It may seem like nitpicking, but here’s a quote that doesn’t quite ring true, from an article in today’s FT with the catchy title of ‘Stalwarts at Salmond’s side test opponents in independence debate’. One of his unnamed acolytes, referring to various SNP types:
“No wonder they are loyal: he’s been SNP leader for 25 years and most of them have been with him for that length of time”
Is this correct?
Well, the facts seem to reveal a murkier chapter in SNP history.
Here is the Wikipedia detail:
From 1987 to 2010 he served as Member of Parliament for Banff and Buchan in the House of Commons of the United Kingdom. Salmond previously held the position of leader of the SNP from September 1990 until he stepped down in September 2000. Following the establishment of the devolved Scottish Parliament in 1999, he was elected MSP for Banff and Buchan, thus simultaneously representing the area as both Member of Parliament (MP) and MSP. Salmond resigned as SNP leader in 2000 and did not seek re-election to the Scottish Parliament. He did however retain his Westminster seat in the 2001 general election. Salmond was once again elected SNP leader in 2004 and the following year held his Banff and Buchan seat in the 2005 general election. In 2006 he announced his intention to contest the Gordon constituency in the 2007 Scottish Parliament election, an election in which Salmond defeated the incumbent MSP and in which nationally, the SNP emerged as the largest single party. Salmond was voted First Minister by the Scottish Parliament on 16 May 2007.
So Eck started as leader just under 24 years ago, then quit both the leadership and the Scottish Parliament, but happily carried on down in London as a Westminster MP. In fact he was a Westminster MP from 1987 to 2010, including the usual expenses shenanigans and a lousy performance record.
Far from an unbroken 25 years as leader, as implied in the FT, there is some mystery still about why he quit both the leadership and subsequently his MSP seat back in 2000, to spend more time in London. Given the fact that he’d now got a Scottish Parliament to perform in, it seemed a bit odd.
Even more so was his famous (at the time) Sherman Pledge in 2004, regarding the SNP leadership, after John Swinney stepped down:
“If nominated I’ll decline. If drafted I’ll defer. And if elected I’ll resign.”
The next month, in what still seems to be an amazing volte face, he was back as leader. Given the minimal explanation he provided for this, with the highly implausible claim of doing it “with a degree of surprise and humility”, it’s strange how this goes almost unmentioned at this time in Scotland’s history. Was he really that commited to Scotland?
So, it all perhaps seems a bit trivial, but given his ongoing attempt to destroy the UK, with the usual misleading guff about English/Tory bullying, it seems appropriate to highlight just how wedded Eck was to Westminster, and how ‘unusual’ his return to Scotland was. Just one of the many mysteries about the great man.
Eck gets an easy ride from most of the press, including numerous starstruck London hacks, yet just like his exciting policies, it’s remarkable how much goes unexamined.