Christine Jardine quizzes Salmond on his “curious” view that he prefers people “of faith”

It was never likely that I’d make it on to Alex Salmond’s Christmas card list. After all, he thinks that people who don’t support independence are making the case “against Scotland.” Now, it appears, there’s another reason for him to disapprove of me; I don’t have a religious faith.

Pink News has a video clip of him saying:

I  am biased of course because I am a Church of Scotland adherent and I prefer people of faith to people of no faith or people who have lost their faith.

Christine Jardine, the Liberal Democrat candidate for the Aberdeenshire East seat next May has written to him to question this rather odd opinion:

Dear Mr Salmond,

I write to seek clarification of your bizarre comments at the Scottish Parliament, quoted in Pink News and available to view on the internet, that you “prefer people of faith to people of no faith or people who have lost their faith.”

As a fellow member of the Church of Scotland, although no longer active, I find it strange that you would take such a stance and one that I find conflicts with everything I understood both about the church and indeed politics.

Surely neither a person’s religion, nor lack of it should influence how we, as politicians or Christians regard them. I would appreciate an explanation of this curious opinion.

I couldn’t and wouldn’t say that I preferred, for example, Liberal Democrats to non Liberal Democrats. There are people I love and wouldn’t be without in all parties and none. I could never dismiss a whole category of people as being somehow inferior. It just goes against every instinct I have.

It is a terrible thing for any politician to say.

If you are a public servant, those you serve need to feel confident that you would view them with respect. It appears that atheists in Gordon can’t really have that confidence in their MP.

* Caron Lindsay is Editor of Liberal Democrat Voice and blogs at Caron's Musings

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25 Comments

  • Eddie Sammon 4th Sep '15 - 3:52pm

    Totally bizarre statement from Salmond and unpleasant too.

  • From a man who judges whether he wants to help people depending on where they live on a map (for that is simply the end result of nationalism), I am not surprised.

  • John Tilley 4th Sep '15 - 4:34pm

    Sniping at the SNP was the Liberal Democrat approach in the last Scottish Parliament election, in The Referendum and in the 2015 Westminster General Election. It did not work, did it?

    Do we have any evidence that this will be any more effective in winning votes to the Liberal Democrats in 6 months time ?

    Would it not be better to build a positive case for why Liberal Democrats could provide better elected representatives than any other political party in Scotland ?

    The SNP gets enough publicity already, boosting the media attention given to Alex Salmond might not be the cleverest tactic.

  • Bizarre, what’s he standing for lord high protector?

  • Most of my friends are lefty-liberals. There’s probably a reason for that – it’s that I prefer the company of like-minded people. That doesn’t mean to say that there aren’t any non-lefty-liberal people that I enjoy the company of. However, it really isn’t curious or outrageous or bizarre or unpleasant to say that you prefer the company of like-minded people. Equality doesn’t mean we should give up opinion and pretend to like everyone just as much.

  • Caron Lindsay Caron Lindsay 4th Sep '15 - 5:10pm

    @John Tilley: Next May the SNP will be standing on their record which is pretty shameful in many ways. In this parliament the Liberal Democrats have done more than anyone else to achieve changes in policy from them. We have shown our worth many times over.

    Do you seriously suggest that we should just tug our forelocks and let them away without having their record properly scrutinised. I know that we need the melody too, and that’s in progress as Willie has made several speeches talking about the Liberal Democrat vision, which have been published in full on here.

  • Richard Underhill 4th Sep '15 - 5:35pm
  • on the face of it, it seems a bit out of character but it was said to pink news, and he was saying that he is aware that he has a particular bias – so, is there very much here? Hard to know somewhat out of context.
    more positively, perhaps we should welcome the fact that the snp are the effective opposition in westminster and applaud some of the outcomes of their actions.

  • I don’t think there’s anything “bizarre” about his remark at all, in the sense that his preference is typical of many religious believers. In fact many religions are hostile to non-believers by design.

  • Eddie Sammon 4th Sep '15 - 6:14pm

    It’s not the same as saying “I prefer liberals to conservatives” or other examples people are coming up with. I think it’s prejudiced. I used to go to Church two to three times a week in my early 20’s, some Baptist churches and then I tried Roman Catholic and Church of England and I left them all because of what the Bible says about hell.

    Now if Salmond thinks I’m less of a good person because I don’t want to worship someone saying non believers are going to hell, or at least that is what it suggests, then I don’t think it is fair.

  • I seem to remember how Tim’s Christian beliefs were discussed on here…..There were those who thought that it should disqualify him from leadership….
    I’d imagine, that were Tim to be asked, he would feel more comfortable, in personal relationships, with those who share the same values….

  • @Stuart. You are completely right. Of course there is nothing bizarre about his remark at all. Almost no person on earth prefers all types of people the same.

    People more often than not prefer the company of those similar to themselves and find people with similar beliefs, ideas and back-grounds to themselves the easiest to relate to and be friends with. Thinking about it, almost all of my friends have a similar social back-ground to myself. I just find those who grew up in a similar way to me easy to relate to. Does that make me an evil nasty bigot who must explain myself in liberal Britain?

    Demanding that he explain himself is, I think, rather pathetic and likely to put off voters. Almost everyone will understand exactly what Alex Salmond meant and what he was saying. Simply put, he was just explaining to people who he is. He is a man of faith, I myself am not but I respect his right to be who he is and thank him for being open and honest about who he is. On a side note, I don’t think Christine Jardine is going to win office in Gordon any time soon, and if her request that Salmond explain a remark like that is anything to go by, this is no bad thing.

  • Salmond does let his mouth run away with himself but he’s no John Knox……………. and there’s no doubt Nicola is in charge now (remember the Nick Robinson kerfuffle ?)

    Tend to agree with John Tilley (usually do) that there are more important fish to fry in terms of real policy……

  • @expats “I’d imagine, that were Tim to be asked, he would feel more comfortable, in personal relationships, with those who share the same values….” Yeah. Or maybe Lib Dems think this is wrong and feel that Tim should have no preference and feel just as happy in the company of members of the British National Party?

  • Preferring people like yourself doesn’t make you bizarre or unpleasant, it is common and human nature.

    It does however make you much more boring.

  • Alex Salmond says he prefers people who have a religious faith to those who don’t or have broken free of it. Well that’s fine so long as he, as a religious person, doesn’t start chucking people out of windows to prove his point.

  • There are a lot of things that may well be “natural” but are not things that a decent politician should be promoting. Taking revenge, being more comfortable around people of your own colour, being sexually attracted to teenagers, these are all “normal”… But politicians of stature don’t go around advertising that they feel them.

  • DavidW 4th Sep ’15 – 7:40pm …………[email protected] “I’d imagine, that were Tim to be asked, he would feel more comfortable, in personal relationships, with those who share the same values….” Yeah. Or maybe Lib Dems think this is wrong and feel that Tim should have no preference and feel just as happy in the company of members of the British National Party?……….

    Or, maybe, it’s some LibDems ‘thrashing about’ to find a stick, no matter how small, with which to beat the SNP

  • expats…struggling a bit with this arent you…Lib Dems are right to remove the cosy view that the SNP are all lovely people who only have Scotland at their heart…their record is abysmal on so many issues and Salmond echoes a view prevalent in the SNP, that is that you cannot be acceptable if you dont share their narrow viewsTo example Tim and the BNP laughable

  • expats: “Or, maybe, it’s some LibDems ‘thrashing about’ to find a stick, no matter how small, with which to beat the SNP”

    If that’s the case then the party really are in a bad way if that’s all they can come up. It just makes them look like unprincipled opportunists trying to make something out of nothing for political gain rather than being out to serve the public good – not the sort of party people are going to want to vote for I don’t think.

    There are plenty of real things that the SNP could be hit for, here are a few:

    The mess they have made of policing in Scotland. I believe the Lib Dems were against their idea of creating the new centralised Police Scotland?

    The “oil is a bonus not a necessity or the bases for an economy” statement when high oil prices were supposed to be what would pay for this wonderful new independent Scotland when the reality people are now losing their jobs left, right and centre in Aberdeen.

    Our the Lib Dems could actually come up with radical polices that a substantial amount of potential voters would agree with and push them hard such as copying what is happening across the USA and soon to happen in Canada if the Liberal win the Federal Election there and fully legalise cannabis and create a brand new industry with 1,000’s of jobs. Not everyone will agree with that but most of the sort of people who a liberal political party should be looking to attract would.

    I could go on and on but with people who want to make a big deal out of an honest and reasonable statement from Alex Salmond about who he is as a person and the type of company he likes to keep what is the point? And what is the point in party if that is the sort of thing they come up with?

  • Phil Rimmer 5th Sep '15 - 1:37pm

    Have the Scottish Liberal Democrats reached such a low ebb that they are reduced to treating a storm in an Inverurie tea cup as if it is a serious political issue?

    Aside from anything else, Salmond has shown again and again over the years that he is better than anyone else at this sort of juvenile politics. Worse still, he’s a Teflon Man at it. Nothing ever sticks and it always seems to end up hurting his opponents.

    Please, learn, move on.

  • The question is what is true faith?

  • That reminds me. Must get the campaign to disestablish the Church of Scotland going.

  • Well of course it got going in 1929 when the Church of Scotland became the National church. However its present status in the light of Salmond’s remark shows complete freedom of religion or lack of religion needs affirming at constitutional level.

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