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Live webchat with Scotland's First Minister, Alex Salmond, Tuesday 12 Feb 10.45-11.45am

(105 Posts)
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Carigransnet (GNHQ) Tue 29-Jan-13 10:01:54

We are absolutely delighted that Alex Salmond, First Minister for Scotland will be coming in to GNHQ <tidies desk> to answer gransnetters' questions on everything from Scotland's future and its role in the world, the 2014 referendum to Andy Murray (and taking in education, employment and health, transport, energy, sport and the Oscar-prospects of Disney animation Brave along the way)

Alex Salmond was born in Linlithgow in 1954 and studied at St Andrews University. He was first elected as MP for Banff and Buchan in 1987 and was elected as National Convener for the Scottish National Party in 1990. He served as leader of the opposition in the Scottish Parliament when he was elected MSP for Banff and Buchan Constituency in 1999. He stood down as SNP National Convener in 2000 and left the Scottish Parliament in 2001.

He was re-elected as Leader of the SNP in 2004 and elected as MSP for the Gordon constituency in May 2007. He became the first ever SNP First Minister of Scotland on May 16, 2007. He won the Aberdeenshire East constituency at the May 5, 2011, election when the SNP won a majority of seats of in the Scottish Parliament and MSPs re-elected him unopposed for a second term as FM on May 18.

Marelli Tue 29-Jan-13 10:47:25

Hello Alex. I live in Fife, and am wondering if there's any truth in the rumours that bus passes are to to be stopped or restricted?

Granny23 Tue 29-Jan-13 11:44:19

Welcome, First Meenister. My question is 'Can you explain why in surveys your approval rating is always the highest, by a mile, of any of the political leaders while the MSM never have a good word to say about you?

Marelli Tue 29-Jan-13 17:40:19

Showing my ignorance here, Granny23, but what is MSM? confused

Granny23 Tue 29-Jan-13 17:48:19

Main Stream Media, Marelli smile

Marelli Tue 29-Jan-13 18:28:29

Thank you Granny23 - I should have known that blush!

gillybob Wed 30-Jan-13 12:46:43

Hello Alex. Living in the North East of England I find that I often have more in common with Scotland than I do with the rest of England (especially the South). In my opinion the North/South divide is more apparent than ever and I wonder if Scotland succeeded in breaking away from GB as we know it, what would you do to prevent a "them and us" situation between England/Scotland bearing in mind the close proximity of those of us in the North East of England?

Many thanks. smile

Grandmanorm Wed 30-Jan-13 20:57:23

I would like to tell Mr. Salmond that we are a small Island and that we should stick together. I am Scottish but most fervently do not wish to be separated from the rest of the UK.

NfkDumpling Wed 30-Jan-13 21:42:12

Thank you Grandmanorm . Scotland is a beautiful country, but it's been quite a few years since I've been there and I wasn't sure that I would now be welcome with so much anti-English feeling about.

I would like to ask Mr Salmond why he thinks Scotland is so much worse off than Norfolk or Cornwall or Cumberland or Northumberland? Or any other of the fringe areas of Britain which are largely ignored by London? (Unless they're looking for somewhere to bury nuclear waste)

Large areas of these fringe counties have very poor, often none existent Broadband, mobile phone reception and rail links, chronic road links and virtually no voice.

greatgrandma Thu 31-Jan-13 16:32:05

Hello Alex I am wondering how we can afford to be independent we won't have any money from Westminster so how will we pay for everything does it mean our taxes will soar thereby making life more difficult than it is now.My own preference would be to stay in the United Kingdom. Can I add a bit to the lady asking about bus passes the good news came through today that they are to continue. Well done for that Alex Salmond, thank you.

dimreepr Thu 31-Jan-13 16:54:03

All this talk of devolution and referendums, on splitting from the EU, is just going to put us all back in the dark ages; have we learnt nothing from history? Will we ever learn that pride, in our country/ culture, causes nothing but conflict? Only by being proud to be human, whatever creed or colour, and being of this Earth will we start to think properly. Just think what we could achieve if we all decided to work together; for the good of all, not just me and mine. Time we grew up as a race and throw off our rose spectacles.

dodiegale1 Thu 31-Jan-13 16:55:44

Hello Alex

I am sure that, like me, you are saddened by NfkDumpling feeling that she is unwelcome in Scotland. Unfortunately this is one of the effects of your independence rhetoric. NfkDumpling is not alone. Most of my English friends feel the same way. Are you not worried about the damage you are doing to relations with ordinary English people? The English have been our biggest tourists in Scotland. Whatever the result of the referendum, how are you planning to restore good relations?

wearingwell Thu 31-Jan-13 17:38:10

I'm so relieved that the questions posted above have lttle to do with Andy Murray, Brave or oatcakes. I very nearly didn't click on the thread when I saw the predictable stereotypes. So three cheers for grandparents demonstrating we've broader and deeper interests. As for the above ... you've nearly said it all!

PatMcClay Thu 31-Jan-13 17:47:23

First off, if you're living in Scotland I hope you'll take the opportunity over the next eighteen months to utilise all the information there is on the web and elsewhere so you can make an informed decision.
I appreciate most folk are not necessarily politically minded but I think we owe it to our kids and grandkids to make sure we make the best decision we can for them. Not enough space here to answer your questions but you may find these websites helpful.

www.newsnetscotland.com/index.php/scottish-opinion/4341-a-unionist-lexicon-an-a-z-of-unionist-scare-stories-myths-and-misinformation

weegiewarbler.blogspot.com/2012/01/dissecting-mccrone-report-official.html

www.craigmurray.org.uk/archives/2012/01/scotlandengland-maritime-boundaries/

Secondly this is nothing whatever to do with dislike of the English or anyone else. We have English & Asian SNP MSPs (Mike Russell & Humza Yousaf to name a couple) and quite a few English folk I know living here fully intend to vote yes.
Another fallacy bandied around is that you have to be SNP to vote yes. I'm not and neither are LabourforIndependence, the Greens, Margo McDonald, etc.

This is not something that should be decided without information. It will affect our grandchildren for better or worse and as I want the best I'm voting yes.

LIZZIEMIK Thu 31-Jan-13 18:37:34

Alex - You continually compare us to Norway therefore why do you think it is necessary to belong to the European Union.

nainnainnain Thu 31-Jan-13 20:31:37

It seems that any challenge to the status quo of the United Kingdom arouses a lot of confusion and anxiety, especially among English people.

For example, Dumpling, I don't think the move for independence has to do with Scotland being "worse off than Norfolk"; I think it's about Scotland having a distinct identity and culture.

Also, Dodiegale, I don't see why independence would damage relations with English people; we get on okay with the Irish these days, don't we?

I can understand Gillybob's feeling that NE England has more in common with Scotland than with SE England; and seeing that Northumbria and Cumbria weren't part of England until the Middle Ages but were either independent or joined with Strathclyde, well, if the vote is Yes for independence, how about applying to join (or re-join!) Scotland?

NfkDumpling Thu 31-Jan-13 22:10:51

Norfolk, Suffolk, most of Essex and a little bit of Cambridgeshire - ie East Anglia - is also very different, with our own culture. We are a virtual island cut off from from the rest of the UK by our chronic transport network - our capital, Norwich, is only now, this year, being fully connected by continuous dual carriageway - to London, not that we ever go there. Our own dialect is apparently as impossible for 'foreigners' to understand as Geordie or Glaswegian. Can we have home rule too!

wisewoman Thu 31-Jan-13 22:46:35

NfkDumpling Scotland is a country, not a region. That is the difference.

NfkDumpling Fri 01-Feb-13 06:43:13

Ok, I know I'm being silly. (Although there's quite a few in Norfolk who think we're a country too.) I was trying to make the point we've all been part of a united kingdom for so long now. Just a look at the surnames in the phone book will tell you how much we're integrated - let alone the surnames of recent prime and cabinet ministers. If James 6th / 1st had decided to stay in Scotland and rule from there and things had turned the other way up. Would the Scots be supporting an English referendum for independence? Wouldn't the Scots feel just a little bit hurt? If Scotland leaves then Wales and Northern Ireland may feel they have to follow. Whether in or out of the EU can such small nations really survive or have a voice?

NfkDumpling Fri 01-Feb-13 06:50:39

Sorry, Mr Salmonds. This is supposed to be your question time. I'm putting rather too many points. The main one being that although I live a long way from the border, I would hate it if Scotland left the United Kingdom. I'll go away and shut up now.

Woollyjumper Fri 01-Feb-13 09:09:13

If you want a referendum on Scotland's independence can the English please have one on that independence as well? Not only does it affect the Scots but will affect the English too.

dodiegale1 Fri 01-Feb-13 10:11:47

I don't want to pre-empt Alex's answer but, presumably, this is a forum so we are allowed to put in our two pennyworth. I agree with you, Woollyjumper. However, it is just not practical. What about all the Scots who live outside Scotland? I'm sure they would like a vote, too.

I seem to remember reading that at least one opinion poll showed there was more support in England for Scotland leaving the UK than there is in Scotland itself. I am sure that the majority of Scottish voters (less than a quarter favour Scottish independence according to the most recent polls) are quite relieved that England will not have the chance to vote!

wisewoman Fri 01-Feb-13 16:07:27

There are a couple of things that concern me about independence, though I am very tempted!

The politicians in Scotland often seem to me to be rather parochial and though I am not greatly impressed by Westminster at least there is a bigger pool to draw on!

If we become independent we could end up with a permanent labour government here and that really worries me. I mean, Joanne Lamont running the country is a very scary thought!

Sel Fri 01-Feb-13 16:27:12

Will Scotland apply to join the EU if it becomes independent and if so, which currency will it adopt - the Scottish Pound or the Euro?

Gally Fri 01-Feb-13 16:43:20

Hello Alex.
Can you explain to me why you are so keen to lower the voting age to 16 in time for the Referendum?? It seems that a huge percentage of Scottish residents of voting age don't have a clue about all the why's, wherefores, ifs and buts, so how do you expect the 16 - 18 year olds to arrive at an informed decision? Call me cynical, but it smacks to me of desperation. I am not Scots born, but have resided here for over half my life and apart from one 'gransnetter' I don't know one person in favour of Independence ; in fact I am aware of a number who, should the dreaded day arrive, will move their businesses south of the border.
On a lighter note, my daughter met you at a charity 'do' in Edinburgh when she was 9 and you were masquerading as Santa Claus; she told you her name was Imogen and you replied 'Emma Jane', how nice. I don't think she has ever forgiven you!grin

GrannyE Fri 01-Feb-13 17:55:42

Norway is not a member of the EU

Gally Fri 01-Feb-13 18:14:28

I think that's the point lizzie was making!

nainnainnain Sat 02-Feb-13 15:23:59

Is Scotland too small to be independent?

If I've counted right, there are 85 member countries of the United Nations with populations less than 5 million!

wendylou Sun 03-Feb-13 16:04:30

I'd like to ask Alex this – since your Government recognizes that "obesity poses a real risk to the health of the population in Scotland" (Government NHS HEAT), how do you, as First Minister, set an example to the people of Scotland in respect of diet and exercise?

Bennan Mon 04-Feb-13 16:57:59

Why are Scots living out of the country not being allowed to voice an opinion on this matter? Although I am married to an Englishman and have lived away for a number of years I am a Scot first, foremost and always. Where you live does not change your identity!!

POGS Mon 04-Feb-13 22:06:51

If Scotland leaves the UK and you find you do have to apply to join the EU, as has been declared by Brussels, are you happy to have to join the Shengan [sorry about spelling] agreement. Would that mean Border Controls into the UK?. What if Scotland are Independant and the UK leaves the EU what would happen then with regard to the Border Line.

I hope never to have to find out by the way.

DavidH22 Wed 06-Feb-13 12:21:27

As far as I understand SNP policy you want Scotland to be an independent country separate from the UK but Scotland to be a member of the European Union. Is this not getting rid of one set of rules only to then have to live by another set? It could also take several years for Scotland to be granted full membership of the EU and in the meantime would that mean anyone English living and working in an independent Scotland having to seek refugee status? Finally if Scotland does gain independence any chance of anexing Northumberland to join you?

libra10 Sat 09-Feb-13 09:01:48

I assume that if Scotland vote for independence in the referendum, all Scottish MPs will no longer be allowed to attend Westminster?

Also, I understand that Scotland would no longer be allowed to use the pound as currency, how do Scottish people feel at being forced to use the euro instead?

dodiegale1 Sun 10-Feb-13 15:48:25

I am a newcomer to Gransnet so think I might have been a bit naive here. I notice other contributors to this forum have managed to ask two or three questions to Alex in just one comment. As I have asked only one question so far, I am hoping I might be allowed a second...

I am interested to know why Alex has set Autumn 2014 as the date for the independence referendum, rather than a Spring date. After all, the evenings are shorter in the Autumn and the weather is more likely to be inclement. Elections are usually held in May and there is good reason for that. We have longer evenings and there is more chance of good weather. Older people find it easier to vote. I know that a general election was held in October 1974, but that was because we had a hung parliament as a result of the February 1974 General Election. Since then my understanding is that all general elections have been held in the Spring. I believe the Welsh Devolution Referendum of 1997 was held in mid-September, but all the other recent UK referendums have been held in the Spring. Can Alex guarantee that the Scottish independence referendum will be held no later than mid-September 2014, in order to make it as easy as possible for all age groups to be able to register their votes?

wendylou Sun 10-Feb-13 15:58:08

As I understand it, the primary argument you have presented to the people of Scotland in favour of Scottish independence is that they will benefit economically from being members of an independent Scotland. But – and this is my question – do you not believe, along with the founder members of the SNP, such as Hugh McDiarmid, and others, that independence is in itself of supreme value and would be worth having even if it meant that Scottish people gain no economic advantage from independence?

minette Tue 12-Feb-13 09:15:21

I am not Scottish but I spend most of my holidays in Scotland. It is the most beautiful place on earth but I have always found it incongruous that on the one hand it attracts so many people for healthy outdoor pursuits, yet on the other has the worst health record in the UK. People joke about the deep fried Mars Bar etc - but there is truth in the high fat diet and I have been surprised at what's on offer in supermarkets (so many more high fat processed meat products that I see at home) and even more so by adverts on TV and in the papers for the same. What are your thoughts on this - and what are you doing to combat heart disease and obesity caused by poor diet?

fruitloop Tue 12-Feb-13 09:17:27

Scottish football fans are often acknowledged to be among the 'best' (ie the most passionate, vocal, enthusiastic etc) But the Scotland national team isn't very good. I'd love to know what you think about both of these facts?

Mactheknife Tue 12-Feb-13 09:22:30

Hello Mr Salmond. As a Scot it's great to have the opportunity to 'talk' to you like this. There was a story in the news this week www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-scotland-scotland-politics-21394184 where David Cameron said it's in Scotland's best interests to stay within the UK because having two governments looking after its affairs gives it "the best of both worlds".

I am wavering between thinking "he has a point" and "he would say that wouldn't he?" I have never agreed with him in my life before - but perhaps he does have a point.

I was going to ask your thoughts on this (and still will) - but would also like your honest opinion on David Cameron - personally and politically. There will never be a better place to answer this question - we are all lovely grannies grin

frantick Tue 12-Feb-13 09:23:05

If the British government (or what is left of it) held a referendum that decided we should leave the EU, would an independent Scotland stay in?

closetgran Tue 12-Feb-13 09:26:14

There are still quite a lot of Labour MPs in Scotland. If you win, you may be condemning England to permanent Conservative government. Do you feel concerned or responsible about this?

Bonsai Tue 12-Feb-13 09:29:12

Hi Alex. Do you not think it would be a better idea to improve transport links and easy access to and from Scotland to England, rather than splitting us apart? Surely becoming independent would make it a more 'Them and Us' situation than if you were to try and link Scotland to the SE England?

loafer Tue 12-Feb-13 09:29:56

What do you most like about England?

applepie Tue 12-Feb-13 09:31:32

Following on from loafer... What do you least like about England?

iMac Tue 12-Feb-13 09:37:14

Why is it that EU students don't have to pay university tuition fees, along with Scottish home students, but English, Welsh and Irish students have to pay up to £9k?

marika Tue 12-Feb-13 10:35:17

I see that your deputy Nicola Sturgeon has been named today in the top 20 most powerful women in Britain. But Justine Roberts - founder of Mumsnet and Gransnet is no 7! what do you think?!

GeraldineGransnet (GNHQ) Tue 12-Feb-13 10:49:20

We're thrilled that the First Minister has arrived and even more thrilled that he's brought Scotch pancakes. And raspberry jam from Cupar! Delicious!

So here we go....

AlexSalmond Tue 12-Feb-13 10:49:35

test

Riverwalk Tue 12-Feb-13 10:51:56

Is that pancakes made from Scotch? grin

AlexSalmond Tue 12-Feb-13 10:53:17

Hello gransnetters! We've just finished the pancakes and raspberry jam and are ready for the off. I'm going to do the answers and KatGransnet are going to put them into sentences for me!

fabgran Tue 12-Feb-13 10:53:37

Alex, if you had to choose between total Scotish independence devoid of any association with England in all areas (including defence), or to stick with the current system of devolved government, which one would you go for? Can Scotland be truly independent?

sneetch Tue 12-Feb-13 10:55:14

What is the test of success for Scottish independence? Will it be whether the population starts growing rather than declining?

AlexSalmond Tue 12-Feb-13 10:56:16

fruitloop

Scottish football fans are often acknowledged to be among the 'best' (ie the most passionate, vocal, enthusiastic etc) But the Scotland national team isn't very good. I'd love to know what you think about both of these facts?

Given the raspberry jam, let's start with Fruitloop. I think you're right about Scotland fans. The Tartan Army are fantastic but the team haven't always lived up the support. However with Gordon Strachan at the helm I am confidently expecting another revival.

AlexSalmond Tue 12-Feb-13 10:56:52

loafer

What do you most like about England?

English people and English literature.

downwithcupcakes Tue 12-Feb-13 10:56:54

Have you ever had happy holidays in England?

AlexSalmond Tue 12-Feb-13 10:57:15

Gally

Hello Alex.
Can you explain to me why you are so keen to lower the voting age to 16 in time for the Referendum?? It seems that a huge percentage of Scottish residents of voting age don't have a clue about all the why's, wherefores, ifs and buts, so how do you expect the 16 - 18 year olds to arrive at an informed decision? Call me cynical, but it smacks to me of desperation. I am not Scots born, but have resided here for over half my life and apart from one 'gransnetter' I don't know one person in favour of Independence ; in fact I am aware of a number who, should the dreaded day arrive, will move their businesses south of the border.
On a lighter note, my daughter met you at a charity 'do' in Edinburgh when she was 9 and you were masquerading as Santa Claus; she told you her name was Imogen and you replied 'Emma Jane', how nice. I don't think she has ever forgiven you!grin

Hello Gally and thank you for your question.I believe it is only
right that the youngest adults in the country should be able to have their say
on their nation’s future. The Scottish Government’s view is that the voting
age should be reduced to 16 for all elections and we have already extended
the vote to 16 and 17 year olds in our health board elections and crofting
commission elections. If you can get married, serve in the armed forces or
pay tax, then you should have a say in Scotland’s democratic processes..
Finally a big hello to Imogen and apologies for getting her name wrong. I am
sure the real Santa got it right!

AlexSalmond Tue 12-Feb-13 10:58:17

applepie

Following on from loafer... What do you least like about England?

Some of the members of Parliament!

topshot Tue 12-Feb-13 10:59:49

Would you limit bonus payments to the top executives of RBS if you could? (I think Stephen Hester is on £7.8m a year)

fabgran Tue 12-Feb-13 11:01:21

If you were going to campaign against independence what would you base your campaign around?

AlexSalmond Tue 12-Feb-13 11:01:22

Mactheknife

Hello Mr Salmond. As a Scot it's great to have the opportunity to 'talk' to you like this. There was a story in the news this week www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-scotland-scotland-politics-21394184 where David Cameron said it's in Scotland's best interests to stay within the UK because having two governments looking after its affairs gives it "the best of both worlds".

I am wavering between thinking "he has a point" and "he would say that wouldn't he?" I have never agreed with him in my life before - but perhaps he does have a point.

I was going to ask your thoughts on this (and still will) - but would also like your honest opinion on David Cameron - personally and politically. There will never be a better place to answer this question - we are all lovely grannies grin

I saw the quote as well and immediately thought would someone feeling worried about prime minister's Cameron's new bedroom tax which threatens to lead to widespread evictions. Simply because people have a spare room. I think we had the best of both worlds by having two governments, or is it wise for Westminster government to spend countless billions on weapons of mass destruction while public services need investment. I don't think that most people are on the same planet as prime minister Cameron and his cabinet.

glorious Tue 12-Feb-13 11:04:03

When you eventually give up being First Minister, which celebrity reality television programme would you like to star in? Splash? Strictly? I'm A Celebrity?

AlexSalmond Tue 12-Feb-13 11:05:43

wisewoman

There are a couple of things that concern me about independence, though I am very tempted!

The politicians in Scotland often seem to me to be rather parochial and though I am not greatly impressed by Westminster at least there is a bigger pool to draw on!

If we become independent we could end up with a permanent labour government here and that really worries me. I mean, Joanne Lamont running the country is a very scary thought!

The absolutely key thing about independence is that we will get the government we vote for whether it be SNP, Green, Liberal, Labour or even, although it seems unlikely, Tory or any combination of the above. I've been a member of both Parliaments and absolutely know that we have the ability in Scotland to make a good fist of running all of our affairs. The proof of the pudding is in the success of running health and education and the other devolved issues. The social attitudes survey says that Scots trust their own Parliament five times as much as the Westminister one.

freshmeat Tue 12-Feb-13 11:06:02

What tips would you give someone who wanted to set up an English National Party?

AlexSalmond Tue 12-Feb-13 11:07:25

marika

I see that your deputy Nicola Sturgeon has been named today in the top 20 most powerful women in Britain. But Justine Roberts - founder of Mumsnet and Gransnet is no 7! what do you think?!

I think Nicola will have to try harder, perhaps she should found political-net. Seriously she is a very able and charismatic politician.

AlexSalmond Tue 12-Feb-13 11:09:36

downwithcupcakes

Have you ever had happy holidays in England?

One of my earliest memories is going to Harrogate to be a Scottish solider at a wedding. I was about three at the time. Anyway, it must have rubbed off because I've holidayed in Harrogate a number of times. Mind you, and strangely enough, it was always when the Ebor horse racing meeting at York was on. It makes for a great week and a good marital combination.

AlexSalmond Tue 12-Feb-13 11:10:07

Sel

Will Scotland apply to join the EU if it becomes independent and if so, which currency will it adopt - the Scottish Pound or the Euro?

Morning, Sel. Happy to set the record straight on this one.
Scotland will retain Sterling. In fact, this decision has been backed up very
recently – only just yesterday – by eminent economists such as the Nobel-
prize winning Joseph Stiglitz. Scotland's considerable wealth and assets will
continue to make a substantial contribution to a Sterling Zone which would
provide underlying stability and help us to deliver faster sustainable economic
growth. And just to reassure you, Scotland would not be forced to join the
Euro; after all, Sweden hasn’t joined.

dobby Tue 12-Feb-13 11:10:41

Isn't nationalism a rather 20th century idea? Isn't the future all about alliances across borders? Do you ever worry that nationalism is just not a very progressive way of doing politics?

AlexSalmond Tue 12-Feb-13 11:12:04

sneetch

What is the test of success for Scottish independence? Will it be whether the population starts growing rather than declining?

For many years, Scotland had a declining population but since devolution this has been reversed and the census results from 2011 show a new record population in Scotland. It is one of the measures of the success in having our own parliament. However the real test for independent Scotland will be not just in numbers and prosperity but whether we can build a more equal society.

AlexSalmond Tue 12-Feb-13 11:14:17

glorious

When you eventually give up being First Minister, which celebrity reality television programme would you like to star in? Splash? Strictly? I'm A Celebrity?

Obviously looking far into the future! Can't do Splash, we have enough rain in Scotland already. Not doing I'm a Celebrity, can't eat bugs and I might meet a Tory MP! That leaves Strictly, but I'll have to brush up on my tango.

AlexSalmond Tue 12-Feb-13 11:14:49

Woollyjumper

If you want a referendum on Scotland's independence can the English please have one on that independence as well? Not only does it affect the Scots but will affect the English too.

Good morning, Woollyjumper. As First Minister of Scotland, I am
privileged to be elected to represent the interest of the people of Scotland. I
believe that Scotland and England can only benefit from independence - when

Scotland becomes independent then England will gain a good neighbour.
The future of Scotland is for Scotland to determine, but I recognise that it is
of great interest for people across the UK. It is of course perfectly possible
for Westminster to hold a referendum on whatever it wants – indeed, David
Cameron plans to hold one on the future of the UK in the EU at some point
in the next five years or so. I was elected on a manifesto promise to give
people in Scotland a say over their constitutional future – and that is what my
government is doing.

AlexSalmond Tue 12-Feb-13 11:16:13

topshot

Would you limit bonus payments to the top executives of RBS if you could? (I think Stephen Hester is on £7.8m a year)

I think that's a good argument for consistent taxes on bonuses, not just occasional ones. There has to be a way of getting to grips with 'bonus culture', which has caused so much havoc across financial institutions.

Propulsar Tue 12-Feb-13 11:16:38

What do you consider will be the major new opportunities that will accrue to an independant Scotland that are not available to us as part of the UK?

AlexSalmond Tue 12-Feb-13 11:17:30

NfkDumpling

Ok, I know I'm being silly. (Although there's quite a few in Norfolk who think we're a country too.) I was trying to make the point we've all been part of a united kingdom for so long now. Just a look at the surnames in the phone book will tell you how much we're integrated - let alone the surnames of recent prime and cabinet ministers. If James 6th / 1st had decided to stay in Scotland and rule from there and things had turned the other way up. Would the Scots be supporting an English referendum for independence? Wouldn't the Scots feel just a little bit hurt? If Scotland leaves then Wales and Northern Ireland may feel they have to follow. Whether in or out of the EU can such small nations really survive or have a voice?

Hello Nik, It is fundamentally better for all of us if decisions about Scotland’s future are taken by the people who care most about Scotland: that is, the people of Scotland. We have the greatest stake in making Scotland a success – no one else will do as good a job. The purpose of independence is to make Scotland more successful and to improve the lives of people who live in Scotland. The key difference would be that all decisions for Scotland would be taken by a Scottish Parliament and a Scottish Government. Your point about James VI and I is a good historical one and should remind people that Scotland and England shared a monarch but as independent countries. We could do so again

AlexSalmond Tue 12-Feb-13 11:20:40

nainnainnain

Is Scotland too small to be independent?

If I've counted right, there are 85 member countries of the United Nations with populations less than 5 million!

Good point. In Europe alone, the most prosperous country is Luxembourg with a population about the size of Edinburgh, closely followed by Norway with a population just less than Scotland's. Of course, Norway discovered oil and gas in huge quantities. Wouldn't it have been great if Scotland had discovered oil and gas in huge quantities!

greentara Tue 12-Feb-13 11:22:31

Hello Mr Salmond! I think it would be a great idea if we had live tv debates between yourself and Mr Cameron / Mr Moore and Ms Sturgeon in the run up to the referendum. What do you think??
Also I wanted to thank you personally for all you are doing for Scotland and the Scottish people. Looking forward to celebrating our first Independence Day in March 2016 with my two wee Granddaughters knowing their future is secure!! Lang may yer lum reek Sir!!

AlexSalmond Tue 12-Feb-13 11:23:00

Bonsai

Hi Alex. Do you not think it would be a better idea to improve transport links and easy access to and from Scotland to England, rather than splitting us apart? Surely becoming independent would make it a more 'Them and Us' situation than if you were to try and link Scotland to the SE England?

One problem with the current arrangements is that Westminster never gets round to improving the transport links between Scotland and England. As in, the 'fast rail' which is planned to get to Scotland some time in the next century! I think connectivity and having the ability to increase transport links, rail and air, is one of the arguments for Scottish independence.

Alphafemale Tue 12-Feb-13 11:23:31

What will happen to our rather successful Olympic Team GB if Scotland becomes independent? (i realise this is probably not high on your list of priorities but the Olympics did lift everyone's spirits this year...)

AlexSalmond Tue 12-Feb-13 11:26:09

Propulsar

What do you consider will be the major new opportunities that will accrue to an independant Scotland that are not available to us as part of the UK?

Let's try three:

1. Having government which follow the choices of the people of Scotland, for example, in making what pay without reducing people with a disability to humiliation and extremity.

2. Using the natural resources of the country and human resources to best effect.

3. Recognising that what makes a country great is the excellence of its education, the compassion of its social services, the contribution it makes to humanity, not the number of weapons of mass destruction it can accumulate on the River Clyde.

whippit Tue 12-Feb-13 11:26:14

Westminster has always outsourced a lot of its leaders from Scotland. Where is the Westminster parliament going to go for its leaders in future? smile

AlexSalmond Tue 12-Feb-13 11:29:12

dobby

Isn't nationalism a rather 20th century idea? Isn't the future all about alliances across borders? Do you ever worry that nationalism is just not a very progressive way of doing politics?

At the end of the second world war, there were around 50 countries in the world now there are pushing 200, so independence is very much with tide of history. Of course, 20th century nationalism was about some countries trying to dominate others and building up massive power blocs. Thankfully these days are largely over as nations seek to cooperate for the common good. Of course the foundation of genuine internationalism is having self governing nations.

frit Tue 12-Feb-13 11:30:24

Is your objection to being part of the UK about the pooling of sovereignty? - in which case, why cede powers to Europe? Or is your objection really to England and the English?

AlexSalmond Tue 12-Feb-13 11:30:27

whippit

Westminster has always outsourced a lot of its leaders from Scotland. Where is the Westminster parliament going to go for its leaders in future? smile

I've always had great faith in the people of England's ability to govern themselves! I know that some people say that England can't manage, but it's a great country and will do just fine.

AlexSalmond Tue 12-Feb-13 11:32:04

greentara

Hello Mr Salmond! I think it would be a great idea if we had live tv debates between yourself and Mr Cameron / Mr Moore and Ms Sturgeon in the run up to the referendum. What do you think??
Also I wanted to thank you personally for all you are doing for Scotland and the Scottish people. Looking forward to celebrating our first Independence Day in March 2016 with my two wee Granddaughters knowing their future is secure!! Lang may yer lum reek Sir!!

My lum is reeking just fine thank you! Any time, any place is the answer to your great idea, although I think the Prime Minister seems more keen on running Scotland than in debating about the future of Scotland.

girsby Tue 12-Feb-13 11:32:56

Dear Mr. Salmond, as a kinship carer in Scotland receiving the kinship care allowance for 4 lovely kids that I look after on my own, I wonder when or if you are going to "protect/ringfence" the monies that you make available to la's so that the recommended minimum rate goes to all kinship carers in Scotland? I am currently receiving £83 something per child which is way below the recommended amount. I am aware that many areas in Scotland are paying more and many are paying less!! Due to problems with the current benefit system I along with others are struggling financially ie obtaining housing benefit etc. I would not need to have to try to wade through the red tape of the benefit system if I was in receipt of what was promised to scottish kinship carers - which was the basic minimum foster care maintenance amount

AlexSalmond Tue 12-Feb-13 11:33:29

Alphafemale

What will happen to our rather successful Olympic Team GB if Scotland becomes independent? (i realise this is probably not high on your list of priorities but the Olympics did lift everyone's spirits this year...)

Next year both Scotland and England will have teams in the Commonwealth Games in Glasgow. And both countries will get behind the sportswomen and men. I thought the London Olympics were great and set the bar high for Glasgow. We'll see if we can jump over it.

AlexSalmond Tue 12-Feb-13 11:34:03

LIZZIEMIK

Alex - You continually compare us to Norway therefore why do you think it is necessary to belong to the European Union.

Morning Lizziemik. Norway is an outstanding example of an independent country which is husbanding its oil and gas resources for long term benefit, while Westminster has frittered Scotland’s North Sea revenues away. With more value to come from the North Sea than has been generated to date, Scotland has every opportunity as an independent nation to deliver similar benefits as Norway has secured. Fortunately in Scotland we are already members of the EU and Scots enjoy EU citizenship. But we need independent and equal representation within the EU as a Member State to negotiate directly for our country’s own interests. It is the clear view of the Scottish Government and a range of eminent experts that it is not necessary to be in the EU but it is the best policy.

AlexSalmond Tue 12-Feb-13 11:36:15

frit

Is your objection to being part of the UK about the pooling of sovereignty? - in which case, why cede powers to Europe? Or is your objection really to England and the English?

Best answer under devolution Scotland controls 8% of our taxation base, rising to 16% shortly. Under independence in Europe, we'll control 100% of our taxation base. I think 100% is independence in economic terms and 16% clearly isn't. Under independence people in Scotland, wherever they come from, will decide how to run the country and we really will be best pals with England.

wendylou Tue 12-Feb-13 11:36:43

But if Scotland were independent and the government wanted to introduce a high-speed rail link from Glasgow to Birmingham, it would still need approval of the government in Westminster. Wouldn't it be easier to organize the railways for Britain with one government rather than two in two independent countries?

AlexSalmond Tue 12-Feb-13 11:36:59

greatgrandma

Hello Alex I am wondering how we can afford to be independent we won't have any money from Westminster so how will we pay for everything does it mean our taxes will soar thereby making life more difficult than it is now.My own preference would be to stay in the United Kingdom. Can I add a bit to the lady asking about bus passes the good news came through today that they are to continue. Well done for that Alex Salmond, thank you.

Good morning, great grandma and others who were concerned about free bus travel for the elderly. I am very happy to say that the concessionary travel scheme will be continued as part of supporting pensioners and disabled people to lead healthier and happier lives. I know it makes a real difference for many. On how we will pay to be independent, Scotland is already a prosperous nation. Even without oil and gas, we are the third most successful part of the UK outside London and the South East and recent figures have also shown that Scots would be £500 a year better off in an independent Scotland.

AlexSalmond Tue 12-Feb-13 11:39:22

freshmeat

What tips would you give someone who wanted to set up an English National Party?

Good choice of username at the moment! Any party should try to represent the best of the country. The SNP is certainly not perfect but most people believe, whether they agree with us or not in independence, that we have the best interest of Scotland at heart. Looking at the political parties in England, I find it difficult to say that about any of them at the present moment. Perhaps things will change.

AlexSalmond Tue 12-Feb-13 11:39:53

Granny23

Welcome, First Meenister. My question is 'Can you explain why in surveys your approval rating is always the highest, by a mile, of any of the political leaders while the MSM never have a good word to say about you?

Hello Granny22. It is part and parcel of being FM that you come in for some stick from the press now and then. Besides, in the words of Robert Burns, 'The mair they talk, the better I'm kent.' However, it appears that mainstream media is dying. And obviously it’s quite clear that discussion forums such as Gransnet are taking over!

AlexSalmond Tue 12-Feb-13 11:44:14

fabgran

Alex, if you had to choose between total Scotish independence devoid of any association with England in all areas (including defence), or to stick with the current system of devolved government, which one would you go for? Can Scotland be truly independent?

fabgran

If you were going to campaign against independence what would you base your campaign around?

Mustn't give too much away to our opponents, however I wouldn't run the dispiriting fear mongering campaign that they're engaged in - it will run out of puff, just as it did in the Scottish elections in 2011. On your first point, I've always voted for any improvement in the powers for the Scottish parliament, but independence has always been my passion and belief. Finally, all countries are inter-dependent one upon the other, that's how it should be. But we have the chance to build a really special country in Scotland that matches the abilities and sentiment of our people. I think we should take that chance and contribute to our neighbours in England across these islands and internationally as an independent nation which recognises its responsibilities to the world community.

AlexSalmond Tue 12-Feb-13 11:45:07

Bennan

Why are Scots living out of the country not being allowed to voice an opinion on this matter? Although I am married to an Englishman and have lived away for a number of years I am a Scot first, foremost and always. Where you live does not change your identity!!

Hello Bennan and thank you for your question. Firstly, I absolutely appreciate your point that where you live does not change your identity. That’s why our Homecoming celebrations where we extend an invitation to Scots around the world to return for a visit are so successful. 2014 is when our next Homecoming Year takes place and all Gransnetters are invited! On your question of eligibility to vote in the referendum, this will be based on who can vote at Scottish Parliament and Scottish local government elections. That means broadly that those resident in Scotland will be eligible to vote. This follows the precedent of the 1997 referendum on establishing a Scottish Parliament.

Propulsar Tue 12-Feb-13 11:47:59

I have read today that a recently issued UK Government white paper states that,

"An alternative view is that as a matter of international law England continued, albeit under a new name and regardless of the position in domestic law, and was simply enlarged to incorporate Scotland"

This leads to an interpretation that Scotland ceased to exist after 1707.

What is your opinion on such a view?

fabgran Tue 12-Feb-13 11:49:02

Alex, do you think politics today is motivated by ideology or identity?

albadav Tue 12-Feb-13 11:49:41

David Cameron is Two faced?

Cameron tells us Britain is broken: www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/2010/jan/24/cameron-broken-britain

Cameron claims we are best off directly ruled by the London state: news.stv.tv/politics/213333-prime-minister-tells-scottish-voters-britain-works-why-break-it

Which one of these statements is true.

I'm an SNP member and proud of it.

AlexSalmond Tue 12-Feb-13 11:50:59

POGS

If Scotland leaves the UK and you find you do have to apply to join the EU, as has been declared by Brussels, are you happy to have to join the Shengan [sorry about spelling] agreement. Would that mean Border Controls into the UK?. What if Scotland are Independant and the UK leaves the EU what would happen then with regard to the Border Line.

I hope never to have to find out by the way.

Hello POGS. We are quite clear on where we stand with membership of the EU but I’d like to stress that an independent Scotland would have an open border with England. As a full member of the European Union, Scottish borders would remain open to European Union nationals, just as Scots are free now to move throughout the European Union. And just as no one from the UK needs a passport to travel to Ireland now, there would be free movement across the border between Scotland and England. Also, an independent Scotland will issue its own passports which would offer shared or dual citizenship.

AlexSalmond Tue 12-Feb-13 11:52:29

DavidH22

As far as I understand SNP policy you want Scotland to be an independent country separate from the UK but Scotland to be a member of the European Union. Is this not getting rid of one set of rules only to then have to live by another set? It could also take several years for Scotland to be granted full membership of the EU and in the meantime would that mean anyone English living and working in an independent Scotland having to seek refugee status? Finally if Scotland does gain independence any chance of anexing Northumberland to join you?

Independence will mean Scotland will be in a position to build strong new relationships. It will also mean we can control 100 per cent of our taxes. We control 16 per cent of our taxes at present – that’s not independence. We want a partnership of equals where a social union replaces the current political union. After all, the Queen will still be our head of state. And it is worth remembering that that we will be negotiating from within as we will at no point leave the EU. And in Europe, an independent Scotland would continue to share open borders, shared rights, free trade and extensive cooperation. On the subject of Northumberland? - well that’s purely for the people in your beautiful part of the country to decide!

AlexSalmond Tue 12-Feb-13 11:53:55

dodiegale1

I am a newcomer to Gransnet so think I might have been a bit naive here. I notice other contributors to this forum have managed to ask two or three questions to Alex in just one comment. As I have asked only one question so far, I am hoping I might be allowed a second...

I am interested to know why Alex has set Autumn 2014 as the date for the independence referendum, rather than a Spring date. After all, the evenings are shorter in the Autumn and the weather is more likely to be inclement. Elections are usually held in May and there is good reason for that. We have longer evenings and there is more chance of good weather. Older people find it easier to vote. I know that a general election was held in October 1974, but that was because we had a hung parliament as a result of the February 1974 General Election. Since then my understanding is that all general elections have been held in the Spring. I believe the Welsh Devolution Referendum of 1997 was held in mid-September, but all the other recent UK referendums have been held in the Spring. Can Alex guarantee that the Scottish independence referendum will be held no later than mid-September 2014, in order to make it as easy as possible for all age groups to be able to register their votes?

Good morning, Dodiegale. Good to hear from you and your question about the timing of the referendum vote is actually very important. The reason for settling on the autumn of 2014 is two-fold: firstly it’s before the clocks go back and secondly Scotland is already preparing for an incredibly busy year on the international stage – what with the Ryder Cup and the Commonwealth Games. Quite rightly, attentions will be focused on these wonderful events earlier in the year and it is only right that we take our time and ensure all the facts are out there so the people can make the biggest decision in generations.

AlexSalmond Tue 12-Feb-13 11:54:38

wendylou

As I understand it, the primary argument you have presented to the people of Scotland in favour of Scottish independence is that they will benefit economically from being members of an independent Scotland. But – and this is my question – do you not believe, along with the founder members of the SNP, such as Hugh McDiarmid, and others, that independence is in itself of supreme value and would be worth having even if it meant that Scottish people gain no economic advantage from independence?

Morning, Wendylou. Couldn’t have said it better myself. I fully agree. A sense of identity, a new confidence in a proud nation with a strong sense of social justice, a good global citizen: these are all attributes which Scotland aspires to through independence. And of course the fact that we will flourish economically is also a welcome bonus!

AlexSalmond Tue 12-Feb-13 11:55:13

Thanks for all the questions, if invited I'll come back soon. I think the pancakes have got me in solid with the Gransnet team. Maybe I'll come back for St Andrew's day, armed with shortbread - and whisky.

GeraldineGransnet (GNHQ) Tue 12-Feb-13 11:57:28

Thanks to the First Minister for getting through a long list of questions with such grace and good humour. Thanks too for the delicious and topical pancakes and jam. Next time, whisky...

wendylou Tue 12-Feb-13 12:11:05

Thanks to Alex for answering one of my (two) questions.

The unanswered question was 'how do you, as First Minister, set an example to the people of Scotland in respect of diet and exercise?', and it seems the answer to that is, 'sitting around eating scotch pancakes and rasberry jam'.

Gally Tue 12-Feb-13 12:19:17

wendylou grin. I was not in the slightest surprised that the ample Mr.Salmond avoided answering that one! cupcake

POGS Tue 12-Feb-13 19:27:07

I thought he answered a good number of varied questions.

Better than Yvette Cooper.

NfkDumpling Tue 12-Feb-13 19:36:47

He did well, but I'd still be sorry if Scotland left the UK.

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