Labour to join Tories in attacking Alex Salmond as SNP support grows

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by G.A.Ponsonby

The Labour party are expected to launch a series of personal attacks on Alex Salmond as more opinion polls have confirmed that Iain Gray’s election campaign has stalled.

With less than two weeks until the Holyrood election the Labour front man is desperately trying to resurrect a campaign that has seen a double digit poll lead over their Nationalist rivals evaporate and the party now trailing.

Party insiders are believed to have initially dismissed attacks on Alex Salmond due to the First Minister’s popularity with the electorate and instead concentrate on David Cameron’s Tories.

However a series of policy U turns by Labour in an attempt at matching SNP election pledges has meant that the electorate have increasingly begun to compare the Scottish leaders, with Mr Gray coming off second, at times third, best.

Many, including the Herald newspaper, now consider this to have been a mistake and are urging a change in strategy.  One Labour MP said: “We should be attacking Salmond’s pomposity.  We are too timid.  We should be going for his jugular.”

The strategy change comes a day after Tory PM David Cameron launched his own attack on the SNP leader.

Mr Cameron mocked the Scottish First Minister calling him “El Presidente Salmondo” and suggested Mr Salmond was conducting a presidential style election.

The Conservative leader attacked the SNP leader and claimed he was trying to make the forthcoming Holyrood election a contest over who becomes First Minister.

He told the Scottish Mail on Sunday: “This is not a presidential system. Last time I looked it was a parliamentary system and El Presidente Salmondo needs to think again.”

SNP campaign director Angus Robertson hit back at the Tory PM and accused him of not understanding the Holyrood voting system.

He said: “David Cameron obviously doesn’t understand the Scottish parliamentary process – the list vote determines the political balance of the Parliament, and under the Holyrood system it is the MSPs who directly vote in the First Minister.

“Therefore, the list vote is the one which decides who becomes First Minister – and the SNP’s message of ‘Alex Salmond for First Minister’ for the list vote is a big winner on the doorstep.”

The attacks from Labour and the Tories follow publication of yet another opinion poll this weekend showing the SNP with a clear lead in both constituency and list.

The survey for YouGov showed the SNP on 45% on the constituency vote against 32% for Labour and 39% against Labour’s 29% on the list.