ALEX SALMOND has said he will work “to keep hope alive” for people who voted for Scottish independence if he is elected to Westminster, and for those who voted No on the promise of substantial extra powers.
The former SNP leader and Scottish first minister announced yesterday that he will stand in the north-east Scotland seat of Gordon, which is being vacated by retiring Liberal Democrat deputy leader Sir Malcolm Bruce.
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Sir Malcolm, whose party has been in coalition government with the Conservatives for four years, said a vote for the SNP is a vote for “chaos - multi-party inability to make decisions”.
Mr Salmond said the coalition’s austerity policies have “led this country to disaster”, but said Scotland has had “the best economic performance for many years”.
“There has been so much enthusiasm from people, not only Yes voters who want to keep hope alive in Scottish politics but also No voters who want to see the promise, the vow, the commitment that was made to Scotland for real power, implemented,” he told BBC Radio Scotland’s Good Morning Scotland programme.
“If you get that level of political engagement and enthusiasm I think it’s very difficult for political representatives not to be part of that and to rally to that standard.”
He attacked the “arrogance” of last week’s autumn statement, which included an oil fund for the north-east of England despite 40 years of oil extracted from the North Sea without an oil fund.
Mr Salmond contrasted his 15,295 majority in the overlapping Holyrood constituency of Aberdeenshire East with the Liberal Democrats’ 8 per cent of the vote in the Donside by-election, their “very poor third” in the European elections, and their fourth place in last month’s Aberdeenshire Council by-election in which the SNP overturned a former Tory seat.
He said the Lib Dems are now a “busted flush” but he expects “strong competition” from the Conservatives in Gordon.
Mr Salmond hopes to build a coalition with the SNP’s “progressive allies” in Plaid Cymru and the Greens to push for more powers, oppose nuclear weapons, maintain the relationship with the European Union and fight austerity.
He confirmed that the SNP would not support the Conservatives, but said he wants to work with Labour MPs who oppose the Labour leadership’s proposals to continue with some austerity policies.
The SNP would back any future government on a “vote by vote” basis similar to the short-term alliances he built during the SNP’s first minority government, he said.
“We will be arguing that the austerity politics and economics have led this country to disaster and we would seek to see change,” he said.
He added: “The economic prospects for Scotland are very strong this year and we have had a fantastic economic performance as we have gone through the process of the Scottish referendum, the best economic performance for many years in Scotland.
“But one of the uncertainties over the next few years is the question of our European relationship.”
He added: “Nicola Sturgeon has made the point that if there is a European referendum then each of the constituent nations of these islands should have a determining role.
“If this is a real partnership then Scotland cannot be dragged out of Europe against our will - that seems a very fair point to put forward.
“But the question for a future Scottish referendum is for a future Scottish election and will be determined by Nicola Sturgeon.”
Sir Malcolm told the BBC: “The people of Scotland and the people of the UK have got to make a decision: what kind of government do you want?
“Do you want chaos, multi-party inability to make decisions?
“We’ve had a strong government that has been able to do that.
“Or do you want the SNP causing disruption and not representing the interests of the people, certainly of Gordon, who didn’t vote to send members to Westminster to break up the UK but actually want Scotland and the UK to work together for the people of Gordon?”
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