independence currency union between Scotland and the remainder of the UK.

This warning was echoed when, with more naked partisanship, George Osborne, Danny Alexander and Ed Balls teamed up to state they would each refuse to form such a currency union.

And then last Sunday, European Commission President Jose Manuel Barroso hammered in

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Another wheel comes off the SNP’s independence bandwagon as EU Commission President says Scotland would find it difficult to join EU

It has not been a good week for Scottish independence campaigners and particularly the SNP. Their primary objective in their quest has been to achieve a break up of the UK without scaring any horses. We’d hardly notice, they said. Everything would go on pretty much as before. We’d still have the Queen and the pound and, of course, an independent Scotland would be admitted to the EU automatically on the same terms as the UK currently enjoys.

This week George Osborne, backed by Danny Alexander and Ed Balls, ruled out the SNP’s preferred option of a currency union. Alex …

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Bluff, bluster and bullying, says Salmond. Pot, kettle and black come to mind

That the SNP would dismiss yesterday’s announcement on currency by George Osborne should not come as a surprise to any of us.

Alex Salmond and Nicola Sturgeon have taken to the airwaves to complain of “bluff, bluster and bullying” by those nasty big boys from Westminster. It’s actually quite brazen to sit there and say, having been told a very firm “no” that the answer was really yes. But their aim was to whip up fury amongst their own supporters, to incite an emotional reaction in those who don’t like English Tories telling things like they are.

That was always going to …

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LDVideo: Danny Alexander explains decision to guarantee all UK debt up until Independence

It’s slightly annoying that the announcement by the Treasury pledging to honour all UK debt up till the date of Independence was made on the same day as Alistair Carmichael’s first keynote speech of the New Year, but there was little choice given ill-advised threats last week that an independent Scotland would default on its debts if it didn’t get its way on using the pound as part of a currency union. The markets were spooked. The Treasury had to act.

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Willie Rennie: “In 20 years, they’ll be glad they had nursery education at an early stage because it might just change their life chances”

There were extraordinary scenes in the Scottish Parliament this afternoon. First of all, the Scottish Liberal Democrats didn’t even vote for their amendment, and nor did anyone else. They didn’t have to, because the Scottish Government had taken a big step to doing what they wanted.

For months, Willie Rennie has got up at virtually every First Minister’s Questions session and doggedly asked, pleaded, cajoled with Salmond to extend nursery places to 40% of 2 year olds from its current figure of 3%, just like Nick Clegg had done south of the Border.  And every time, Alex Salmond replied with varying …

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SNP’s white paper on independence – some first reaction and three initial questions from me

For months, years, even, whenever we’ve asked questions about independence, after we’ve been accused of scaremongering, we’ve been told to wait for the White Paper.

Well, that wait is over as the White Paper has now been published - or is it? Scotland’s Future, it’s called. That’s profound. We have a future? That’s kind of inevitable. It doesn’t promise a bright future, or a happy one.

On the big questions of the day, such as the three on pensions, currency and cost posed by Alistair Carmichael two weeks ago, we are really none the wiser. We know what the SNP …

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The glamorous life of the Secretary of State for Scotland

Alistair Carmichael - License Some rights reserved by Liberal DemocratsThe Guardian reported last night that there were rumours that Alex Salmond is staying at the luxurious Gleneagles Hotel during the SNP’s conference in Perth. True, it’s only rumours, but I’m unable to find any SNP denial and you think that they would have done. I mean, rather than stay in any of Perth’s fine hostelries, it’s being said he’s travelling half an hour down the road to the playground of the rich and famous. Surely they’d want to make him sound more like a man of the people than that.

Wherever the First Minister is laying his head, it’s unlikely to be too uncomfortable. If he is staying at Gleneagles, he could be dining in Andrew Fairlie’s restaurant on roast fillet of turbot, seaweed butter, baby fennel and clam veloute.  Compare and contrast with the not entirely jet set lifestyle of Alistair Carmichael, our new Liberal Democrat Secretary of State for Scotland.

Newsmoggie knows what he did  last Wednesday.  He’d been to the Royal National Mod (a national, annual festival of Gaelic language, music and culture) in Paisley. He and his team then dined in the splendour of McDonalds in Bishopbriggs in the heart of Jo Swinson’s constituency. He then spent the night in the humble surroundings of the Travelodge in Stirling before heading to Aberdeenshire for a day of engagements on Thursday.

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Salmond scores a massive own goal on Royal Mail

This week, Alex Salmond told Scots that their postal service would get worse if they voted for independence. Of course he didn’t actually say those words, but it’s the effect of his proposal. At First Minister’s Questions on Thursday, he said that an independent Scotland led by him would bring the Royal Mail and postal service back into public ownership.

Let’s just leave aside the hundreds of millions that would cost for a minute, as well as the complexities of breaking up a UK wide service and defining the Scottish share. The biggest problem that would arise would be that …

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+++Convicted violent abuser Bill Walker resigns as MSP

16 days after his conviction for 23 charges of domestic violence against 3 former wives over a 28 year period, Dunfermline MSP has resigned his seat in Holyrood. Typically, he blamed the media pressure rather than his own actions.

Scottish Liberal Democrat leader Willie Rennie said:

Good

Bill Walker should have understood immediately the gravity of his situation but it has taken sixteen days for the penny to drop.

It is sad that he continues to blame others instead of taking responsibility himself for his own actions.

It would have been wrong for someone convicted of so many counts of domestic violence to return

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Carmichael: Salmond remarks ludicrous and offensive

Carmichael looking mean croppedI said yesterday that I wanted a Liberal Democrat to come out and passionately call Alex Salmond out for suggesting that the case against independence was the case against Scotland. To recap, this is what he said in a Scotland Tonight interview on Tuesday:

..let’s see if we can get the pressure on to make sure we pull the Prime Minister into the ring and then let’s see if he can articulate a case against Scotland because I’ll certainly be articulating the case for Scotland.

And that Liberal Democrat calling …

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No, Alex Salmond, the case against independence is not the case “against Scotland”

By 10:30 pm last night, I thought the most shocking thing I was going to hear that evening was that the Blessed Mary Berry uses tinned, yes, that’s tinned,  peaches and pears in her trifle recipe.

Sadly this was not to be the case. Yesterday was Scotland’s the equivalent of the Queen’s Speech, when the Government unveils its legislative programme, except we get Alex Salmond instead of the Queen. To mark the occasion, he was interviewed for Scotland Tonight.

More of the interview than necessary was taken up with a discussion on which pro UK politician he would debate against in the …

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Rennie: “Everyone who believes in robust defence of our shores should think carefully before backing independence”

Today’s Guardian reports that if Scotland votes for independence, the new Scottish Government might have difficulty joining NATO:

It is understood that Nato officials said it might be possible to allow Scotland to start fast-track talks – but in a blow to Salmond’s anti-nuclear strategy, the Scottish delegation was also told that no new member would be allowed to join Nato if that state had unresolved military or territorial disputes with other countries.

Under article 10 of the Nato treaty, one assistant general secretary of Nato said at the meeting on 6 July, new applicants also have

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Alex Salmond is quite late to the Party on all-male Muirfield

It’s another glorious weekend of sport, if you’re into that sort of thing. In Paris, the Tour de France comes to its climax on the Champs Elysees, unusually at twilight rather than mid afternoon. You wait 99 races for a British rider to win the Tour de France and it very much looks as if two are going to come along in succession. And then there’s the Open, from the beautiful East Lothian Muirfield course.

Scotland’s First Minister Alex Salmond has very famously refused to go to Muirfield because it’s all male. Credit where it’s due. He can’t go back …

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It was all about Andy – and tedious independence referendum bickering was not going to ruin the occasion

Yesterday was one of the hottest days of the year – yet millions of us, from the Scilly Isles to Shetland were inside watching the tennis, willing Andy Murray to come through and claim the Wimbledon title. Even before the match started, though, there was the usual tiresome bickering on Twitter about whether he was Scottish or British. For once I agreed with Scottish Deputy First Minister Nicola Sturgeon when she said:

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Salmond promises childcare revolution after turning down Rennie’s plans for nursery education

Scotland’s First Minister Alex Salmond  gave his keynote speech to SNP Conference this afternoon. There were three things in it that struck me as a Liberal Democrat.

A numbers game

Apparently a “yes” vote for independence would be a vote for a “prosperous economy and a just society.” Does this remind you of any phrase being used rather a lot at the moment by any Liberal Democrat who can be persuaded to do so? I wonder how prosperous an economy built on wildly optimistic estimates of oil revenues would be to start with.

Many nationalists have been complaining about their fixed budget doesn’t …

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Willie Rennie on Newsnight Scotland: You have to be cautious when you predict oil revenues

There’s been a bit of a stooshie over future North Sea oil revenues in the last week or so. First, as the BBC tells us, a leaked draft of a Scottish Government report said that volatility in projecting revenues created uncertainty and could lead to spending cuts. Now, Alex Salmond tells us that it’ll all be fine and there’ll be a great big oil boom just as Scotland becomes independent. The SNP projections for the first year of independence are pretty much double what the OBR predicts.

Scottish Liberal Democrat leader Willie Rennie went on Newsnight Scotland on Monday night …

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Michael Moore MP: “We can’t have the Scottish Government fast forwarding through the difficult bits”

Liberal Democrat Secretary of State for Scotland Michael Moore told an audience in Edinburgh today that the SNP must stop talking about the process, must stop trying to get the UK Government to negotiate the terms under which Scotland could separate from the UK and get on with setting out their case.

We cannot have the Scottish Government fast forwarding through all the difficult bits to their longed for ending where they clinch a  referendum victory.

People want to know what independence would mean for them, their families, and their communities.

Planning the summits and designing the constitutional apparatus is like framing and

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What they say about Michael Moore…

Full story: Meet Westminster’s answer to James Bond.

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Rennie: SNP’s assertions blown apart by fact

Scotland has had its share of political drama these past ten days. First there was the Edinburgh Agreement which saw Liberal Democrat Secretary of State for Scotland Michael Moore given an honourable mention by CentreForum. Then the Scottish Liberal Democrats unveiled their vision for Home Rule and a federal UK. Then last Friday, the SNP abandoned their opposition to NATO membership ahead of the Independence Referendum, a decision led to the resignation of two of their MSPs. This leaves Alex Salmond’s Government with a tiny single vote majority in Holyrood. In practice, though, the two MSPs will mostly vote with the Government.

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The unsung hero of the Edinburgh Agreement

As I watched the events unfold in the Edinburgh sunshine today, as Alex Salmond and David Cameron signed the historic Agreement on the process for the Independence Referendum, my thoughts were with the man who actually put the leg work in on this.

To put it bluntly, if we’d waited for David Cameron and Alex Salmond to reach agreement, we’d be waiting until people were telling their grandchildren about the day Hell froze over. In fact, only recently the Tories were murmuring about the UK Government running its own referendum. That, believe me, would not have ended well.

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