Alex Salmond attacked for holding on to 'golden goodbye'

Scottish Labour Party criticise former First Minister

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Indy Politics

Alex Salmond has refused to hand back a £65,000 "golden goodbye" in a move that the Scottish Labour Party branded a “kick in the teeth” to Scottish families.

The former SNP leader claimed the resettlement grant when he stood down as a Westminster MP in 2010, but now Scottish opposition parties have called on him to repay the cash after he announced he would seek to return to the Commons in next May’s general election.

The grant is designed to provide assistance to MPs who are leaving politics, but Mr Salmond continued serving as an MSP and leader of the SNP when he accepted the financial support after standing down from his Banff and Buchan seat in Westminster.

According to an SNP spokesperson Mr Salmon has already donated £25,000 - half the post-tax sum - to a charity he set up in his mother’s name. They added that, if elected next year, he would also donate either his new MP or current MSP salary to the Mary Salmond Trust.

However opposition politicians have reacted with fury to the financial disclosure and questioned what Mr Salmond did with the remaining £25,000 from his resettlement grant. When it was awarded he faced criticism as he was drawing £137,000 a year as an MSP and Scotland’s First Minister.

A spokesperson for the Scottish Labour Party said: “Alex Salmond spent the referendum telling Scots why we should leave Westminster behind, but now he plans to head back there. Being an MP isn't a retirement project, it's a full time job. But Alex Salmond only seems to want it as a platform to campaign for independence funded at taxpayers’ expense.”

 

Neil Findlay, who is standing in the Scottish Labour leadership election, told the Independent: “Alex Salmond hates Westminster so much he is trying to return to the House of Commons for the third time. Over the course of his career Mr Salmond will have taken millions of pounds from the taxpayer in salary and expenses I can't see him being short of a few quid. The resettlement grant is supposed to be for those who find themselves out of employment seeking another job. He had another job in Holyrood.”  

Conservative MSP Alex Johnston also attacked the former SNP leader for attempting to break his own parties opposition to “dual mandate politicians”.

He told the Telegraph: “With Alex Salmond seeking a return to Westminster, the public would generally accept that this money has been paid inappropriately. When cash from the taxpayer has been paid out inappropriately, it should be returned. And that’s not just the cash he kept, but the money he gave away too.”

From next May Mr Salmond is expected to serve as both an Westminster MP for Gordon and as MSP for Aberdeenshire East, until giving up his Scottish parliament seat at the 2016 Holyrood elections.

The SNP said that the Mary Salmond Trust has already received £100,000 in support, but did not detail how much of this way paid by Mr Salmond.

They said: “The grant was of course entirely appropriate – as for other politicians over the years who have left Westminster and subsequently returned – and no other politician has given away money to charity to anything like the extent Mr Salmond has. Tory politicians who haven’t given a penny piece are in no position for criticise.”

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