Salmond’s legacy

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Your Letters page on 15 November was unworthy of The Scotsman – our so-called national newspaper.

You devoted a full half page to four dominant letters, printed in heavy type, each devoted to rubbishing Alex Salmond and the SNP and labelling him a failure. This was unfair and ungenerous. Despite his acknowledged ability to engender annoyance and even dislike in his opponents, surely something positive might have been found in his favour?

It has been said that “all politicians’ careers end in failure” but this must surely be less true of Alex Salmond than most of his peers.

He led the government of Scotland for about seven years, dominating the Holyrood debating chamber throughout that time.

He won an election to Holyrood by a majority vote – something which our voting system was designed to prevent and which most commentators had said was impossible.

The SNP governments were perfectly competent (despite a tendency for “nanny state-ism”); indeed The Scotsman itself once reported that SNP ministers appeared to be generally more competent than their Labour predecessors.

Salmond brought his country to the brink of independence and transformed a long-standing 25-30 per cent national support for independence up to 45 per cent amid a campaign of remarkable political fervour and engagement – unique to the British Isles – and although independence was not achieved, it seems likely that, if certain “vows” are honoured, a state of devo-max will be obtained for Holyrood.

This is probably the outcome desired by a majority of the Scottish people from the beginning. Quite possibly this result is what Alex Salmond himself would have wished for.

After all he did try hard to have the devo-max option put on the referendum ballot paper in the first instance, only to be over-ruled by David Cameron.

This is hardly, by any standards, a record of failure and it should be borne in mind that the Salmond career is not 
over yet.

John Slee

Hopetoun Terrace

Gullane

I nearly choked on my tea with laughter while reading Kenneth Paterson’s eulogy of Alex Salmond (Letters, 17 November). If we were asked for one word to characterise Mr Salmond I don’t think many people would come up with “humility”!

Perhaps a better choice would be “chameleon”. Under his leadership the SNP has undergone such a metamorphosis that must make it barely recognisable to its more traditional supporters.

He transformed its approach to the EU, Nato, the pound and the Queen, to cite just a few examples. And whatever happened to the far-left socialist who was a founder member of the 79 group? His blueprint on independence contained not one single redistributive tax measure.

Moreover, although he now proclaims nothing but withering scorn for the Tories, some of the members of his group stood shoulder-to-shoulder with none other than Margaret Thatcher in bringing down the Labour government of the day – not to mention his cosying up to the Tories in 2007 to 2011.

In his book on Mr Salmond David Torrance assigns him to the “whatever works” school of politicians – ironic that although he typically expresses scorn for Tony Blair another word that could well be used to describe him in relation to the transformation of his party would be “Blairite”.

Colin Hamilton

Braid Hills Avenue

Edinburgh

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