Outrage as Salmond brands Labour opponents 'anti-Scottish'
ALEX Salmond last night branded his Labour opponents anti-Scottish, prompting a furious counter-claim that he had plumbed new depths in the search for votes.
The SNP leader accused Labour of "attacking Scotland and Scottish self-confidence", claiming Tony Blair, Gordon Brown and Jack McConnell were guilty of falling "out of touch" with a new mood of can-do optimism in the country.
Labour's campaign, which has sought to highlight the cost of independence and the SNP, is "anti that modern Scotland," he added.
The inflammatory comments came despite Salmond's recent attempts to present a more statesmanlike image. They last night sparked a furious reaction from Labour as McConnell claimed Salmond was effectively branding anyone who opposed independence as unpatriotic. He demanded Salmond apologise to voters who were concerned about the costs of independence and the SNP's policies.
Salmond's incendiary comments, contained in an interview today with Scotland on Sunday, come as a new set of polls show the SNP is still ahead of Labour as the last full week of campaigning gets under way.
A new poll last night gave a boost to the SNP, with YouGov putting the Nationalists on 35% of the overall vote, with Labour on 28% and the Lib Dems and Tories each on 13%. However, voters were dubious about independence, with just 26% plumping for the policy compared with 37% for more power for Holyrood, 17% no change and 12% for ditching Holyrood altogether.
Salmond described the party's lead this close to an election as "uncharted territory".
Labour is to increase the pressure on Salmond in the last few crucial days of the campaign, focusing yet more fire on what it claims are holes in the party's finances.
In the interview, Salmond lashed out against the tactics. He said: "It seems to me to be one of the most uncoordinated, old-fashioned and thoroughly disreputable campaigns - not disreputable incidentally because they are attacking me or the SNP, that doesn't matter - it's disreputable in the sense that they are attacking Scotland and Scottish self-confidence, almost at times verging on to, you know, 'Its not the SNP that's a basket case, it's Scotland that's a basket case.'"
Salmond asserted that Labour's negative tactics will have turned off leading entrepreneurs, including non-SNP supporters such as Sir Tom Hunter and Sir David Murray, and described the attacks as "totally antithetical" to their work.
"They would never accept the nature of what's at the bottom - boiled down to its grizzly essence - the nature and heart of the Labour campaign, the black heart of the Labour campaign."
He claimed Labour were now "out of synch" with modern Scotland. "The Labour campaign isn't an anti-SNP campaign, it is anti that new Scotland, it is out of date, it's out of time," he declared.
Salmond was talking specifically about Labour's campaign, but McConnell last night seized on the comments.
"It's arrogant in the extreme for Alex Salmond to suggest that Scots are not patriotic simply because they don't support him or his party," he said.
He added: "The vast majority of Scottish businesses don't want to break up Britain nor do the vast majority of families in Scotland. Alex Salmond should apologise for insulting all those businesses and families who are simply concerned about the impact and cost of separating Scotland from Britain. And if Alex Salmond has a problem with Labour's campaign, it's because we are uncovering the truth that his party is trying to hide about the cost of independence."
Chancellor Gordon Brown declared in Edinburgh yesterday that the campaign had reached "a moment of truth". Brown is expected to spend much of the next week driving home his message about the SNP's economic policies.
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