Page last updated at 12:40 GMT, Friday, 22 August 2008 13:40 UK

Salmond defends Thatcher comments

Alex Salmond and Lady Thatcher

The first minister has called a BBC Radio Scotland programme to hit back at criticism of him over comments on Margaret Thatcher's economic policies.

Labour said Alex Salmond should "hang his head in shame" for saying Scots did not mind Lady Thatcher's economic policies as much as her social ones.

But the first minister dismissed the criticism as "total tosh" and "typical Labour humbug".

The row followed an interview in Total Politics magazine.

In it, Mr Salmond said the SNP had a strong social conscience, which was a key Scottish attribute.

He told the magazine: "One of the reasons Scotland didn't take to Lady Thatcher was because of that."

Mr Salmond added: "We didn't mind the economic side so much. But we didn't like the social side at all."

In a defence of those comments, Mr Salmond called BBC Radio Scotland's Morning Extra programme on Friday.

He said he would never follow Gordon Brown's example of inviting Mrs Thatcher round for tea.

It was a little surprising to hear the First Minister Alex Salmond call in to Morning Extra

Mr Salmond told listeners: "I'm well on the record as never having approved of either Margaret Thatcher's social or economic policies - that's clear if you look at the interview."

And in a statement after the radio show, he added: "I was commenting on why Scots in particular were so deeply resentful of Margaret Thatcher, and I strongly believe that her social message of 'no such thing as society' and the poll tax cut against the grain of Scotland's social conscience.

"That doesn't mean that the nation liked her economic policies - just that we liked her social policies even less."

He said his views were clear from the full text of the interview.

Labour claimed Mr Salmond's phone call was a sign of "utter desperation".

Labour MSP John Park said: "The first minister doth protest too much.

He added: "The screech of the first minister going into reverse gear can't disguise the own goal he's scored with his praise of Thatcherism. He clearly realised that his off-the-cuff remarks have backfired."


SEE ALSO
Tories 'are not dumping Thatcher'
28 Sep 07 |  UK Politics
Brown welcomes Thatcher to No 10
13 Sep 07 |  UK Politics

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