Famous and not so famous Brits (part1)
Alex Salmond, the First Minister of Scotland
Alex Salmond (b.1954) is the First Minister of Scotland and the leader of the Scottish National Party. He was born and brought up in Linlithgow, the historic town famous for its Palace, the birthplace of Mary Queen of Scots.
He was educated at the town’s secondary school, Linlithgow Academy, and at the University of St. Andrews, where he studied economics and medieval history and began his political career. He was one of the few nationalist students at an ancient university which was known for being a bastion of Conservatism. After leaving university he worked at the Department of Agriculture and Fisheries, and then as an economist at the Royal Bank of Scotland. Initially on the left wing of the SNP, he was briefly expelled from the party before being allowed to re-join, and was elected as an MP for the constituency of Banff and Buchan in 1987. In that year he also became a deputy leader of the SNP and in 1990 won the election for leadership of the party. He served as the leader until September 2000, when he honoured his promise to give up the role after ten years. In 2004 he was re-elected as the party leader and has been the First Minister since the Scottish elections of 2007, when he took charge of an SNP minority government. In the 2011 election he led his party to victory and has succeeded in calling for a referendum on Scottish independence to be held in September 2014. He has been described by the cultural commentator John Gray as “the most consistently able operator in British politics”.
He became a well-known fi gure throughout the UK during his time as a Westminster MP, where he made a strong impression in parliamentary debates and also performed well in television interviews. He is a far more relaxed, witty and eff ective communicator than most of his political rivals, a quality which has contributed to his popularity; opinion polls show that he is more popular than his party. His politics have been described as a “pro-market socialdemocratic populism”, infl uenced by Scandinavian social models. The SNP wishes to use revenues from the North Sea oil extracted in Scottish waters to develop the country’s economy and modernise its infrastructure, and opposes the public spending cuts imposed by the UK government. Outside politics, Salmond enjoys reading, music (at school he was a talented boy soprano), golf, football and betting on horse-racing. He wrote a weekly newspaper column as a racing tipster, and some have seen a connection between his skill in studying the “form” of racehorses and his ability to wrong-foot his political opponents. Whether, as he fervently hopes, the Scottish public will vote for independence in 2014, remains uncertain; but whatever the outcome of the referendum, Alex Salmond’s reaction to it will be worth watching.
NOTE: The Scottish Government will hold a referendum of Scotland’s electorate, on the issue of independence from the United Kingdom, on Thursday 18 September 2014 following an agreement between the Scottish Government and HM Government. The Referendum Bill, setting out the arrangements for this referendum, was put forward on 21 March 2013. The question asked in the referendum will be “Should Scotland be an independent country?” More on the subject can be found at: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/ Scottish_independence_referendum,_2014
Colin Ellis, NaukaBezGranic