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. Ed Jacobs

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

  2. Aileen Quigley

    Nomination for most influential left-wing thinker of the year: @AlexSalmond: by @EdJacobs1985 #thelefties

  3. Richard Hartley

    Nomination for most influential left-wing thinker of the year: @AlexSalmond: by @EdJacobs1985 #thelefties

  4. marxistmum

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

  5. Political Planet

    Nomination for most influential left-wing thinker of the year: Alex Salmond: If the theory goes that British Pol…

  6. DrKMJ

    Nomination for most influential left-wing thinker of the year: @AlexSalmond: by @EdJacobs1985 #thelefties

  7. Karen

    Nomination for most influential left-wing thinker of the year: @AlexSalmond: by @EdJacobs1985 #thelefties

  8. Dr John S. Partington

    The greatest leftwing of 2011 is the most tragic – the late Jack Layton of the Canadian New Democratic Party. Since becoming leader of the party in 2003, he has increased its support in parliament every election (and there have been several for Canada’s minority-stuck assembly) and, earlier this year, he guided the NDP to official opposition for the first time in history – from the 4th party of Canadian politics – and doubled the seat count. He was bridged the linguistic-cultural gap, seeing the NDP sweep to success across large swathes of Quebec. Then, last month, he lost his battle with cancer. His leadership was important for the NDP’s success, and it will be a nervy time ahead to see who takes the reigns in the debates at the despatch box with the Conservative Prime Minister, Stephen Harper. Jack Layton was a great leader – but presenting himself as an ‘everman’. No presidential style for him – he appealed to the labour union membership and white collar workers – and spoke out against corporate greed and government support of finance capital. An appropriate end to his tenure would be the accolade, leftwinger of the year (and perhaps a longer view might credit him, silently successful, over a longer period of time.)

  9. Ron Wilson

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

  10. Tris

    Excellent post. Of course, I would say that being an SNP supporter, but it’s more than that.

    Despite all the Tartan Tory claims, the SNP is essentially a left of centre party, on occasions left of the UK Labour party. What Alex and his party have done is show that what the Tories say cannot be done, IS being done.

    Invest in the country, create jobs (most of the jobs created in the UK in the last few months were in Scotland), put more money in the pockets of the poor who spend rather than save it, because they HAVE to. The savings made on prescriptions will be spent in the butcher, baker, and supermarket, because the prescription money was eating into the food budget.

    I really hope that in the next 5 years we can all pull together to make Scotland a better place to live, and I believe that with Alex leading the way and some co-operation with and from other parties, maybe we can. Life in England is getting worse and worse under this vile coalition.

  11. Mark MacLachlan

    Looking forward to opinions from @johnmcternanand @Labourhame @TomHarrisMP et al on this #SP4 #SNP #Salmond

  12. Caadfael

    Not just left-wing, the most influential FORWARD thinker in the whole of the so-called united (untied?)kingdom.
    Plain fact is that there are MANY people in England wishing he was in charge down there too.
    THAT speaks volumes, as does this from Oz ..

    From Bob Katter

    “I am the Labor Party’s Worst Nightmare. I am a White, Conservative, Tax-Paying, God fearing Australian. I am a hard working Australian and I work long hours to earn a living.

    I believe in God and the freedom of religion, but I don’t push it on others. I drive Australian-made cars, and I believe in Australian products and buy them whenever I can.

    I believe the money I make belongs to me and not some bloody governmental functionary, Labor/Greens or Liberal, that wants to share it with others who don’t work!

    I’m in touch with my feelings and I like it that way!

    I think owning a home doesn’t make you a capitalist; it makes you a smart Australian. I think being a minority does not make you noble or victimized, and does not entitle you to anything. Get over it!

    I believe that if you are selling me a Big Mac or any other item, you should do it in English. I believe there should be no other language option.

    I believe everyone has a right to pray to his or her God when and where they want to.

    My heroes are, fellow Australians like Don Bradman, Steve Waugh, Alan Langer, Slim Dusty, Fred Hollows and the Aussie scientists who invented the bionic ear – missed a few I know.

    I don’t hate the rich, but hate the way they always find ways to pay less taxes. I don’t pity the poor, I hate the way they are always crying that they are hard done by!!

    I know wrestling is fake and I don’t waste my time watching or arguing about it.

    I believe if you don’t like the way things are here, go back to where you came from and change your own country!

    This is AUSTRALIA….We like it the way it is and more so the way it was…so stop trying to change it to look like some other socialist country! If you were born or legally migrated here and don’t like it… you are free to move to any Socialist country that will have you. (And take Julie Gillard and her group with you.) I believe it is time to really clean house, starting with the Lodge, the seat of our biggest problems.

    I want to know exactly, where the “Do Gooder’s” get their money from, and why are they always part of the problem and not the solution?

    Can I get an AMEN on that one?

    I also think the cops have the right to pull you over if you’re breaking the law, regardless of what race, color or creed you are, but not just because you happen to be an illegal alien and scream that they are “RACISTS PIGS”. And, no, I don’t mind having my face shown on my driver’s license. I think it’s good….

    I dislike those people standing in the intersections trying to sell me stuff or trying to guilt me into making ‘donations’ to their cause….Get a job and do your part to support yourself and your family!

    I believe that it doesn’t take all the intellectuals to raise a child, it takes two parents….

    I believe ‘illegal’ is illegal no matter what the lawyers think!

    I believe the Australian flag should be the only ones allowed to be flown in Australia !

    If this makes me a BAD Australian, then yes, I’m a BAD Australian. If you are a BAD Australian too, please forward this to everyone you know….

    We want our country back!

    My Country…..

    I hope this offends all illegal aliens.

    My great, great, great grandfather watched as his friends died in the Boer War. My grandfather watched and bled as his friends died in World Wars 1&2. My grandfather watched as his friends & brothers died in the Depression of 32. My father watched as his friends died in Korea. I watched as my friends died in Vietnam, East Timor & Desert Storm. Our son’s and daughters watched & bled as their friends died in Afghanistan and Iraq .

    None of them died for the Afghanistan and Iraq Flag. Every Australian died for the Australian flag.

    At a Victorian high school foreign students raised a Middle East flag on a school flag pole. Australian students took it down. Guess who was expelled…the students who took it down.

    West Australian high school students were sent home, because they wore T-shirts with the Australian flag printed on them.

    Enough is enough.

    This message needs to be viewed by every Australian; and every Australian needs to stand up for Australia. We’ve bent over to appease the Aussie-haters long enough. I’m taking a stand.

    I’m standing up because of the hundreds of thousands who died fighting in wars for this country, and for the Australian flag.

    And shame on anyone who tries to make this a racist message.

    AUSTRALIANS, stop giving away Your RIGHTS !


    This statement DOES NOT mean I’m against immigration !

    YOU ARE WELCOME HERE, IN MY COUNTRY, welcome to come legally:

    1. Get a sponsor !

    2. Learn the LANGUAGE, as immigrants have in the past!

    3. Live by OUR rules ! Dress as we Australians Do

    4. Get a job !

    5. Pay YOUR Taxes !

    6. No Social Security until you have earned it and Paid for it !

    7. NOW find a place to lay your head !

    If you don’t want to forward this for fear of offending someone, then YOU’RE PART OF THE PROBLEM !

    We’ve gone so far the other way…bent over backwards not to offend anyone.

    Only AUSTRALIANS seem to care when Australian Citizens are being offended !


    If you do not Pass this on, may your fingers cramp !

    Made in AUSTRALIA & DAMN PROUD OF IT!!!!!”


  13. David Wilson

    Looking forward to opinions from @johnmcternanand @Labourhame @TomHarrisMP et al on this #SP4 #SNP #Salmond

  14. PHIL

    Pity the Labour Party Nationaly does not seem to be learn anything from
    Alex Salmond

  15. Mark MacLachlan

    Strangely disappointed that Tom Harris MP won’t comment on this. You’d think his recent rallying call for Labour in Holyrood would have given him a unique viewpoint…

  16. Hens4Freedom

    Nomination for most influential left-wing thinker of the year: @AlexSalmond: by @EdJacobs1985 #thelefties

  17. Colin

    This is amazing and spot on:

  18. pictishbeastie

    PHIL,I assume you don’t really understand the fact that Scotland,England and Wales are nations and the United Kingdom is a state and multi national kingdom,not a nation? SAOR ALBA!

  19. 45apl

    Nomination for most influential left-wing thinker of the year: @AlexSalmond: by @EdJacobs1985 #thelefties

  20. Steve

    I am more marxist than anything else and the only politician in the UK who is left-wing at all is Salmond.

    Imagine, a political leader of a political party who actually puts the well being of people first and foremost onto the political agenda of a country.

    The end of the union will at last probide a country called Scotland with a social conscience and subsequently I believe England will see it works and follow suit.

  21. Dave Citizen

    I think Salmond’s most impressive achievement has been his refusal to give up on a predominantly hopeful message despite the almost universal calls to do the exact opposite all around.

    South of the border we just keep getting told to give up: on dreams of better cheaper houses, a fairer society, or rewarding hard work instead of just having the right connections. Never mind English leaders learning from Salmond, we, England’s people, need to learn from Scotland’s people.

  22. Brian Hill

    Since its inception the SNP philosophy has been: Put Scotland First.

    Salmond and his team are driven by that philosophy. Cf that with Labours announcements since May. All the ‘lessons learned’ were geared to helping the Labour Party, not for the Labour Party to help Scotland.

    That, plus the greatest politician Scotland has produced in modern times and we are approaching the tape in the race for Independence.

  23. traquir

    Nomination for most influential left-wing thinker of the year: Alex Salmond.
    Faux socialist Scot Labour greetin #sp4

  24. Simon NoInquisitors

    Nomination for most influential left-wing thinker of the year: Alex Salmond.
    Faux socialist Scot Labour greetin #sp4

  25. David Torrance

    Is Alex Salmond the UK's leading left-winger? Interesting post from Left Foot Forward:

  26. David Wilson

    Nomination for most influential left-wing thinker of the year: Alex Salmond.
    Faux socialist Scot Labour greetin #sp4

  27. Free Money

    Nomination for most influential left-wing thinker of the year: Alex Salmond: And then there is domestic policy, …

  28. Eddie Truman

    It’s really very simple. Classic social democracy is a vote winner with the working class, no matter their nationality.

  29. DC

    Is Alex Salmond the UK's leading left-winger? Interesting post from Left Foot Forward:

  30. D M Gordon

    Nomination for most influential left-wing thinker of the year: Alex Salmond: He is not conte… #News #Scotland #UK

  31. Peter Lilley

    Nomination for most influential left-wing thinker of the year: Alex …: He is not content at just being a leade…

  32. Annony Mooos

    Nomination for most influential left-wing thinker of the year: Alex Salmond.
    Faux socialist Scot Labour greetin #sp4

  33. Sandy Mathers

    "@traquir: Nomination for most influential left-wing thinker of the year: Alex Salmond. Faux socialist Labour greetin "

  34. matthew fox

    I take Alex Salmond links to James Murdoch make him left-wing?

  35. Keith Ruffles

    The only problem is that Salmond’s left-wing credentials will always be undermined by his adherence to the politics of ethno-cultural nationalism.

    If it could be proved conclusively that the economic and cultural benefits of continued Scottish membership of the United Kingdom decisively outweigh any gains made from independence Salmond and the rest of the party would still pursue the latter policy because their fundamental beliefs are ultimately based on that of identity, not the sharing of the means of production.

  36. robert the crip

    If your going to argue about Links to the Murdock’s then sadly no party is innocent.

    I’d go for the leader of the SNP for showing a left wing party can win without it going to the right.

  37. Rod MacLeod

    I am a scot and truly proud of Alex Salmond and his entire party of government.
    He and they have done exactly what they said they would ,without corruption ,without toadyism and with a view to the entire nation of Scotland.
    That is what confuses his opponents ,he acts without favour.

    some say he is the greatest Scottish politician of modern times.
    I would suggest unless you go back to our leaders in the 12th and 13th century he is the greatest Scottish Politician ever.
    someone mentioned Donald dewar earlier ,over rated ,and no more a true socialist than Maggie or Tony.
    when history finally writes the history of Scotland post independence people like Dewar will be mnetioned but not as many would suppose.

  38. Steve

    The only politician in the public eye who is not afraid to put people policies first – in fact he’s proud of it.

    Miliband, Cameron, Clegg and the rest of the Brit nat Westminster hegemony are a disgrace. Labour worst of all because the Tories never pretended to be anything other than the right-wing voice of the days of empire and big business that they are. Labour’s goal of out-Torying the Tories is shamefully who they have become – New Old New Blue Labour that sits well right of Thatcher. Socialism in England/Westminster is dead but there is still the possibility of creating a left-of-centre government in Scotland.

    England seeing a government for the people working in Scotland might just well change and elect a government with some principle.

  39. Steve


    Keith Ruffles

    I disagree with your notion of identity being in contradiction with Marxism. Karl Marx was a genius and all for a sense of community being used to protect that community against the invasion of predatory market forces.

    There is nothing at all that puts Scottish nationalism into contradiction with socialism in its various forms. In fact, the Brit nat view of these islands directly contradicts the necessary/advised protection of the Scottish community.

    Putting social democracy onto the streets of Scotland is only possible with the SNP – a party open to all.

    There is absolutely no rule that says the people to the north called the Scots must adhere to a Brit nat state called the UK. It is perfectly reasonable for the Scots to form a new state and live in a left-of-centre political environment.

    A country however is not a region and the cultural, historical and institutional ties that form a countrt are still alive and kicking in Scotland.

    Similar ties are present in England – it would be presumably unacceptale to say the UK should form a joint government with say Germany just because it had a left-of-centre philosophy.

    The Brittish nationalists draw the line a bit differently from the Scottish nationalists.

    The Brit nats see the dreamy days of empire and advantages to the UK as being the place to draw the identity line; the Scot nats see the cultural ties and advantages to the scots of scottish independence as the identity line.

    “A country that runs its own affairs does better for its people.”, Salmond.

  40. Steve

    I added ‘Marxism’ actually but in response to the larger view of the world being reduced to ‘ethno-cultural’ nationalism.

  41. Joan McAlpine

    Nomination for most influential left-wing thinker of the year: @AlexSalmond: by @EdJacobs1985 #thelefties

  42. J. R. Tomlin

    Nomination for most influential left-wing thinker of the year: @AlexSalmond: by @EdJacobs1985 #thelefties

  43. Alasdair Reid

    Nomination for most influential left-wing thinker of the year: @AlexSalmond: by @EdJacobs1985 #thelefties

  44. JR Tomlin

    @Keith Ruffles An SNP MSPs taking oaths in Italian and Urdu makes your “ethno-cultural nationalism” argument look just a tad stupid. You will have to do a better job than unsubstantiated name-slinging to defend an “British nationalism good; Scottish nationalism evil” attitude.

  45. Gillon Johnstone

    Nomination for most influential left-wing thinker of the year: @AlexSalmond: by @EdJacobs1985 #thelefties

  46. Mick

    Nomination for most influential left-wing thinker of the year: @AlexSalmond: by @EdJacobs1985 #thelefties

  47. Fat Bloke on Tour


    I fear you are either having a laugh or you need to do some homework on the subject matter.

    AS is not left wing, he is not progressive and he certainly isn’t some form of social democratic icon. He is a very small fish on the look out for a puddle, a political souffle who has managed against all the odds to rise again. He is a right wing populist who plays to the gallery and thinks that political alliteration is all it takes to lead a country.

    He leads a party that is small minded, small town and which has small horizons.

    He is a fraud of the highest order, his economics would make the Irish blush and he gets away with it because he is Whitehall’s useful idiot and he is not part of the Scottish Labour party. He is doing Dave the Rave’s dirty work, Westminster Tory and Tartan Tory strategy are one and the same –

    Independent Scotland

    AS gets his puddle.
    Dave gets rid of 40 Labour MPs.

    As for his policy direction – local bribes, middle class welfare and headline chasing.

    His whole economic policy is based on a race to the bottom, lowering Corporation tax not to stimulate investment but to Hoover up loose money from England. Scotland will end up like the RoI, a tax avoidance scam for corporate America. How left wing or progressive is that? It will be the “Laugh a Minute” curve morning noon and night as he undermines the tax base of England.

    With the SNP in local ascendancy it means that Scotland has been bought and sold with a Busman’s gold, sorry now Sir Busman’s gold. He is a joke but unfortunately he is joke at Scotland’s expense.

    4 years in power, for what?
    Nothing to show for it apart from the photo ops.
    He does not lead a political party, he leads a personality cult.

    So if he is the answer to your question I would suggest you change the question.

  48. Keith Ruffles

    I see you misunderstand my point, intentionally or otherwise. True socialism does not impose artificial borders between people on the basis of shared cultural heritage or a perception of difference between different groups of people based on little more than place of birth. A worker in Glasgow has far more in common with a fellow blue-collar worker in Leeds or London than they do with a banker who lives up the street, and yet nationalism would have it otherwise.

    Let me put it another way. Why does Salmond restrict his socialist dream to just Scotland? Why not Scotland and, say, the left-leaning north of England? Or the whole of the United Kingdom for that matter?

    Nationalism – no matter how it’s peddled – is the belief that different groups of people are somehow unable to share their sovereignty on the basis of identity. It’s essentially 19th century politics dressed up as progressive; no wonder its proponents are so touchy when it’s questioned.

    @JR Tomlin
    I’ve not defended British nationalism once. As I’ve already been at pains to point out, nationalism is a completely discredited political ideology and is completely incompatible with true socialism. Talk about name-slinging and looking stupid…

  49. Luke Nicholas

    It doesn’t really matter whether Salmond’s progressive politics are “true socialism”. What should matter to democratic socialists in the British Isles and also in Europe is to try things that work. In Scotland the two hegemonic parties in the electoral system are the SNP or Labour. Both of them have had spells in power in recent years. Now even using dialectics, i’ll put my money on the SNP being more consistently progressive then Labour when in power, every time. In the current conditions, social democracy is the most acceptable form of socialism to the Scottish electorate. It might be written off as old-fashioned public sector corporatism (and John McTernan does that in his recent blog), but it is the winning formula and allowed the SNP to beat Labour in the Glasgow electoral region this year for the first time ever. That’s not to say that social democracy and indeed the SNP don’t have limitations. And I suspect after independence we would see some really interesting debates play out in Scotland as the range of political forces re-adjusts. But socialists in the 21st century must support the right of nations to self-determination and independence, particularly if we are opposed to the effects of globalisation. Gerry Hassan’s latest blog post arguing for a progressive SNP vision of the future of Scottish politics is very persuasive on this front. An independent Scotland has the potential to develop corporatist trade union relations, a social economy and extensive rights for its citizens. The key question for democratic socialists should therefore be, has SNP-governed Scotland in the pre-independence stage moved closer to neoliberalism or further away from neoliberalism? The answer, that Left Foot Forward’s original post recognises, is that under Salmond, despite the references of some commentators here to “tax havens” and the Celtic Tiger, Scotland has actually moved towards a social model that Ed Miliband’s Labour shies away from advocating for England. Let’s not forget that Salmond and the SNP back full pension rights for workers and are implementing a public sector living wage in practice, unlike Ed “the strikes are wrong” Miliband.

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