Alex Salmond MSP

Welcome to Alex Salmond MSP's biography pages

Alex Salmond MSP

Here you can find out about your MSPs' political activities and how to get in touch with them.

  • 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 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 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)

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 13 November 2014 : 13 November 2014
The First Minister (Alex Salmond)

I am told that this is my 215th session of First Minister’s question time. Later today, I will be proud to meet a group of young carers who have designed the young carers tartan, which I am proudly wearing. They have experience in care and have designed the tartan with Black Cherry Studio, which is a Scottish print design company. The design has been registered with the Scottish register of tartans and is available to anyone who has been in care. It is hoped that that will encourage more people with experience of care to claim their identity positively. I am proud to wear that tartan today.



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

No. [Laughter.]

One word seems hardly adequate for that task, although I say to Fergus Ewing that his words might have been better addressed to the coming First Minister rather than the departing one.



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

If there is a mood to miss, Jackie Baillie has an unerring ability to miss it.

I have been doing some research on these matters. Over the years, the Labour Party has called for the resignation of each and every one of my cabinet secretaries. The only person it has not called on to resign is me—and I am the one who is resigning. Does that not represent the Labour Party’s unerring ability to miss the target on each and every occasion?



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

I do not think that talking about changing leaders is the Labour Party’s strongest suit. Jackie Baillie is actually the 10th leader or caretaker leader I have faced over the dispatch box, and all of them have had the grace and charity with which she addresses the chamber. Nicola Sturgeon should be assured that, on the track record, once she becomes First Minister, the Labour Party will not ask for her resignation, because it only asks for the resignation of the Deputy First Minister and other cabinet secretaries.

The Administration has a substantial record of achievement over the past seven years. However, in many ways, it does not matter what I think about it—surely the issue is what the people of Scotland think about it. I remind Jackie Baillie that the Government was re-elected with an overall majority in a proportional Parliament. If we believe the more recent indications, that support seems to be growing, not diminishing. All in all, I think that I would rather stand here as First Minister, albeit departing, than as the 10th leader or caretaker leader who has faced me over the dispatch box.



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

How can I break the mood? I say to Jackie Baillie that whoever stands for the Scottish National Party in the Westminster Parliament would seem, according to the present polls, to have a reasonable chance of success.

There have been substantial achievements, and I will name but two. The reintroduction of free education in Scotland strikes me as one. Looking forward, there is the introduction of free school meals in primary 1 to 3, again in the teeth of Labour opposition. I think that that is a substantial move forward in Scottish society.

Despite all the leaders I have faced from the Labour Party, there is a continuing failure of that party to address the decline or collapse in its fortunes. I will add a final piece of advice to Jackie Baillie, which she can translate to her leader, whoever it may be. People in Scotland no longer know what the Labour Party stands for, but they know who it stood with in the referendum campaign. Any political party that is in alliance with the Tory party is destined for destruction in Scotland, and that is exactly what is happening to the branch office that is before us now.



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

I have no current plans, and I would have to be reasonably quick if I was going to do so.



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

There have been substantial achievements in education and health, which are key public services. People’s respect for the health service is increasing. It is a fantastic testament to our health service, our doctors, our nurses and other staff throughout the service that, in these times of austerity, they have achieved that. Of course, educational attainment in Scotland is rising, not falling, and the successful introduction of the curriculum for excellence gives us great hope for the future.

I should correct my earlier answer, because I intend to send another letter to the Prime Minister today, asking him exactly to explain the remarks of the head of the navy, Admiral Zambellas, who seemed to cast doubt on whether the contracts for the global combat ships will be awarded to the Clyde yards. I am sure that Ruth Davidson will join me in saying that those remarks were deeply troubling. They come not from some functionary in the Ministry of Defence but from the head of the navy, and this Parliament will demand that the commitments and promises that have been made to the Clyde workers are honoured.

Vote DetailMSP VoteResult

Selection of the Parliament's Nominee for First Minister
Not VotedCarried

Selection of the Parliament's Nominee for First Minister
YesCarried

Selection of the Parliament's Nominee for First Minister
Not VotedCarried

S4M-11567.2 Margaret Mitchell: Lowering the Drink Drive Limit—As an amendment to motion S4M-11567 in
>> Show more
YesCarried

S4M-11507.1 Cameron Buchanan: Progressive Workplace Policies to Boost Productivity, Growth and Jobs—
>> Show more
Not VotedDefeated

S4M-11507 Angela Constance: Progressive Workplace Policies to Boost Productivity, Growth and Jobs—Th
>> Show more
Not VotedCarried

S4M-11494.3 Jackie Baillie: Welfare Benefits for People Living with Disabilities—As an amendment to
>> Show more
Not VotedDefeated

S4M-11494.2 Alex Johnstone: Welfare Benefits for People Living with Disabilities—As an amendment to
>> Show more
Not VotedDefeated

S4M-11494 Margaret Burgess: Welfare Benefits for People Living with Disabilities—That the Parliament
>> Show more
Not VotedCarried

S4M-11484.1 Jackson Carlaw: Human Rights—As an amendment to motion S4M-11484 in the name of Roseanna
>> Show more
Not VotedDefeated

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, On Behalf of Parliamentary Bureau, 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 >>

Further information

Email our Public Information Service for more information.