Alex Salmond for a second term

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Newsnet Scotland is today backing Alex Salmond to be returned as First Minister on Thursday for the next 5-year Holyrood term while polls show that the SNP have a fighting chance of forming the next government.

Success in the face of opposition’s wrecking tactics

In 2007 Alex Salmond became First Minister after his team and leadership secured the SNP’s first ever national election victory. It is testimony to the professionalism, passion and vision of the SNP leadership throughout its first term in office that it survived unremitting negativity and oppositionalism from Unionist party leaders who we think have dishonoured our ancient nation – in and furth of Scotland.

The first sign of Unionist wrecking tactics emerged when the Labour, Conservative and Liberal Democrat parties forced the minority SNP government, against its express wishes, to continue with the ill-fated Edinburgh tram project.

In retrospect the SNP were proved right in anticipating the trams fiasco, but the whole point of this oppositionalist coalition jubilantly foisting the trams down the SNP government’s throat – at exorbitant expense – was to launch a strategy of destabilising Alex Salmond’s government. In so doing they have put party before country and deserve to be harshly judged by the Scottish people who are Scotland’s ultimate sovereign and highest court.

Even before their ill-advised Holyrood tram vote the writing was on the wall when the Liberal Democrats refused to form a coalition government with the SNP upon the latter’s victory in 2007. Gordon Brown had obviously decided that Labour’s strategy would be to show that the new SNP government would not survive its first ever term in office and set out to bring it down by contriving a vote of confidence in Holyrood at the first available opportunity – it never arrived.

Brown and senior Lib Dems in London issued orders North and the Scottish Liberal Democrats refused to form a government with the SNP. Despite these tactics, the SNP have proven to be highly-competent in power leaving the government in Westminster looking amateurish.

What has been the outcome of Gordon Brown’s style of politics? Brown, along with the British economy he presided over, is now history, while Salmond’s future now looks as though – if polls are to be believed – it will be strengthened with a 5-year term in office beckoning.

Delivering despite national media attacks

Labour abused its one key advantage – its influence over the media. The media could be relied on to co-ordinate Labour’s strategy of bringing down Scotland’s government by adopting a death by a thousand cuts approach. Day after day, month after month and year after year anti-SNP government messages were delivered into living-rooms across the nation, not just by the Labour-friendly newspapers but also, in the view of many, by the public broadcaster – the BBC. Labour’s media strategy failed.

Labour-contrived stories aimed at blaming the Nationalists over the trams fiasco could not convince the people that the SNP’s Council Tax freeze isn’t making a difference to their lives and communities. The shameful hypocrisy of Labour hounding Kenny MacAskill over his principled decision on releasing the Libyan, Abdelbaset Mohmed Ali al-Megrahi, convicted for the Lockerbie bombing, could not distract people from appreciating that it had reduced charges on small businesses and that John Swinney had saved Scotland hundreds of millions of pounds by making government more efficient. Labour’s shameful opposition to the SNP’s “world-class” and popular minimum pricing of alcohol bill didn’t prevent people appreciating that the SNP phased out prescription charges or that they increased the number of bobbies on the beat in Scotland by 1,000.

Rising to the occasion

We Scots can argue among ourselves with the best of them, though. However, what is worse than small-minded and parochial wrecking tactics in parliament has been a succession of Labour politicians embarrassing attempts at landing a punch on Scotland’s governing party by insulting other small nations. The diplomatic fall-out with Montenegro caused by Iain Gray’s ignorance, desperation and then inability to apologise on national television, only served to demonstrate that Scotland’s dignity on the international stage is only safe in the hands of Alex Salmond as our First Minister.

In the face of destructive tactics in Holyrood the SNP has amazingly managed to emerge as Scotland’s natural party of government. This is a sure sign of Alex Salmond’s outstanding leadership and the SNP’s positive vision for Scots to thrive and prosper that the party has risen above such petty and negative partisan politics and media complicity and is still in with a fighting chance of forming the next government.

When Scots went to the polls in 2007, what they voted for was a constructive opposition and a sound government – they were deprived of the former but with the latter were treated to the ablest Scottish government since the first Holyrood election in 1999. Indeed, many Unionist politicains and commentators will privately admit that the SNP government has been a breath of fresh air.

Ambition for Scotland’s future

Alex Salmond’s leadership has shown Scots that as a nation we can think differently. I spoke last week to an Australian friend who recently lived in London. She told me that ordinary Londoners commonly express fatalism and powerlessness to effect change in England wheras the mood in Scotland, she said, was entirely different with Scots exhibiting political spirit and positivity about their future.

Alex Salmond’s government has been a success because it has been smart enough to remember that the electorate is the boss. The Nationalists have treated Scottish citizens not simply as tools to please corporate party donors, but as a people with a national culture and society. To Salmond and his team Scotland is a nation, not merely a market.

That said, it is testimony to John Swinney’s command of his economy brief that Scotland’s top entrepreuners such as Sir Tom Farmer and business leaders such as Audrey Baxter (Baxter Food Group), Jim McColl (Clyde Blowers), Martin Gilbert (Aberdeen Asset Management) and Jim Spowart (founder of Intelligent Finance) among many others are endorsing the SNP’s campaign to be trusted by the electorate with a second term in office.

Vote for a vibrant future

Newsnet Scotland is not entirely happy with all things SNP and would like to see an open debate on a future independent Scottish currency, an independent Scotland’s regulatory framework for banking, more support for our national languages, a thorough clampdown on corruption in companies and in council chambers and, above all, a stronger committment to Scotland’s democratic right to a referendum on whether we want a Union or be an independent nation.

We do believe, however, that no other party comes remotely close to having the ambition, skill and professionalism to deliver on the aims and aspirations that Scots rightfully demand of the government they elect to represent them.

For the Newsnet Scotland editorial team, a return to Labour would be returning to a Scotland woefully run, lethargic and lacking in the gumption the emerging generation of Scots are desperately seeking to make a go of their lives in their own country. If Labour in Scotland wants, once again, to lead Scotland it must go back to its long-forgotten roots and how it once embraced a belief in Scottish home-rule. I suspect that is a road which will likely never be travelled.

In this 2011 Scottish election, Newsnet Scotland is urging our readers to vote for a vibrant future by voting SNP on the first vote and Alex Salmond for First Minister on the all-important second vote. If our readers are less keen on the SNP then we suggest voting for parties who are open-minded on the question of a referendum on Scottish independence such as Colin Fox’s SSP, Solidarity or Patrick Harvie’s Green party.