Alex Salmond faces a sceptical nation - FT.com
Fascinating story in the FT describing the low morale among the SNP activists in Glasgow.
For a while SNP was able to ride the waves but now activists are asking questions about Alex Salmond, and expressing disappointment that he is not moving on. He is making the same old speech to party conference.
Last Tuesday may have been the worst day in the first minister’s 25-year political career. It began with the news that two of his MSPs were resigning over the party’s decision to drop its decades-long opposition to remaining in Nato – a reversal Mr Salmond backed to move the SNP further into the mainstream.
That news was compounded when, Nicola Sturgeon, his deputy, revealed that contrary to earlier suggestions, the Scottish government had no legal advice that justified its assertion that the country could remain in the EU after independence. Not only had Mr Salmond suggested such advice had been sought and given long ago but the Scottish government had spent £12,000 of taxpayers’ money on a legal challenge to prevent having to disclose its contents.
Ms Sturgeon’s statement triggered a hostile reaction in the Scottish press. The Scottish Sun, which supported the SNP in 2011, ran a front-page headline branding Mr Salmond: “EU Liar”.
So is this the low point of his five-year rule as first minister?
That said, it may be too soon to write him off as he has come back before:
Mr Salmond is powered by a sense of being able to defeat the odds, say friends, which was further fuelled by overturning the polls in last year’s Holyrood elections.
This conviction he can achieve the politically impossible by sheer force of his own personality makes him remarkably resilient. When he stood down from the party leadership in 2000 amid bitter criticism of his “dictatorial” style, his career seemed over. Yet four years later, just months after saying he would not run again for the leadership, he was back at the SNP helm. Three years after that he was first minister.