BBC Homepage World Service Education
BBC Homepagelow graphics version | feedback | help
BBC News Online
 You are in: In Depth: Conferences: SNP
Front Page 
UK Politics 
Talking Point 
In Depth 

banner Monday, 18 September, 2000, 09:05 GMT 10:05 UK
The Salmond decade
Alex Salmond graphic
After 10 years as leader of the Scottish National Party, Alex Salmond has announced his resignation.

He has told members that the party, which is seeking independence for Scotland, is now in its "strongest ever" position.

He steered the SNP through the elections for the first Scottish Parliament for nearly 300 years and was rewarded by the return of 35 MSPs.

But critics within the party have complained about Mr Salmond's leadership style and he was hit recently by the row over the suspension of treasurer Ian Blackford.

What do you think of Alex Salmond's performance as party leader? Who should replace him? Will Scotland gain independence under a new leader? HAVE YOUR SAY

I'm shocked at the way Scotland is turning it's back on her brothers in N. Ireland.
J McCormack, England

The SNP is just a talk shop of people who can't get into positions in real parties, trying to convince happy Scots that under British rule they are having a miserable time, and Alex is the master.
David Graham, UK

It sickens me to read this racist talking shop.
John, UK

I find the vitriol emanating from some of the English writers on this page somewhat disturbing.

Why can't these people grow up and accept the inevitability that Scotland will govern herself?

Also, if Scotland is so desperately in need of English subsidies, as the English political parties say, why are they so desperate to stop us from regaining our independence?
Phil, Glasgow

Alex Salmond sold out the people of Scotland by accepting devolution then ditching the policy of independence.
Julia Mcintyre, England (an exile from Glasgow)

One thing that saddens me is how many English folk, usually so tolerant, are becoming heartily fed up with the resentment, intolerance and animosity of the Scots towards them

Vere Ayer, England
Nationalism is a destructive ideology which has caused most of the major problems in the world over the last century and a half.

Nationalist movements in the British Isles are neither more nor less than an attempt at Balkanistation - with the same consequences, as witness events on the island of Ireland.

Many of us in the UK have a mixture of English, Welsh and Scottish ancestry, and the idea of each being a separate "nation" is rather ludicrous.

But in view of the nationalistic hostility currently fashionable in Scotland, perhaps a geniune split between Scotland and England should occur - although no doubt Scottish nationalism would temper its enthusiasm of if thought it would have to do so without continued English support both of the Scottish people and economy (as has been the case in both obvious and unobvious ways with the ecomony of Eire, whose people have free access to England's labour market and continue to vote in our elections while here).

One thing that saddens me is how many English folk, usually so tolerant, are becoming heartily fed up with the resentment, intolerance and animosity of the Scots towards them - the kind of bitterness and jealousy felt by an underdog.

Wholly unnecessary, when it is remembered how the British as a united people built a great empire and led the world.
Vere Ayer, England

Alex Salmond has always demonstrated his ability to reduce a complex argument based on issues, to one sounding like an argument over a sweetie in a primary one class.

He wants to be the boss - but will not take responsibility when the consequences of his leadership catch up with him.

The SNP are in his words now in their "strongest ever¿ position. Apart from this fact, the party is broke and is selling the HQ in Edinburgh.

Salmond is nothing more than an embarrassment to Scotland.
Steve, USA

Please stop being so juvenile.

Ian Thomas, England
The SNP have stuck by their ideals through all the various attacks on them, for that they should be praised. However I do wish that the people of this small island called Britain would grow up.

Our strength lies in our diverse cultures, in such a small piece of land this is unusual. It is not a question of who subsidises who, or who runs whose affairs it is a case of all working together to once more make our country great.

Ancient feuds and nationalism are being used as nails to hold our country to the past.

Please stop being so juvenile.
Ian Thomas, England

The Scots have proven themselves to be sophisticated enough to have caused a shift of governmental powers, without so much as a bomb blast or a shot being fired

Sue, USA
Coming from America, where the average person can think nothing in the world worse than being ruled by England, I think it is marvellous that the SNP exists.

The "Loyal Oppostition" is a positive thing, if for no other reason than to keep everyone on their toes. Whether or not Scotland is ever really independent or not, should be left up to the people of that country.

Not England, not Wales, not Ireland, but Scotland. Already the Scots have proven themselves to be sophisticated enough to have caused a shift of governmental powers, without so much as a bomb blast or a shot being fired.

A peaceful transition of power is the best clue that maybe the country can stand on its own.

For my part, I have followed this with some interest since the Scotland Act was voted on. The irony of being ruled by a government that on the one hand cannot stop the football rowdies from exiting the UK via Scotland's border, yet can allow a convicted rapist against the general will of the people of Scotland, should not go unnoticed.

I wish the SNP all the best as they enter into the next chapter of their existence.
Sue, USA

At the end of the day as long as the new incumbent pushes on to independence he/she will get my backing.

Donnie MacNeill
As a long-standing SNP member I am sorry to see Alex go so suddenly but it is probably time for a change. The pressure of being leader of such a disparate group of individuals must have been pretty horrific.

I reckon the Kosovo broadcast was 100% correct and subsequent events have proved him to be totally vindicated in what he said. I haven't heard Robin Cook apologise, though!

We must now look forward and, like my colleagues, I'll be studying the list of runners before voting, with my branch, on who we think should carry the torch/poisoned chalice (delete as applicable!).

At the end of the day as long as the new incumbent pushes on to independence he/she will get my backing.
Donnie MacNeill, Scotland

Alex Salmond will rival Gerry Adams in British domestic politics for the titles of "Best Propagandist of the Century", and "Most likely to stir up Nationalist Hatred".

All this guff about 4.5 million Scots subsidising 50 million English because of a limited amount of North Sea oil, which geographically belongs as much to Norway as it does to Scotland or Britain.

Slightly longer pipelines and the oil would come ashore in Northumbria! So when the Scots get independence are they going to do the same for the Orkneys, and Skye, and any other area that is sick of the lowland townies dictating how the Highland and Islanders should live? I doubt it.

Rampant nationalism usually boils down to selfish hypocrisy.
Jez, England

If the narrow-minded Scots want to cut off their noses to spite theirs faces and have full "independence", then I hope it happens sooner rather than later.

It won't remove the chip from their shoulder, they'll still blame the English for everything, including the weather.

At least it'll be comforting to know that no more English pounds will be going north of the border to prop them up, despite what the SNP propagandists tell us.
Graham, England

I am absolutely devastated, Alex Salmond was the best thing to happen to the SNP, and he wil be greatly missed as leader of the party. It will be difficult to find a replacement.

Graham in England, I suggest you get some facts in future before making a fool of yourself again.
Catriona, Scotland

Alex Salmond asked for a grown-up relationship between Scotland and England to be formed and put in place. I would hope this can be achieved.

Andy Melrose, Edinburgh
Alex Salmond deserves great credit for his transformation of the SNP from a fringe party to the only real alternative to the Labour Party in Scotland.

He has increased the support of the party and taken the SNP to its highest position ever. Whoever takes over, and I hope it is a gradualist like John Swinney, has a hell of an act to follow.

Also it should be noted that Mr Salmond has not made the SNP progress through the use of xenophobic language spouted out by the likes of Paul B. and his Sun reading, Tory/UK Independence Party friends with their smokescreen arguments of subsidisation.

We'll see who is REALLY subsidised when the oil revenues and whisky taxes are directed to Edinburgh rather than London.

Alex Salmond asked for a grown-up relationship between Scotland and England to be formed and put in place. I would hope this can be achieved.

Whilst Scottish independence itself is likely to come when the English elect the Tories again (probably the election after next) and they are bound to attempt to meddle with the Scottish Parliament.

At this stage we should take the final step and start out divorce proceedings!!
Andy Melrose, Edinburgh

The only logical way forward to maintain the United Kingdom, is to create a federal system

Richard, Wales
As a patriotic Welshman I must admit that in both Celtic Countries we still have this "grudge" against the English and I think both the SNP and Plaid Cymru have used this to gain support!

However I do agree that Wales should be treated an equal to Scotland, instead of England and Wales as one administrative state!

I feel insulted by Tony Blair who has pandered to Welsh/ Scottish voters in exchange for their parliament and our Cardiff "talking shop" which is supposed to make us feel independent!

Labour's answer to the West Lothian question seems to be: "Well, Scotland's been oppressed for centuries", showing that they are not exactly in touch with 21st century politics!

It is also hypocritical to me that both the SNP and Plaid Cymru have campaigned for independence for decades, but they would be happy to give it all away to Europe!

As a Welsh nationalist and a unionist, I feel that the only logical way forward to maintain the United Kingdom, is to create a federal system (with a tax protection law of course).

The Welsh and Northern Irish assemblies should be upgraded to parliaments equal to Scotland, and a parliament should also be established in England for English matters only, with Westminster remaining the seat of UK government!

This should also separate the difference between England and Britain, as a federal Britain sounds better then a federal Europe!

One other thing I would like to add is that recently Dafydd Wrigley of Palid Cymru also stepped down, yet we seem to hear more about Alex Salmond! Is this another example of Welsh inferiority?
Richard, Wales

I find it troublesome some of the animosity, especially from the Englishmen on this topic

David, Canada
Coming from Canada, a country in which Quebec has now had two referendums on the issue of seperation from Canada, I can only wish logic, reason and good will direct the actions of both the English and Scottish.

A clear and precise referendum for independence in which the public are fully aware of all aspects, pros and cons.

In a democracy the people decide and that is as it should be.

As a Canadian, I would be greatly saddened if Quebec seperated. I would invite Mr. Bouchard, premier of Quebec to the rest of Canada and see if he still agrees English speaking Canada has no culture and is essentially American.

In Quebec however the public have not been given a clear cut question concerning the issue.

The public, in general, are tired of the issue. Most of Quebec view themselves as Quebecers first but they do have attachment to Canada as well.

I find it troublesome some of the animosity, especially from the Englishmen on this topic anyway, concerning the matter.
David, Canada

Looking through the comments posted thus far, it's nice to see the old rivalry is still there. Personally, I always thought that Salmond is like Blair, completely two-faced and untrustworthy.

I will not be sorry to see him go infact I'll help him pack his bags as long as he takes Blair with him. One more thing, excluding property prices, why is it more expensive to live in Glasgow than London?
Bill Hedges, UK (Posted from Denmark)

Recent events clearly prove that the SNP is riddled with splits and factions.

The fundamental nationalists are attempting to hijack the new Parliament with their hopeless aim to be "free by 2003".

Meanwhile, the so-called gradualists who want to be in "heaven by 2007" have failed to hold the Lib-Lab Executive to account.

Under Salmond's leadership, support for the SNP has remained under 30%. And the Salmond-Blackford feud has proved that the Conservatives are now the official opposition in Scotland.
James Scrymgeour, Scotland, UK

Alex Salmond filled the executive of the Party with a bunch of YES people

Iain Lawson
Alex Salmond was a successful leader of the SNP in many areas but he also had a number of key faults which have caused serious problems and have to be addressed immediately BEFORE any leadership contest takes place.

Any new leader must be able to commence their leadership with a clean slate.

These issues must include the a full inquiry into the financial position of the party, the need for much more information about the Ian Blackford situation and the fact that Alex Salmond filled the executive of the party with a bunch of YES people who rarely, if ever questioned what was going on internally within the party in terms of party democracy.
Iain Lawson, former vice-convenor of the SNP and national executive member for 10 years, Scotland

Only in retrospect will Alex's contribution be put in its proper context.

While it is irrefutable that he has brought the SNP to the threshold of administrative office in the Scottish Parliament, his unstatesmanlike (although honest) statement on Kosovo may be seen in context when the historians evaluate his contribution.

I have no doubt that his decision to go is timely, for it will invigorate the rank and file, and breathe new life into the leadership, at a time when his gradualist approach at the helm was being severely examined. Opposition is good training for government, and he will still be on the front benches, so there should be little inconvenience in his departure.

The nation's thanks are deserved for his contributions over the years. I wish him well.
Iain Macdonald, Scotland

Even with the talents of Alex Salmond, the SNP draws a striking parallel to Monty Python's PFJ, the Peoples Front of Judea.

In his absence they will lose a large majority of the support gained as a direct result of his leadership.

No one in the party is up to the job. Any substitute to Salmond will be as charismatic as the McLetchie reign over the Tories.

If the SNP wish to do service to the electorate and their dependants in Scotland, they should disband and make way for a truly effective National Party.

Salmond is indeed "the terror of his enemies".

I suspect that now Salmond is gone the way ahead will only be made clear for a "political idiot", especially if he/she performs in any way, shape or form to the party's compatriots in Dundee.
Vince Campbell, Scotland

I welcome the fact that Alex Salmond has decided to stand down as National Convener of the SNP, not before time.

I sincerely hope that under whichever contender becomes the next leader, the SNP can concentrate on campaigning for independence, rather than wasting time, effort and scant resources massaging the overinflated ego of Salmond.
Alan Smith, Scotland

I think that Alex Salmond has done an admirable job as party leader of the SNP.

While this is obviously not the most important thing, he did wonders for raising the SNP's profile internationally.

He appeared on American TV and radio and made clear his enthusiasm for his party and Scotland's future.

I wish him the best.
Matthew S, USA

I have nothing but admiration for Mr Salmond. Since he became leader in 1990, he has had to fight tooth and nail for Scottish devolution where most people would have given up. It's a shame that he wasn't leader of Plaid Cymru.
Harry Hayfield, Wales

I don't think that independence for Scotland is viable, at least from an economic standpoint.

Scotland has no natural resources, nor enough money nor a large enough population to be a completely independent country.

It is heavily dependent on England for its economic and social livelihood.
Jeff, USA

It is obvious that some of the more nationalistic comments from south of the border suggest that Alex Salmond has hit home on behalf of Scotland.

But in saying that it also gives the impression that the SNP are a whinging "one-man" band.

While I have no truck with nationalism, I think the nationalists will have a great problem finding someone who can orate on their behalf.

As things stand at present, the presentational skills of their major "frontbench" spokespeople could be likened to a machine gun, fast but generally firing blanks.
Gordon, Scotland

The "gradualist" approach of Alex Salmond may yet prove to be the best option for Scotland.

By letting the residents of Scotland see for themselves the chicanery and propaganda of Westminster politicians, he has started a real debate for those who would normally waver between the SNP and other political parties.

The gradual approach has shown up clearly the need for either the union, or independence. Devolution has been shown up for what it is.

An old Soviet style controlled branch of the ruling party, with the so called MSP nothing more than a lackey for London Labour.
Alan Cameron, Scotland

Alex Salmond is a skilful and charismatic politician.

One of his main achievements was persuading many people in Scotland, through a spin doctoring of the figures, that Scotland was needlessly suffering economically under the Act of Union with England.

He made independence sound desirable and realistic, and to that end, he will have left an indelible mark on the UK.

Within a few years from now, Scotland will become independent, and rather like the Scottish parliament, when the initial excitement is over, the Scottish people will look back and wonder how they could have been so misled.

The answer will of course rest at the feet of such skilful and charismatic politicians who cleverly combine the economic spin doctoring with misplaced nationalism, and a sense of historical hardship.
Mark Parish, United States

Although shocked by the news of Alex Salmond's resignation, I wish him well and thank him for 10 years in which he brought the SNP from a fringe party to the official opposition in Scotland.

However, I think the time is right for him to go as he has taken them as far as he can and hopefully a new leader will take us the final step to our rightful place in the family of independent nations.
Bob Ewen, Scotland

Alex Salmond tried to convince the Scottish people they were liberated from the binds of English government and so their future was in their own hands but the truth of the matter is that the Scottish Parliament has less overall power than a local borough council within England.
Tristan Abbott-Coates, UK/USA

Alex Salmond tried to give the Scots back their self-respect

Tariq Hussain
Alex Salmond tried to unite all sections of Scottish society in favour of independence.

He welcomed Scotland's Asian community into the SNP and helped make us feel proud to be Scottish.

He sought to raise the aspirations of all Scots, where the English-based (such as New Labour) parties try to talk Scotland down.

No nation with any sense of self-respect allows its destiny to be controlled by another.

Alex Salmond tried to give the Scots back their self-respect. His successor has a lot to live up to.
Tariq Hussain, Scotland

He does come over as a 'old-fashioned' politician, so perhaps it's right that he stands down

Johnny, Ireland
Alex Salmond was successful in his time as SNP leader, benefiting firstly from the massive "anti-Tory" feeling that 18 years of Conservatism at Westminster bred, and more recently from disillusionment with the New Labour government (which is too right-wing for most Scots).

However, he does come over as a "old-fashioned" politician, so perhaps it's right that he stands down.

In terms of independence, I believe that if the result of the next election is a Tory win (unlikely) then Scotland will be much more likely to go its own way.

If Labour win, it'll depend on whether it's to be Blair/Straw style "New Conservatism" or Mo Mowlem/Charles Kennedy style collective liberalism.

If it's the latter, the UK has a chance of sticking together - if it's the former, then I think its days are numbered.

I never thought I'd be in favour in independence, but if the Tories were get in again, it just doesn't bear thinking about!
Johnny, Ireland

Alex Salmond has left the next SNP leader with serious problems

Steven Kane
Alex Salmond has been the most successful leader of the SNP, though like all the others he failed to take the SNP forward.

In the 1992 General Election the SNP polled 21.5%, 17.5% behind Labour, which was a complete failure for the Free by 93 slogan.

In the 1997 General Election the SNP polled 22%, 24% behind Labour and in the 1999 Scottish Parliament elections, the SNP polled less votes than in 1992. Moreover this was due in part to Alex's Salmond misguided Kosovo broadcast.

Finally Alex Salmond has left the next SNP leader with serious problems. Those are: do they ditch independence as the Welsh nationalists have and argue for more self-government and develop serious policies to make themselves a creditable alternative to Labour with the hope of governing Scotland under devolution?

This could destroy the SNP as the only thing they are united on is independence. Or do they stick with the Salmond strategy which I believe will fail?
Steven Kane, Scotland

Leading any political party for 10 years must be a burden, and Alex Salmond is probably preserving his sanity by getting out now.

He has been a brilliant leader, transforming the SNP into one of the big two in Scottish politics, something which seemed impossible in the past. His achievement will not be forgotten.
Robert N Shennan, Scotland

I am saddened by Alex Salmond's departure as leader of the SNP but not entirely surprised.

John Swinney is a highly able politician and one of a number of people more than capable of stepping into the leadership role.

Oppositions rarely remain out of office for too long, Alex Salmond's successor will be first minister in Scotland's new parliament at some point in the not too distant future.

I wish them well in their desire to return sovereignty to Scotland.
John McDonald, UK

The two nations are becoming more and more polarised politically and there really is no need for the union between them to continue

Having voted for the SNP largely due to Alex Salmond I was reconsidering this on hearing this news.

However after reading the ridiculous views of our southern cousins it has convinced me to continue with this voting policy.

It's only a matter of time before southern England votes in an even more right-wing Tory party than the last lot and I personally don't want to be associated with anything like that.

The two nations are becoming more and more polarised politically and there really is no need for the union between them to continue.

These factors along with the party Alex Salmond has built over the last decade will lead to eventual independence for Scotland.
Jason, Scotland

Sad that Alex has left but delighted that Alex Neil has shown courage to stand. He is a man of vision and compassion who can lead the SNP to outright victory and independence for Scotland.
John Duncan, Scotland

Brian Wilson MP's comments were pathetic just like his contribution to the Scottish economy. Good luck Alex.
John Cox, Scotland

As an outsider, Scottish independence is hard to respect. Why on earth would you want independence for a miserable, frigid mud-puddle the size of a farm?

Isn't it bad enough that Britain today - sadly - has become a run-down hovel? Do you have to tear it apart as well, and become a bunch of miserable, bickering nobodies on the fringe of Europe?
Alex Chiang, Australia

In answer to Mr Chiang's offensive, and quite frankly stupid comments, Scotland should have independence for the same reason Australia is independent.

Scotland should choose her own future and speak with her own voice in international affairs.

We lost our independence in 1707, when the pre-democratic Scottish Parliament was bribed and bullied into accepting union with the English.

It was a shameful and despicable surrender which was opposed by the vast majority of people at the time.

The British state, built on imperialism and colonialism, is increasingly irrelevant to modern Scotland.
Philip Sands, Scotland

He seemed more capable of persuading the English of the benefits of Scottish independence than his own people

Peter Turner
Although I am a unionist and consider myself principally British (having family on both sides of the border), I nonetheless have a great respect for the effect that Alex Salmond had on his party.

He distanced himself from anti-English racism and was refreshingly open-minded about the constitutional question, especially where the role of the monarch in an independent Scotland was concerned.

Do you remember his famous tête-à-tête with Prince Charles? Certainly his parliamentary style was confrontational, but he usually conducted himself with a wit and good humour which made him a pleasure to watch both in Westminster and Holyrood.

Perhaps the greatest and most tragic paradox of his time in office was that he seemed more capable of persuading the English of the benefits of Scottish independence than his own people.

As a result (as another enraged correspondent unwittingly testifies), support for, and expectation of Scottish independence is now higher south of the border than north of it!

Although I entirely oppose the SNP's ideas and aspirations I will miss the personality of Alex Salmond on the frontline of Scottish politics.

He is infinitely preferable to the glut of whinging republican Roseanna Cunningham who will, no doubt, now become more vocal than ever.
Peter Turner, France

Deport all Scottish people from England and make them apply for visas if they want to come back

Paul B.
Salmond contributed greatly to the English getting sick to death of Scotland.

We've been propping up their country for hundreds of years and all we get is pure hatred from Scotland. Make them independent, deport all Scottish people from England and make them apply for visas if they want to come back, cut off all financial aid to Scotland, pull out all British military hardware from Scotland, and if they want the North Sea oil and gas then let them fight us for it.

Maybe another Culloden will shut them up.

Another bonus is that England might end up with an English government instead of the gang of Scots cronies that run the country at the moment.
Paul B, UK

Well said Paul B! It's about time someone said it!
Paul Charters, England

He was not content to see Europe's oldest nation remain a mere province of the English-dominated British State.

Jim Smith
Ireland, Denmark, Norway, Austria, Sweden, Switzerland, Finland and Portugal are all independent nations in Europe of a comparable size to Scotland.

Each and every one of these nations is more prosperous and socially vibrant than Scotland despite the fact that Scotland is the oil producing capital of Europe.

The reason why? Denmark, Ireland, etc. are independent, self-governing nations with a voice at the top table in Europe and the world while Scotland is not.

Alex Salmond's greatest achievement was to point these facts out, and raise the expectations of the Scottish people.

He was not content to see Europe's oldest nation remain a mere province of the English-dominated British state.

He will be missed.
Jim Smith, Scotland

Salmond's leadership may well be remembered as much for the mess he left as the chance he created

Daniel Johnson
Without doubt Alex Salmond's leadership has to be viewed as a success. Despite what you may or may not think about the politics of his party, they now stand as the second largest party in Scotland and threatening to be in a position whereby they could form an executive after the next elections.

However the timing of Salmond's departure could not be worse. The fanatics of the SNP fundamentalist wing are rearing their heads again and will fight the leadership contest with all vigour they can muster.

This is likely to be divisive for the party which has developed into a broad coalition under Salmond.

Their intolerance of any position other than complete secession threatens to rip the party apart. Especially given noises made by some of their number rejecting the Europeanism that has been so important to SNP thinking.

Salmond's leadership may well be remembered as much for the mess he left as the chance he created. The SNP have never been more divided and future uncertain.
Daniel Johnson, Scotland, UK

I am sick to death of the constant whinging that emanates from north of the border

John Lewis
Whoever takes over as SNP leader should campaign for an immediate referendum on the question of independence.

The question in that ballot should simply read: "Are you in favour of complete independence for Scotland?"

I would hope and pray for a "YES" majority, leading to the immediate splitting off of Scotland from England and the severing of any financial links between the two.

No more subsidies going north, and an end to the Barnet financial arrangements.

I am sick to death of the constant whinging that emanates from north of the border. Give them their independence and tell them to clear off.

It would be interesting if we could have a referendum in England to put the question: "Are you in favour of an independent England?"

I have a feeling, if the opinions of the people I've talked to are representative, that there would be a huge "YES" majority for that!
John Lewis, England

I still can't help thinking how different things would have been if John Smith had lived

Ewan McPherson
Although Alex Salmond has taken the SNP to a new arena at the Scottish Parliament, he seems to have adopted the role of "leader of the opposition" rather than leader of the party.

He has done well at Question Time against Donald Dewar and his ineffectual stand-in, Jim Wallace, but seems to me to have been seduced by the fact that the new parliament is still so new that its personality, for want of a better word, has yet to be established.

I would have liked to see Alex and indeed more of the SNP front-bench team emphasise that the SNP is a broadly left-wing party, and that we oppose much of what the Blair government and their Liberal allies are doing on the grounds of our genuine convictions, and not, as it has somewhat seemed, for the purposes of parliamentary points-scoring.

It is my earnest wish that the new leader, whoever he or she may be, starts to take the fight to New Labour on the places where they are weakest - health, education, law and order, and above all, the iniquity of petrol prices.

It is also my hope that the new leader will look to the desires of the young people of Scotland, where our education system is brought back to being the best in the world, and Scottish values and desires over-ride the imitation Tory "third way" of Blair and Dewar.

I still can't help thinking how different things would have been if John Smith had lived. And I think that that's what the SNP needs - an inheritor of many of John Smith's values rather than Alex Salmond's vacillations.
Ewen McPherson, Scotland

Alex Salmond's resignation suggests that the Nationalists are finally falling apart. Who have they got with the oratory style of Salmond?
A. Campbell

Salmond has finally realised that a independent Scotland is an ideological dream, a practical farce and would never be attained. As England works better with Scotland, Scotland works better with England.
Anthony Downie, UK

Ten years is a long time for any party leader. It is clear what the SNP's strategy is; to have a new leader in place for the next UK and Scottish elections.

In comparison Labour will be stuck with Tony Blair and Donald Dewar, who are both having trouble with fractious cabinets, spin doctors and disbelieving electorates.
Malcolm McCandless, Scotland

He must have realised that he was never going to be first minister so he has quit at the height of his popularity. The only way now is down for the SNP
R Horsburgh, Edinburgh

Under his leadership, the SNP dispelled the myth that Scotland is subsidised by England

Alex Scrymgeour
Alex Salmond is a true patriot who worked hard to make Scotland an equal, independent member of the international community.

Under his leadership, the SNP dispelled the myth that Scotland is subsidised by England, and played a key role in establishing the devolved Scottish Parliament - a stepping-stone to independence.

Mr Salmond also made great efforts to explain to folk in England and worldwide that Scottish nationalism has nothing to do with bigotry or jingoism, but is simply about Scots taking control of our own national destiny.
Alex Scrymgeour, Alba

I think he was not very good as a leader. He was all for independence for Scotland, but still wanted Westminster to pay for Scotland.

That's a very fun view of independence. Independence is not just political, it is economic as well. You can't have your cake and eat it.

This is what I think made him a bad leader, as he didn't tell the Scottish people what he meant by independence.
William Dryden, UK

If his aim was to come across as smug, then yes, he has had an extremely successful term in leadership.

He's done nothing for the image of Scots down here in London. You know - where all the money comes from!
Alex S, London, UK (or should I specify England?)

Scotland as a subsidy junkie is a ridiculous myth cooked up by unscrupulous English politicians

Derek Young
So, England is "where the money comes from" then, is it (Alex S, above)? And I suppose taxes paid by people and companies up here just disappear down a big hole do they?

It has been well documented that all other parts of the UK subsidise the south-east of England with all its civil service jobs. Scotland as a subsidy junkie is a ridiculous myth cooked up by unscrupulous English politicians (mostly Tories) and it seems that, unfortunately, some contributors to this page have swallowed it up. Poor lambs.

And the impression that Scots "whinge", as J Lewis suggests, might be reinforced because ignorant English types like himself don't understand the issues.

The "Barnet" (sic) formula is an equalisation formula. That means that, over time, the relative share of UK resources devoted to Scotland is reduced, until eventually it falls in line with Scotland's share of the UK population.

But in Scotland, unlike in England, schools and medical services and roads have to be provided for huge rural areas with wide population spreads.

It is much cheaper to fund education for 600 children in one Inner London primary school than in 40 or 50 Highland villages. But apparently, in the eyes of J Lewis, this is a "subsidy". I call it fair and decent provision of public services on an equal basis to everyone in the UK, wherever they live.
Derek Young, Edinburgh

Not England, Derek. London. As I live in London and work in the city (which may as well be a million miles from the nearest civil servant, btw) I will kindly remind you that London is the largest economic centre in Europe, and has a larger poulation than the whole of Scotland.

Are you aware that if all income tax was collected on an individual basis and average spending per capita was deducted, Londoners are the ONLY people who would get money back?

London does subsidise the whole country - not just Scotland. If the Scottish are so desperate for independance then let them have it.

They can have independence from the the government's tax revenue and welfare system. Fine by me. However, speaking as a Londoner, for the Scots to suggest that they can "devolve" and carry no reliance of the UK government's tax revenue is pure folly.

They are as dependant on tax revenue as any other part of the country. I just want to see my taxes pay for my services - not services 100, 200 or 800 miles away!

Oh, and thank-you to the BBC for censoring my previous comments. I feel that some of the views expressed strongly by Scottish nationalists are nothing more than anti English paranoia.

This, to me, is racism - just as much as discrimination on the basis of colour. It is discrimination on the basis of nationality, which boils down to your birthplace.

All this is grossly away from the point, that Alex Salmond has done nothing that any other politician would not have done, and as far as I can see he was just a socialist with a narrower agenda that was only concerned with less than a tenth of the poulation of the UK.

A man of low ambition. By saying that I'm not suggesting that Scots should not be proud to be Scottish, just as they wouldn't suggest that I should not be proud of being English. Being proud of your origins doesn't mean discriminating against others because of theirs.
Alex S, UK

Let's hope that with new leadership the SNP will again move towards a Scotland which is truly independent. For too long the party has been advocating that we simply exchange control from London for control from Brussels.

Let's first create a Scotland which supports itself economically without subsidy and then consider any offers to join either the European or North American free trade agreements.
Mike Holmes,

He has made a huge contribution in laying down the foundations for a restored Scottish independence

Phillip Sands
Alex Salmond presided over the biggest rise in support for the SNP and Scottish independence in the party's history.

He has made a huge contribution in laying down the foundations for a restored Scottish independence, and as such has ensured his place in our nation's political history.

Incidentally, the correspondent on BBC 24 News, speaking from London (ironically) was wrong in saying that the SNP have 3 seats at Westminster.

In fact, they have six. Also, the SNP is not known as the Scottish "Nationalist" Party, unlike the English newsreader who just made that faux pas.

Also, I see another English commentator trying to spin this story to make out that Alex Salmond was somehow "forced" out by a "civil war" in the SNP - a claim which bears no relation to reality.

Telling mistakes like these that help make the case for independence.
Philip Sands, Scotland

Alex Salmond removed the extremist image attached to the Nationalist Party. He spoke eloquently on subjects and clarified his points with reason, not blind nationalism.

His efforts secured the Scottish people a voice over their own government. Now what is happening with that devolved power is another matter.
Alan, Netherlands

We in Northern Ireland have seen for ourselves the danger and threat posed by militant Irish Nationalism over the last 30 years and I must warn all the people of Scotland that while the SNP are totally democratic they pose a real threat to the welfare of the Scottish people.

The SNP are a party which stands for nothing more than an idealistic and unworkable dream, the New Labour devolution plans were deliberately designed to wipe out the forces of Nationalism, instead Tony Blair has fed the SNP and given what was considered once to be a bunch of loonies on the sidelines an appearance of respectability.

The Union should be preserved at all costs - something which has worked well for nearly 300 years cannot be that bad!.

Next year is the 200th Anniversary of the signing of the Act of Union, which formed this United Kingdom of Great Britain and Northern Ireland (in 1801 it was all of Ireland) - perhaps the Prime Minister, in celebration of the Act of Union will consider scrapping the jumped up county council in Wales and the Edinburgh talking shop.
Christopher Stalford, Northern Ireland, UK

Och aye! Do the Scots really think they can make up the huge subsidies they've enjoyed from England simply by selling more haggis and kilts?
Neil Pearce, England

I suppose they will blame the English again when their Mickey Mouse government fails.
Jason, England

Despite his political sharpness and agility "on the spot" for so long he remained the only face of the SNP which didn't really help the party.

Once the Scottish Parliament elections were held and the cameras turned on Salmond for longer than two minutes then people could see for themselves that there was something missing beyond the smart digs at oppoenents.

That something meant he couldn't really rise in stature.
Rod Aries, Scotland

I'm looking forward to Scottish independence. Yes, I am.

All we've heard from them is 'we want independence'.

How will it feel when you've got to reapply to join the EU, and wait five years to start getting your subsidies?

How will it feel when the Scots have to provide their own navy, with the massive costs that this entails?

How will it feel when government contracts for warships and civilian vessels go to more deserving shipyards in England and Northern Ireland?

How will it feel as your meagre oil reserves dry up over the next 20 years? As your GDP per capita slides down? As your status as an underdeveloped part of the EU disappears and so do all the subsidies that come with it?

Like I said, I'm looking forward to Scots independence. They need us, we don't need them.

I'm sick of my taxes going on a bunch of whingers who don't want a partnership.

I'm sick of Scots MPs being able to vote on English issues, but not the other way round.

I'm sick of their racist, anti-English attitude.

Don't get me wrong, the Scots as people are lovely, but WHY this continual bitching about independence?

If there's anyone that deserves independence, it's the south east of England.

Good bloody riddance. Don't come crying to us.
Russell, England

The oil rigs were built with English money, so we will detsroy them and let you Jocks pay to build them again. Only fair isn't it?
Graham, England

Alex Salmond always based his arguments for Scottish independence on reason and common sense.

He articulated these arguments in a dignified manner which won him international respect.

In contrast, his political opponents (as can be seen in some of the comments on this page) in the Unionist parties use smears and lies in order to frighten the Scots out of choosing the normality of independence.

Like everyone, Salmond had his flaws and his critics. But he deserves to be remembered for what he is, an honest patriot and a true internationalist.
Heather Williams, Scotland, not Britain!

Scotland did all right, I think.
Gordon Swainsbury, Holland

Scotland has the biggest oil wealth in Europe. It is rich in coal, minerals, forestry, fisheries, water, natural gas, shale and peat.

Scotland has unrivalled potential for exploiting renewable energy sources, especially wind and wave power.

Scotland has exceptional human resources: we produce more graduates per capita than England.

We have an excellent record in producing world leading scientists, inventors, businessmen.

We have a similar population to the likes of Ireland, Norway, Denmark, and Switzerland, all of which are thriving independent nations.

The only thing Scotland lacks is the self-belief to take what is ours by right: independence.

Alex Salmond tried to inspire Scots to believe in ourselves, to stop blaming England for our problems and start looking to ourselves for solutions.

His nationalism was unlike the ugly jingoism of the "True Brits". He saw a healthy nationalism - meaning a love of what is best in one's country - as the basis of true internationalism - a respect for all nations and cultures.

Alex Salmond and the SNP are not anti-English. They want to make Scotland equal with England and the other nations.

With Scottish independence, England will lose a surly province and gain a true friend.
Andy Gascoine, Scotland

Margaret Thatcher has done more for Scottish Independence than any other politician.

Alex Salmond would have had to do something extraordinarily insane not to be able to leap on the strong anti-Thatcher feeling that was growing in Scotland.

It was also becoming apparent to Scots that the English people desire a different style of government to Scotland, especially in the very south of England.

And Graham we do not blame the English people for anything.

Power needs to be decentralised if the people are to have their say on how the country should be run and in the end is that not how it should be?

For years Scotlands voice was not heard as it was a Conservative administration running scotland, when we had voted for a Labour govenment. That's not very democratic.
Leon Noble, Scotland

Alex Salmond will be seen by future Scottish historians as a hero.

He has delivered all free thinking Scots from the myth of subsidy to using Treasury figures to show that under his tenure each man woman and child in Scotland has contributed £6,000 more to the UK than the average English household has. All for the ¿privilege¿ of being part of the UK.

He has delivered the SNP from being a fringe party, campaigning on one issue, to being the official opposition in Scotland with a plethora of issues.

This is gradually gaining the trust of the Scottish people so that they are voting for the SNP, turning the majority of voters who agree with Scottish independence into a majority of SNP voters.

This has not been easy, though, as I think that Scotland can be the only country outside Zimbabwe where the official opposition enjoys no positive press support.

This is not due to fundamental weaknesses in their argument but because of press ownership.

All the Scottish media with the exception of the Herald is English-owned (including the Daily Record). This allows the wild claims about subsidy that are made by the Unionist parties to go unchallenged.

Good luck Alex.
Stephen, Scotland

Arrogant and the master of opportunistic sound-bites is how he will be remembered.
Tom Fulton,

Search BBC News Online

Advanced search options
Launch console
See also:

17 Jul 00 | Scotland
Connery praises SNP leader
17 Jul 00 | Scotland
Resignation letter in full
26 Apr 99 | The Scottish Parliament
CV: Alex Salmond
Internet links:

The BBC is not responsible for the content of external internet sites

Links to more SNP stories are at the foot of the page.

Links to more SNP stories