The week outside Westminster

The prime minister and Scottish secretary will visit Scotland today, with first minister Alex Salmond set to issue a £700 million demand.

The prime minister and Scottish secretary will visit Scotland today, with first minister Alex Salmond set to issue a £700 million demand. Today’s Telegraph reports that “Mr Salmond is hoping to play on Mr Cameron’s sensitivities over the Tories’ dismal election performance north of the Border, which he said was more keenly felt in the English party”.

He told the paper:

“When I meet the Prime Minister I think I will argue that a respect agenda has to be justified by deeds and actions as well as words… I’ve listed a number of things that I would have thought he will be prepared to support. All of us have our political differences but we have a shared responsibility for the future of the Scottish economy.

They (the Tories) have nothing like either a majority of votes or seats in Scotland. That puts him in an extremely difficult position… The Liberal Democrats’ appeal for support in Scotland was not to be part of a Tory Government but to boot out Tories. So my argument about 85 per cent of people in Scotland voting not to have a Conservative Government holds.”

The Herald, meanwhile, describes the prime minister’s trip as a “bridge-building visit”:

“Prime Minister David Cameron will visit Scotland today to shore up his legitimacy north of the border, with meetings planned with Alex Salmond and MSPs at Holyrood. Cameron, accompanied by his Liberal Democrat Scottish Secretary Danny Alexander, is expected to go to Edinburgh for a meeting with the First Minister in the Scottish Government headquarters at St Andrew’s House.

“Likely agenda items include Alexander’s plan to implement the recommendations of the Calman Committee, which could give Scotland more tax setting and borrowing powers. Yesterday Special Branch officers made an additional security sweep of the Scottish Parliament in preparation for the visit – Cameron’s second to Holyrood since becoming Conservative leader – during which he will meet Presiding Officer Alex Fergusson and Conservative MSPs.”

With Mr Cameron and Mr Clegg this week heralding a “new politics”, Left Foot Forward rounds up how progressives across the nation have reacted to the new coalition Government.


• The SNP’s leader in Westminster, Angus Robertson, made clear that his party would be fighting Tory/Lib Dem cuts: “The SNP take our marching orders from the people of Scotland – and some 85 per cent of Scots voted against a Conservative Government last Thursday. The Tories languish in fourth place in Scotland, while the Lib Dems came third in share of the vote.

“Scotland now has a Tory Government with a savage cuts agenda. SNP MPs in London will work with our colleagues at Holyrood to protect Scotland from this threat. Now, more than ever, Scotland needs champions at Westminster.”

• Scottish Labour leader, Iain Gray launched a furious attack on the Lib Dems: “Labour warned that a vote for the Liberal Democrats would only help David Cameron into Downing Street and we were right. Scotland will pass judgment on them for this deal with the devil.”

Northern Ireland

• SDLP leader Maragret Ritchie’s fire was aimed squarely at the Tories. Reacting to the new coalition, she said: “We have a responsibility to the people who elected us to ensure that we continue to challenge the British Government to get the best deal for all the people of Northern Ireland.

“All parties have duty to maximise the regional interest here in Northern Ireland such as protecting the block grant and our public services – especially in terms of the cuts David Cameron seemed to be talking about during the election campaign.”

• The Alliance Party’s new MP, Naomi Long, had a warning for the new Government: “Ultimately, the success of the new government will be judged on the economy and, in the case of Northern Ireland, whether it can deliver sustainable growth, and avoid deep cuts to public finances which could force is back into an even deeper recession.”

• Sinn Fein’s deputy first minister, Martin McGuinness, called for Northern Ireland’s political parties and the Stormont Executive to unite against cuts: “The Executive needs to be ready and waiting for the next British government. We need to be ready and united to stand up to a Tory/Lib Dem coalition who will want to press through cuts to frontline services.”


• Welsh first minister Carwyn Jones – now the most powerful Labour politician in the country – struck a more consensual note: “It is my intention to have a constructive working relationship with the new Tory/Lib Dem Government. As First Minister, it is my job to lead Wales and make the case for Wales – irrespective of who resides in No.10 Downing Street – and that is what I will continue to do.

“My prime consideration from this moment on will be to ensure that the priorities of the people of Wales come first – economically, socially and constitutionally.”

• Plaid Cymru’s leader in Westminster, Elfyn Llwyd expressed his worries: “The Conservative Party has outlined its plans which will have disastrous effects on the Welsh economy – including further ‘in year’ cuts in addition to those already proposed.

We haven’t heard anything from their new political allies, the Lib Dems, to suggest that protecting jobs and public services in Wales from disproportionate cuts is a red line during their talks with the Tories.

“In fact all the indications are that the £6bn additional spending cuts promised by the Tories will go ahead which could lead to up to £300m additional cuts to the Welsh Budget this year.”

Quote of the Week

“Gordon Brown has given many years of outstanding public service to the people of Fife and to the whole of the UK. I may have political differences with Gordon Brown but I have never doubted his deep commitment to the people of Fife.”

SNP MSP for Central Fife, Tricia Marwick in calling for Gordon Brown to be given the freedom of his home town of Fife

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