Salmond bid to claim credit for schools 'shameless'

ALEX Salmond, the First Minister, was described as "shameless" last night after he tried to claim credit for commissioning a school that was started under the previous administration.

The row blew up after First Minister's questions, in which Labour leader Iain Gray tackled Mr Salmond on the SNP's failure to commission new schools.

Quoting from a Scotsman article, he asked Mr Salmond when Ellon Academy in his own Gordon constituency, which is in desperate need of replacement, would get a new school building.

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Mr Salmond said his party would complete 250 schools, which Labour insisted were commissioned under them.

But he claimed that the SNP had "commissioned and built" Dunning Primary in Perth. However, Labour produced a school newsletter showing the school was under way in January 2007, before the election.

Labour education spokeswoman Rhona Brankin called Mr Salmond "shameless" and claimed he "misleads MSPs week-in, week-out".

But a spokesman for Mr Salmond said the school "was signed off in October 2007" and said he would not apologise.

Lib Dem chief whip Mike Rumbles, standing in for party leader Tavish Scott, accused Mr Salmond of "undermining" the Scottish whisky industry with plans to set minimum pricing levels.

"When UK governments put up the price of whisky, the SNP used to say it was damaging, a betrayal, punitive and entirely wrong," he said. "Alex Salmond used to put forward amendments to stop it happening, but now he's in government he has changed his mind."

Mr Salmond said his party's proposal would not affect whisky because "it is a premium product" and pointed out that UK Lib Dem leader Nick Clegg supported minimum pricing.

• Stewart Steven, the transport minister, was forced to apologise for using the word "bollocks" in the main chamber to describe comments by Mr Rumbles during a debate on Aberdeen Crossrail yesterday.