Page last updated at 12:32 GMT, Thursday, 4 October 2012 13:32 UK

Scottish Parliament

Alex Salmond accused the Labour party of becoming the "new Tory party of Scotland" during first minister's questions on 4 October 2012.

Mr Salmond said support for the party would "vanish like snow off a dyke" if it abandoned its traditional support of universal benefits.

He was responding to questions from Scottish Labour leader Johann Lamont, who said the first minister was in "denial about what is happening in real Scotland".

Ms Lamont asked who would pay for the next £3bn of cuts saying the "poor, vulnerable, hard working families in this country" had noticed the impact of the £2.7bn cuts already made.

Last week in a speech to fellow party members the Scottish Labour leader criticised a "something for nothing" society, casting into doubt Labour's support for free university tuition fees, the council tax freeze and free NHS prescriptions.

Mr Salmond claimed that bringing in means testing for such policies would be both inefficient and divisive.

He hit back at Ms Lamont saying the "vital social gains for Scotland" delivered with a balanced budget securing public services, despite the "enormous pressure from Westminster".

He said it was "deeply wrong" to talk about a something for nothing society, as it was exactly the language of the Conservative party 20 years ago.

Scottish Conservative leader Ruth Davidson said the Scottish government had overseen a "catalogue of failure" in Scotland's education from primary school to university and called on the first minister to admit he was wrong on the issue.

Mr Salmond said the universities in Scotland were the "best funded in this island" and said there were a record number of Scottish, English and overseas students attending university here.

Scottish Liberal Democrat leader Willie Rennie asked the first minister to extend early education provision to 40% of two year olds as in England, rather than the 1% proposed by the Scottish government.

Mr Salmond defended his government's position, highlighting the increase in provision for three to four year olds and looked after two year olds to 600 hours per year at a minimum, coupled with "exciting developments in family centres" and budget money being directed into early years intervention and preventative spending.

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