In September, we vote for Scotland, not Salmond

Today will see the demolition of one of the last totems of Thatcherism left in Scotland.  When right to buy is abolished, gone – at long last – will be the perfidious policy which attempted and nearly succeeded in dismantling our infrastructure of social housing.

It wasn’t wrong then and it isn’t wrong now for people to want to own their own home.  What was wrong was the way the policy was constructed:  taking houses, built with public money to ensure everyone had access to a decent home, out of public ownership and into private hands at knock down prices, leaving local authorities drowning under a sea of construction debt they could no longer afford to service, never mind begin to pay off.

And which is the government in Scotland to remove this blot from our policy landscape?  A Labour one, which had 8 years leading an administration in which to attempt the feat?  Labour, that fabled creature which works for the “working people”, which in its time in office built only a handful of council houses and only a handful more of housing association ones?  No. An SNP government is what’s done it.

Actually, scratch that. It’s Salmond’s government what’s done it.

Now, readers who’ve been with this blog over the last three years will know that I’m not always our First Minister’s biggest fan.  I’ve criticised him here when I’ve felt criticism was due.  And like any leader or politician, he has his weaknesses and foibles. He is after all only a man, a person like all the rest of us.

But he also has outstanding strengths.  And those are the reasons why he’s been SNP leader not just once, but twice.  And also Scotland’s longest-serving First Minister to boot.  Nearly half of the Scottish electorate (or at least the half that voted) voted for him and his party in 2011.  Clearly, the old guard Labour figures returning to the Scottish fray after decades of plying their trade at Westminster, now besmirching the SNP and what it stands for, trying to take us all back to the 1970s in a political timewarp, appear oblivious to this not inconsequential fact.

The pace of change might have irked many (including me) since 2007, but there is no denying that Alex Salmond has been a radical and reforming First Minister, leading a government which has improved the lot of Scots everywhere. Free prescriptions, free tuition, the council tax freeze, lower class sizes, the abolition of bridge tolls, ambitious climate change targets, laws to protect children from online abuse, to protect our shores and marine life and to better protect women against domestic abuse, and policies to extend childcare provision, to give all children a better start in the first years of their lives and a free school meal until they are eight.

All this and more.  That’s what Alex Salmond has done for Scotland as First Minister.

So, when I hear from some in this referendum campaign that they’re not that keen on voting yes (they’re not a definite no either) because they “don’t like that Alex Salmond” or they wonder what “he’s ever done for us” or the mantra “he’s just like all the rest, they never do what they say they will“, I find myself not only wondering why a no vote matters so much to Scottish Labour that they will lie to their own people to achieve it but also in the most unusual position of rushing to Alex Salmond’s defence.

What’s he done for you?  Some of that list above has made your and your family’s life better.  Didn’t he put all that in the manifestos you voted for?  They said they’d abolish prescriptions, maintain the free bus fare scheme, keep the council tax freeze and get rid of tuition fees – hasn’t his party done that?

And then I give a very recent example.  This Scottish Government under Alex Salmond’s leadership has kept the wolf of Westminster cuts at the door, carefully managing the money they get every year to limit the cuts and the impact of the recession.  Seeing an issue with youth unemployment, Alex Salmond and his government determined that the Tories were not going to get their way in writing off another generation to joblessness, hopelessness and lost life chances.  So a Minister for Youth employment was created and funds found to guarantee every young person leaving school in Scotland training, further education or a job even.

And it’s worked.  Six months after they left school in 2013, 90% of Scotland’s young people are in positive destinations.  That’s more of them in higher or further education, in training or in work.  And where they are not yet in these destinations, more of them are actively being supported to find something that suits them.  That 90% is the highest ever rate of positive destinations.  The SNP is doing better at giving our young people a decent future than previous Labour-Lib Dem administrations – and they were working when we lived in a land of plenty – and doing better than they’re managing in England.

Not bad for a man that doesn’t do anything for folk or apparently doesn’t do what he says he will. And as I also point out to these folk, you don’t have to like a man to respect that he’s the right man at this time to lead our government and to respect that he’s actually pretty good at it.

Why? Because he cares about what happens to the people of Scotland and about making Scotland a better country for us all to live in.  And that’s his number one priority.  The SNP has made a pretty decent fist of things in challenging circumstances.  This has been a government which has been good for Scotland because it has worked for Scotland’s good.

And isn’t what we’ve got a decent starting point in September to take our country forward?  Look at what we’ve done with the powers we’ve been given, think what else we could do with all the powers and resources we need and a government focused primarily on what is best for us, our families, our communities?

Ultimately, though, what I tell folk is this.

The vote in September isn’t for Salmond, but for Scotland and for us.

It’s not really even about him either, but about us.  All of us.

He won’t be First Minister for ever – he is after all 59.  And the point of voting yes in September is that it then gives us – all of us – the chance to always get the governments we vote for.  And if we decide that we’ve had enough of the SNP and a better offer comes along, then that is what we can vote for.  And get.

And would you really rather vote no and have David Cameron, Ed Miliband or even Johann Lamont in charge?





18 thoughts on “In September, we vote for Scotland, not Salmond

  1. Salmond won a “landslide” victory in 2011 with less than half the vote! So much for PR and so much for any hope we might have in an independent Scotland

  2. I’m all for independence
    But if we get independence, surely there will be no more SNP.

  3. I call him the the bogeyman that btg use to frighten the no and the undecided, i have noticed that when having a debate and they are losing their get out is i won’t vote yes because i don’t like salmon. I’m fed up telling them it’s not about him and that it’s just the no brigade puting a fear figure in their mind. I have noticed that they are now listen to the facts more and more long may it continue.

  4. Aye concur ! I am huge Salmond fan. Met him in Rutherglen….privilege. Took opportunity to tell him what I thought……that he was a Scottish Hero.

  5. Well put the reason for voting Alex salmon and the SNP is because they have already proved there priority is Scotland and the people of Scotland .

  6. It is about time someone stood up for Alex Salmond, I’m sick to the back teeth of hearing people run him down.

  7. That was a very clear message Burd that needs to be provided to anyone interested. The “attack the personality ” approach has been conducted for about 2 decades on the First Minister by the Westminster tabloids. People who pay any attention at all to the politics in these politically silly newspapers are bound to have an undeserved generally negative perception of the man.

    The message that he is one of the ones who has helped bring us this far is less important than the fact that “Yes” is not at all about him. If I have read him correctly, he would be amongst the first to agree with that. Politics needs more people like him.


  8. Give alex salmond a break

  9. Congratulations on your latest blog

  10. I’ll put my shoulder to your wheel.

  11. Reblogged this on

    The soft No comment about not voting for Salmond is a common one I hear on door steps and getting the message across that the referendum is about Scotland and is not an election for a political party or for Salmond is an important one. I think you have summed up the achievements of the SNP administration well and a No vote will probably see the end of those achievements simply through further block grant cuts and removal of powers from Holyrood. The real question is WHY Labour is so against such progress and a Yes vote…something to do with MPs wanting to keep their jobs in Westminster – possibly?

  12. Reblogged this on Are We Really Better Together? and commented:
    Its not all about Salmond and the SNP, but for those who instinctively don’t like the man, have you ever sat back and looked at what he has presided over? Facts people, look at the facts rather than listening to political rhetoric from Better Together? No Thanks.

  13. after so many years of labour control now the spotlight is being pointed in their direction it makes you wonder how these MPs council leaders etc ever made it i would call them idiots but thats being disrespectful to idiots what a total self serving bunch of “me” first ,money grabbing party before country lot its through blogs like this & wings + bella etc i have woken up to what this lot have been and are up to the one thing that sticks out is how truly vindictive & petty these people really are it might be a good thing to let the loyal but misguided voted for labour all their lives know what this lot are realy like an example being the scottish labour MPs failure to turn up to their own vote on the bedroom tax this is just one thing there must be a whole series of stuff that they don’t want advertised you see that isnt a problem with a compliant media helping them out, if the polls start to show they are not going to win just watch the rats jump ship then the media with a eye on a commercial gain will ditch them as well this is going to be ugly in the final run up to the vote this lot will do anything to save their skins i just hope the pieces can be picked up by the ones who will be left standing just a thought

  14. Excellent piece – to be sent round as many as I can manage

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  16. Very happy to be able to agree wholeheartedly with every word.

  17. Well said. I agree with all of the above. Going to share this and hope that some of the ‘No’ voters I know will take heed.

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