Nomination for most influential left-wing thinker of the year: Alex Salmond

If the theory goes that British Politics is becoming increasingly presidential in style, with the focus less on the parties and ever more on individual leaders themselves then Alex Salmond has taken the theory and turned it into a successful art form.

If British Politics is becoming increasingly presidential in style, with the focus less on the parties and ever more on individual leaders themselves, then Alex Salmond has taken the theory and turned it into a successful art form. He is not content at just being a leader but has managed to embody Scotland’s anger and opposition to the Conservative-led government in Westminster.

When even Peter Oborne, writing in the Telegraph shortly after the Scottish elections in May, dubs the first minister of Scotland a “brilliant politician”, you have to sit up and conclude he has a strong case to be considered as the centre-left politician of the year.

Undoubtedly the sheer scale of his victory and the manner in which it happened in May, breaking through a system designed to prevent the nationalists dominating the Scottish Parliament, while at the same time seeing off all three of Holyrood’s main opposition leaders will be seen a high watermark for Salmond. 

But it’s what he’s been able to achieve which has been so impressive as opponents struggle to figure out how to respond in his wake. Cameron, Clegg, Osborne et al in London have sought to restrict spending and oppose the idea that government spending can play a major role in bringing an economy out of recession.

However, the UK government’s decision just days after SNP victory to provide the Scottish Government with  immediate authority to borrow at least £300m annually from the Treasury to help boost Scotland’s economic recovery was not only a recognition in Westminster of the realities of the SNP mandate – it was also a boost for Salmond’s continued case that Government spending has a major contribution to  dragging the country out of its economic malaise.

And then there is domestic policy, with Salmond so often at ease and fending off criticisms as being too costly of polices such as continued free tuition  for Scottish students  and the abolishment of all perception charges, which the SNP leader has used as an attempt to fight off the nasty Conservatives south of the border.

But most of all, through Alex Salmond’s achievements, what was once a pipe dream for many, namely independence for Scotland, is now closer to being achieved than ever. It is a threat which opponents seem slow to respond to as they turn in on themselves to consider what went wrong for them in May.

When Alex Salmond resigned the party leadership in 2000 after his first 10 years in charge, his suggestion that his party could form a government in Scotland seemed someway off, yet he was right to predict it. With a lack of any strong opposition, few can be 100% confident that Scotland’s most dominate politician with the communication skills to suit will not pull of independence.

The term “big beast” get’s branded about in politics perhaps too often, but for Alex Salmond it is perhaps the best description for him. He now dominates Scottish Politics in a way that no one has perhaps since Donald Dewer, and what’s more, when we consider the future of the UK it’s a dominance that is set to continue.

Scotland’s first minister continues his master class in how to stoke up grievances within people over Westminster and the direction the coalition is taking the country and use that to his advantage.

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54 Responses to “Nomination for most influential left-wing thinker of the year: Alex Salmond”

  1. Rev. Stuart Campbell

    @Fat Bloke on Tour

    “Tartan Tory”? Really? It’s almost cute that even in the face of things like this nomination, a tiny rump of Labour supporters are still trying to smear the SNP with this epithet, one which even rabid arch-Labourites like Kevin McKenna in the Observer have conceded is no longer remotely tenable. The reality, hard as it is for a last few Labour hold-outs to accept, is here:

    “4 years in power, for what?
    Nothing to show for it apart from the photo ops.”

    Nothing apart from record low levels of crime, the highest level of new social housing in the history of the Scottish Parliament (literally *hundreds* of times higher than the Lab-Lib administration), and a whole clutch of popular policies paid for *within budget*, such a free prescription charges, hospital parking and bridge tolls and the abolishment of the graduate endowment. What was Labour’s big contribution? Forcing through the Edinburgh trams. Nice work.

    Still, I’m sure you’re right and the huge surge in popularity of the SNP after four years in power, with areas that have been dyed-in-the-wool Labour for generations switching to the Nats, was merely the result of… what, exactly? Rohypnol in the water supply?

  2. Fat Bloke on Tour

    Rev @ 9.57

    Unfortunately it is you who are deluded regarding the power of AS and his political abilities.

    The rump SNP vote is small town Tories who could not stomach Maggie.

    There have always been the tartan mentalists who hate England more than they love Scotland but engine for progress has been the slow decline of the Tories and the steady transfer of votes to the Tartan Tories.

    Love the commentsabout new social housing, all good stuff

  3. Fat Bloke on Tour

    Rev @ 9.57 -Take 2 – Bliddy I-Pad

    Love the comments about social housing, just a pity you do not look at the trends, the context and the the GB inspired re-capitalisation of the GHA.

    And that reminds me, no matter the vote for AS in 2011 he still is not as popular as GB in 2010 and TB in 2007.
    Oh how that must hurt, knowing that you are are second rate in that company.

    As for the rest just a laundry list of right wing populist tax cuts playing to the gallery rather than sorting out the big issues –

    Parking charges – Let’s do it, easy.
    Improving health outcomes – bit difficult, lots of talk, get cuddly NS on the telly, platitudes will do for now.

    AS is a small fish looking for a puddle.
    In time the usual SNP strategy will come to the fore.
    Doing deals with Westminster Tories to try and get closer to that puddle.

    Just to remind you, AS and the SNP are not progressive, the are not left wing and they are not socialist / social democratic. They are just a bunch of chancers riding a personality cult trying to turn proximity to England into an economic policy.

    The corporation tax cut proposals tell all.
    Not trying to generate economic activity, just trying to move it north of Hadrians Wall.
    So much for the big picture, so much for the global outlook all the SNP have to offer is stealing the food out the mouths of poor English children.

    Celtic Tiger my erse, more a case of a tax avoidance scam for corporate America.
    Glasgow has more in common with Liverpool, Manchester, Leeds and Birmingham than Edinburgh or Perth.

    The current popularity of the SNP is a cry for help.
    If Dave the Rave did not exist the SNP would have to invent him.
    He is an English bogey man to scare the plebs with and how AS et al will keep waving that flag.

    There are huge issues in play at the moment as the western world tries to get over the Global Credit Crunch, hiding behind the couch and holding onto a SNP comfort blanket is not the way to go.

    GB / AD did good work to help get the UK back onto an even keel.
    AS and his “Arc of Prosperity” rhetoric was strangely missing from the solution.

    I wonder why?
    He was and is a wee boy in a man’s world.
    Out of time and out of his depth.

  4. Rev. Stuart Campbell

    That’s a whole lot of yawn up there. One point worth refuting in amongst the outpouring of bitterness, bile and Alan-Parker-Urban-Warrior cobblers:

    “And that reminds me, no matter the vote for AS in 2011 he still is not as popular as GB in 2010 and TB in 2007.”

    The SNP won 45% of the vote in the 2011 Holyrood election (in a four-party system), a share almost 50% higher than their 2007 victory.

    The peak of Tony Blair’s UK election popularity was 43% (in a three-party system) in 1997. By 2001 he was down to 41%, in 2005 down to 35%. In 2010 Gordon Brown’s leadership gathered just 29% of the vote.

    I can only assume that in your desperation you’re counting Westminster election results in Scotland (which is weird, because you cite 2007 rather than 2005), in which case I feel nothing but pity for you in your shame. But *even then* you’re still wrong, because Labour’s vote share in Scotland in 2010 was 42% – less than the SNP got in 2011 – in 2005 it was just 39%, and even in 2001 it was lower than the SNP’s 2011 total, at 44%.

    In absolutely NONE of the six elections of the 21st century – Westminster or Holyrood – have Labour secured a vote share in Scotland as big as the SNP did this year. Go away and learn basic arithmetic before you go blethering nonsense about big-boy subjects like economics, eh?

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