ALEXANDER ELLIOT ANDERSON SALMOND (/ˈsæmənd/ ; born 31 December
1954) is a Scottish politician who served as the First Minister of
Scotland from 2007 to 2014. He was the leader of the Scottish National
Party (SNP) for over twenty years, having served for two terms,
firstly from 1990 to 2000 and subsequently from 2004 to 2014. He was
Member of Parliament (MP) for Banff and Buchan between 1987 and
2010, when he stood down to focus on his other roles, and then for
Gordon from 2015 to 2017, when he lost his seat to Scottish
Conservative candidate Colin Clark . During the 2015-2017 parliament,
he was the SNP International Affairs and Europe spokesperson in the
House of Commons.
From 1987 to 2010, Salmond previously served as MP for Banff and
Buchan . Following the establishment of the devolved Scottish
Parliament in 1999, Salmond also served as the Member of the Scottish
Parliament (MSP) for Banff and Buchan from 1999 to 2001, while
continuing to serve as that constituency's MP. Salmond served as the
Member of the Scottish Parliament (MSP) for Gordon from 2007 to 2011,
and for Aberdeenshire East from 2011 to 2016.
Salmond resigned as SNP leader in 2000 and did not seek re-election
to the Scottish Parliament. He did however retain his Westminster seat
in the 2001 general election . Salmond was once again elected SNP
leader in 2004 and the following year held his Banff and Buchan seat
in the 2005 general election . In 2006 he announced his intention to
contest Gordon in the 2007
Scottish Parliament election , an election
in which Salmond defeated the incumbent MSP and in which nationally,
the SNP emerged as the largest single party. After the SNP secured
confidence and supply support from the
Scottish Green Party
Scottish Green Party , Salmond
was voted First Minister by the
Scottish Parliament on 16 May 2007.
During his first term, he headed a minority Scottish Government. At
Scottish Parliament election the SNP won with an overall
majority, a feat initially thought almost impossible under the
additional member system used in elections for the Scottish
Politically, Salmond is one of the foremost proponents of Scottish
independence , repeatedly calling for a referendum on the issue.
Salmond has campaigned on global warming and in government has
Scotland to legislation on emission reduction and the
generation of renewable energy . The day after the 2014 independence
referendum , at which a majority of Scottish voters chose to remain
part of the
United Kingdom , Salmond announced his intention not to
stand for re-election as leader of the SNP at the SNP National
Conference in November, and to resign as First Minister thereafter.
He was succeeded as SNP leader by his deputy,
Nicola Sturgeon , as she
was the only candidate to stand for the leadership election . He
submitted his resignation as First Minister on 18 November, and was
succeeded by Sturgeon the following day.
* 1 Early life and career
* 2 Personal life
* 3 Political career
* 3.1 Early career in politics
* 3.2 First tenure as SNP leader
* 3.3 Resignation as leader and subsequent return
First Minister of Scotland
* 3.4.1 First term
* 3.4.2 UK general election debates
* 3.4.3 Renewable energy
* 3.4.4 Second term
* 3.4.5 Resignation
* 3.5 Return to Westminster
* 3.6 Loss of Westminster seat
* 4 Sporting interests
* 5 References
* 6 Further reading
* 6.1 Biographies
* 6.2 Other
* 7 External links
EARLY LIFE AND CAREER
Salmond was born in his parents' home at 101 Preston Road, Linlithgow
West Lothian , Scotland, on 31 December 1954. He is the second of
four children born to Robert Fyfe Findlay Salmond (1921-2017), and
Mary Stewart Salmond (née Milne; 1922–2003), both of whom were
civil servants. Robert Salmond, who served in the Royal Navy during
the Second World War, had originally worked as an electrician, and
his family had been resident in
Linlithgow since the mid-18th century.
Alex Salmond's middle names come from his family's tradition of
naming their children after the local
Church of Scotland minister, in
this case the Reverend Gilbert Elliot Anderson of St Ninian's
Craigmailen Parish Church in Linlinthgow. He remains a member of the
Church of Scotland.
Salmond attended the local
Linlithgow Academy from 1966 to 1972. He
studied at Edinburgh College of Commerce from 1972 to 1973, gaining an
HNC in Business Studies, and was then accepted by the University of
St Andrews , where he studied Economics and Medieval History. During
his time at St Andrews, Salmond lived in
Andrew Melville Hall . He
was elected as Vice-President (Education) of the Students\'
Representative Council in 1977 and was also nominated to join St
Andrews Community Council that year. Salmond graduated with a 2:2
Joint Honours MA in Economics and Medieval History in May 1978.
In 1978 he entered the
Government Economic Service as an Assistant
Economist in the Department of Agriculture and Fisheries for Scotland,
part of the now defunct
Scottish Office . Two years later he joined
the staff of the
Royal Bank of Scotland
Royal Bank of Scotland where he worked for seven
years, initially as an assistant economist. In 1982 he was appointed
Oil Economist, and from 1984 he worked as a bank economist as well as
continuing to hold the position of Oil Economist. While with the
Royal Bank, he wrote and broadcast extensively for both domestic and
international outlets. He also contributed regularly to oil and energy
conferences. In 1983 Salmond created a "Royal Bank/BBC oil index" that
is still used.
Salmond married Moira McGlashan in 1981. Moira was a senior civil
servant 17 years his senior, and became his boss when he joined the
Scottish Office in the 1970s. They have no children. They closely
protect their private lives and live in a converted mill in Strichen
Salmond's main interests outside of work and politics are golf, horse
racing, football , and reading. He succeeded
Robin Cook as a racing
tipster for Glasgow's Herald newspaper. He supports the Scotland
national football team and Heart of Midlothian FC , and sometimes
attends matches. He takes an interest in
Scottish cultural life , as
well as watching
Star Trek and listening to country and western music.
In 2000, Salmond had a small role in a Pakistani soap opera , The
Castle, as a ghostly spirit. He reportedly sought acting advice on the
Sean Connery , a friend and SNP supporter. For Children in
Need in 2008, Salmond performed an impersonation of the Rikki Fulton
character, the Reverend I M Jolly.
He has also been a
Visiting Professor of Economics at Strathclyde
EARLY CAREER IN POLITICS
Salmond speaking at the launch of A
National Conversation , 2007
Salmond became active in the SNP when he joined the Federation of
Student Nationalists at the
University of St Andrews in 1973. His
conversion is generally credited to his then girlfriend, Debbie
Horton, an English student from London, who was secretary of the St
Andrews University Labour club. After an argument in December 1973,
she told him: "If you feel like that, go and join the bloody SNP". The
next day Salmond did. The following day he and a friend attended the
sparsely populated AGM of the university branch of the Federation of
Student Nationalists. Being the only two fully paid-up members of the
SNP at the university, they were duly elected president and treasurer.
Although a left-winger at the time he joined, Salmond had
considerable doubts as to whether or not the Labour Government would
legislate for a devolved
Scottish Assembly .
Salmond started his political life as a committed left-winger inside
the SNP and was a leading member of the socialist republican
organisation within it, the
79 Group . He was, along with other group
leaders, suspended from membership of the SNP when the
79 Group was
banned within the larger party. In 1981, he married Moira French
McGlashan, then a senior civil servant with the
Scottish Office .
Following the SNP's National Council narrowly voting to uphold the
expulsion, Salmond and the others were allowed back into the party a
month later, and in 1985 he was elected as the SNP's Vice Convener for
Publicity. In 1987 he stood for Parliament in Banff and Buchan and
defeated the incumbent Conservative MP,
Albert McQuarrie . Later that
year Salmond became Senior Vice Convener (Depute Leader) of the SNP.
He was at this time still viewed as being firmly on the left of the
party and had become a key ally of
Jim Sillars , who joined him in the
British House of Commons when he won a by-election for the seat of
Glasgow Govan in 1988. Salmond served as a member of the House of
Commons Energy Select Committee from 1987 to 1992.
FIRST TENURE AS SNP LEADER
Salmond and Deputy First Minister
Nicola Sturgeon at the launch
When Gordon Wilson stood down as SNP leader in 1990, Salmond decided
to contest the leadership. His only opponent was
Margaret Ewing , whom
Sillars decided to support. This caused considerable consternation
amongst the SNP left as the two main left leaders were opposing each
other in the contest. Salmond went on to win the leadership election
by 486 votes to Ewing's 146.
His first test as leader was the general election in 1992 , with the
SNP having high hopes of making an electoral breakthrough. Whilst
considerably increasing its share of the vote, it failed to win a
large number of seats. Sillars lost his, causing him to describe the
Scottish people as '90-minute patriots'. This comment ended the
political friendship between Salmond and Sillars, and Sillars would
soon become a vocal critic of Salmond's style of leadership.
The SNP increased its number of MPs from four to six in the 1997
general election , which saw a landslide victory for the Labour Party.
After election, Labour legislated for a devolved Scottish parliament
in Edinburgh. Although still committed to a fully independent
Scotland, Salmond signed the SNP up to supporting the campaign for
devolution, and, along with Scottish Labour leader
Donald Dewar and
Scottish Liberal Democrat leader Jim Wallace , played an active part
in securing the victory for devolution in the
Scotland referendum of
1997. However, many hardline fundamentalists in the SNP objected to
committing the party to devolution, as it was short of full political
Salmond's first spell as leader was characterised by a moderation of
his earlier left-wing views and by his firmly placing the SNP into a
gradualist , but still pro-independence, strategy. Salmond was one of
the few politicians in the UK to oppose the
NATO bombing of
1999. He was opposed to the conflict because it was not authorised by
United Nations Security Council
United Nations Security Council resolution , which was a
controversial subject at the time . Despite this, Salmond was heavily
criticised in the media for describing
Tony Blair 's decision to
intervene militarily as an "unpardonable folly". The Salmond
Bute House , Cabinet from 2007 until 2011
Several years as party leader earned Salmond an unusually high
profile for an SNP politician in the London-based media. In 1998,
Salmond won the Spectator Award for Political Strategist of the Year.
Following an appearance on the entertainment programme Call My Bluff ,
Salmond used one of the 'bluff' cards that are used as props in the
show in the run-up to the first elections to the Scottish Parliament.
To counter his frustration at having to sit in silence through what he
claimed was an inappropriately political speech by
Tony Blair at a
charity lunch, he held up the bluff card as the Prime Minister began
querying Scotland's economic prospects should independence occur.
Throughout his time in politics, Salmond has maintained his interest
in horse racing , writing a weekly column for
The Scotsman and
appearing a number of times on
Channel 4 's
The Morning Line . During
the election campaign, Salmond was photographed feeding a young
supporter a Solero ice cream during an event at
Stirling University ,
creating a photograph that would become iconic.
RESIGNATION AS LEADER AND SUBSEQUENT RETURN
Salmond was elected to the
Scottish Parliament in 1999 and was one of
its highest-profile members. He stood down as SNP leader in 2000,
facing internal criticism after a series of high-profile fall-outs
with party members, and was replaced by his preferred successor John
Swinney , who defeated Alex Neil for the post. He left the Scottish
Parliament in 2001 to lead the SNP group in the House of Commons .
During the prolonged parliamentary debates in the run-up to the 2003
Iraq he voiced strong opposition to the UK's
participation. In the aftermath of the war, he lent support to the
Adam Price , a
Plaid Cymru MP, to impeach
Tony Blair over
Iraq issue. Salmond has gone further than many anti-war
politicians in claiming that Blair's statements on the presence of
weapons of mass destruction in
Iraq were consciously intended to
deceive the public. He has also claimed that Blair had made a pact
George W. Bush "to go to war come what may".
After the June 2004
European Parliament elections , which were
perceived as a "disaster" for the SNP, pressure mounted on Swinney to
resign as leader. Swinney announced his resignation on 22 June 2004 to
become Convener of the Scottish Parliament's European and External
On 15 July 2004, Salmond said that he would be a candidate in the
forthcoming election for the leadership of the SNP. This came as a
surprise because he had previously declared that he would definitely
not be a leadership candidate. In the postal ballot of all members he
went on to receive over 75% of the votes cast, placing him well ahead
of his nearest rival
Roseanna Cunningham . Although he was re-elected
in the 2005 general election , he made clear his intention to return
Scottish Parliament at the 2007 Scottish parliamentary election
in an attempt to win power for the first time.
In that election, Salmond stood as a candidate for the Gordon
constituency, which had been represented since 1999 by the Liberal
Nora Radcliffe . Salmond won the seat with 41% of the vote,
and a majority of 2,062, returning to the
Scottish Parliament after
six years' absence. In the election the SNP emerged as the largest
party, winning 47 seats to Labour's 46.
FIRST MINISTER OF SCOTLAND
Having won more seats than any other party in the 2007 Scottish
Parliament election, the SNP initially approached the Scottish Liberal
Democrats to form a coalition, but they declined to take part in
negotiations. This left the SNP without any possibility to form a
coalition with an overall majority. The
Scottish Green Party
Scottish Green Party agreed to
support an SNP minority administration on a confidence and supply
Salmond (left) is greeted during an official visit to
Salmond was elected by the
Scottish Parliament as First Minister on
16 May 2007, and was sworn in on 17 May after receiving the Royal
Warrant from the Queen and taking the official oath of allegiance
before judges at the Court of Session. Salmond became the first
nationalist politician to hold the office of First Minister.
Under section 45(7) of the
Scotland Act 1998 he became Keeper of the
Great Seal of
Scotland at the same time. He was appointed to the
British Privy Council four weeks later.
Salmond reduced the size of the Cabinet from nine members to six, and
said he would seek to govern on a "policy by policy" basis. In order
to concentrate on his new role as First Minister, Salmond stood down
as the SNP group leader at Westminster and was replaced by Angus
The Guardian reported in November 2007 that Salmond believed Scotland
would be independent within "the next decade".
In November 2007, Salmond received
The Spectator 's Parliamentarian
of the Year award for his "brilliant campaign" and "extraordinary
victory" in the
Scottish Parliament elections, thereby ending eight
years of Labour rule.
A newspaper investigation in 2009 revealed that Salmond had claimed
as expenses from the UK parliament "up to £400 per month in food
without producing receipts, even after becoming First Minister and
spending little time at Westminster". In the same year, he stated
that he would repay more than £700 that he had received in moving
expenses when he left a London flat in 2007, but the Commons auditor
stated the following year that there were "no issues" for Salmond to
address regarding the expenses claim.
A white paper for an independence referendum, setting out four
possible options ranging from no change to full independence, was
published by the Scottish Government on 30 November 2009. A draft bill
for public consultation was published on 25 February 2010, setting out
a two-question yes/no referendum, proposing further devolution or full
independence. The SNP failed to obtain support from other parties and
withdrew the draft bill.
UK General Election Debates
Signing of the Joint Agreement between
Scotland and Northern
Ireland , 2008
Salmond said it would be "unacceptable" for the SNP to be excluded
from the 2010 UK election televised debate and sought "guarantees of
inclusion from the broadcasters, given their inescapable duty to
ensure fairness and impartiality in election-related coverage in
Scotland" in the buildup to the 2010 UK general election . The party
used the Freedom of Information Act to see whether the BBC could have
broken its own rules. Salmond said it was unacceptable to
well as to the SNP for the broadcasters to exclude the party that
formed the Scottish Government and was leading in Westminster election
polls. He emphasised, however, that he was not trying to stop any
debates from being broadcast. After having failed to change the BBC's
decision to not include the SNP in the final British debate, in line
with the decision by ITV and Sky News, the SNP mounted a legal
challenge to the BBC at the Court of Session in Edinburgh. Despite
earlier reassurances by the SNP that it was not trying to stop the
broadcast, it sought an 'interim interdict' to prevent the debate
being broadcast without the participation of the SNP. The Court of
Session dismissed the SNP's complaint, and refused to ban the BBC from
broadcasting the third debate in Scotland, on the grounds that the SNP
had left the bringing of the case "far too late", had not contested
the broadcasting of the first two debates by ITV and Sky Television,
and that the third debate would in any case be broadcast by Sky on
satellite across Britain, which a Scottish court had no power to
block. The judge ordered the SNP to pay the BBC's legal expenses. The
SNP's political opponents described the SNP's contesting of the case
as a "stunt".
There were Scottish debates dealing with specifically devolved issues
which Salmond had accepted the invitation to attend along the other
parties within the
Scottish Parliament on Sky TV. Salmond declined to
attend those held on the BBC and ITV, and
Angus Robertson agreed to
take his place in these debates.
Salmond in his 2010 New Year message highlighted the importance of
sustainable development and renewable energy in
Scotland and the
required increase in powers of the
Scottish Parliament needed to help
harness Scotland's green energy potential and therefore take full
advantage of the "renewable revolution".
Earlier, in December 2009, he campaigned for climate change
legislation at the UN Climate Change Conference in Copenhagen to
promote Scotland's role in tackling and mitigating climate change .
This included signing a Partnership Agreement with the
Maldives , one
of the most exposed countries to the consequences of rising sea
Although energy is mostly a matter reserved to Westminster,
administrative devolution of Sections 36 "> Salmond greets Queen
Elizabeth II during an official visit to
Before the 2011 Scottish election , the SNP again pledged to hold an
independence referendum if it won another term. The Westminster
Labour government had initially designed the additional member system
to make it impossible for one party to win an outright majority, but
the SNP won enough seats from the other parties to take 69 seats, a
majority of four.
With an overall majority, Salmond now had the ability to call a
referendum on Scottish independence. On 10 January 2012, the Scottish
Government announced that they intended to hold the referendum in late
An agreement was signed on 15 October 2012 by
David Cameron and
Salmond which provided a legal framework for the referendum to be
held, and on 21 March 2013 the SNP government announced that the
referendum would be held on 18 September 2014. Scotland\'s Future , a
white paper setting out the Scottish Government's vision for an
independent Scotland, was published on 26 November 2013.
In December 2011, Salmond spent £260 on a pair of trews that he wore
to a ball in China. He refunded the taxpayer more than a year later,
after a newspaper had submitted a freedom of information request .
The sequence in which these events occurred was acknowledged by the
Scottish Government after 7 months, during which they initially
maintained that they had no record of when Salmond had repaid the
money. In September 2012 he stayed with his wife at a hotel in
Chicago while attending a golf tournament; the £3,000 for four nights
was paid for by the taxpayer and supported a
that spent £468,580 on the trip as part of preparations for hosting
the same tournament two years later. Salmond responded to a freedom
of information request for information on his spending six months
after receiving it, and referred to it as "ridiculous frippery".
On 7 November 2012, Salmond became the longest-serving First Minister
of Scotland, when he surpassed the 2001-day term of his predecessor,
In 2012, Salmond indicated in a television interview that he had
sought the advice of his law officers on whether an independent
Scotland would be part of the European Union. The following year, it
was revealed that the Scottish Government had spent almost £20,000 to
prevent the disclosure of the content of the alleged legal advice,
even though no such advice existed.
Salmond has faced scrutiny for his closeness to
Rupert Murdoch .
Salmond and the Council of Economic Advisers , 2007
On 19 September 2014, following the results of the independence
referendum which confirmed a majority of the
Scottish people had voted
against independence, Salmond announced that he would be resigning as
First Minister in November 2014. On 15 October, Deputy First Minister
Nicola Sturgeon was the only candidate to stand for the leadership ,
and formally succeeded Salmond as SNP leader following the party's
national conference in Perth on 14 November. Salmond submitted his
resignation as First Minister to the
Scottish Parliament and to the
Queen on 18 November, and the formal selection of Sturgeon as his
successor by the
Scottish Parliament took place the following day.
RETURN TO WESTMINSTER
On 7 December 2014, Salmond announced that he would stand as the SNP
candidate for the Westminster constituency of Gordon in the 2015 May
election . He indicated that he did not intend to replace Angus
Robertson , MP for Moray , as the SNP leader in the House of Commons .
Nicola Sturgeon, his successor as SNP leader and First Minister,
repeatedly reminded voters at the March 2015 SNP conference that she,
not he, was party leader after he gave interviews about his possible
role in a hung parliament. After he declared his candidacy, he was
described as a "bogeyman " (both by others and by himself ), and was
reportedly "demonized" by "Conservative propaganda" portraying Labour
Ed Miliband "compliantly dancing to Salmond the piper’s
tune" after the election.
Salmond won the seat of Gordon with 48% of the vote.
On 13 May 2015, Salmond was appointed as the SNP's foreign affairs
spokesman in the House of Commons. He tweeted the party would advocate
a 'pro Europe', 'pro developing world' and 'against military
In October 2016, Salmond said Liverpool or Manchester would be an
ideal site to rebuild the Houses of Parliament, to make the economy
less dependent on London. Salmond has experience of troubled political
buildings, having opposed the construction of the Scottish Parliament
in Holyrood, Edinburgh when cost estimates rose from £50m to £230m
in 2000. The eventual cost was £414m.
LOSS OF WESTMINSTER SEAT
In the 2017 UK General Election,
Alex Salmond suffered his first
defeat as a candidate in any parliamentary election since entering
Westminster in 1987, becoming the most high profile SNP loss of the
night. He lost his seat as member for Gordon to Colin Clark of the
Conservatives , receiving 19,254 votes to the Conservatives 21,861.
This represented a swing of 20.4% away from Mr Salmond, larger than
the 14.4% swing to him from the Liberal Democrats which saw him win
the seat in the 2015 general election.
This was the first time since the 1987 General Election that Alex
Salmond was not in an elected position in the British or Scottish
Alex Salmond has had a fractious relationship with US President
Donald Trump . In 2015, the
UK Supreme Court rejected Trump\'s bid to
stop an offshore wind farm being built close to one of his two golf
resorts in Scotland. Trump has twice lost bids in the Scottish courts
to halt the development, leading Salmond to describe him as a "three
times loser", to which Trump called Salmond a "totally irrelevant
has-been" and "an embarrassment" to Scotland. Salmond has also said
that Trump's impact in
Scotland – in particular Turnberry, the
Ayrshire golf resort he bought in 2014 – has had a "damaging impact"
on the Scottish economy. These comments came days after the chief
executive of the Professional Golfer\'s Association said Trump's
comments on the presidential campaign trail were "not a positive thing
In January 2016, Salmond called Trump a "chicken" for refusing to
appear on his talk show, saying that: "The Donald tries to give this
impression that he's totally off the cuff, in fact his media operation
controls him and protects him from tough interviews, and when he's had
tough interviews he hasn't liked it, that's been pretty obvious."
Salmond is known for his interest in horseracing. He was made a
Aberdeen University Shinty Club in 2011 after attending
their 150th anniversary celebrations at the Sutherland Cup final. This
was Salmond's first ever shinty game.
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Nicola Sturgeon has attempted to slap
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she will decide the party’s strategy if there is a hung parliament
after the general election while he does the "day-to-day" work in the
Commons. For the fourth day running, Ms Sturgeon was forced to
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Alex Salmond is in charge of the
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interviews portraying himself as kingmaker in a hung parliament.
Lesley Riddoch (26 March 2015). "Bogeyman
Alex Salmond makes
hot non-news". The National . Retrieved 5 May 2015. DASTARDLY,
sinister, power-crazed and despotic – some of the more printable
southern reactions to "news" that
Alex Salmond will bring down a Tory
minority government at the first opportunity. ... Well if a bogeyman
sells papers or enlivens the General Election in England – any
excuse will be used to build up his potency. And there is no doubt the
former SNP leader is that bogeyman. Just look at this week’s
Iain Martin (4 February 2015). "Scotland’s power in a future
Financial Times . Retrieved 8 May 2015. So, why is Mr
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that the nationalists are about to destroy Labour in
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any Tory minority government".
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In an exclusive interview with NS editor Jason Cowley, the former
First Minister says that the
Scottish National Party would vote down a
Tory government at the first opportunity. ... Kingmaker – or man who
would be king? ... Big Alex is unconcerned by the Conservatives’
demonisation of him in a series of propaganda posters and, most
recently, in an animated cartoon in which
Ed Miliband is portrayed
compliantly dancing to Salmond the piper’s tune. "You should never
put your opponent – any opponent – on one of your posters,"
Salmond replies when I ask about the posters. "What government puts
the leader of the opposition outside
Downing Street ? As leader of the
opposition you should be unbelievably pleased. It’s the concession
of the election.
* ^ "Election 2015: