Page last updated at 00:09 GMT, Tuesday, 8 December 2009

Alex Salmond criticised for 'political' Christmas card

A New Journey by Gerard Burns
The first minister's Christmas card is a painting called "A New Journey"

First Minister Alex Salmond has revealed his Christmas card for 2009.

It features a picture entitled "A New Journey", which shows a young girl carrying a Saltire flag, looking over a wintry landscape.

Proceeds from the sale of the canvas, which is the work of Scottish artist Gerard Burns, will be shared among four charities.

But opposition MSPs have accused Mr Salmond of politicising Christmas by using the Saltire in his card.

The first minister described it as "an enchanting and evocative image by a talented artist".

He added: "The proceeds from the sale of the canvas will be shared equally between four extremely worthwhile charities, CLIC Sargent, Glasgow the Caring City, J-A-C-K Foundation and Mary's Meals."

But Scottish Conservative chief whip David McLetchie said Mr Salmond's obsession with independence was "blinding him to reality".

He said: "For the overwhelming majority of Scots, Alex Salmond's so-called 'journey to independence' is a road to nowhere."

The card also came in for criticism from the Scottish Liberal Democrats.

The party's chief whip Mike Rumbles said: "I'm sure people would be more impressed if the first minister had thought about the message of Christmas rather than spent time picking out the most nationalistic Christmas card he could find.

"Everybody knows that the SNP are only interested in independence - the first minister doesn't need to stick it on his Christmas cards too."

Card design by Emma Caughey
Iain Gray's Christmas card by P7 pupil Emma Caughey

However a spokesman for the First Minister dismissed the "bah humbug" attacks on the Christmas card from "party poopers".

He said: "Messrs McLetchie and Rumbles should lighten up and get with the Christmas spirit. They are obviously badly in need of a festive break.

"The Saltire is for all of Scotland, and the artist has presented it in his own style. They also seem to have entirely forgotten that Andrew was Jesus's first apostle."

Meanwhile the Scottish Labour Leader Iain Gray has released his Christmas card for this year.

It is a winter scene of the Scottish Parliament which was designed by 11-year-old Emma Caughey, who is a P7 pupil from Longniddry Primary School in his East Lothian constituency.

Mr Gray said "It is a great Christmas image of the Scottish Parliament and I hope that everyone else enjoys it as much as I did."

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