Alex Salmond MSP

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Alex Salmond MSP

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  • Member for: Aberdeenshire East
  • Region: North East Scotland
  • Party: Scottish National Party

Alex is a member of the following Committees:

Alex is a member of the following Cross-Party Groups:

Parliamentary Activities

Search for other Speeches made by The First Minister

Meeting of the Parliament 03 December 2014 : 03 December 2014
Alex Salmond (Aberdeenshire East) (SNP)

As we think about the serious problems of NHS Grampian and compare them with the tragedy in the Vale of Leven hospital, was not the essential lesson of the Vale of Leven tragedy that the health service must develop systems that enable problems to be identified before they impact on patient care and safety? Surely that has happened in this case, through Healthcare Improvement Scotland. For example, accident and emergency rates are vastly better in NHS Grampian today than they were in 2006.

The cabinet secretary put that down to the excellence and hard work of the staff of NHS Grampian, and she was right to do so. Is it not incumbent on every member of this Parliament to rally behind the staff and the new leadership of NHS Grampian as they take matters forward?



Meeting of the Parliament 18 November 2014 : 18 November 2014
The First Minister (Alex Salmond)

I promise that I will be brief, Presiding Officer.

I have small corrections for Jackie Baillie. Saving the world was what Gordon Brown did, not me. It was not in Perth that I was expelled from the party; it was at the Dam Park pavilion in Ayr. She is wrong about YouTube. She should go and look at it again, because I did not walk out—I was flung out. I offer her this in case she is ever in such a position: never go willingly—wait to be expelled, Jackie.

I thought that the rocks would melt with the sun before Jackie Baillie said something nice about me, but I was wrong. She did and I thank her for that. I also thank her for her contribution to First Minister’s questions over the past few weeks.

I had no idea that Ruth Davidson was so close to voting for independence. She was on the very cusp, if only we had found the right argument to take her over the finishing line. I was delighted to discover that the achievements of implementing SNP policy between 2007 and 2011 were actually the Conservative Party’s achievements.

As Ruth Davidson mentioned Annabel Goldie, I say that, somewhere, there is a video of me doing a toast to the lassies and Annabel doing a reply at the scouts and guides Burns supper just a few years ago. Thankfully, because of a series of injunctions, interdicts and superinterdicts, Annabel and I, acting together, have managed to keep that off YouTube for the time being. If it ever emerges, I fear that we will both have to stay in retirement.

Willie Rennie mentioned that thing about me telling him in a cafe that the SNP was going to win a by-election. I thought that he was a voter—I did not recognise him. [Laughter.] I have no doubt that the Liberal Democrats will return; I am just not quite certain what they will return to.

I listened with great care to Patrick Harvie, but I was still left hingin as to whether I am closer to Francis Urquhart or Donald Trump. I say to Patrick that I have always regarded him and his interventions in terms of a critical friend. I thank him for that and for his remarks today.

Stewart Stevenson is right that “black bitch” is a term of huge praise in Linlithgow—it means someone who was born within the sound of St Michael’s bells—but it confirms just about everything that my political opponents have ever thought about me. I say to him that he is wrong about the hogmanay celebrations in 1954—my dad went off to the Hearts-Hibs match and was not seen for some considerable time thereafter. Stewart has been my friend and colleague for nigh on 40 years, and I hope that we can do another 40 years together. I thank him for his remarks.

Through you, Presiding Officer, I wish every single member of this Parliament well and say goodbye and good luck. [Applause.]



Meeting of the Parliament 18 November 2014 : 18 November 2014
The First Minister

It is a wise newspaper that listens to the verdict of its readers.

The more important realisation is this: we are on a political journey, and each step along the way has been dictated by the impact of the constitution on the issues that mean most to ordinary Scots.

This Parliament was reborn out of the realisation that we could no longer afford to have our domestic politics dictated by Governments without democratic legitimacy. We progressed because people became impatient with politicians who wanted to administer rather than govern, and we will grow further yet, because people wish to shape the circumstances around them and are demanding a Parliament that is fully equipped for that task.

The last 12 months have been an extraordinary example of this nation’s talents and capabilities. It has been a year of substantial economic progress: 50,000 more people are in employment in Scotland; we have a record total of women in employment in Scotland; and the figures show inward investment at a 17-year high. We have hosted our year of homecoming, staged the Ryder cup, and organised the greatest ever Commonwealth games. We have also managed a referendum that has been hailed around the world as a model of truly participative democracy.

Scotland has a new sense of political confidence and a new sense of economic confidence. They are reinforcing each other and—wherever we are travelling together as a nation—they are transforming this country for the better.

That new sense of political confidence—of engagement—is the point on which I wish to end. At the start of my speech, I mentioned the enthusiasm that was generated by the re-establishment of this Parliament in 1999, when the MSPs were applauded into the assembly hall on the Mound. Fifteen years on, that applause has evolved into something much more meaningful—sustained, critical, constructive engagement involving people in every part of the country.

Scotland now has the most energised, empowered and informed electorate of any country in Europe. We have a new generation of citizens who understand that their opinion matters, who believe that their voice will be heard and who know that their vote can shape the society they live in.

For all of us, that should be a point of pride and a source of challenge. For me, the sense of generational change has been a factor in deciding that the time is right to move on from being First Minister. For this Parliament, it should spur us on to become even more accessible and to serve the new expectations of the people. For everyone in public life, it should inspire us to involve, include and empower the electorate as we continue the quest to create a more prosperous and more equal Scotland. I wish each and every one of you well in pursuit of that endeavour.

It has been the privilege of my life to serve as First Minister for these last seven and a half years. Any parting is tinged with some sorrow, but in this case it is vastly outweighed by a sense of optimism and confidence—confidence that we will have an outstanding new First Minister; confidence in the standing and capability of this chamber; and, most of all, confidence in the wisdom, talent and potential of the people of Scotland.

Scotland has changed—changed utterly, and much for the better—over the 15 years of this Parliament and over the seven years of this Government, but I am happy to say, with every degree of certainty, that more change and better days lie ahead for this Parliament and for Scotland. [Applause.]



Meeting of the Parliament 18 November 2014 : 18 November 2014
The First Minister (Alex Salmond)

First, I must—not for the first time—disappoint Willie Rennie. I took it from his question at First Minister’s question time last Thursday that he was making a very subtle, last-ditch attempt to persuade me to stay in post. I have given his suggestion great thought, but have decided to resign anyway at the start of the parliamentary business tomorrow.

This notice should allow Mr Rennie ample time to secure his nominations to have a tilt at the job. I assure him that, if he so decides, I will weigh up his candidacy with great care—before casting my vote for my friend and colleague Nicola Sturgeon.

Presiding Officer, there are only a minority of members here who—like you and I—attended the opening ceremony of this reconvened Parliament in 1999. It was a great day. We heard moving poetry; the late Donald Dewar gave the finest speech of his life; and when Sheena Wellington sang “A man’s a man for a’ that”, the entire chamber joined in for the final verse.

One other thing struck me about that day: when the MSPs entered the general assembly building on the Mound, we were cheered in by the public. I had never seen that level of public engagement in politics before and, until this past summer, I had never seen it since.

The public enthusiasm on that first day was an inspiration, but also a challenge. Eddie Morgan captured the mood perfectly five years later, in his poem to mark the opening of this Parliament building:

“We give you our consent to govern, don’t pocket it and ride away.

We give you our deepest dearest wish to govern well, don’t say we have no mandate to be so bold.”

My view is that, on the whole, this Parliament has fulfilled the public’s wishes and earned their consent; we have accepted the mandate to be bold. Our composition reflects much of the diversity of modern Scotland. We have become the chief hub of national discourse and debate; the fulcrum of Scottish public life; the chamber that people expect to reflect their priorities, values and hopes.

That is not because of any one party—it is because of the commitment of so many of the members over the past 15 years. I think in particular of some of the MSPs who are no longer with us—Donald Dewar, Margaret Ewing, Bashir Ahmad, Phil Gallie, Donald Gorrie, David McLetchie, Brian Adam, Helen Eadie, John Farquhar Munro, Sam Galbraith and the truly remarkable Margo MacDonald.

This Parliament’s procedures are not perfect. How on earth could they be? We are not 15 years old, but 15 years young. You, Presiding Officer, have implemented significant improvements. However, this Parliament has great strengths and we should never underplay them.

The last speech that I made in this chamber was at the business in the Parliament conference, when 100 business representatives were sitting here alongside six ministers, 17 MSPs and people from the third sector and the wider public sector. Last year, more than 400 different organisations held events in this building. Overall, in 15 years we have welcomed more than 4 million visitors.

That degree of accessibility is not unique in the democratic world, but it is very rare and pretty impressive. Throughout my time as First Minister I have tried to reflect that in the approach of the Government to our key social partners. Last week the Scottish Trades Union Congress made exactly that point at our regular meetings between Government and general council.

I have led a minority Administration and a majority one. Minority government requires negotiation, to recognise honest disagreement and then compromise in the public interest. I have absolutely no idea whether my experience of minority government in this place will ever come in handy in another place.

Interestingly, when we had a minority Government, the Scottish National Party was on the side of the majority for 80 per cent of the votes in this chamber. There were hardly any occasions when all the other parties lined up against us—mind you, there was that small matter of the Edinburgh trams.

Perhaps the better, more important point to reflect on today is that on many occasions, in both minority government and majority government, there has been cross-party support for social and economic change.

For example, I think of February 2008, when the Liberal Democrats and the Greens voted with us to restore the principle of free higher education in Scotland. I think about June 2009, when we passed the most ambitious climate change legislation of any country in the world and we had the support of every party in the Parliament, including the Conservative Party. I think about March this year, when Labour, the Liberal Democrats and the Greens joined with us to ensure that nobody need face eviction from their home as a consequence of the bedroom tax.

Most of all, I think about the consistent and often joint endeavour, against the headwinds of economic circumstance and austerity, to make Scotland a stronger, fairer and more cohesive nation.

Throughout my time as First Minister I have heard it said by some in this place that the Government’s pursuit of national independence crowded out other issues, and even that the constitution was of little interest in Scotland. That has not been the experience or the verdict of the people. We have all just lived through one of the most invigorating, extraordinary debates of the democratic era—one of the most impressive of any country anywhere, at any time.

It is argued that people everywhere have become disengaged from politics; not in Scotland in 2014. It is said that they no longer care about the business of governance; not in Scotland in 2014. In the past few months we have watched an electorate passionately engaged in the business of fashioning their future. I see little evidence that the people of Scotland resented the Government for pursuing that business with them and for them.

It was considerate of the Daily Record newspaper—a consistent bulwark for this Government over the past seven years—to provide a poll showing 50 per cent SNP support on the very day that I am leaving. Mind you, it might be because I am leaving—



Meeting of the Parliament 13 November 2014 : 13 November 2014
The First Minister

The Conservative Party in the United Kingdom coalition described Liberal Democrat energy policy as nonsense, and the Liberal Democrats in the coalition at Westminster described the Conservative Party’s energy policy as nonsense. The energy policy that we have been able to pursue in Scotland, which has seen a surge forward in renewable energy, is extremely effective.

Of course, it would be fantastic if other areas of energy policy were under the control of this Parliament. I would like, for example, not to have seen the total chaos that has resulted in the electricity markets—as a result of coalition policies at Westminster—which is threatening the people of England with blackouts or brownouts in the very near future. I would like to have seen things like oil and gas under the control of the Scottish Parliament, so that the great natural resources of Scotland could be invested in the future of the Scottish economy.

How disappointing it is that although, once upon a time, Murdo Fraser was in the vanguard of Scottish Conservative thinking—if that is not a contradiction in terms—he now meekly, in this probable last question to me, comes to the chamber to diminish the ability of this Parliament and a future Administration to control energy policy, when we are light years ahead of what has happened to what has remained at Westminster.



Meeting of the Parliament 13 November 2014 : 13 November 2014
The First Minister

The Scottish Government recognises Alison Johnstone’s concerns, but it also recognises that we have to see the potential for new energy technologies, and the potential synergies between technologies such as underground coal gasification and carbon capture and storage, whereby CO2 emissions could be captured at source and transported for storage offshore, making it an extremely effective environmental process.

As Alison Johnstone will know, Scotland has world-leading expertise in carbon capture and storage. We have an excellent comparative advantage, such as access to vast offshore storage of CO2. However, we have been very clear that, when it comes to new technologies, we need to proceed cautiously and take an evidence-based approach to ensure that the environment is protected and, above all, that local communities’ concerns are properly taken into account.

Alison Johnstone will accept that whatever other criticisms might have been levelled at the Administration over the past seven and a half years, lack of enthusiasm for renewable energy could not be one of them. I am sure that she, like me, looks forward to celebrating a milestone that we are sure will be achieved in the very near future, when 50 per cent of Scotland’s effective demand for electricity is likely to be secured from renewable sources. That has been a transformative initiative over the past seven years. I am sure that Alison Johnstone and I have common cause in and enthusiasm for that record.



Meeting of the Parliament 13 November 2014 : 13 November 2014
The First Minister (Alex Salmond)

The Coal Authority, which is, of course, a United Kingdom non-departmental public body that is sponsored by the Department of Energy and Climate Change, has issued six licences for underground coal gasification in Scotland. All those licences are offshore or in estuaries. However, no underground coal gasification project can proceed in Scotland without a range of other permissions, including local planning and environmental consents, which, of course, are devolved issues.



Meeting of the Parliament 13 November 2014 : 13 November 2014
The First Minister

As Graeme Pearson knows, expenditure on legal assistance in Scotland has been held at £150 million since 2007. Of course, that is not what has happened south of the border, where there have been substantial cuts. [Interruption.] Labour members should understand that, under the Barnett formula, the consequentials that come to Scotland are directed by expenditure in England. Unless they put forward a position where the great resources of Scotland are available for the Scottish people to direct our own spending, I am afraid that such matters are relevant.

Graeme Pearson should also understand that, although we were extremely interested in some aspects of the Law Society’s paper, such as the need for simplification, the paper has proved deeply controversial. He can see that from the debate that is opening up, in which people are pointing out that many areas of civil law are vital as part of legal aid assistance and criminal lawyers are pointing out that the fundamental right of people to defend themselves against a criminal charge is the essence of a free society.

There are no easy answers to the questions at present, but Graeme Pearson can rest assured that this Government and the Government of the immediate future will protect the right of the people of Scotland to legal assistance so that they can pursue their claims for justice.



Meeting of the Parliament 13 November 2014 : 13 November 2014
The First Minister (Alex Salmond)

The Scottish Legal Aid Board makes hundreds of thousands of grants of legal assistance each year, whether to help people to deal with welfare benefit problems or to help those who are accused of criminal offences to defend themselves. Expenditure on legal assistance last year was £150.5 million. The Scottish Legal Aid Board’s annual report shows that, since 2011, changes to the legal system have saved the public purse £52 million. However, there is still more to do.

The Law Society’s paper is intended to open up discussion. We have a shared perspective on some points, such as the need for simplification, and we will of course take a detailed look at the Law Society’s proposals over the coming weeks, with a view to assessing their potential impact on public funds and on those who rely on legal aid.



Meeting of the Parliament 13 November 2014 : 13 November 2014
The First Minister

It cannot be a coincidence that the cuts to the Health and Safety Executive budget have coincided with a dramatic fall in the number of prosecutions. That was one of the key arguments that the STUC put forward when arguing that the devolution of responsibility for health and safety would allow us to have a system that protects workers wherever they work but does not constrain businesses through undue regulation. That is a highly serious matter, which Kenneth Gibson is right to raise in the chamber.

Vote DetailMSP VoteResult

S4M-11901.3 Neil Findlay: Developing Scotland’s Young Workforce—As an amendment to motion S4M-11901
>> Show more
NoDefeated

S4M-11901.1 Mary Scanlon: Developing Scotland’s Young Workforce—As an amendment to motion S4M-11901
>> Show more
NoDefeated

S4M-11830.2 John Swinney: The Smith Commission—As an amendment to motion S4M-11830 in the name of Ru
>> Show more
YesCarried

S4M-11830 Ruth Davidson: The Smith Commission—That the Parliament welcomes the publication of the Sm
>> Show more
YesCarried

Amendment 6 moved by Dr Richard Simpson on motion S4M-11826 Maureen Watt: Food (Scotland) Bill—That
>> Show more
NoDefeated

S4M-11825.3 Claire Baker: End of Year Fish Negotiations—As an amendment to motion S4M-11825 in the n
>> Show more
NoDefeated

S4M-11825.2 Jamie McGrigor: End of Year Fish Negotiations—As an amendment to motion S4M-11825 in the
>> Show more
NoDefeated

S4M-11825.1 Tavish Scott: End of Year Fish Negotiations—As an amendment to motion S4M-11825 in the n
>> Show more
NoDefeated

S4M-11825 Richard Lochhead: End of Year Fish Negotiations—That the Parliament welcomes the successfu
>> Show more
YesCarried

S4M-11763.3 Margaret Burgess: Private Sector Rent Reform—As an amendment to motion S4M-11763 in the
>> Show more
YesCarried

Search for other Motions lodged by Alex Salmond
EventIdTypeSub TypeMSP NameParty NameConstituencyRegionTitleItemTextFormattedAnswer DateAnswerStatusIdExpectedAnswerDateAnsweredByMspApprovedDateSubmissionDateMeetingDateProductionStatusIdRecordStatusIdStatus DateOnBehalfOfConsideredForMembersBusinessCrossPartySupportRegisteredInterestSupportCountSupportDateIsEventLinkCurrentMinister
Motion S4M-10843: Alex Salmond, Aberdeenshire East, Scottish National Party, Date Lodged: 19/08/2014 Show Full Motion >>
Motion S4M-09773: Alex Salmond, Aberdeenshire East, Scottish National Party, Date Lodged: 22/04/2014 Show Full Motion >>
Motion S4M-09774: Alex Salmond, Aberdeenshire East, Scottish National Party, Date Lodged: 22/04/2014 Show Full Motion >>
Motion S4M-08707: Alex Salmond, Aberdeenshire East, Scottish National Party, Date Lodged: 06/01/2014 Show Full Motion >>
Motion S4M-08559: Alex Salmond, Aberdeenshire East, Scottish National Party, Date Lodged: 10/12/2013 Show Full Motion >>
Motion S4M-08407: Alex Salmond, Aberdeenshire East, Scottish National Party, Date Lodged: 25/11/2013 Show Full Motion >>
Motion S4M-07721: Alex Salmond, Aberdeenshire East, Scottish National Party, Date Lodged: 16/09/2013 Show Full Motion >>
Motion S4M-06450: Alex Salmond, Aberdeenshire East, Scottish National Party, Date Lodged: 01/05/2013 Show Full Motion >>
Motion S4M-05981: Alex Salmond, Aberdeenshire East, Scottish National Party, Date Lodged: 18/03/2013 Show Full Motion >>
Motion S4M-04011: Alex Salmond, Aberdeenshire East, Scottish National Party, Date Lodged: 05/09/2012 Show Full Motion >>
Search for other Questions asked by Alex Salmond
EventIdTypeSub TypeMSP NameParty NameConstituencyRegionTitleItemTextFormattedAnswer DateAnswerStatusIdExpectedAnswerDateAnsweredByMspApprovedDateSubmissionDateMeetingDateProductionStatusIdRecordStatusIdStatus DateOnBehalfOfConsideredForMembersBusinessCrossPartySupportRegisteredInterestSupportCountSupportDateIsEventLinkCurrentMinister
Question S1W-15120: Alex Salmond, Banff and Buchan, Scottish National Party, Date Lodged: 17/04/2001 Show Full Question >>
Question S1W-14237: Alex Salmond, Banff and Buchan, Scottish National Party, Date Lodged: 16/03/2001 Show Full Question >>
Question S1W-14124: Alex Salmond, Banff and Buchan, Scottish National Party, Date Lodged: 13/03/2001 Show Full Question >>
Question S1W-14125: Alex Salmond, Banff and Buchan, Scottish National Party, Date Lodged: 13/03/2001 Show Full Question >>
Question S1O-03120: Alex Salmond, Banff and Buchan, Scottish National Party, Date Lodged: 07/03/2001 Show Full Question >>
Question S1W-13760: Alex Salmond, Banff and Buchan, Scottish National Party, Date Lodged: 28/02/2001 Show Full Question >>
Question S1W-13761: Alex Salmond, Banff and Buchan, Scottish National Party, Date Lodged: 28/02/2001 Show Full Question >>
Question S1W-13483: Alex Salmond, Banff and Buchan, Scottish National Party, Date Lodged: 16/02/2001 Show Full Question >>
Question S1W-13698: Alex Salmond, Banff and Buchan, Scottish National Party, Date Lodged: 12/02/2001 Show Full Question >>
Question S1W-13069: Alex Salmond, Banff and Buchan, Scottish National Party, Date Lodged: 05/02/2001 Show Full Question >>

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