A new biography of Alex Salmond paints him as a man capable of "explosive rages" whose "merciless criticism" left some of his staff "an emotional train wreck".
Ahead of the Scottish National Party’s annual conference in Perth this week, the weekend press in Scotland has been full of news of the start of the SNP’s electioneering ahead of next year’s Holyrood poll, revelations about Alex Salmond’s temperament, and calls to reignite the debate over independence.
The conference comes as Scotland on Sunday has published extracts of the SNP leader’s biography, “Against the Odds”. Written by David Torrance, it does not paint a flattering picture of the first minister.
Opening his piece, Scotland on Sunday journalist Tom Peterkin explains:
A new biography of Alex Salmond paints the SNP leader as a man capable of “explosive rages” whose “merciless criticism” could leave members of his staff “an emotional train wreck”. The First Minister is revealed as a hard taskmaster whose demands led one former staff member to conclude that it “wasn’t actually possible to work for Alex and maintain a serious (outside) relationship”, the book claims.
The extract comes as the SNP launched a pre-election campaign, with Salmond announcing that the party’s leader in Westminster Angus Robertson is to lead the party’s Scottish Parliament election campaign.
In doing so, MrSalmond outlined his likely mantra in the run up to next May’s poll, saying:
“We have another election to win. And our message in that election will be clear and simple: together, as a nation, we can make Scotland better. We can build a country that is wealthier, safer and fairer. And the more responsibilities we have, the more independence, the more we can achieve.”
It was also announced that 1 million potential voters can expect a phone call from the SNP this week “to hear their views on Scotland’s future and their priorities for the next Scottish Government”. Mr Robertson said:
“We enter this contest from a strong position with Scotland’s only credible first minister and an experienced team from Cabinet to our hard-working MSPs and community campaigners.”
Despite the optimistic words, however, the SNP will face a stiff challenge, afflicted as it has been by a series of bad headlines:
• In September, polling for YouGov put Labour 10 points ahead of the SNP;
• Last month, education secretary Michael Russell made an embarrassing u-turn on his party’s manifesto commitments on class sizes;
Meanwhile, following Mr Salmond’s decision to abandon plans to push ahead with an independence referendum in this parliament, one former leader has criticised what he views as independence having been “relegated as a solution” to Scotland’s economic difficulties.
Speaking prior to delivering the Scotland on Sunday lecture at this week’s SNP conference, Gordon Wilson, who led the party during the 1980s, said:
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“Britain is a failing state and I don’t think people realise yet the difficulties it has. It is a world power unable to support its military. It is bankrupt. Staying with it is the Titanic option. But if Britain is bankrupt, why not Scotland? I make the point that jobs come from resources.
“Oil, which is still going to be worth a hell of a lot of money for some time. A new issue is tidal power and we have got to get in at the ground floor there.”