Salmond Takes Final Questions

13 November 2014, 13:30

Alex Salmond insisted he has a "substantial record of achievement'' in government as he came under fire for the last time at First Minister's Questions.

Labour claimed the "real legacy'' of the departing First Minister is that he would leave Scotland "more divided than ever''.

But Mr Salmond, who stands down as SNP leader at his party's conference tomorrow and will formally leave government next week, said Labour in Scotland was "destined for destruction'' as a result of its alliance with the Conservatives in the referendum campaign.

Hours after the result of the independence referendum was declared, Mr Salmond announced he would be quitting both as party leader and First Minister.

Today he was challenged on his record by opposition leaders as he took centre stage at First Minister's Questions for the 215th and final time.

With the Labour Party in Scotland without a leader at the moment in the wake of Johann Lamont's sudden resignation, he was questioned first by Jackie Baillie.

The Labour MSP said: "Today does mark the end of an era. No-one can deny Alex Salmond's passion for Scotland, nobody can deny his love for his country.

"But the real tragedy is that he was so blinkered by his passion for independence that the powers he already has, powers to tackle poverty, reduce inequality, to deliver social justice, were pushed into second place.''

She added: "Is it not the case that his real legacy is leaving Scotland more divided than ever?''

Mr Salmond told her: "I think the administration has had a substantial record of achievement over these last seven years.

"But in many ways it doesn't matter what I think of it, it surely is what the people of Scotland think about it.

"If I could remind Jackie Baillie this government was elected with an overall majority in a proportional parliament.''

Following recent opinion polls which have given the SNP the lead over Labour in both Holyrood and Westminster voting intentions, he said there were also "more recent indications this support seems to be growing, not diminishing''.

He continued: "I think there have been substantial achievements - if I could name but two, the reintroduction of free higher education in Scotland and, looking forward, the introduction of free school meals in primaries one to three, I think that's a substantial move forward.''

Mr Salmond has faced various Labour leaders over his time as First Minister - including Wendy Alexander, Iain Gray and Ms Lamont -  but he said there had been a "continuing failure'' from the party to "establish or to even redress the decline, the collapse in its fortune''.

He told Ms Baillie: "If I could offer her one piece of advice, which she could translate to her leader, whoever that may be: People in Scotland no longer know what the Labour Party stands for but they do know who they stood with in the referendum campaign.

"Any political party in alliance with the Tory Party is destined for destruction in Scotland and that is exactly what is happening.''