Alex Salmond is an ‘undercover lobbyist’ for Murdoch, says Ed Miliband
LABOUR leader Ed Miliband accused Alex Salmond of acting as an “undercover lobbyist” for Rupert Murdoch, as the First Minister was urged to answer more questions about his links to the media mogul.
Mr Miliband said this week’s revelations about the “warm” relationship between the SNP leader and the press baron were “shocking”, adding that Mr Salmond should have been “open” about the fact that he was prepared to talk to Jeremy Hunt about the BSkyB bid.
Mr Salmond has defended himself by saying that he nurtured his relationship with the Murdoch empire and was prepared to lobby for the News Corp take-over of BSkyB in order to protect and bring jobs to Scotland.
But yesterday Labour called on Mr Salmond to provide detailed evidence to prove that his meetings with Rupert Murdoch were about jobs. Labour has claimed Mr Salmond’s insistence that he was concerned with Scottish jobs is an “alibi” for courting the Murdochs in order to gain press backing for the SNP.
Internal News Corp e-mails produced at the Leveson inquiry suggest that Mr Salmond had indicated that he was prepared to talk to UK ministers about the take-over.
A short time later, just before last year’s Scottish election, the Sun newspaper announced it would be supporting the SNP.
On a visit to Glasgow yesterday, Mr Miliband said Mr Salmond had “very serious” questions to answer.
Mr Miliband said: “If, as he [Salmond] claims this was all part of a concerted effort to bring jobs to Scotland, why wasn’t he open about his support for the BSkyB bid? Why wasn’t he open about the fact that he was set to lobby Jeremy Hunt in favour of the BSkyB bid. If he had nothing to hide, why did he hide it?
“What he actually did was acted as an undercover lobbyist for Rupert Murdoch, and I don’t think that’s what people expect from the First Minister in Scotland. I think they want a First Minister who will stand up for ordinary people in Scotland, not the rich and powerful.”
Labour attempted to ramp up the pressure on the First Minister by asking him to prove that his meetings with Mr Murdoch were strictly about the economy.
Scottish leader Johann Lamont asked Mr Salmond to disclose what discussions he had with his enterprise minister and Cabinet about backing the BskyB bid.
She also wanted to know details of any economic impact assessment that were drawn up and wanted to know what advice Mr Salmond was given from the enterprise agencies.
She said: “Given the sensitivities around this takeover … it is unthinkable that he gave it his backing without any discussions with his cabinet, his enterprise agencies and without any economic impact assessment.”
A spokesman for the First Minister said: “This is a desperate bid by Johann Lamont to divert attention from her blunder at First Minister’s Questions, where she appeared to be completely clueless about a major recent jobs announcement in Glasgow.
“Last week’s welcome announcement by HEROtsc of 800 jobs in the city, with another 150 likely in the near future, underlines the importance of making the strongest possible case for Scottish jobs and investment, which the First Minister and this administration will always do.”
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Wednesday 19 June 2013
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