The Week Outside Westminster – Salmond’s “fantasy” role in Thatcher’s downfall

Left Foot Forward’s Ed Jacobs rounds up the week’s news from Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland.


To receive the Week Outside Westminster in your inbox, sign up to the email service


As the much anticipated Iron Lady was finally aired in cinemas across the country, first minister Alex Salmond used an interview with the Scotsman to outline the part he felt he played in Thatcher’s eventually downfall.

Speaking of the time he broke conventions and intervened in 1988 on Nigel Lawson’s budget he concluded:

“Some would say it took me from obscurity to prominence, but I intervened on Nigel Lawson during the budget to protest at the poll tax. I said this is an outrageous tax on the poor, while giving tax cuts to the rich at the same time.

“The whole of the Tory benches roared at me and the Commons authorities switched off my microphone.

“I had thousands of letters about this in Banff and Buchan, a lot of which were supportive. This was people saying the poll tax is unacceptable and we’re not having it.  We later saw the downfall of Thatcherism.

“The budget speech helped to kick-start the idea that the Thatcher government was not impregnable.”

However Labour MP for Aberdeen North, Frank Doran, who was in the Commons that day, dubbed Salmond’s interpretation of the event and its significance as “fantasy”.

Meanwhile, as Salmond called on world leaders to make 2012 a year of “climate justice”, he faced criticisms at home as it emerged his government had quietly dumped efforts to stabilise the number of car journeys on Scottish roads whilst admitting just 14% of the government car fleet were fuel efficient.

Calling for greater action to tackle the scourge of climate change, Labour’s shadow environment minister, Claire Baker, responded:

“We have set really tough climate change laws in Scotland, but we need a credible plan to meet the targets. Transport and housing are predicted to be the biggest polluters in coming years so we have to make changes.

“We need a serious, credible, and urgent plan to implement our climate change laws in a way that is fair and economically sustainable.”


Plaid Cymru formally opened nominations for candidates to lead the party, with results due in March.

As the party’s chief executive, Rhuanedd Richards, spoke of 2012 being a “very important year” for the party, the BBC’s Wales political editor, Betsan Powys, said of the contest ahead:

“Having lost ground in last May’s election and with their leader stepping down, Plaid Cymru have spent the last few months reviewing what should be done differently.

“Offering their solutions, four assembly members who want to lead the party: the early though not outright favourite, former agriculture minister Elin Jones; the favourite of the left, Leanne Wood; the former presiding officer Lord Dafydd Elis Thomas; and former MP and party adviser Simon Thomas.

“They’ll need to spell out their positions on issues like future coalitions and independence, as well as the current economic challenges facing Wales.

“There’s an alternative element to the vote with second preferences involved – it means that prediction is a fool’s game, as any Miliband brother will tell you.”

As voters prepare to elect the first police commissioners in November, meanwhile, one former Labour Home Office minister outlined his intention to stand.

Explaining his decision to contest the post of commissioner in South Wales, the Cardiff South and Penarth MP, Alun Michael, declared:

“Few aspects of the public service are more important than the police, for we invest them with significant powers but we expect them to risk their lives to protect individuals and communities.

“Governance of the police is a key issue in a democracy, and whether we think that the creation of police commissioners is a good idea or an expensive diversion at a time of massive cuts, the legislation is in place, so it’s going to happen and we must make it work.”

Northern Ireland

Announcing plans for an 18-month rotation of who fills the party’s ministerial post in the Stormont Executive, SDLP leader Alisdair McDonell made clear he was not contemplating a move into opposition.

He said:

“Removing our team from the Executive would in effect remove us from any influence we have there. If you have a house, even if it is a bad house, you don’t give it up and go and pitch a tent in the street, in the snow – that’s the point.”

However, responding to the announcement in the Belfast Telegraph, Henry McDonald wrote:

“When it comes to Titanic metaphors, the SDLP is the party that just keeps giving.

“Last year during the leadership battle to succeed Margaret Ritchie, this writer suggested that the SDLP was in danger of sinking into oblivion and that unless a new radical course was plotted at the helm of the party, it was as doomed as the ill-fated ship, whose 100-year commemoration occurs in 2012.

“Now we have that ‘radical’ idea from the recently elected leader, the South Belfast MP Alasdair McDonnell. He is going to have rotating ministers who will only stay in a portfolio for one year at a time. Radical? It sounds more like a case of rearranging the deck chairs even after the ship has struck the iceberg.”

As political leaders, meanwhile, used their New Year messages to call for reconciliation, Alliance leader and justice minister, David Ford, summed the mood up, arguing:

“2012 must see the delivery of a strong Cohesion, Sharing and Integration strategy and Alliance will not support anything but a robust community relations strategy.

“The New Year is a time for making resolutions. All politicians here must make one solid resolution for 2012 – that they are committed to ending division in our society, and this must be done through the delivery of the strongest possible CSI strategy. We have heard much talk about a shared future. Now is the time for action.

“A united community is essential for stability and to boost our economy. It is absolutely clear that divisions in our society act as a deterrent to potential investors. What sort of message does it send out to global business leaders that we live in a society that is beset with segregation?”

See also:

Sign up to receive our weekly summary of the news from Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, The Week Outside Westminster

Tories and UUP split over merger dealEd Jacobs, January 5th 2011

Opposition parties attack Salmond’s commitment to green agendaEd Jacobs, January 4th 2011

How does Northern Ireland achieve reconciliation in 2012?Ed Jacobs, January 3rd 2011

Preview 2012 – Northern IrelandEd Jacobs, December 30th 2011

Preview 2012 – WalesEd Jacobs, December 29th 2011

Preview 2012 – ScotlandEd Jacobs, December 28th 2011

As you’re here, we have something to ask you. What we do here to deliver real news is more important than ever. But there’s a problem: we need readers like you to chip in to help us survive. We deliver progressive, independent media, that challenges the right’s hateful rhetoric. Together we can find the stories that get lost.

We’re not bankrolled by billionaire donors, but rely on readers chipping in whatever they can afford to protect our independence. What we do isn’t free, and we run on a shoestring. Can you help by chipping in as little as £1 a week to help us survive? Whatever you can donate, we’re so grateful - and we will ensure your money goes as far as possible to deliver hard-hitting news.

15 Responses to “The Week Outside Westminster – Salmond’s “fantasy” role in Thatcher’s downfall”

  1. Dirk Nols

    Didn't Alex Salmond end WW2 and communism too?? RT @leftfootfwd: Salmond’s “fantasy” role in Thatcher’s downfall #hero

  2. Stephen McCabe

    The Week Outside Westminster – Salmond’s “fantasy” role in Thatcher’s downfall: by @EdJacobs1985

  3. Patron Press - #P2

    #UK : The Week Outside Westminster – Salmond’s “fantasy” role in Thatcher’s downfall

  4. Ed Jacobs

    RT @leftfootfwd: The Week Outside Westminster – Salmond’s “fantasy” role in Thatcher’s downfall

  5. TheCreativeCrip

    The Week Outside Westminster – Salmond’s “fantasy” role in Thatcher’s downfall: by @EdJacobs1985

  6. I'mJoy99

    #UK : The Week Outside Westminster – Salmond’s “fantasy” role in Thatcher’s downfall

  7. Anonymous

    As anyone with half a brain quickly realised this “story” is a complete fabrication from The Scotsman. Here’s the funny part: the more pro-unionist propaganda The Scotsman pumps out the more desperate and clueless they look, the lower their circulation gets, and the higher Salmond’s popularity gets! It must be very frustrating for them to see the Scottish public no longer falls for their transparent smear stories. It’s been a real eye-opener to see just how dumb these so -called “savvy” newspaper people actually are. I hope they keep it up all the way to the referendum. By that time they will have elevated Salmond to Sainthood!

  8. leftlinks

    Left Foot Forward – The Week Outside Westminster – Salmond’s “fantasy” role in Thatcher’s…

  9. Political Planet

    The Week Outside Westminster – Salmond’s “fantasy” role in Thatcher’s downfall: Left Foot Forward’s Ed Jacobs ro…

  10. Mark MacLachlan

    Odd is it not, that this is the same blog which nominated Salmond as the Most Influential Left Wing Thinker of The Year in September? Yet fast forward a mere four months and we see them regurgitating Labour press releases via the reviled Scotsman newspaper’s. Chaps and chapesses grow a pair and call a hatchet job, a hatchet job when you see one.

    To play the same game, I’m intrigued to see you’ve been anticipating the release of The Iron Lady, that’s like looking forward to or even welcoming its release, isn’t it?

  11. Anonymous

    The ‘Dear Leader’:

  12. John Ruddy

    How can it be a fantasy, when Salmond told the Scotsman the story himself?

  13. Anonymous

    John – Salmond said he gave an anti-poll tax speech which “helped to kick-start the idea that the Thatcher government was not impregnable.” Nowhere did he claim he “played a key part in Thatcher’s downfall”. His meaning is very clear. He states that after his speech the rage expressed by thousands of his constituents “later saw the downfall of Thatcher.” If you can explain to me how a clear statement that public rage later led to Thatcher’s downfall can become a claim by Salmond of PERSONAL responsibility for Thatcher’s downfall then you might have a case. If you can’t then you are just another one of the gullible sheep who would rather believe the manipulative bull fed to you by the likes of the Scotsman than read the hard evidence in front of your face.

  14. James Sloan

    Didn't Alex Salmond end WW2 and communism too?? RT @leftfootfwd: Salmond’s “fantasy” role in Thatcher’s downfall #hero

  15. mơ mình chết đánh con gì

    … [Trackback]

    […] Info to that Topic: […]

Leave a Reply

You must be logged in to post a comment.