Alex salmond

Alex Salmond teases a reconciliation with Sturgeon

Even in her absence, Nicola Sturgeon dominated Iain Dale’s discussion with Alex Salmond and David Davis at the Edinburgh festival. Dale invited them both to comment on George Galloway’s suggestion that Sturgeon is ‘Mrs Thatcher in a kilt.’ Salmond flatly rejected this caricature. (Evidently he knows that criticising her in public will do him no favours.) Davis also dismissed the comparison. ‘Mrs Thatcher’s favourite pastime was arguing with people. Nicola wasn’t like that,’ he said, recalling the meetings he held with her during his term as Brexit secretary. ‘Nicola was very passive, very difficult to engage with. She adopted the image of a stern, domineering woman – which a lot

Sturgeon squirms over Salmond

The economy is tanking, the public services are in peril. So what do you do if you’re Nicola Sturgeon? Promise another independence referendum! That’s right, the queen of the nats is out on tour again, dusting off all the great classics to keep her fanatical fan base happy. The First Minister will today publish the first in a ‘series of papers’ making the case for Scottish independence, amid much excited SNP chatter about a plebiscite in 2023. And why not? After all, the same trick worked for Sturgeon in 2016, 2017, 2018… Fortunately though, some of Scotland’s less pliant media have grown tired of yet more press conferences at which

Seven awful Indyref predictions seven years on

On Saturday it was the seventh anniversary of the Scottish vote on independence – how time flies. That contest saw a decisive ten point majority against separation; not that you’d know it from the way Nicola Sturgeon conducts her affairs. The SNP First Minister succeeded Alex Salmond in the post just weeks after the plebiscite and has spent most of her time in office talking tough and delivering little on making Scexit a reality.   In many ways it’s a good thing the vote did not go the SNP’s way. There’s the whole 300 years of history shtick of course but as the calculations of the 2013 White Paper on independence make

Humza Yousaf has revealed a dark truth about the SNP

American journalist Michael Kinsley once observed that in Washington DC a ‘gaffe’ should be understood as a moment in which a politician or public official inadvertently blurts out a truth it would have been better, and certainly wiser, to leave unsaid. By that standard Humza Yousaf, currently serving as health secretary in the Scottish government, is a mighty friend to journalists. Pondering the meaning and significance of what has become known as the Alex Salmond affair, Yousaf told the comedian Matt Forde that the conflict between Salmond and Nicola Sturgeon was ‘really upsetting because it could have done our cause a hell of a lot of damage – it still

Alex Salmond’s comeback disaster

As the dust settles from Scotland’s elections and the war of words heats up over a future referendum, one thing is perfectly clear: Alex Salmond’s Alba party has been a monumental failure. The former First Minister, whose disastrous party launch six weeks ago set the tone for what followed, failed to be elected as one of the seven North East MSPs, despite much talk of ‘gaming’ the list system. The 17 seats in that region were divided between the SNP (9) Conservatives (5) Labour (2) and Green (1).Salmond himself polled just 2.3 per cent of the vote in what was once his mighty heartland, with Alba failing to win a

Salmond could spark a nationalist war over Europe

There was a Scooby Doo moment in Alex Salmond’s campaign launch on Tuesday. Something that made me think: ‘Ruh-roh’. The new leader of the Alba party was setting out his stall ahead of the 6 May Holyrood election and concentrating mostly on tactics. Voting for the SNP in the constituencies and Alba on the proportional list ballot, he contended, could elect a Scottish parliament with a ‘supermajority’ for independence. Thereafter — in fact, in week one of that new parliament — he would expect the Scottish government to open negotiations with Whitehall for the dismantling of the United Kingdom. He was not averse to another referendum like the one he

Alex Salmond is a gift to the Unionist cause

If Alex Salmond and his new Alba party did not exist, pro-Union parties would find it necessary to invent them. Perhaps, of course, that is what has happened. Be that as it may, Salmond’s emergence from the swampy waters of his own disgrace is the best thing to have happened for Unionism in a long, long time. Salmond may be an innocent man in the eyes of the law, but he is not a good one in the eyes of the public. Remarkably, he is less popular in Scotland than Boris Johnson. That reflects, doubtless, the manner in which Nicola Sturgeon’s friends and agents have turned against him and the

Has Salmond just shattered Sturgeon’s currency delusion?

The war of the Salmondites versus the Sturgeonites is just getting started. Who knows how nasty it will get or what the longer term ramifications will be? Already apparent though is how Salmond’s pantomime villain shimmy back into the political arena is forcing Nicola Sturgeon onto ground she would rather avoid during an election campaign. The usual SNP tactic around elections is to downplay separation talk and reach out to risk averse moderate voters, safe in the knowledge the party’s most zealous supporters will stay in line. But with Salmond on the scene demanding to know how exactly Sturgeon will achieve independence, that is not an option. Sturgeon will have

Where did Alex Salmond’s ‘Alba’ party get its name from?

‘What, old monkey-face!’ said my husband with unnecessary lack of gallantry. He was referring to the 18th Duchess of Alba, who held 40 titles of nobility and died in 2014. She was a bit out of his league, but it is true that her bone structure came to give her face a simian air. As usual my husband had got it all wrong. Alex Salmond did not name his new party after the Spanish dukedom of Alba that gave the world the Dutch-clobbering 3rd Duke in the 16th century. That duke’s followers were called Albistas, which might come in handy as a label for the Salmond group. The new party’s

Can Alex Salmond’s plan to ‘game’ Holyrood’s voting system work?

Alex Salmond’s reemergence on the Scottish political scene as leader of the Alba party had a pantomimic quality – some cheers, some boos, and a lively mix of interest and anxiety about where the plot would now go with the principal boy back centre stage. But working out how the appearance of Salmond’s new party affects what happens is a considerable challenge, thanks to Scotland’s infernally complex voting system. To paraphrase Lord Palmerston’s reference to the Schleswig-Holstein question, it may be that only around three people truly understand the D’Hondt voting system employed in Scottish parliamentary elections, though there are probably more, who like the fabled German professor, have gone

Salmond’s return is a headache for Sturgeon

When he was acquitted on sexual assault charges at the High Court in Edinburgh last March, I predicted: ‘Alex Salmond is back from the dead and he will have his revenge’. The past 12 months has seen a relentless onslaught against Nicola Sturgeon and the SNP establishment and anyone who thought that would culminate in the equivocal findings of two inquiries (one clearing Sturgeon, the other damning her) will have been disabused this afternoon. Salmond has announced his return to politics in time for May’s Holyrood elections, under the banner of an outfit calling itself the Alba Party. The party will stand only on the regional list and is pitching


Nat another one: Salmond’s disastrous party launch

The latest episode in Scotland’s longest-running soap opera was broadcast today as former first minister Alex Salmond took to YouTube to announce the launch of his new pro-independence party Alba. The new party, Salmond announced, would only contest list seats under Scotland’s additional member system, because, as he argued, the SNP is set to win the most constituencies and the more constituency seats you win, the harder it is to win them on the list. This, Salmond claimed, would help create a ‘supermajority’ for independence. Unfortunately that was the only thing that could be said to be ‘super’ about the launch. Connectivity problems plagued the livestream from the start meaning Salmond was intermittently forced to

What we still don’t know about the Salmond affair

The inquiry into the Alex Salmond affair has concluded that Nicola Sturgeon misled parliament and potentially breached the ministerial code. If you could swear you heard the exact opposite yesterday, that’s because you did. On Monday, the Scottish Government’s independent adviser James Hamilton released the findings of his inquiry into whether Sturgeon breached the code. He considered four potential violations: Sturgeon’s unminuted, belatedly reported meetings and phone calls with Salmond; whether she intervened in the sexual harassment investigation against him; her omission of a meeting with a Salmond representative from a statement to parliament; and her government continuing to oppose Salmond in court in spite of the advice of counsel.

Stephen Daisley

What will Alex Salmond do next?

The Scottish Parliament goes into recess on Wednesday ahead of devolved elections on 6 May. That gives Nicola Sturgeon three days to see off her opponents (inside the SNP as much as outside) before the campaign begins proper. Before she gets there, we will have to face the publication of the Holyrood inquiry report. This is the SNP-chaired parliamentary panel tasked with investigating the SNP government’s mishandling of sexual harassment allegations against former SNP first minister Alex Salmond. Sturgeon’s government launched an internal investigation into Salmond, her one-time mentor turned nemesis, that was ruled by the Court of Session to be ‘unlawful’, ‘procedurally unfair’ and ‘tainted by apparent bias’. The

Sturgeon’s future now hangs in the balance

At First Minister’s Questions this afternoon Nicola Sturgeon accused Ruth Davidson of peddling baseless conspiracy theories, dredged up from ‘the bottom of the barrel’. For all that Davidson, like the rest of Sturgeon’s political opponents, might profess that their interest in the Salmond-Sturgeon affair rests on nothing more than ‘just the facts, ma’am’, the First Minister was clear their concern is primarily opportunistic and political. If they wished to pal around with Alex Salmond and his cronies in some kind of ‘old boys club’ that was their prerogative, but the people of Scotland will deliver their verdict in May’s elections. And there is, of course, some truth in that charge. The

The Crown Office, The Spectator and a fight for a free press

The power wielded by Nicola Sturgeon and her Scottish government means it’s hard to hold her to account for basic policy failures — of which there are many. It’s even harder to investigate accusations that her aides conspired to frame and imprison someone who had become a political problem for her. The Alex Salmond affair has shown the many ways the public prosecutors in the Crown Office, led by a member of Sturgeon’s cabinet, have sought to censor and redact his allegations. The House of Commons is immune to the threats and menaces of government lawyers. The notion of parliamentary privilege, a corner-stone of British democracy, means that anything can

David Davis’s bombshell leak spells trouble for Nicola Sturgeon

The first thing to be said about David Davis’s dramatic intervention in the Salmond-Sturgeon affair is that it is a masterful piece of concern-trolling. The second thing to be said is that this does not matter. Davis, speaking armoured by parliamentary privilege, revealed information passed to him by a ‘whistleblower’ that has hitherto been kept secret. On the face of it, there are very good reasons explaining why the SNP and the Scottish government would wish to keep it that way. Ostensibly, Davis’s intervention is motivated by concern that the Scottish parliament and its members lack the ability to pursue the truth wherever it may lead. He came, he said,

David Davis: Scotland – A deficit of power and accountability

For the past few months, Scotland has been transfixed by the Holyrood inquiry seeking the truth of what went wrong with the investigations into the former First Minister, Alex Salmond.  The inquiry is investigating matters of the most serious kind. Serious for the proper handling of sexual harassment complaints in Scotland. Serious for the accountability of those in positions of power, including the Scottish Government’s Permanent Secretary and its Lord Advocate. And serious, if the former First Minister’s claims hold any water, for the future of the present First Minister’s administration of Scotland. These matters are unquestionably something that should properly be dealt with in Holyrood. But Holyrood has great difficulties exposing what went

Is Nicola Sturgeon’s loyalty her big weakness?

Loyalty is an important virtue. Indeed, it was loyalty to my former boss which led me to offer to act as Alex Salmond’s spokesman during his Court of Session battle with the Scottish Government. It was, at the time, a thankless task, trying to persuade sceptical former media colleagues that the whole affair was a stitch-up. Those same journalists don’t require much persuasion today. Once the Scottish Government belatedly conceded the errors in their flawed complaints procedure, at a cost to the taxpayer of at least a million pounds, and the accusations against Salmond were thrown out by a criminal court, the repercussions began.  The Scottish Parliamentary Inquiry into how