Salmond: I would quit if it meant a Yes vote

SCOTTISH INDEPENDENCE: Alex Salmond has admitted he would be prepared to give up his political career and see the SNP abolished if that was the price of gaining independence for Scotland.

A YouGov poll showed that 45 per cent of 1,085 people surveyed felt he was the wrong man to lead the Yes campaign. Picture: PA

The First Minister told a public meeting this week that he would “retire from politics tomorrow” if that provided a guarantee of a Yes vote.

His remarks were highlighted yesterday by a Yes Scotland strategist in a bid to demonstrate that the referendum is not just about the First Minister. A recent opinion poll showed that Mr Salmond could be putting off voters from backing independence.

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A YouGov poll showed that 45 per cent of 1,085 people surveyed felt he was the wrong man to lead the Yes campaign. Picture: PA

Video footage of a meeting in Arbroath shows the First Minister talking about the timetable for independence but changing direction to present the audience with a scenario in which he stands down.

Referring to Greek mythology and the 17th-century Scots prophet the Brahan Seer, he said: “If I had the Delphic oracle, or a soothsayer, the Brahan Seer, was sitting in this audience and the Brahan Seer said to me, ‘Listen, you retire from politics tomorrow and I guarantee you Scotland will be an independent country in the spring of 2016’, I would shake hands on that right away – absolutely.”

The First Minister went on to state that he would accept the demise of his own political party as a trade-off for winning independence.

He said: “If the Brahan Seer said to me, ‘And the other cost of getting independence is the SNP has to be abolished’, then I would agree to that as well, because this is about the people of Scotland for the first time in democratic history having the ability to determine the government of their choice.

“It’s the choice of the people of Scotland that’s the important thing.”

The remarks come in the wake of a YouGov poll which shows 45 per cent of Scots believe Mr Salmond, as leader of the independence campaign, is the wrong man for the job, with only 57 per cent of Yes supporters backing him. YouGov polled 1,085 adults in Scotland between 12 and 15 August.

The poll also showed trust in Mr Salmond has declined while trust in Alistair Darling, head of the Better Together campaign, has risen by ten points since YouGov last polled on the issue in March.

Mr Salmond’s remarks were highlighted on Twitter yesterday by Stephen Noon, chief strategist for Yes Scotland, who started his political career working in Mr Salmond’s Westminster office.

He said: “The First Minister’s comments speak for themselves and are very powerful. People should listen.

“I’ve worked for him for a large part of my adult life and know that he is heart-and-soul committed to an independent Scotland because it’s the best future for everyone who lives here – and a Yes vote is the best opportunity the people of Scotland will ever have to turn this rich country into a rich society.”

A Better Together spokesman said: “It’s no wonder Alex Salmond wants to distance himself from his own independence project, given the latest YouGov poll showed he is a liability for the campaign.

“If this was really about what’s best for the people of Scotland, Alex Salmond would be honest with us about the big risks of independence.

“Scots won’t be fooled by this latest bit of campaign rhetoric.”

Monday night’s public meeting followed a day in which Mr Salmond laid out his “Declaration of Opportunity” mirroring the Declaration of Arbroath of 1320 with the intention of confirming Scotland as an independent state.

He was joined at St Andrew’s Church in the Angus town by ministers Fiona Hyslop, John Swinney and Kenny MacAskill.