by Ben Borland
SIR DAVID MURRAY, one of Scotland’s best known Unionists, last night backed Alex Salmond for a second term as First Minister.
The former Rangers chairman supported the Conservatives in last year’s General Election and spoke out against the SNP in 2007 on behalf of Scottish business leaders.
But now he says Mr Salmond “makes a fine First Minister” and his “competent” record proves that he and his party deserve another four years.
The tycoon’s dramatic change of heart is a massive boost for the Nationalists and a further sign that public opinion is turning in the party’s favour ahead of May’s poll.
Sir David, 59, stressed that he was still firmly against breaking up the Union and added that he would not take any further part in the election campaign.
Speaking to the Sunday Express, he said: “Over the years I have been asked on numerous occasions my views on Scottish politics.
“I now intend to make my present views clear, but have no intention of making any further political statement or to become involved in party politics.
“Although I have never been party political, my views have always been in favour of the continuation of the Union. They still are.
“However, the SNP under Alex Salmond has demonstrated that they can run a competent government and Alex Salmond makes a fine First Minister. Alex deserves a second term in office. He is the best choice for Scotland during these difficult times.”
Mr Salmond, who attended yesterday’s Hearts match against Aberdeen at Pittodrie, said he was “delighted” to win the personal backing of “one of Scotland’s most respected business leaders”.
He added: “It is all the more significant as David Murray is not an independence supporter – he is backing a record of achievement and delivery over these last four years.
“Like David, people all over Scotland will be judging this election on who has the best team and the best programme to take Scotland forward, and I hope they come to the same conclusion.”
Last week, the Scottish Sunday Express revealed that one in five Labour supporters and almost a third of Tories and Lib Dems want to give the SNP another chance.
Sir David’s comments are unlikely to please Scottish Conservative leader Annabel Goldie, although his real target is undoubtedly Labour’s Iain Gray – Mr Salmond’s only realistic rival for First Minister.
Published with thanks to the Scottish Sunday Express