Alex Salmond steps down as Scotland's First Minister - but he won't be gone for long

Outgoing SNP leader hopes to stand for another Westminster seat

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Indy Politics

Alex Salmond has ended his seven-year reign as Scotland’s First Minister, claiming he had delivered “substantial achievements” in Holyrood. Yet the prize of independence he failed to secure in September’s referendum remains firmly within his sights.

In his last First Minister’s Questions session, marking the 215th time he has faced the Edinburgh assembly, Mr Salmond joked that despite the Labour ranks calling for the resignation of most of his SNP colleagues, he was never the subject of a dismissal campaign. He said: “Does this not represent the Labour Party’s unerring ability to miss the target on each and every occasion?”

Mr Salmond, who will see his former deputy, Nicola Sturgeon, crowned the SNP's leader at the party’s annual conference in Perth this weekend, is expected to announce that he will stand next year to regain a seat in Westminster. Party sources say he will stand somewhere in Aberdeenshire. He was MP for Banff and Buchan from 1987 till 2010.

 

In an interview with Newsweek, published on the eve of  his final FMQs, he claimed that Holyrood should be given the power to run its own elections and decide when and if another referendum should be held.

He hinted that this power would form the basis of any potential coalition deal with Labour. Current opinion polls suggest Labour face a near wipe-out of their Scottish MPs, but Labour could still emerge as the largest party in next May’s general election.

Although Labour are unlikely to barter the union’s future in return for SNP support, Mr Salmond recently said he was confident Scotland would be an independent sovereign state within his lifetime.

Timeline: The Alex Salmond Story

Highs:

1973 One of two under-graduates members of the SNP attend a meeting of Student Nationalists at St Andrews University. Salmond is “elected” president, the other treasurer.

1987 Stands for Westminster parliament in Banff and Buchan and defeats incumbent Tory, Albert McQuarrie.

2004/2007 Wins his old job back as SNP leader. Within three years becomes First Minister of a minority SNP government.

2011 Leads the SNP to a spectacular victory in Holyrood election. Of Scotland's 73 constituencies, only 20 are not held by the SNP.

Lows:

1982 Salmond is leading member of left-leaning faction within the SNP - the 79 Group, named after the failed 1979 devolution referendum. He believes the SNP needs Scotland's working class. Then leader, Gordon Wilson, disagrees. Salmond is briefly expelled.

1993 Salmond promises an army of SNP MPs at the 1992 general election. He fails. The slogan “Free in 93” is parodied as “On the floor in 94”.

2000 Stands down as SNP leader and leaves  Holyrood as MSP in 2001.

2014 Making Westminster dance to his “Scottish jig” never happened. Salmond's claimed majority in favour of independence is a mirage. Over 2 million Scots vote 'No', a majority of over 400,000.

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