Super-confident Salmond has the air of a man who seems untouchable

For all the hits his opponents try to land on him, Alex Salmond now has the air of a man who seems untouchable, writes Left Foot Forward’s Ed Jacobs.

Unveiling his Programme for Government for the forthcoming year, Alex Salmond declared with all his usual modesty that the Scottish public would soon become the “independence generation”.

Yet, amongst all the Bills he announced would be brought forward for consideration by MSPs – including proposals for a single Scotland-wide police and fire service and the reintroduction of the SNP’s cherished policy of a minimum price of alcohol – the lack of any legislation to provide for a referendum on independence remained the elephant in the room.


The opposition did its best to attack the first minister as being, what outgoing Conservative leader, Annabel Goldie, described as “all talk, no action”, but the blunt truth is that for all the hits his opponents try to land on him, Salmond now has the air of a man who seems untouchable.

With opposition parties having so far failed to get to grips with the urgent need for a strong and credible alternative to Salmond, the SNP enjoying a healthy majority of their own at Holyrood and polling suggesting support for independence outstripping opposition to it, it is perhaps little wonder the Labour leader, Iain Gray, spoke of his “envy” at the position that the first minister was now in.

As an Editorial in the today’s Guardian concludes:

“Wanted: a Scottish opposition leader. Please apply to Holyrood, and soon. Must have firm views, ability to revive own party and lots of luck. Willingness to tackle Alex Salmond essential. All reasonable offers considered.

“Yesterday, in the absence of such a figure, Scotland’s first minister once again presented himself as the master of his nation. Elected for a second term this year with an unprecedented majority, Mr Salmond set out a legislative programme which makes up in bulk what it lacks in daring. His poll rating is strong and his opponents are in disarray.

“Both Labour and the Conservatives are searching for leaders, while Lib Dem support shrivels. The Tory frontrunner had to propose the abolition and rebirth of his own party to attract attention in England: an idea whose merits may attract everyone other than Scottish Conservatives.

“Even a modest man might have cause to be pleased with himself in such circumstances, and Mr Salmond is not known for his modesty. In that lies both his strength and his weakness. He set out a government programme that includes a the creation of a Scottish police force and plans for a minimum price on alcohol but he did little to confront Scotland with the more serious challenges ahead.

“These have less to do with the independence referendum that may come at some point (and what polls suggest is growing but still minority support for a breakaway) than financial reality.”

Yet not content with seeing off his opponents in Scotland, Salmond’s sight’s are now set firmly on London, using the economic malaise the country now finds itself to stoke up the grievances Scots have developed against the coalition.

Outlining the strategy, Eddie Barnes, Political Editor at The Scotsman, says of Salmond:

“His central argument was that the speed and scale of George Osborne’s deficit reduction plan would choke off growth. It is ‘voodoo economics’, he warned, lashing back at Scottish ministers in the UK government whose ‘lectures’ on his handling of the Scottish government he would be ignoring.

“Instead, Mr Salmond quoted from a triumvirate of international economists who, he argued, were all calling for government to loosen the purse strings, allowing more spending on public works. This is what he wants to do in Scotland, he said, but cannot while the Treasury holds the purse strings.

“Both chancellor Osborne and Chief Secretary to the Treasury Danny Alexander have repeated in recent days that the UK government is not for turning on their plans. This, they argue, will help keep down rates of borrowing, depress interest rates for families, and turn the UK into a “safe haven” amid the global turmoil.

“Both sides have therefore nailed their colours and their reputations to the mast. This has now become a battle of visions between London and Edinburgh on how to bring the country out of the economic mire. And the stakes are high: whoever has the right answer can expect to be rewarded if and when the independence referendum comes about.”

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13 Responses to “Super-confident Salmond has the air of a man who seems untouchable”

  1. Political Planet

    Super-confident Salmond has the air of a man who seems untouchable: For all the hits his opponents try to land o… http://t.co/zwkrH12

  2. Extradition Game

    RT @leftfootfwd: Super-confident Salmond has the air of a man who seems untouchable: http://t.co/ouJPkl3 writes @EdJacobs1985 #NewsClub

  3. robert the crip

    I notice Newer Labour cannot now attack him because he won the election so now they try to hit him by saying he’ll never win independence. But what happens if he does what then for Milibands bunch. If Labour does lose Scotland to independence then a massive loss of seats and votes for England Labour.

    Labour may well have to seek the working class again and that would really p*ss then off

  4. Tearlach

    Of course he is untouchable as he as an overall majority, a majority that Labour and the Lid Dems designed voting systems of the Scottish Parliament never to achieve. So as far as the SNP are concerned every else can go whistle. Its their party, their government, their majority, so they can do with as they as want. Get over it. Your boys designed it to keep the SNP out in perpetuity and kill “Nationalism stone dead”.

    Aye right.

    But two things amuse me about the squeals of the British/English left about this legislative programme. One that’s its not ambitious enough, he is not using his majority to push through “real social change”.

    Well lets see what he is not legislating for:-

    -not to sell the NHS to McKinsey
    -not to clear the poor from the cities to allow speculators in
    -not allowing a planning system that allows developers to build all over the green belt
    -not allowing any new nuclear plants
    -not saddling students with tens of thousands of debt

    and maintaining an education system that does not allow any weird parent group to set a free school – paid for by the f***ing (blessed UK) taxpayer – just because they can’t afford to send their kids to an English Private (sorry public) school.

    And secondly – Where is the referendum on independence? The Unionists squeal, “Why are they not bring it on now, now now now!!!!”

    Well it must be just like the last parliament when Labour, the Tories and the Libdems all said that an independence referendum was a distraction, was irrelevant, and not what the Scottish people wanted or needed. And they would make sure that no Scottish Parliament would allow any referendum. Well that did not work.

    So back to wee Eck and his legislative programme. The SNP can do what they want when they want as they have the parliamentary majority. It’s being called the winner.

    And he will have his referendum when it suits him, and when he will win. And the Scottish establishment now expect him to win, and there is all sorts of refocusing and realignments going on in the clubs and halls of civic Scotland.

    Unfortunately for the scribes of the Scotsman, the Herald and the BBC they are out the loop, and now irrelevant, with SNP ministers now publicly saying – we won an overall majority without their support, so who cares what they say?

  5. Mr. Sensible

    Scotland and the UK cannot afford independence.

    Lets hope Scotish Labour gets a good leader in place who can challenge both the SNP in Edinborough and the Coalition in London.

  6. Leon Wolfson

    @3 – Well yes, shame that the “party of the Union” and their sidekicks have created a situation where the latest poll indicates a bare majority for independence.

    Tearlach – Is it wise to brag about dependence on fossil fuels? Kinda spoils the post.

  7. Hitchin England

    RT @leftfootfwd: Super-confident Salmond has the air of a man who seems untouchable: http://t.co/EKFo6TW writes @EdJacobs1985 #NewsClub

  8. Iain

    As Tearlach says there is a realignment going on in Scotland. You can hear it in conversations and read it in the words of journalists and commentators. As Kenneth Roy writes in the Scottish review ‘There is a growing sense of inevitability about the dissolution; most of the smart money is now on it’.

    People are begining to realise that Scotland is a rich country and that if we want to maintain any sort of social democracy we have to do it without Westminster.

    Unionists are forever telling us that there is a good case for the Union but instead of explaining what it is they continue to try and frighten us with stories of how the sky will fall down come independence. We’ve heard the scare stories before and as every day passes less people believe them.

    I’m in no doubt that when the referendum happens it will be won.

  9. Alan Cowan

    Super-confident Salmond has the air of a man who seems untouchable | Left Foot Forward http://t.co/xCo6F99

  10. Anon E Mouse

    Alex Salmond is simply the best politician on these shores irrespective of the party he leads.

    The sooner we have independence from these money sucking tartan skirted throw backs the better.

    Put the referendum to the English and we’ll let the jocks know how we feel about them and whilst we’re at it they can take Wee Dougie Alexander and Gordon Brown back as well….

  11. Tearlach

    @Leon – bizzare comment. Where did I brag about any dependence on Fossil Fuels? All I can see is that I highlighted the SNP’s focus on a non-nuclear energy future for Scotland. Now I’m personally quite comfortable about Nuclear power – living as I do in the Far North of Scotland an area that has been dependant on Nuclear power for fifty years – but I’m also more than comfortable with the SNP’s commitemnt for a 100% of Scotlands Energy demand to be met by renewable power by 2020. That of course needs a chunk of fossil fueled thermal to meet the rest of the generation capacity, but that will be fully Carbon Captured. Why waste money on buying French Nuclear plant when that same cash can be invested in creating a new energy industry – Marine Renewables – where Scotland can lead the world? See – http://www.scottishrenewables.com/news/new-target-puts-scotland-forefront-europes-energy-/

  12. Look Left – World unites to remember the day time stood still | Left Foot Forward

    […] Salmond, meanwhile was busy presenting to MSPs his Programme for Government with a commitment to establishing single, Scottish-wide police and fire services and a prediction that the Scottish public would form part of the “independence generation.” […]

  13. Leon Wolfeson

    @7 –

    -not allowing any new nuclear plants

    This, realistically, means heavily using fossil fuels or importing power. As I said, bragging about fossil fuel dependency. “100% renewable” power means a minority and importing the rest, ignoring base load power demands.

    And jacking energy bills up well beyond the reach of the poor, who you are showing clear and outright contempt for as a direct result.

    “Marine Renewables”, at least seven times as expensive as a nuclear power plant, woo! (And with running costs which may be as much as thirty times as great, given the unrealistic figures I’ve seen for maintenance)

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