Published on October 31st, 2014 |
by Lorna Carnegie
Alex Salmond Back on the Main Stage
Alex Salmond has this past week set the media into a flurry as he said he has not ruled out a return to Westminster. The 59 year old from a small village in the North East of Scotland would return to the House of Commons to represent his home town as his constituency. Salmond previously served as the SNP MP for Banff and Buchan from 1987 to 2012 when he was elected to lead the SNP, and says that if he were to return it would once again be to represent the North East.
The former First minister made it clear when he stepped down after losing the referendum that he was not finished in politics and he would continue to be MSP for his home constituency however he has made it clear that he is not ruling out a return to Westminster. After being quizzed by David Dimbleby on last week’s Question Time about a potential return to the Commons he admitted that it was “not a closed door”. It has been suggested that Mr Salmond could run for the Gordon constituency at Westminster, which over laps with his current Holyrood seat. The position is currently held by Liberal Democrat Malcom Bruce; however Mr Bruce is stepping down next May. It is therefore not ambitious to believe that it could be the ideal opportunity for Mr Salmond to move in and fill the vacancy. An SNP colleague noted, “Alex loves Westminster, it’s a big stage for him.” Another senior nationalist close to the FM believes that the attraction for Mr Salmond would be the ability to hold the UK governments’ “feet to the fire” on further devolved powers to Scotland, which many currently believe are being swept under the rug.
While on Question Time the former First Minister made it very clear that he feels passionately about the state of the NHS and was urging for its apparent privatization to end. With a seat in Westminster then he could be far better placed to fight this corner, however with the further devolution to Scotland there is also emerging the move towards a concept of English votes for English laws, previously referred to as the West Lothian question, to ensure that only English MPs could vote on English laws and therefore in this respect Mr Salmond would be no better off.
Mr Salmond is also however a proponent of decentralisation and would therefore support the idea of a more federal approach to the governing of the UK which many MPs, in particular those representing the North of England, believe would be in everyone’s best interests. Therefore a position once more in the House of Commons, since he will be First Minister no more, could be the ideal place for Mr Salmond to get some of these ideas moving.
Is this then in the best interests of Scots, or even the English? Well only time will tell of course but during his time in Westminster he caused quite a stir most notably getting himself banned from the Commons chamber for a week after interrupting the chancellor’s Budget speech in protest at the introduction of the poll tax in Scotland. His strong opinions will certainly be a refreshing shake up in the House of Commons.
While Mr Salmond has not confirmed that this will be the next move in his career it seems the obvious one to allow him to continue to fight for more Scottish power from a different podium, brushing shoulders with David Cameron and Ed Milliband and no doubt ruffling some feathers. We know that Salmond is not done with politics. He may have gone as far as he can as First Minister of Scotland, but if he returns to Westminster he can not only continue to fight Scotland’s corner in the main arena but he can also have an opinion on broader British issues also. It may even alter the balance in Westminster and if there are enough SNP MPs elected then it may be possible for them to “make Westminster dance to a Scottish jig,” as Mr Salmond put it in 2010.
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