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Live webchat with Scotland's first minister Alex Salmond, Tues 15 Feb, 1-2pm

(250 Posts)
GeraldineMumsnet (MNHQ) Thu 10-Feb-11 11:54:55

Scotland's first minister Alex Salmond is our guest for a live webchat on Tues 15 Feb.

Mr Salmond, who is MSP for Gordon, was first elected as MP for Banff and Buchan in 1987, and went on to become leader of the SNP in 2004 and an MSP in May 2007. He stood down as a Westminster MP in the last General Election to concentrate on his role as first minister.

His minority government has just got its final budget before the Scottish elections through the Scottish parliament, after striking a deal with the Lib Dems to boost student funding.

When he's not working, Mr Salmond enjoys horse racing, football, golf and reading.

We're very pleased to welcome him to Mumsnet. Please come and put your questions or, if you can't join him on Tues lunchtime at 1pm, post your question on this thread, as per usual.

Thanks
MNHQ

ACMDowding Thu 10-Feb-11 14:01:08

Mr Salmond
There is much specualtion about the possible closure of RAF bases in Scotland. (I personally am very much of the opinion that the Westminster government want all the military out of Scotland).

Given that the closures, convieniently aren't being announced until after the Scottish elections, if your party fails to win at the elections, will you urge and support the winning labour scottish government that will then be in power to fight the closures, or do you agree that at least one of the 3 needs to close?

Euphemia France Thu 10-Feb-11 14:23:45

Can you explain to me how reducing my daughter's contact with a teacher by 10% per week is going to "enhance" her education? (I am referring to the current proposal by Renfrewshire Council.)

twinky Thu 10-Feb-11 17:06:24

Hello Mr Salmond. Can you tell me why my local council, Argyll & Bute, seem to find it acceptable to close most of our smaller, rural libraries because Holyrood has slashed their funding. I voted SNP at the last election but am told that my villages' fabulous tiny library with it's incredibly hardworking librarian is not viewed as a priority. Having attended several community meetings on the subject I am not at all impressed with my local councillors and would like to give you the opportunity to answer their assertions that it's all down to central funding. Thanks very much.

midnightexpress Thu 10-Feb-11 18:52:53

Euphemia, my understanding is that it's more than a 'proposal' in Renfrewshire. According to the BBC, Renfrewshire is definitely going ahead with a test of this from August. Is that right?

Mr Salmond, in view of this, and of North Ayrshire's discussion of a 4-day school week (which I assume is currently both unworkable and illegal), I'd like to know your views on the idea of P1 entry starting at 6 rather than 4 or 5 as at present. If savings need to be made, this seems to me like a potentially more beneficial and workable solution, given that it clearly works fine in many other European countries, and that there is research suggesting that starting school later may be of benefit to children, particularly boys.

Louii Fri 11-Feb-11 14:37:38

Hello Mr Salmond,
I wonder if you can tell me what the SNP government has done to protect hard working families in Scotland?

Beveridge Fri 11-Feb-11 15:04:28

How will the SNP support the implementation of the new Curriculum for Excellence with one of the most vital elements it needs (e.g cold, hard cash) in the current financial climate?

And will teaching pay and conditions as per the McCrone agreement be protected to ensure there is no disruption to the education of Scottish children in the coming years?

GentleOtter Fri 11-Feb-11 16:48:12

Welcome Mr Salmond,

Given that the Edinburgh tram project is an expensive disaster and entirely Edinburghcentric, would it not make more sense to divert funding towards making the A9 dual carriageway all the way to Wick?

Also, when will Scottish Tenant farmers be given the absolute right to buy and thus liberated from the feudal system which is still alive and active in 21st century Scotland?

KeepCalmAndCarryOnMNing Fri 11-Feb-11 18:32:36

Mr Salmond, how would you vote in the proposed AV referendum. Will the SNP be campaigning for or against AV for Westminster?

JollySergeantJackrum Fri 11-Feb-11 19:24:51

Mr Salmond, thank you for agreeing to come and chat with us.

Your party's main policy is independence for Scotland. Can you please explain why you believe Scotland should be independent? Wouldn't we all be worse off?

RRocks Fri 11-Feb-11 19:25:07

Mr Salmond,

Can you please explain the effect on Scottish universities of the UK government's changes to the funding of universities in England, and how the Scottish government intends to deal with that?

oricella Fri 11-Feb-11 19:34:20

I fully agree with GentleOtter that dualling the A9 (at least as far as Inverness) is a life saving priority and would dearly like to know when we can see some real action on this. It is very disheartening to see money wasted on the Edinburgh tram or completely pointless overtaking lanes.

My question concerns the railways: an hourly railway link between Inverness and the central belt would go a long way to providing a realistic alternative to travel by road. A compulsory stop of all trains at Inverkeithing will greatly improve access from the Highlands to edinburgh airport. What does the SNP intend to do to improve public transport links between the Highlands and the rest of Scotland?

GentleOtter Fri 11-Feb-11 22:06:20

Yes, oricella - I was thinking of parts of the northern A9 like the Berrydale Braes as well as the main A9 Inverness to Perth.

Shocking considering this is the main Wick/Thurso to Inverness road.

Louii Fri 11-Feb-11 23:23:28

The SNP did not want the tram at all, think they may have been outvoted on it or agreements may have already been in place before the last election.

prettybird Fri 11-Feb-11 23:59:40

You're right Louii - they did try to stop it but were outvoted on it.

prettybird Sat 12-Feb-11 00:00:32

.... the perils of being a minority administration hmm

ecosseman Sat 12-Feb-11 00:14:34

hello mr salmond,i would be great help if you could let the people know how much scotland raises in all combined taxes then sent to our som called london leaders.with all our fantastic natural resources harnessed together
and lowering taxes including vat(when we are independant)this must bring many new jobs to scotland.
less tax=more jobs.
offer a tax rebate to all scots that are currently paying every 4 years,taking some of the budget from social services(drugs&alcohol abusers)when these poor souls hear that they can get a cash rebate for working+wages just watch them go.
best wishes.
mg

Louii Sat 12-Feb-11 00:31:51

I also thought it was somewhat petty that the labour party in Scotland would not vote for the SNP policy for the introduction of a minimum pricing for alcohol, yet what are they agreeing with at Westminster, hmmmm!

doricpatter Sat 12-Feb-11 09:04:15

Re the trams, I realise that the SNP were always against it. But I wonder (probably quite naively) why we can't pull the plug on the whole thing? I'm fairly sure that general public feeling would be in favour of walking away from what's turning into a grotesque waste of public funds, not to mention the disruption caused thus far.

Also, on transport, is Mr Salmond aware of the current shenanigans at Moy? £2.6 million wasted on creating a breathtakingly dangerous section of road. It has to be seen to be believed - the overtaking lane is so short it's pointless, and I firmly believe that the "design improvements" we've been promised (read: more paint on the road) will do nothing to improve safety. How Transport Scotland can be allowed to create yet another blackspot on an already frighteningly dangerous route is beyond belief - any lay person can identify the inherent problems with the layout yet presumably some highly paid road planner came up with this? Surely someone should be held to account for wasting vital funds like this - spending money on overtaking lanes is wasteful anyway, given we've been repeatedly promised full dualling in the future.

I could start on about the classroom assistants scandal, and I'd love to get into the fuel regulator discussion (because we evidently can't rely on that obsequious ginger rodent for support), but I'll stop now. I'm a big fan - keep up the good work grin

DanJARMouse Sat 12-Feb-11 12:42:08

Hello!

Can you please advise why anything north of Inverness gets forgotten about?!

Transport links especially are beyond atrocious, and now there is reviews left right and centre for taknig away classroom assistants (small victory this week!) and merging schools (am in Thurso btw)

The state of our roads are appalling, the priority of gritting and ploughing in bad weather is all to pot and to be honest, its all going a bit pete tong here!

Come on Mr Salmond, why exactly should I vote for you on 5th May?!

LisMcA Sat 12-Feb-11 14:29:28

Hello Mr Salmond,

Firstly I think its great that you are taking the time to joins us here on Mumsnet.

I would like to know your opinions on the Westminster proposal for the NHS budgets, for England and Wales, being managed by GPs? Is this a route you can see the Scottish Government taking?

Also, with the consideration of moving to a National Police force for the whole of Scotland, what do you see happening to the individual forces administration centres (Non-Emergency contact centres being one)? Will these be consolodated and relocated to a central location or should local knowledge remain local?

PeggyGuggenheim Sat 12-Feb-11 14:31:59

Hello Mr Salmond
I live in Falkirk. We are incredibly fortunate in that none of our libraries, community centres, schools or leisure centres are going to have to close. There was a proposal in the budget to shut all libraries on Saturday afternoons, but an emailing / Facebook campaign secured something of a reprieve. It was explained to us that a Council Tax freeze (imposed by the Scottish Government) has left the local authorities in a fix. I for one have always been delighted to get the letter telling me the Council Tax is frozen, but I would happily pay a few quid more if it was going to protect services! And don't the poorest get help with Council Tax? So who would lose out, really, if you allowed local authorities to raise Council Tax? Thank you for reading this.

IHeartLeith Sat 12-Feb-11 20:48:01

Hello. Thanks for taking the time to answer some of these questions. I'd like to ask how you intend to vote on the SNP MSP Shirley-Anne Somerville's motion for a ban on large scale biomass plants in residential areas?

As a resident of Leith I am very concerned about the proposal for a biomass plant in our area; in particular about the effect on the already poor air quality and the inevitable traffic increase.

Thanks in anticipation.

boofle Sat 12-Feb-11 21:03:41

Mr Salmond,
I am delighted that you are taking the time from what must be an extremely busy schedule to join this forum. What a wonderful endorsement for Mumsnet!
I live in Renfrewshire and much has been made of the recent decision to replace 2.5hrs of the school week with people who are professionals in the field of drama, art, sport etc. Many people are blaming the council tax freeze for the council having to make this decision and say they would be willing to pay more. I happen to think this idea could be good for my children - just take a look at other European countries or Australia, where the curriculum does not only centre around academia, but takes a more rounded and vocational approach. I am also happy with he council tax freeze, although I know it will go up again at some point. However, there are many parents who ARE worried about this and my question is: how much would our council tax go up to cover cuts that are being made and how much has the freeze contributed to the current financial position of councils?
I look forward to your answer and thank you in anticipation.

pointydog Sat 12-Feb-11 21:04:42

You should increase council tax. Many people can't bear to see all these cuts to public services.

KeepCalmAndCarryOnMNing Sat 12-Feb-11 23:07:36

I'd pay more Council tax too.

geordieminx Sun 13-Feb-11 09:54:44

Hello Mr Salmond

Due to the bad weather that we have suffered over the past few months the road are now in a terrible state, with huge pot holes on major roads.

The council (South/North Lan) doesn't appear to have made any effort to start and repair them...I presume due to a lack of funds... Is there going to be more money made available or is there an action plan in place to start and repair the roads before they get even worse?

sammac Sun 13-Feb-11 11:15:46

Hello Mr Salmond
I know you are very busy and thanks for taking the time to do this.

As a teacher, I am interested to know why the SNP have failed to keep their promises regarding class sizes?

There is currently a high level of unemployment amongst post-probationer teachers, yet they continue to be churned out of universities to swell these numbers. Surely there is some method of harnessing these skills to redress the class size issue and improve the Scottish education system by allowing CfE to be fully implemented in the most professional manner?

Thank you and what is your preferred biscuit?

BoxyQ Sun 13-Feb-11 12:15:28

Hello Mr Salmond,

I would like to ask why on the 10th Feb during First Minister's Questions you continually avoided answering the question put to you by Iain Gray about the plans by Renfrewshire Council to reduce teaching time by 10%?

Instead you continually brought up North Ayrshire Council's proposal which has been scrapped and was never ever policy unlike what is happening in Renfrewshire which is to happen in August 2011. You also said the policy would be looked at by HM Inspectorate of Education (HMIE) to confirm it was "fully in line" with teaching regulations. HMIE involvement was never mentioned in the original report and comes only after huge objections from parents and teachers in Renfrewshire.

Cuts to council budgets are a reality but this is one cut too far.

I look forward to your answer to my question,
Thanks

Whyriskit Sun 13-Feb-11 17:24:42

Hello Mr Salmond,

I would like to ask if the redevelopment of the Waverley Line from Edinburgh to the Borders is definitely going to go ahead?
Thanks.

abdnhiker Sun 13-Feb-11 20:05:58

Hi can I just add my voice that we'd be willing to see inflationary raises in our council tax too if needed. Maybe just in bands d and above or E and above to protect those on lower incomes. Also free prescriptions aren't a priority for us if it could mean money for classroom assistants or services for the disabled etc. Guess basically I'm saying we'd manage to pay a bit more if others need it more (my husband had a ten percent paycut due to the recession but we managed - I know we're relatively fortunate). But I'm not in favour of spending more than we have so I support the budget cuts in principle and hope that Scotland will do the right thing in protecting the most vulnerable rather than playing politics like what seems to be happening in England.

Timeformeplease Sun 13-Feb-11 21:46:10

Hello. I would like to know what the SNP are going to do to create jobs, specifically in the Borders, if you win the next election. We need something other than tourism to rely on - so many businesses have closed in the past few months and there weren't that many here in the first place. Thanks.

Saltire Mon 14-Feb-11 08:28:42

Time for meplease - good question. it's not jsut the Borders (well it is ) but what I mean is that my family come from Dumfriesshire and it's bad in parts of that area too!
It's sad driving p the roads through places like Hawick and Gala and seeing all the mill shut

Singinginmychains Mon 14-Feb-11 12:08:45

Mr Salmond,

Please can you tell us how you intend to prevent the private sector from taking over our hospitals, schools, universities and forests - as it is doing in England? In other words, how are you going to protect us from David Cameron's Big Society, which will lead to the privatisation or closure of local services and less democratic accountability?

We have so many things to be proud of in Scotland, especially free care for the elderly and no university tuition fees. We need to protect them at all costs. Scotland should lead by example, and show the Westminster Government how things can be managed better - in spite of the financial crisis.

Do you agree?

Mumtolittlemonkey Mon 14-Feb-11 12:17:17

Hi
I think its really great to see a Scot politician on here, I've never posted before but am today!

Where to start...
1. How much would my Council tax have to go up by to keep all these classroom assistants and milk that the papers are talking about? Its pretty high already..

2. What would be the benefits of being an independent country be to someone like me?

3. We've had to get rid of one car because of the high fuel prices, which means having to take the bus, meaning I get home even later and spend even less time with my son. What can you do to lower fuel prices and when will it happen?

That's all for now!
Susie
Dunfermline

Labradorlover Mon 14-Feb-11 14:42:06

Hello Mr Salmond,

If we were independent would we really still be able to afford free care for elderly and Uni tuition etc? I'm still haunted by you comparing Scotland to Ireland and Iceland! However I'm not voting Lib Dem again.

Also what can be done to stop the discard of milloins of tonnes of fish, due to EU policies?

PS Well done for wording your ballot papers -" Alex Salmond for First Minister " I think lots of folk thought "Why not?" grin

Angharad78 Mon 14-Feb-11 18:00:30

Hi Alex,

I have real concerns over plans to take people who are unfit to work off benefit and look for work. Why is the Scottish Government proceeding with this scheme?

venusandmars Mon 14-Feb-11 19:02:24

Hello and welcome.

In England and Wales there are moves to allow the use of religious premisies for same sex civil partnerships which will enable faith groups to carry out legal ceremonies. Can you tell us what the plans are for this in Scotland?

At present the marriage laws in Scotland are so much more enlightened and promote equality by recognising different religions, humanist and interfaith weddings.

As a celebrant I feel ashamed that I cannot offer offer an equal service to all citizens of Scotland.

Hello Mr Salmond

Thank you for taking the time to chat with us.

I had a few questions in mind and they have all been asked already, so I'll just say that I was delighted when the SNP won at the last election and I think you have achieved some real progress. Best of luck in May.

Hello Mr Salmond (or may I call you Alex?)

Overall, I think your Government has done a good job in difficult circumstances (but that you have been unimpeded by a credible opposition!)

I wonder if you have plans to change the concessionary bus travel scheme?

Every morning when I take the bus to work in Glasgow, it's full of able-bodied, working pensioners who all get free travel. Would it not make sense to raise the elegibility age to 65 or 67 - whenever retirement is nowadays? It would save some money.

I'm also interested in your plans for funding further education, but someone else has already asked that.

poppyknot Mon 14-Feb-11 19:55:26

Good afternoon.

What is the SNP's policy on forests (as mentioned by Singinginmychains) and the selling of or maintaining of them.

It is Big News south of the border, and it would be useful to know what the Scottish Government's policy on this is.

As it is, the issue as brought up by the coalition (Where did that one come from? Number 234) has become confused by sniping and accusations from both sides and it is hard to understand what the true issues might be. (I was going to say can't see the wood for the trees but that would add to the opaquness smile

Thanks. We love our trees!

FromGirders Mon 14-Feb-11 19:59:22

Hello Mr Salmond, and thank you for taking the time to come and chat with us.

There have been loads of specific questions asked, all good ones. I wonder if you could answer a more general question for me.

Could you please clarify for me: what is Scotland's financial contribution towards the Westminster government and what do we receive back in various funding? And where could i find documentary evidence to back that up please? (Just give me a starter for a Google search even).

So that I can start arguing back more effectively when dear friends and acquaintances tell me that "England pays for all you Jocks with loads of big subsidies".

Thank you so much.

(I'm sure your biscuit will be a Tunnock's?)

Singinginmychains Mon 14-Feb-11 20:03:47

Poppyknot, unfortunately, I think they are already being sold off, all over Scotland, but in bits and pieces. For example, the companies (Paintball centres, holiday parks etc) are not allowed to put up big signs and for a year or so they can only erect one small inobtrusive building. Then, if no-one complains, bit by bit they get to put others up. Then access roads and carparks are built etc.

At least I think that's how it works. I'd love Mr Salmond to prove me wrong, so I'm glad you asked the question!

FromGirders Mon 14-Feb-11 20:05:40

Oh, and I meant to add my support for your government and policies in general. I'm proud to live in a nation which looks after its elderly, and allows students to access an education without charging them the earth for it. Keep up the good work.

poppyknot Mon 14-Feb-11 20:16:54

Singinginmychains - there was an item about the Argyll Forest sell off in the Sunday Times..... It did not sound good.

I do hope we can be proved wrong.

MajorPettigrew Mon 14-Feb-11 22:52:53

Hello Mr Salmond,
As the rules on posting questions in webchats are limited to one per poster, I've had to think long and hard about what I wanted to speak to you about.

There are many, many issues that I want to discuss with you, ranging from problems in rural schools, cutting of teaching assistants, loss of music lessons in primary schools, drug problems and the social implications that it leads to, al-megrahi, the state of the roads, cost of fuel etc etc (I won't go on any more)

I feel as a politicians seem to be held in fairly low regard among the electorate, you would feel it was your duty to show that you have a high moral code that all should try live by.

With that in mind Mr Salmond, your umbrella whacked me in the face as you walked past me at Turriff Show last summer.
My 4 year old thinks you were rude and should have said sorry. (I'm inclined to agree with him, although maybe there was a particularly good pipe band to go and judge at the time).

Anyway, please show my son that even the First Minister can admit when he has done something wrong and say sorry.
I know it's not exactly a pressing political question, but lead by example and all that...

gomez Mon 14-Feb-11 23:40:09

Mr Salmond can you please explain why you support the rights of Catholic parents to receive state funding for the schooling of their children; but where a parent would prefer a secular education for their child that is not possible within the state system?

Notwithstanding that I may withdraw my children from 'worship' - Christian beliefs, traditions and practices continue to underpin all aspects of their schooling. For example writing prayers instead of poems, singing hymns as opposed to songs in music, Christian legends such as the 'good Smaritian' used to illustrate manners and morals etc. etc.

I have chosen to raise my child with a knowledge of all religions and to allow them to decide if they have a faith and wish to adhere to it. I object strenuosly to this casual indoctrination that continues within Scottish 'non-denominational' schools. Yet choice (and scare State funding) is provided to Catholic familes in a country with a deep and unsettling history of Sectarinisim.

OhBuggerandArse Tue 15-Feb-11 00:23:29

Dear Mr Salmond,

As you know, the Gaelic schools in Glasgow and Inverness are a great success story.

Edinburgh City Council also has a statutory requirement to support Gaelic and develop Gaelic-medium education, and the Scottish Government has made funds available to them to make the development of a stand-alone Gaelic medium school a possibility here too. And none too soon - the Gaelic unit at Tollcross is incredibly popular, and about to burst at the seams!

All the research into bilingual education shows that stand-alone schools are the best way of developing effective teaching and learning in two languages; a move to a new school would be supported and welcomed by all the parent groups associated with Tollcross.

But the progress that policy requires and that all the parents want is just not happening: it seems pretty clear that it's being blocked by the resistance of one or two individual Council officials who are viscerally opposed to developing Gaelic-medium education.

Can you suggest any ways in which you might work to prevent government policy being derailed by rogue individuals in this way, and can you give us any assurances about how the future for Gaelic-medium education in Edinburgh will be secured?

PricklyThistle Tue 15-Feb-11 00:31:01

Hi Alex
I don't have a specific question, and will be working during your webchat. However I wanted to say that I think that the SNP government has done a lot for families and communities, particularly when you consider that legislation has had to passed as a minority govenment.
I am hoping that the people of Scotland will see sense in May, and return the SNP again - the thought of Ian Gray as First Minister makes me shudder, and not in a good way.

wednesdaylegs Tue 15-Feb-11 08:53:58

Dear Mr Salmond, I live in Edinburgh. I am a working Mum and my husband works too. With the cost of nursery fees rising twice as fast as wages (according to Mumsnet today) and Scotland being one of the most expensive places for nursery fees (according to a recent report on BBC News website) what help can you offer working parents to cover these costs and stay in work. I have exhausted my entitlement to childcare vouchers but still find the costs crippling. My nursery is extremely busy with a long waiting list and charges for the full 52 weeks of the year and we have no option but to pay those fees if we want to work. Thank you for taking the time to answer this question.

Habbibu Tue 15-Feb-11 10:22:40

Hello Mr Salmond

Following the cuts to HE funding in England and Wales, can I ask if you subscribe to President Obama's view that "cutting the deficit by gutting our investments in innovation and education is like lightening an overloaded airplane by removing its engine. It may feel like you’re flying high at first, but it won’t take long before you’ll feel the impact.”, and will this affect the Scottish Government's decisions on HE funding?

prettybird Tue 15-Feb-11 10:26:44

What have you found to be the greatest challenge in working in a minority government and what have you most regretted not being able to get through the Scottish Parliament?

PS My Dad, previously a lifelong Labour supporter (unusually for a medical doctor!) has been extremely impressed by you (he loves the way that you demolish ill-prepared interviewers like Jon Snow) and has turned his back on Labour (he's never forgiven them for Iraq).

FannyFifer Tue 15-Feb-11 11:01:07

I absolutely LOVE visiting the Scottish Parliament, the views from the upper floors are fab, it's just a great building. The staff are all fantastic as well.

What's your favourite area or room in the Parliament and do you ever contemplate in your pod???

HaveringBlether Tue 15-Feb-11 11:37:10

Mr Salmond,

Are the Scottish Highlands part of the UK?

Why are many areas penalised by having to pay extra postage? Surely this is discrimination?

glittery Tue 15-Feb-11 11:43:21

Nice to see you on here Mr Salmond!
I've been voting SNP since the nineties as i thought you were the best looking candidate! blush
I also thing the SNP have been doing a fab job lately, well done on the budget!
Any chance of getting the Labour run Glasgow City Council to build a shiny new Physical Impairment school to replace the damp, dry rot ridden dump they chose to move my sons school into? Its playing havoc with his Chronic Lung disease sad
I know you cant get involved with council stuff but any input much appreciated! grin

AlexSalmond Tue 15-Feb-11 12:29:37

Testing, testing

prettybird Tue 15-Feb-11 12:29:38

I know I've already had my question but my husband wants to ask why sport is not compulsory at school? I know that they have to have 2 hours of PE - but if PE can include "drama" (as it does at ds' school), it is not sport.

Munaka Tue 15-Feb-11 12:34:53

Has anyone asked any questions about this thread?

OhBuggerandArse Tue 15-Feb-11 12:38:47

Like the SNP yellow, MNHQ! Are all parties on webchats going to have their own colours now?

Rhadegunde Tue 15-Feb-11 12:39:17

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

GeraldineMumsnet (MNHQ) Tue 15-Feb-11 12:42:29

Hello all, Alex is here and we're just getting sorted with brew all round.

Raring to go (and on very tight schedule) so we'll probably start a few minutes early.

Thanks to everyone who has posted questions.

Habbibu Tue 15-Feb-11 12:49:33

Yay, Havering!

prettybird Tue 15-Feb-11 12:50:01

(BTW: I've voted SNP ever since Nicola door-stepped us during the lection campaign where she nearly managed to beat Sarwar (of the dodgy blue plastic bags). Anyone who is prepared to debate convincingly with dh is to be admired!

KathMCB Tue 15-Feb-11 12:51:49

Hi Mr Salmond

What would you suggest I do as a senior NHS manager who is at risk of losing my job?

I have a Masters in Healthcare and ten years NHS experience? What would you suggest that I do next?

Thanks

Aitch Tue 15-Feb-11 12:52:41

yes, rhadegunde, that would be a truly revolutionary step for scotland, imo.

just wanted to say keep funding those Gaidhlig schools, Eck! my dd is at one and we couldn't be happier with the community life at the school (as well as the education, obviously).

however, cuts to the gaidhlig programme in general are a worry, it seems a very soft target but it is essential for Scotland that we do not let this language die out on our watch. feasgar math!

soupmaker Tue 15-Feb-11 12:53:21

Hello Mr Salmond. I'd like to know what your views are about the future of the centre for excellence in traditional music up at Plockton. I think Highland Council are a disgrace. Sorry this is a bit parochial, but I'm raging about possiblity that the centre may be forced to close. Oh, and please do tell us your favourite biscuit, as if you don't it'll be all over the papers tomorrow wink.

mamadiva Tue 15-Feb-11 12:53:33

Welcome Mr Salmond,

I would also like ask about the area classifications of the Highlands.

I moved to Morayshire from nearby Glasgow in 2006 and have found that even though the area itself is not secluded in anyway that many businesses seem to exclude this from Mainland UK so therefore do not deliver or charge rediculous prices for slow delivery, Can you explain why this is?

Also as a first time voter last year I did cast my vote for the SNP as I think our local candidate was, and is, really down to earth and seems surprisingly genuine for an MP (no offence wink). I am glad to say that in our area he won.

Anyway my question would be could you explain to someone who knows nothing about politics (I.E me..) what exactly the Scottish government takes control of rather than the 'British' government as I have always been slightly unclear about this?

Oh and any news about RAF Lossiemouth?

Yes yes I know 3 questions... what can I say, I'm inquisitive

TrashersMum Tue 15-Feb-11 12:53:53

Why is the Scottish Government refurbishing schools and yet still failing to include a kitchen, for preparing school lunches on site or facilities for after school cookery clubs? Surely, simple food skills and nutrition fits neatly into Health and Well Being (Curriculum For Excellence)
http://www.spectator.co.uk/scoff/articles/5577388/ home-economy.thtml

Aitch Tue 15-Feb-11 12:54:56

Message deleted by Mumsnet.

AlexSalmond Tue 15-Feb-11 12:55:29

FromGirders

Hello Mr Salmond, and thank you for taking the time to come and chat with us.

There have been loads of specific questions asked, all good ones. I wonder if you could answer a more general question for me.

Could you please clarify for me: what is Scotland's financial contribution towards the Westminster government and what do we receive back in various funding? And where could i find documentary evidence to back that up please? (Just give me a starter for a Google search even).

So that I can start arguing back more effectively when dear friends and acquaintances tell me that "England pays for all you Jocks with loads of big subsidies".

Thank you so much.

(I'm sure your biscuit will be a Tunnock's?)

I'm Alex Salmond, I'm looking forward to lots of questions from Mumsnet, I'll try to give quick and reasonably honest answers.
I'll start with FromGirders. You're right about the Tunnocks! Plain chocolate caramel wafers, although caramel logs are pretty good as well. Unfortunately MNHQ are offering me neither! On your question, the Scottish government publishes a full account of expenditure and revenue each year. The last three years have shown Scotland in surplus, relative to the UK. You'll find it on the Scottish government website under GERS. On being proud to be in Scotland because of free personal care, and free education, then so am I, and the rocks will melt the sun before I'll allow any change to these progressive policies from the Scots parliament.

Aitch Tue 15-Feb-11 12:55:53

he's going to have to say shortbread, cammo's already gone for the oatcake. (to which i say hmm an oatcake is not a biscuit)

AlexSalmond Tue 15-Feb-11 12:57:43

Mumtolittlemonkey

Hi
I think its really great to see a Scot politician on here, I've never posted before but am today!

Where to start...
1. How much would my Council tax have to go up by to keep all these classroom assistants and milk that the papers are talking about? Its pretty high already..

2. What would be the benefits of being an independent country be to someone like me?

3. We've had to get rid of one car because of the high fuel prices, which means having to take the bus, meaning I get home even later and spend even less time with my son. What can you do to lower fuel prices and when will it happen?

That's all for now!
Susie
Dunfermline

Mumtolittlemonkey, it’s clear we need more Scots politicians on Mumsnet and I am happy to start the ball rolling. My earlier answers on council tax will hopefully answer your question on that subject. And as for the other issues you raise - independence and fuel prices - well, let's take them together. It is nothing short of a scandal that Scotland is one of Europe's major oil producers and yet our motorists pay some of the very highest prices at the pumps in the whole of the Continent. Independence would certainly allow us to address that anomaly. But in the meantime we will continue to press the UK Government to introduce a fuel duty regulator to keep pump prices under control, because for many of Scotland's remote and rural communities these fuel price rises are rapidly becoming unsustainable. And it's not as if the Treasury isn't in a position to help - rising world oil prices mean they are set to rake in an extra £2 billion or so over the next year, on top of what they had expected to earn from North Sea oil.

Aitch Tue 15-Feb-11 12:58:00

ah, tunnocks. vg. fae uddie.

i would like to know the specifics of the contributions, though. whenever we talk about independence here, a load of snooty mares from engerland start hooting that they pay our wages, so to speak. but my understanding is that this is more complex when you take into account monies that we as individuals pay directly to westminster, such as road tax etc.

AlexSalmond Tue 15-Feb-11 12:58:15

soupmaker

Hello Mr Salmond. I'd like to know what your views are about the future of the centre for excellence in traditional music up at Plockton. I think Highland Council are a disgrace. Sorry this is a bit parochial, but I'm raging about possiblity that the centre may be forced to close. Oh, and please do tell us your favourite biscuit, as if you don't it'll be all over the papers tomorrow wink.

Soupmaker, I don't think the situation at Plockton, the specialist school for music covering the Highlands and Islands, is at all parochial. I regard it as a vital national resource, which must be maintained and what I can say is that Michael Russell, minister for education is meeting with the local MSP John Farqhar Munro and I hope we will soon be able to make an announcement which will protect this wonderful facility.

Aitch Tue 15-Feb-11 12:59:28

more paras please,mr s. hard to read your answers. (she says, as an ardent non-capitaliser).

soupmaker Tue 15-Feb-11 13:00:53

Aitch, I believe oatcakes are biscuits as they go soft when they go off - not that an oatcake really goes off!

AlexSalmond Tue 15-Feb-11 13:02:37

Rhadegunde

Have you thought further about moving Scotland out of council tax and into personal income tax which is a much fairer tax altogether.

Council tax disproportionately affects people on lower incomes whilst allowing higher earners what is effectively a tax rebate [especially if they own more than one property]

I also understand your political motivations for freezing council tax for the last few years but your political decision has had negative consequences for local authorities. Many of your decisions seemed to be based on political considerations rather than realistic, practical understandings of their consequences. Tuition fees being a case in point.

Rhadegunde, yes that was our proposal, to have a local income tax, to replace the council tax. It would be much fairer as it's based on the ability to pay.

Council tax is very regressive, particularly for elderly folk on fixed incomes. We have frozen the council tax for the last four years, which has saved an average family some £350. I think particularly now, when the price of just about everything is rising quickly, we must do everything we can to protect budgets. It is a part of our social contract, where the government does its best with things like the council tax freeze - which we pay for, not local authorities - and removing prescription charges.

In turn, we have to ask public sector workers over £21000 to accept a freeze in their salaries to help protect services and employment, but it is important there are two sides to that social contract.

Highlander Tue 15-Feb-11 13:03:26

let's not forget Mr Salmond's comedy turn as the Rev IM Jolly for Comic Relief a few years back grin I thought my lungs were going to burst grin

Aitch Tue 15-Feb-11 13:04:10

hehehe why did my post get deleted? surely not because i called him Eck? (actually SURELY not because i asked about more explan of the contributions and made the entirely fair point that whenever we discuss independence on MN we get lots of english people saying how they pay for everything and hooting how we wouldn't last five minutes?)

anyway, yes, more detail, there was a Harvard Prof (or similar) on RScotland recently saying that when you take into account road tax etc we are contributing more than they are to us.

soupmaker Tue 15-Feb-11 13:04:35

thank you Mr Salmond, i knew you'd like a caramel log

mamadiva Tue 15-Feb-11 13:04:37

Highlander, forgot about that

Aitch Tue 15-Feb-11 13:05:41

actually no, eck and engerland still there... what on EARTH did i say that was worthy of instant deletion? <baffled> and [genuinely cannot remember]

FromGirders Tue 15-Feb-11 13:06:08

Look, a straight answer to a straight question! Thank you! I'll check out the website - i knew the figures must be around somewhere!
Have to go out shortly, but keep up the good work

<twirls off, very pleased to have predicted biscuit correctly)

FannyFifer Tue 15-Feb-11 13:07:21

Aitch think it was you saying you thought other thread was about statutory maternity pay?

AlexSalmond Tue 15-Feb-11 13:08:27

mamadiva

Welcome Mr Salmond,

I would also like ask about the area classifications of the Highlands.

I moved to Morayshire from nearby Glasgow in 2006 and have found that even though the area itself is not secluded in anyway that many businesses seem to exclude this from Mainland UK so therefore do not deliver or charge rediculous prices for slow delivery, Can you explain why this is?

Also as a first time voter last year I did cast my vote for the SNP as I think our local candidate was, and is, really down to earth and seems surprisingly genuine for an MP (no offence wink). I am glad to say that in our area he won.

Anyway my question would be could you explain to someone who knows nothing about politics (I.E me..) what exactly the Scottish government takes control of rather than the 'British' government as I have always been slightly unclear about this?

Oh and any news about RAF Lossiemouth?

Yes yes I know 3 questions... what can I say, I'm inquisitive

This is also to HaveringBlether. I'm very concerned that charges for delivery of parcels to Highlands and islands are higher that elsewhere. It seems to me to go against the whole concept of universal delivery and equal cost which is one of the key features of a national post office, which we all must fight hard to retain at the present moment.
In terms of division of powers, the Scottish government runs health, education, social work, local government, industrial development, renewable energy, our contribution against climate change, and a range of other services. The UK government runs social security, foreign affairs and defence as well as most budgetary matters. On the subject of RAF Lossie and RAF Leuchars I met with the prime minister yesterday in London and was able to gain an assurance that the impression given by the junior defence minister that Scotland had to choose between losing one or other of these bases - having already lost RAF Kinloss - was incorrect. That will be welcomed by the campaigners at both Leuchars and Lossie who will continue their battle.

FromGirders Tue 15-Feb-11 13:09:04

You were a little uncomplimentary about the MSP in question.
Whose views I can't even bring myself to comment on without being in danger of instant deletion myself.

Aitch Tue 15-Feb-11 13:09:42

oh YEAH, that the MSP who reckons that the raped woman on Renfrew Lane was askin' furrit was a dick. but he is... i mean... he is... plus he's a tory so i hardly think Eck will mind me saying that.

AlexSalmond Tue 15-Feb-11 13:09:56

Singinginmychains

Mr Salmond,

Please can you tell us how you intend to prevent the private sector from taking over our hospitals, schools, universities and forests - as it is doing in England? In other words, how are you going to protect us from David Cameron's Big Society, which will lead to the privatisation or closure of local services and less democratic accountability?

We have so many things to be proud of in Scotland, especially free care for the elderly and no university tuition fees. We need to protect them at all costs. Scotland should lead by example, and show the Westminster Government how things can be managed better - in spite of the financial crisis.

Do you agree?

Singinginmychains, I agree totally that it's important that we in Scotland protect the things you mentioned. But in order to do that most effectively Scotland needs the normal financial powers of a normal parliament, raising the money we spend rather than relying on dwindling Westminster handouts. We say give us the tools to do the job, with full financial responsibility for Holyrood, and we can grow the economy and be better placed to protect the key services and policies you mention.

prettybird Tue 15-Feb-11 13:10:31

I always find the "you wouldn't last 5 minutes" comments very hmmhmm

If we are that much of a drain, then why carry on "subbing us"?

The UK can't afford to let us go - we've been subbing them for years. Without North Sea oil, Labour's profligacy over the last gew years would have meant that the UK would have been bankrupt. What makes me so [nagry] is that there is an asset that we have not invested in, unlike Norway with its Oil Fund, which it is able to use to for genuine counter-cyclical measures. We, on the other hand, are having to usffer the major cuts becasue Westminster wasted the resource and didn't build up reserves in the Good years, according to proper Keynesianism principles.

AlexSalmond Tue 15-Feb-11 13:11:21

Saltire

Time for meplease - good question. it's not jsut the Borders (well it is ) but what I mean is that my family come from Dumfriesshire and it's bad in parts of that area too!
It's sad driving p the roads through places like Hawick and Gala and seeing all the mill shut

Timeformeplease and Saltire, I agree that it can be disheartening to see traditional industries disappear from our towns and villages. However, it is also important to remember that Scotland is the only nation in the UK where employment has been rising and unemployment falling in the last quarter, and that reflects the action we've taken in our Economic Recovery Plan to protect recovery and support jobs, stimulating investment by bringing forward capital projects. Our budget for next year - approved last week by Parliament - will now support 25,000 modern apprenticeships, the highest ever number in Scotland, giving young people new skills to enter the workforce. And the need to support small local businesses the length and breadth of Scotland - the lifeblood of the Scottish economy - was why we introduced the small business bonus, which has slashed or totally scrapped business rates for thousands of smaller and medium sized firms.

FromGirders Tue 15-Feb-11 13:12:19

What prettybird said.

Rhadegunde Tue 15-Feb-11 13:12:20

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

hismajesty Tue 15-Feb-11 13:12:20

What's your tip for the 3.30 at Folkestone?

AlexSalmond Tue 15-Feb-11 13:12:33

FannyFifer

I absolutely LOVE visiting the Scottish Parliament, the views from the upper floors are fab, it's just a great building. The staff are all fantastic as well.

What's your favourite area or room in the Parliament and do you ever contemplate in your pod???

FannyFifer, I've gotta confess that I was a big opponent of the parliament building - not the parliament itself, but the building. I wanted it up on Calton Hill in Edinburgh. However, I have to say that particularly since I've become First Minister, the building is growing on me and i like the chamber in particular, which looks good on telly but more importantly, is a fine debating arena.
As First Minister, I don't get a pod, which doesn't mean I don't do any thinking, maybe I should ask for onehmm

SusieKyoo Tue 15-Feb-11 13:13:19

Hello Mr Salmond. Can you tell us why you've so far given Labour such an easy ride for abandoning the electorate to a Tory government when you offered them an alternative? A lot of people seem to be falling for the idea of Labour as a defence against the Tories, when in fact they're just a bunch of cowards hiding in opposition.

PClover Tue 15-Feb-11 13:13:19

Will the SNP manifesto commit to equal marriage, or has Brian Souter got his money's worth again?

GentleOtter Tue 15-Feb-11 13:13:50

Tommy's pod is vacant. wink

AlexSalmond Tue 15-Feb-11 13:14:23

hismajesty

What's your tip for the 3.30 at Folkestone?

I'm doing a Gordon Brown answer and dodging the question. biscuit
i gave up my racing column in the Scotsman when I became first minister, on the basis that you can survive just about anything in politics, but not if your race tips go down. So, HisMajesty will just have to ask Her Majesty for the answer to the question.

Saltire Tue 15-Feb-11 13:15:12

Next time I'm in Edinburgh (currently live in Yorkshire and hoping that we get posted back to Scotland ) (will there be an RAF bse left)

can I come and visit you in the parliament building?

FromGirders Tue 15-Feb-11 13:15:15

Good news on RAF Leuchars / Lossie!

and most impressed at your rate of question answering - either you type very fast, or you've shock done your homework!
<Really have to go now . . . will read properly later>

Thank you again for coming!

hismajesty Tue 15-Feb-11 13:16:04

Since you wont give me a tip for the 3.30 at Folkestone could you tell me which Englishwoman you most admire and why?

AlexSalmond Tue 15-Feb-11 13:16:18

twinky

Hello Mr Salmond. Can you tell me why my local council, Argyll & Bute, seem to find it acceptable to close most of our smaller, rural libraries because Holyrood has slashed their funding. I voted SNP at the last election but am told that my villages' fabulous tiny library with it's incredibly hardworking librarian is not viewed as a priority. Having attended several community meetings on the subject I am not at all impressed with my local councillors and would like to give you the opportunity to answer their assertions that it's all down to central funding. Thanks very much.

Twinky, thanks for your question. Local library services are the responsibility of local councils, and I agree it's important that these and other services are protected as much as possible. That's why we are delivering such a good deal for all 32 local authorities across Scotland by maintaining their share of the Scottish budget, despite the massive cuts being handed to us by Westminster. That means Scottish councils are better protected from the cuts than other parts of the Scottish budget, and certainly better protected than local government in England.

Aitch Tue 15-Feb-11 13:16:20

so basically, mr s, what we are looking for is the whizz-bang answer to 'you wouldn't last five minutes without us'.

hi-concept it for us, please. gies sumhing tae blaw thaim oot the watter. (and by thaim i mean much-loved English sisters and brothers of MN grin). a verbal bazooka, if you please.

FannyFifer Tue 15-Feb-11 13:16:26

Thank you for your answer. grin

AlexSalmond Tue 15-Feb-11 13:17:14

SusieKyoo

Hello Mr Salmond. Can you tell us why you've so far given Labour such an easy ride for abandoning the electorate to a Tory government when you offered them an alternative? A lot of people seem to be falling for the idea of Labour as a defence against the Tories, when in fact they're just a bunch of cowards hiding in opposition.

I think that Labour have let down the people in two ways.
Firstly, they're responsible for much of the economic mess the country is now in. Secondly, in very many policy areas they paved the way for another Tory government.
In their attitude, for example, to war in Iraq, to wasting £100000 million on a new generation of nuclear submarines they prepared the ground for the Cameron cuts. You can be sure that we will not be letting them off any hook in the coming Scottish elections.

doricpatter Tue 15-Feb-11 13:17:58

GentleOtter Tue 15-Feb-11 13:13:50
Tommy's pod is vacant.

Snort grin

FannyFifer Tue 15-Feb-11 13:18:10

Tommy no longer an MSP though.

Aitch Tue 15-Feb-11 13:19:06

but don't be mean to Wendy Alexander, please. she's great, and that kerfuffle that saw her papped out was a load of sexist bullshit (not to mention absolutely NOTHING in the context of later revs about Westminster MPs).

doricpatter Tue 15-Feb-11 13:19:37

Aitch, the answer to that is that if we're such a bloody drain on resources they'd have rebuilt Hadrian's wall and brought in border control years ago.

prettybird Tue 15-Feb-11 13:19:50

Fromgirders: if it's like some of the other web cahts, they have more than one computer going with MNHQ typing some of his answers for him.

I am pissed off that I mistyped my angry in my rant - so here it is again: I am soooo angry at Labour's misnamanagement of the assets they had at their disposal during the good years. Brown's hubris at having "abolished boom and bust" is just so hmm]...... words fail me angryangry

Rhadegunde Tue 15-Feb-11 13:20:06

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

AlexSalmond Tue 15-Feb-11 13:20:37

GentleOtter

Welcome Mr Salmond,

Given that the Edinburgh tram project is an expensive disaster and entirely Edinburghcentric, would it not make more sense to divert funding towards making the A9 dual carriageway all the way to Wick?

Also, when will Scottish Tenant farmers be given the absolute right to buy and thus liberated from the feudal system which is still alive and active in 21st century Scotland?

GentleOtter, I'm very glad you asked this question. The SNP Government was against going ahead with the Edinburgh trams project - but we were outvoted by Labour, the Tories, the Lib Dems and the Greens - and I think the people of Edinburgh and beyond can now see the consequences.

On the A9, we do believe we have the right investment strategy to meet the needs of motorists. The A9 is the longest trunk road in Scotland and serves many different users, from many remote communities to key strategic traffic between some of our major towns and cities.  We are striking the right balance between investment in safety, local connections for the many communities and businesses served by the route as well as forging ahead with plans for phased dualling of the remaining single carriageway sections between Perth and Inverness.

AlexSalmond Tue 15-Feb-11 13:20:39

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

GentleOtter Tue 15-Feb-11 13:20:52

Ach, I doubt if my farming question will be touched with a long stick so I'm offering an office reshuffle.

Saltire Tue 15-Feb-11 13:20:52

I'm from very very close to the Border (on the correct side obviously) and if my brother had his way he'd have passport control set up on the banks of the Esk!

crapbarry Tue 15-Feb-11 13:20:58

I'm not living in Scotland anymore, more's the pity (born and brought up in the Glasgow area), but hope it's ok for me to ask you a question?

I was horrified to read the comments made by Bill Aitken, shadow minister for community safety, with regards to the rape cases currently under investigation in Glasgow. (the story is here for anyone who is interested)

Will he suffer any repercussions from the Scottish Parliament for his inexcusable statements?

AlexSalmond Tue 15-Feb-11 13:21:06

hismajesty

Since you wont give me a tip for the 3.30 at Folkestone could you tell me which Englishwoman you most admire and why?

Germaine Greer, as an adopted English woman, for although I don't agree and never have, with all of her views, there would seldom have been any doubt about what they were.
Shami Chakrabarti from Liberty, for much the same reasons, I also think she is one of the best and clearest television presenters of any major campaigner.
And finally, I like the lady from RAF Leuchars who took four children along to the campaign meeting last Friday, and as a RAF technician, made an emotional but powerful case in defence of her entitlement to work in an area to which she had become so committed.

Aitch Tue 15-Feb-11 13:21:18

i am sure there is a financial bazooka as well, though, certainly that guy on RJocko thought so, (and he was english, lol). i was surprised the SNP didn't seize on it and immediately start leafleting, iykwim?

GentleOtter Tue 15-Feb-11 13:21:57

x-p. The farming question is imperative to 5000 of us.

Aitch Tue 15-Feb-11 13:23:26

lol at the excellent and detailed version of Cammo's 'I met a black guy in folkestone' routine. vg. grin

KeepCalmAndCarryOnMNing Tue 15-Feb-11 13:23:42

<checks in quickly to see if the First Minister answered my question about AV>

<goes away again a bit disappointed>

SusieKyoo Tue 15-Feb-11 13:24:29

"Firstly, they're responsible for much of the economic mess the country is now in. Secondly, in very many policy areas they paved the way for another Tory government. "

I agree with you on both of those things, particularly the second which is less commonly noted. But what worries me is that you're letting them get away with protesting about Tory cuts as if they were the people's defenders, when they RAN AWAY from the chance to protect the people by forming the rainbow coalition you offered. You never mention their cowardice and shameless hypocrisy in this regard. Do you think Labour's current high Holyrood poll ratings are a result of this oversight, and do you think you can overcome them by May?

AlexSalmond Tue 15-Feb-11 13:25:24

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

PClover Tue 15-Feb-11 13:26:01

So far nothing on the Brian Souter/gay marriage question. Am I the only one who cares if that's changed SNP policy? shock

AlexSalmond Tue 15-Feb-11 13:26:12

crapbarry

I'm not living in Scotland anymore, more's the pity (born and brought up in the Glasgow area), but hope it's ok for me to ask you a question?

I was horrified to read the comments made by Bill Aitken, shadow minister for community safety, with regards to the rape cases currently under investigation in Glasgow. (the story is here for anyone who is interested)

Will he suffer any repercussions from the Scottish Parliament for his inexcusable statements?

I deprecate Bill Aitkens' reported comments, which were rightly greeted with outrage from both general public and across the political spectrum. I don't think they really represented his views, and in fairness, he did apologise later. However, it does illustrate two dangers.
Firstly, the implicit assumptions betrayed a dreadful attitude to the serious crime of rape, which is abhorrent for any person. Secondly, the temptation of politicians to occasionally shoot first and think later. it can cause deep hurt and upset.
As for the repercussions, it seems to be the best thing is don't vote Tory.

Hello Mr Salmond,

In 2009/2010 nearly 40,000 people in Scotland were categorised as newly homeless by their local authority link here a figure that remains pretty much unchanged for the last six years.

What can the Scottish Government do to make social housing more available? It seems to me that housing associations are not doing enough.

venusandmars Tue 15-Feb-11 13:27:05

Liking your answers Mr Salmond, and looking forwardd to your reply about civil partnerships smile

AlexSalmond Tue 15-Feb-11 13:27:33

KeepCalmAndCarryOnMNing

<checks in quickly to see if the First Minister answered my question about AV>

<goes away again a bit disappointed>

KeepCalmAndCarryonMNing: The SNP believe in proportional representation, but the AV voting system won't actually deliver that. But the people of Scotland will have the chance to cast their votes in a much more important poll - the Scottish Parliament election - on the same day as the AV referendum. It's just unfortunate that the UK Government decided to foist the AV poll on Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland on the same day as our devolved elections.

Euphemia France Tue 15-Feb-11 13:27:51

Can I just say I like the SNP yellowy-orange in which your replies are appearing? grin

Did you see the Mumsnet smileys for Burns' Night?

OhBuggerandArse Tue 15-Feb-11 13:29:57

trying ever so hard to be patient but really hoping for an answer to question about Gaelic school in Edinburgh...

crapbarry Tue 15-Feb-11 13:30:19

thanks for your answer - and I wish 'don't vote tory' was effective - I voted LibDem at the last election, and that had such a wonderful effect hmm

not many options down here in the Home Counties unless you're a raving loon or hardcore conservative, sadly!

KeepCalmAndCarryOnMNing Tue 15-Feb-11 13:30:20

Thanks for the response MR Salmond. I agree that it's appalling that the referendum is being proposed for the same day as the Scottish elections.

From your answer then I presume you yourself will be voting no? Will the SNP actively campaign against AV?

Mumtolittlemonkey Tue 15-Feb-11 13:30:30

By the way, what's happening with free prescriptions? My local chemist was telling its not happening anymore?

Aitch Tue 15-Feb-11 13:30:36

and gaidhlig funding in general, glasgow cooncil seems to view it as a soft target.

oricella Tue 15-Feb-11 13:31:06

Mr Salmond, thank you for acknowledging my post and your remarks about the A9. However, you missed out answering my actual question which was:

My question concerns the railways: an hourly railway link between Inverness and the central belt would go a long way to providing a realistic alternative to travel by road. A compulsory stop of all trains at Inverkeithing will greatly improve access from the Highlands to edinburgh airport. What does the SNP intend to do to improve public transport links between the Highlands and the rest of Scotland?

Aitch Tue 15-Feb-11 13:31:33

i think it's a tenner pre-pay for 4 mos, which is a total barg if you get regular prescriptions.

no questions but an admiring glance for straightforward no-nonsense answers

thank you

MajorPettigrew Tue 15-Feb-11 13:32:06

MajorP and 4 year old DS waiting.... Surely you won't let children down????
(Reassurring pat on head to DS that the First Minister will reply)

GentleOtter Tue 15-Feb-11 13:32:19

The reply to the A9 question was mine, oricella. confused

poppyknot Tue 15-Feb-11 13:33:17

Trees?

doricpatter Tue 15-Feb-11 13:33:45

Yeah, scarp my Qs, I want to know the answer to MajorP's!

AlexSalmond Tue 15-Feb-11 13:33:52

prettybird

What have you found to be the greatest challenge in working in a minority government and what have you most regretted not being able to get through the Scottish Parliament?

PS My Dad, previously a lifelong Labour supporter (unusually for a medical doctor!) has been extremely impressed by you (he loves the way that you demolish ill-prepared interviewers like Jon Snow) and has turned his back on Labour (he's never forgiven them for Iraq).

The greatest challenge is persuading the parliament to adopt radical policies albeit ones which are lobbied against by vested interest, for example, I passionately believe that a minimum price for alcohol must be part of tackling Scotland's problem with the bottle, which causes huge amounts of human misery and great cost for our national health service.
However, the other parties, who, if they combine, have a majority, combined to defeat what would have been a groundbreaking proposal, not just for Scotland, but across these islands.
Other regrets, the other parties, all of them, combined to force through the £500m Edinburgh tram project which was ill-thought through and a gigantic waste of public money.
More recently I felt that in the current difficult climate it was right to ask supermarkets and other large out of town retailers to pay a tiny bit more in rates to help fund other vital proposals. The lobby against that was intense from the supermarkets and their success in stopping it does them little credit.
However, on the whole, we've managed to get some 90 percent of our manifesto commitments through - some 84 out of 94. I suppose in politics as in life, you can't have everything your own way grin
ps. thank your dad and tell him I've never forgiven Blair for Iraq and never will.

Habbibu Tue 15-Feb-11 13:33:55

Well, HE has been seen as a pretty soft target nationwide so far. <cough cough>

mamadiva Tue 15-Feb-11 13:35:15

Thank you for answering me

Is the postage thing in breach of terms then and is there anything that can be done about this then?

Also with regards to the homeless issue, my mum along with my brother and 5YO twin sisters has been in temporary accomadation through our local council since June last year and still does not seem to be getting any definate answers about permanent housing.

Are there any policies on this or is this a national problem?

Habbibu Tue 15-Feb-11 13:36:00

Perhaps there could be a H&I-friendly initiative?

HelenMumsnet (MNHQ) Tue 15-Feb-11 13:36:22

GentleOtter

The reply to the A9 question was mine, oricella. confused

Yes, sorry. Mr Salmond was enlisting MNHQ help to get through as many questions (he's done hugely impressive amounts of prep!).

And then we went and posted the wrong answer to the right question (or is that the other way round?)

oricella, the right answer is coming now...

AlexSalmond Tue 15-Feb-11 13:36:37

oricella

I fully agree with GentleOtter that dualling the A9 (at least as far as Inverness) is a life saving priority and would dearly like to know when we can see some real action on this. It is very disheartening to see money wasted on the Edinburgh tram or completely pointless overtaking lanes.

My question concerns the railways: an hourly railway link between Inverness and the central belt would go a long way to providing a realistic alternative to travel by road. A compulsory stop of all trains at Inverkeithing will greatly improve access from the Highlands to edinburgh airport. What does the SNP intend to do to improve public transport links between the Highlands and the rest of Scotland?

Oricella and GentleOtter: Suggestions such as an extra stop are well worth making and discussions are still ongoing between Transport Scotland, Network Rail and ScotRail regarding the delivery of two additional services that are expected to be introduced between Inverness and the Central Belt from the end of this year.

Rhadegunde Tue 15-Feb-11 13:36:40

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

AlexSalmond Tue 15-Feb-11 13:36:45

MajorPettigrew

Hello Mr Salmond,
As the rules on posting questions in webchats are limited to one per poster, I've had to think long and hard about what I wanted to speak to you about.

There are many, many issues that I want to discuss with you, ranging from problems in rural schools, cutting of teaching assistants, loss of music lessons in primary schools, drug problems and the social implications that it leads to, al-megrahi, the state of the roads, cost of fuel etc etc (I won't go on any more)

I feel as a politicians seem to be held in fairly low regard among the electorate, you would feel it was your duty to show that you have a high moral code that all should try live by.

With that in mind Mr Salmond, your umbrella whacked me in the face as you walked past me at Turriff Show last summer.
My 4 year old thinks you were rude and should have said sorry. (I'm inclined to agree with him, although maybe there was a particularly good pipe band to go and judge at the time).

Anyway, please show my son that even the First Minister can admit when he has done something wrong and say sorry.
I know it's not exactly a pressing political question, but lead by example and all that...

Sorry about the umbrella, tell your four year old if I had realised I would have said sorry at the time.
They don't trust me with anything as important as pipe band judging at the Turra show - running the country is much less controversial in comparison.

poppyknot Tue 15-Feb-11 13:36:58

There was a programme yesterday about the targets for alternative energy. 80% by 2020(?)

Are these feasible?

FannyFifer Tue 15-Feb-11 13:37:51

Also just to add, while watching First Ministers I look forward to anytime Richard Baker asks you a question as he never seems to do any research and you always wipe the floor with him.
Best entertainment ever grin

Saltire Tue 15-Feb-11 13:38:02

I think we should have you back for another webchat - definitely one of the best I've seen

Rhadegunde Tue 15-Feb-11 13:38:16

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

oricella Tue 15-Feb-11 13:38:49

Thank you - that's encouraging..

AlexSalmond Tue 15-Feb-11 13:38:58

Aitch

so basically, mr s, what we are looking for is the whizz-bang answer to 'you wouldn't last five minutes without us'.

hi-concept it for us, please. gies sumhing tae blaw thaim oot the watter. (and by thaim i mean much-loved English sisters and brothers of MN grin). a verbal bazooka, if you please.

I think England is a great nation, with a fantastic literary heritage and is well capable of self government, and don't let anybody tell English people otherwise. I also think the same about Scotland.
When I was a boy, my next door neighbour, Mrs Nan Borthwick, used to say that when Scotland becomes independent, then England would lose a surly lodger and gain a good neighbour. They were wise words then, and I still believe them now.

LisMcA Tue 15-Feb-11 13:39:18

I agree with Saltire, well done Mr Salmond

DragonsCould Tue 15-Feb-11 13:39:28

Why do the SNP continue to accept high profile donations from a known homophobe? Should the electorate take this as a signal that the SNP are supportive of his stance?

Rhadegunde Tue 15-Feb-11 13:39:47

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

GentleOtter Tue 15-Feb-11 13:40:44

May I come to the Parliament and ask my question to you, personally, Mr Salmond?

(keeps quiet about the 'farmer' who could not find his dairy wink)

venusandmars Tue 15-Feb-11 13:40:48

Agree totally about the stupid tram programme - a multi-million pound project to replace the excellent 22 bus!

And the train to the north goes right past the end of the runway - it must have been a cheaper option to create a stop there and run a little shuttle to the terminal.

Aitch Tue 15-Feb-11 13:40:59

habs i missed your HE question, what's HE standing for here? not home edu, i take it?

Habbibu Tue 15-Feb-11 13:41:56

Higher Ed, Aitch - ages ago, one of the early questions.

AlexSalmond Tue 15-Feb-11 13:42:27

KeepCalmAndCarryOnMNing

Thanks for the response MR Salmond. I agree that it's appalling that the referendum is being proposed for the same day as the Scottish elections.

From your answer then I presume you yourself will be voting no? Will the SNP actively campaign against AV?

No we won't campaign against. I don't think much of first past the post as an electoral system. However, we, and by that I mean most of the Scottish parties, are really annoyed at this referendum being piggybacked on our own general election. It would never have even been considered for a Westminster election. Why should it be foisted on Scotland?

AlexSalmond Tue 15-Feb-11 13:42:51

PeggyGuggenheim

Hello Mr Salmond
I live in Falkirk. We are incredibly fortunate in that none of our libraries, community centres, schools or leisure centres are going to have to close. There was a proposal in the budget to shut all libraries on Saturday afternoons, but an emailing / Facebook campaign secured something of a reprieve. It was explained to us that a Council Tax freeze (imposed by the Scottish Government) has left the local authorities in a fix. I for one have always been delighted to get the letter telling me the Council Tax is frozen, but I would happily pay a few quid more if it was going to protect services! And don't the poorest get help with Council Tax? So who would lose out, really, if you allowed local authorities to raise Council Tax? Thank you for reading this.

Peggy, Thanks very much for your question. As you know, Council tax has been frozen since 2007 providing much need financial relief to families vulnerable groups, including pensioners, at a challenging financial time for households, while council tax has kept on rising in other parts of the UK.
Since 2007, the SNP's council tax freeze has been worth more than £300 per household across Scotland - and I believe that is a really important boost to people at a time when they are being squeezed by rising bills, fuel costs and Westminster's VAT hike. As I said earlier, despite the Westminster cuts to Scotland's budget, we have maintained local councils' share of the cash, allowing them to protect key services.
And it’s also worth pointing out that the English average band D council tax is £1,439. Band D households in Scotland therefore pay £290 less on average than in England. Sorry, English mumsnetters!

Habbibu Tue 15-Feb-11 13:42:59

(and given that I'm almost hyperventilating about the impending 3 days holiday, most definitely not home ed!)

Aitch Tue 15-Feb-11 13:43:41

oh right, sorry, yes OF COURSE. huge worries there, our universities should be a huge source of pride.

btw, i am beginning to worry that there is no zinger to them 'you wouldn't last 5 mins without us' line.

AlexSalmond Tue 15-Feb-11 13:44:27

DragonsCould

Why do the SNP continue to accept high profile donations from a known homophobe? Should the electorate take this as a signal that the SNP are supportive of his stance?

I don't accept the premise of your question. The SNP's position on equality before the law on sexual preference, gender, race, religion is well known, and has been demonstrated over many many years.

Habbibu Tue 15-Feb-11 13:44:59

Perhaps, "well, let's find out, then", Aitch? If we (and I say this in true white settler fashion) are such a burden, we'll be no great loss, surely?

Aitch Tue 15-Feb-11 13:46:00

having to take brian souter's shilling must be v depressing, then...

Aitch Tue 15-Feb-11 13:46:48

i just assumed that mr s would have one ready to fire off, though.

AlexSalmond Tue 15-Feb-11 13:47:09

Euphemia

Can you explain to me how reducing my daughter's contact with a teacher by 10% per week is going to "enhance" her education? (I am referring to the current proposal by Renfrewshire Council.)

Euphemia, Renfrewshire Council's proposed pilot would see an enhanced range of experiences for the non-teaching element of the day through a range of sporting, cultural and citizenship activities, which the council proposes would be through the community services division utilising culture, leisure and sports development active school staff. I expect Renfrewshire council to provide the full range of experiences which are set out in Curriculum for Excellence, and the independent evaluation will tell us whether the Council has succeeded. I also welcome the Council's commitment to involve parents at every stage of the pilot. HMIE will be actively involved in ensuring the pilot scheme is evaluated against Curriculum for Excellence principles. If HMIE's report is not satisfactory, then it will not go ahead. I would also like to reassure parents that the curriculum will continue to be delivered by fully qualified teachers.

MajorPettigrew Tue 15-Feb-11 13:48:07

Thank you. To be fair, it was such an enormous golf umbrella, yoiu could have taken out half the show field and not noticed!

Right. Easy one done. About al-megrahi......

In the sunday times it was reported that the UK government supplied advise to the Lybian government on how to get megrahi released and that there was a 50% chjance of him surviving for another 2 years.

Was the Scottish Government involved in rhese discussions? Are we really to believe that you all thought you were sending a dying man home for no more than a couple of months?

AlexSalmond Tue 15-Feb-11 13:48:18

boofle

Mr Salmond,
I am delighted that you are taking the time from what must be an extremely busy schedule to join this forum. What a wonderful endorsement for Mumsnet!
I live in Renfrewshire and much has been made of the recent decision to replace 2.5hrs of the school week with people who are professionals in the field of drama, art, sport etc. Many people are blaming the council tax freeze for the council having to make this decision and say they would be willing to pay more. I happen to think this idea could be good for my children - just take a look at other European countries or Australia, where the curriculum does not only centre around academia, but takes a more rounded and vocational approach. I am also happy with he council tax freeze, although I know it will go up again at some point. However, there are many parents who ARE worried about this and my question is: how much would our council tax go up to cover cuts that are being made and how much has the freeze contributed to the current financial position of councils?
I look forward to your answer and thank you in anticipation.

Boofle, my days may be pretty busy but I can assure you that it’s a pleasure to hear what the issues are that are getting Mumsnetters talking. I think the answer I gave to peggyGuggenheim just a couple of moments ago should give you our position on council tax and on the matter of Renfrewshire schools, as I explained earlier to euphemia, we will be monitoring the pilot.

venusandmars Tue 15-Feb-11 13:48:24

...and equality before the law still doesn't allow civil partnerships to take place outwith a register office?

AlexSalmond Tue 15-Feb-11 13:48:46

poppyknot

There was a programme yesterday about the targets for alternative energy. 80% by 2020(?)

Are these feasible?

Yes they are. Indeed, I think within the next couple of generations Scotland will be able to produce up to ten times our own electricity requirements largely from marine renewable sources. Incidentally, we've already surpassed this year's target of 31 percent of our electricity demand coming from renewables.
Interestingly, when recently the vice-premier of China visited the UK he decided to visit Scotland first to learn more about our renewable industry. A recognition that in many technologies, wave, tidal, offshore wind, carbon capture, hydrogen fuel cell, Scotland is a world leader.
I believe that our country can engineer the marine developments of the future in the same way as in the 19th century, Scotland engineered marine transportation. It is a big vision for Scotland and will be hugely helpful to the planetary imperative of reducing greenhouse gas emissions.

Saltire Tue 15-Feb-11 13:49:25

Majorpettigrew - i was going to ask that but decided against it

AlexSalmond Tue 15-Feb-11 13:51:57

midnightexpress

Euphemia, my understanding is that it's more than a 'proposal' in Renfrewshire. According to the BBC, Renfrewshire is definitely going ahead with a test of this from August. Is that right?

Mr Salmond, in view of this, and of North Ayrshire's discussion of a 4-day school week (which I assume is currently both unworkable and illegal), I'd like to know your views on the idea of P1 entry starting at 6 rather than 4 or 5 as at present. If savings need to be made, this seems to me like a potentially more beneficial and workable solution, given that it clearly works fine in many other European countries, and that there is research suggesting that starting school later may be of benefit to children, particularly boys.

Midnight Express, While I agree there is a lot we can learn from other countries' educational experiences - as indeed they can learn from Scotland - we have no plans to change the age at which a child in Scotland starts school. The law defines those who must attend school as children who have reached the age of five and have not attained the age of 16 years - that set-up has served us well for many years now and we see no reason to change it.

poppyknot Tue 15-Feb-11 13:51:59

It's good to aim high. We have wind and waves and water after all....

Was hydro-electricity not developed early here?

Mumtolittlemonkey Tue 15-Feb-11 13:52:19

The burning question... has Mr S ever changed a nappy?!

AlexSalmond Tue 15-Feb-11 13:53:02

MajorPettigrew

Thank you. To be fair, it was such an enormous golf umbrella, yoiu could have taken out half the show field and not noticed!

Right. Easy one done. About al-megrahi......

In the sunday times it was reported that the UK government supplied advise to the Lybian government on how to get megrahi released and that there was a 50% chjance of him surviving for another 2 years.

Was the Scottish Government involved in rhese discussions? Are we really to believe that you all thought you were sending a dying man home for no more than a couple of months?

The Scottish government and our justice secretary took a decision to release Mr Megrahi on compassionate grounds in line with Scots law and practice. It was a very difficult decision and we don't expect everyone to agree with it, but just to accept that we took the decision with due process and in good faith.
The recent revelations indicate that the previous UK government were playing a double game attempting to facilitate Megrahi's release in private on commercial and political grounds, and then the Labour party attacking the decision in Scotland in public when it was made on judicial grounds. That is one of the clearest cases of an organised hypocrisy that I can remember in my time in politics.

Habbibu Tue 15-Feb-11 13:54:05

Oh, don't think that's a great answer to Midnight's q! Just because something has worked reasonably well for a while doesn't mean there isn't actually a better alternative.

Habbibu Tue 15-Feb-11 13:54:28

<taps fingers>

GentleOtter Tue 15-Feb-11 13:55:19

<passes round stovies>

Aitch Tue 15-Feb-11 13:55:52

actually, what the law defines and what the local councils will pay for is a bit of a disconnect. we had to send our daughter at four because glasgow council wouldn't let her stay at nursery unless we could find £3 grand to pay her fees. so while her right not to go to school is enshrined in law, her parents inability to pay for her to continue her education at nursery was what swung it. it's a bloody disgrace, if you ask me, and i would appreciate Mr Salmond looking into this.

soupmaker Tue 15-Feb-11 13:56:13

Standing ovation here for the answer to Major P on Megrahi. Quite right.

AlexSalmond Tue 15-Feb-11 13:57:03

venusandmars

Hello and welcome.

In England and Wales there are moves to allow the use of religious premisies for same sex civil partnerships which will enable faith groups to carry out legal ceremonies. Can you tell us what the plans are for this in Scotland?

At present the marriage laws in Scotland are so much more enlightened and promote equality by recognising different religions, humanist and interfaith weddings.

As a celebrant I feel ashamed that I cannot offer offer an equal service to all citizens of Scotland.

Mumtolittlemonkey

Your local chemist is misinformed! It most certainly is happening, the reductions are already in place. The removal of the charge comes in in April. It is part of the social contract that we propose with the government doing what we can to help with family bills in return for the wage restraint which is necessary to protect jobs and services.
I also believe the original Nye Bevin concept of the health service as free at the point of need was, and is, the correct policy for health and that is what we shall pursue in Scotland.

By the way, what's happening with free prescriptions? My local chemist was telling its not happening anymore?

AlexSalmond Tue 15-Feb-11 13:57:41

Mumtolittlemonkey

The burning question... has Mr S ever changed a nappy?!

Yes, and very badly!smile

Habbibu Tue 15-Feb-11 13:59:07

<worries that lack of an answer bodes very ill for Scottish universities>

AlexSalmond Tue 15-Feb-11 14:00:11

Habbibu

Hello Mr Salmond

Following the cuts to HE funding in England and Wales, can I ask if you subscribe to President Obama's view that "cutting the deficit by gutting our investments in innovation and education is like lightening an overloaded airplane by removing its engine. It may feel like you?re flying high at first, but it won?t take long before you?ll feel the impact.?, and will this affect the Scottish Government's decisions on HE funding?

Yes it will. We've protected the university and college sector in Scotland and will continue to do so. In particular, we've protected research funding and college and university places. The changes in England because of the financial consequences for Scotland pose great challenges.
However, we are determined to find a Scottish solution that does not inhibit entry into higher education from all sections of society by the imposition of punitive tuition fees.

MajorPettigrew Tue 15-Feb-11 14:01:01

Thank you for answering my question.
I'm so shocked by it all. TBH the whole thing is disgustiong and seems to make a mockery of the Scottish Justice system.
Surely the Labour party knew the damage this would cause to the SNP...or is this why they weren't bothered.
Easy way to pass the buck Mr Brown.

AlexSalmond Tue 15-Feb-11 14:01:09

I'm off now, still on sign of my Tunnock's caramel wafers, maybe next time, eh? Thank you for all your questions and I've left answers to a few more which will be posted up later. Many thanks to Mumsnet. smile

Aitch Tue 15-Feb-11 14:02:05

it is at this point in a webchat that we look to the questions that the chattee did not answer, and we start to worry if there was maybe a reason why they were omitted. <joins arms with habs>

Habbibu Tue 15-Feb-11 14:02:28

Thank you.

Habbibu Tue 15-Feb-11 14:03:09

unfortunate x-posts for us both, Aitch! I do like the rather carefully placed "punitive", though!

Aitch Tue 15-Feb-11 14:03:11

hmm, hope that the gaidhlig stuff gets a look-in. happy with that answer, habs?

FannyFifer Tue 15-Feb-11 14:03:45

Thanks for your time, one of the better webchats we've had, although the Sportacus was pretty good too. wink

Habbibu Tue 15-Feb-11 14:04:10

Many thanks, Mr Salmond. Much appreciated.

Aitch Tue 15-Feb-11 14:04:12

lol fanny. grin

mamadiva Tue 15-Feb-11 14:05:37

Well I have never been on a Live MN chat before but it has to be sid that I am quite pleased with Mr Salmond and his answers

Although I have came to the conclusion that the Scots must be badly outnumbered on here when you consider that a chat with Jamie Flippin Oliver was far busier hmm

GentleOtter Tue 15-Feb-11 14:05:39

I am going to link up with you Aitch and Habb.

The future of farming question was also pointedly ignored by the Agriculture minister and the MSP. Looks like farming is on the ignore list too.

glittery Tue 15-Feb-11 14:07:08
Aitch Tue 15-Feb-11 14:09:16

send him a link to your blog, otter. <starts humming intro to Caledonia>

LisMcA Tue 15-Feb-11 14:10:33

<Caledonia you are calling me> la la la la

GentleOtter Tue 15-Feb-11 14:11:04

Well, that is a shed load of people who will not be voting Nationalist.

FannyFifer Tue 15-Feb-11 14:11:11

One of my favourite songs, love it!

GeraldineMumsnet (MNHQ) Tue 15-Feb-11 14:14:53

Thanks to Mr Salmond for coming on. Thanks to everyone who took part, too. Going to be posting some more answers shortly that he'd prepared earlier.

Rhadegunde Tue 15-Feb-11 14:15:42

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

Habbibu Tue 15-Feb-11 14:17:29

Oh, yes - I guess it's always fair to wait a bit (easy to say now mine got answered) but sometimes they do post answers later - pre-prepared or later thoughts, etc.

AlexSalmond Tue 15-Feb-11 14:25:48

Louii

Hello Mr Salmond,
I wonder if you can tell me what the SNP government has done to protect hard working families in Scotland?

Louii, I am delighted and proud that we as a Government are helping families by freezing the Council Tax for the fourth successive year and by abolishing prescription charges. These are SNP policies that are making a real difference to family budgets in challenging times and in the face of the most extraordinary Westminster cuts. And those cuts mean that we in Scotland are faced with a choice.

We know what the future holds if we stay in our present circumstances with the big economic decisions dictated by London. We would face a generation and more of continued cutbacks in our public services.

But there is an alternative, there is another option, and that's why there is a decision to be made. That option is to gain economic independence and control which will enable us to mobilise the great resources of Scotland, apply them to the human resources of the people of Scotland, and generate growth and wealth in our own economy.

That's the decision we will have in 2011. We can either have a better future for our country, or we can have a generation of fighting against London control and years of cuts.

AlexSalmond Tue 15-Feb-11 14:26:41

Beveridge

How will the SNP support the implementation of the new Curriculum for Excellence with one of the most vital elements it needs (e.g cold, hard cash) in the current financial climate?

And will teaching pay and conditions as per the McCrone agreement be protected to ensure there is no disruption to the education of Scottish children in the coming years?

Beveridge, all the work being undertaken by Government at this time has to be done against a backdrop of tight budgets.

Education Secretary Michael Russell recently asked Professor Gerry McCormac to conduct a review ten years on from the McCrone inquiry. The McCormac Review will examine a range of issues related to teacher employment, including whether the agreement is delivering all benefits that were intended for both teachers and pupils, and is tied to the delivery of Curriculum for Excellence.

AlexSalmond Tue 15-Feb-11 14:28:20

JollySergeantJackrum

Mr Salmond, thank you for agreeing to come and chat with us.

Your party's main policy is independence for Scotland. Can you please explain why you believe Scotland should be independent? Wouldn't we all be worse off?

Let me just say that you couldn't be more wrong - Scotland would be much better off as an independent nation. Independence is the natural state of being for most countries around the globe.

But on top of that Scotland has some fantastic advantages which we could only fully capitalise on as an independent nation. We have known about our North Sea oil wealth for many years - but on top of that Scotland is poised to become the green energy powerhouse of Europe, with a huge share of the continents's wind, wave and tidal power. That is set to create many thousands of jobs in the coming years - but we need the full financial powers of an independent country to really make the most of that.

In any case, the most recent figures prove that Scotland more than pays its own way at the moment as part of the UK.

poppyknot Tue 15-Feb-11 14:28:31

Good chat all told

GeraldineMumsnet and co. Don't know if it's the format of the forum but this has been much easier to follow than others I have been on. (Even if I have to F5 to refresh all the time!). Even ones that get heated (like the Grant Shaps one) are at least reasonalby easy to follow and read.

The Guarndian one last week with Maria Miller was a nightmare......

Also other ones seem to close the thread too. It is nice to be able to have a post party chat.

Maybe it's the offering of biscuits that does it....

AlexSalmond Tue 15-Feb-11 14:31:45

RRocks

Mr Salmond,

Can you please explain the effect on Scottish universities of the UK government's changes to the funding of universities in England, and how the Scottish government intends to deal with that?

RRocks, It's no secret there are big challenges facing higher education. The solutions, however, are complex, further complicated by the fact that Scotland does not have full power of its own finances and the £1.3 billion cut to next year's budget.

To find a "uniquely Scottish" solution, we have published a Green Paper to encourage a debate involving government, universities and students about how higher education will be paid for in future.

No decisions will be made until all those who have an interest have offered their views. But be sure, there will be one measure ruled out – tuition fees.

One of the decisions we have taken as a Government these last 4 years which I am most proud of is the restoration of the historic Scottish principle of free education, when we scrapped the so-called "graduate endowment" brought in by the previous Labour-Lib Dem administration.

AlexSalmond Tue 15-Feb-11 14:34:22

doricpatter

Re the trams, I realise that the SNP were always against it. But I wonder (probably quite naively) why we can't pull the plug on the whole thing? I'm fairly sure that general public feeling would be in favour of walking away from what's turning into a grotesque waste of public funds, not to mention the disruption caused thus far.

Also, on transport, is Mr Salmond aware of the current shenanigans at Moy? £2.6 million wasted on creating a breathtakingly dangerous section of road. It has to be seen to be believed - the overtaking lane is so short it's pointless, and I firmly believe that the "design improvements" we've been promised (read: more paint on the road) will do nothing to improve safety. How Transport Scotland can be allowed to create yet another blackspot on an already frighteningly dangerous route is beyond belief - any lay person can identify the inherent problems with the layout yet presumably some highly paid road planner came up with this? Surely someone should be held to account for wasting vital funds like this - spending money on overtaking lanes is wasteful anyway, given we've been repeatedly promised full dualling in the future.

I could start on about the classroom assistants scandal, and I'd love to get into the fuel regulator discussion (because we evidently can't rely on that obsequious ginger rodent for support), but I'll stop now. I'm a big fan - keep up the good work grin

Doricpatter, I would have to say that safety on Scotland's roads is of paramount importance. The A9 Moy scheme met all the requirements of the relevant design standard and was subject to a full Road Safety Audit.

The A9 is the longest trunk road in Scotland, and the SNP Government is committed to pressing ahead with many of the key improvements that have been long overdue.

AlexSalmond Tue 15-Feb-11 14:35:14

DanJARMouse

Hello!

Can you please advise why anything north of Inverness gets forgotten about?!

Transport links especially are beyond atrocious, and now there is reviews left right and centre for taknig away classroom assistants (small victory this week!) and merging schools (am in Thurso btw)

The state of our roads are appalling, the priority of gritting and ploughing in bad weather is all to pot and to be honest, its all going a bit pete tong here!

Come on Mr Salmond, why exactly should I vote for you on 5th May?!

DanJARmouse, I can assure you the SNP Government is one for all the airts and pairts of Scotland, and that very much includes the North of Scotland.

As someone who has represented the North-east of Scotland for many years, I totally understand the need to ensure communities in more remote parts of the country get their fare share. The North of Scotland has benefited, like the rest of the country, from the policies like the council tax freeze and scrapping prescription charges.

But in addition, we have pursued policies like the road equivalent tariff scheme which has radically slashed fares on many island ferry schemes, helping some of our most remote and vulnerable communities. In addition, we have just seen the establishment of the University of the Highlands and Islands as a fully fledged university  - something which has been an ambition for many years but has been brought to fruition under this SNP Government.

AlexSalmond Tue 15-Feb-11 14:35:57

Louii

I also thought it was somewhat petty that the labour party in Scotland would not vote for the SNP policy for the introduction of a minimum pricing for alcohol, yet what are they agreeing with at Westminster, hmmmm!

That was certainly a black day for Scotland, Louii. Labour, Tory and Liberal MSPs in the Scottish Parliament should be hanging their heads in shame. The voting down of the minimum pricing bill was based on petty political advantage and was at the expense of the physical and mental health of thousands of Scots.

Scotland has a major public health problem when it comes to alcohol, and doing nothing is simply not an option - and you are right to point out the total hypocrisy of Scottish Labour on this issue, as with so many others recently.

AlexSalmond Tue 15-Feb-11 14:36:53

LisMcA

Hello Mr Salmond,

Firstly I think its great that you are taking the time to joins us here on Mumsnet.

I would like to know your opinions on the Westminster proposal for the NHS budgets, for England and Wales, being managed by GPs? Is this a route you can see the Scottish Government taking?

Also, with the consideration of moving to a National Police force for the whole of Scotland, what do you see happening to the individual forces administration centres (Non-Emergency contact centres being one)? Will these be consolodated and relocated to a central location or should local knowledge remain local?

LisMcA, let me reassure you that frontline services are of the utmost importance to this administration. We have no plans to mirror the plans being proposed in England. In Scotland, our emphasis is on building a health service which is publicly run and publicly accountable and which has quality at its heart.

It is important to note that no decisions have been taken on the future structure of Scotland's police forces. But the main thing, as I have said already, is that we are committed to bobbies, not boundaries.

The SNP has already delivered more than 1,000 extra police on the streets of Scotland - an all-time record number - and that has helped crime fall to a 32-year low. We are totally committed to maintaining current police officer numbers. And at the same time we have now launched a consultation that has put forward three options for reform: greater collaboration between the existing forces; a regional model with fewer forces; and a single national force. We believe this process offers real opportunities for Scottish communities, because we want to give power of policing to the very people who know their neighbourhoods.

AlexSalmond Tue 15-Feb-11 14:37:54

IHeartLeith

Hello. Thanks for taking the time to answer some of these questions. I'd like to ask how you intend to vote on the SNP MSP Shirley-Anne Somerville's motion for a ban on large scale biomass plants in residential areas?

As a resident of Leith I am very concerned about the proposal for a biomass plant in our area; in particular about the effect on the already poor air quality and the inevitable traffic increase.

Thanks in anticipation.

IHeartLeith – A great name but could be even better if it was IHeartHearts! There are currently three applications for biomass plants with Ministers for decision and we will be considering them in the normal manner, following full consultation and consideration of all representations. We intend to review future support for biomass, including consultation on future support for biomass electricity under the Renewables Obligation, this year.

I recognise that there are pockets of poor air quality in Edinburgh, as in a number of other Scottish cities and towns and the  Scottish Government is working closely with the City of Edinburgh Council, Transport Scotland, SEPA and others to ensure that we do everything possible to improve air quality in these areas.

AlexSalmond Tue 15-Feb-11 14:39:02

pointydog

You should increase council tax. Many people can't bear to see all these cuts to public services.

PointyDog and KeepCalmAndCarryOnMNing – We have placed at the heart of the budget a social contract with the people of Scotland which protects jobs by bearing down on public sector pay, with a pay freeze for those earning over £21,000.

In return the Government will protect household budgets by providing the resources to end prescription charges and for a freeze in the council tax for a fourth year in succession - that's a huge help to family budgets, especially at a time when others bills are rising, partly due to the Westminster VAT hike.

AlexSalmond Tue 15-Feb-11 14:39:47

geordieminx

Hello Mr Salmond

Due to the bad weather that we have suffered over the past few months the road are now in a terrible state, with huge pot holes on major roads.

The council (South/North Lan) doesn't appear to have made any effort to start and repair them...I presume due to a lack of funds... Is there going to be more money made available or is there an action plan in place to start and repair the roads before they get even worse?

GeordieMinx, after the winter we have had – or are still having – it’s no wonder our roads have taken a pounding. However, the Scottish Government has made an additional £15m available to deal with urgent repairs on local roads and cover the extra costs of winter roads maintenance from this recent severe weather.

This is in addition to the extra £5 million made available last year for councils - on top of the almost £12 billion in funding for local authorities. The settlement also matched the commitment to maintain local government share of the Scottish budget to help councils to meet priorities such as maintaining roads.

And it's worth remembering that operating companies are contractually obliged to repair potholes and other defects within defined timescales.

AlexSalmond Tue 15-Feb-11 14:41:44

sammac

Hello Mr Salmond
I know you are very busy and thanks for taking the time to do this.

As a teacher, I am interested to know why the SNP have failed to keep their promises regarding class sizes?

There is currently a high level of unemployment amongst post-probationer teachers, yet they continue to be churned out of universities to swell these numbers. Surely there is some method of harnessing these skills to redress the class size issue and improve the Scottish education system by allowing CfE to be fully implemented in the most professional manner?

Thank you and what is your preferred biscuit?

Sammac, this Government is working hard to tackle the issue of teacher employment and there are signs we’re now turning the corner. For example, the number of Scottish teachers claiming Job Seekers Allowance is falling and Scotland has the lowest claimant number in the United Kingdom.

However we know more needs to be done and that's why the budget agreement with Scotland's councils includes a commitment to a real reduction in teacher unemployment as well guaranteeing a probationer place for every newly-qualified teacher in August 2011, and sufficient posts for all those finishing their probation in summer 2011 to apply for.

Class sizes in primary education in Scotland are now at a record low, with almost 22 per cent of P1 to P3 pupils now in classes of 18 or fewer.

AlexSalmond Tue 15-Feb-11 14:42:15

Whyriskit

Hello Mr Salmond,

I would like to ask if the redevelopment of the Waverley Line from Edinburgh to the Borders is definitely going to go ahead?
Thanks.

Whyriskit, the Waverley Line development is certainly going ahead. The Borders Railway is on track to open in 2014 and will re-establish passenger railway services from Edinburgh through Midlothian to the Scottish Borders for the first time in over 40 years.

The railway will deliver major economic and social development opportunities, connecting people to jobs, housing (including affordable housing) and leisure opportunities and facilities.

The project is a key part of the Scottish Government's wider programme of investment in transport infrastructure working towards the sustainable economic growth of Scotland.

AlexSalmond Tue 15-Feb-11 14:42:49

abdnhiker

Hi can I just add my voice that we'd be willing to see inflationary raises in our council tax too if needed. Maybe just in bands d and above or E and above to protect those on lower incomes. Also free prescriptions aren't a priority for us if it could mean money for classroom assistants or services for the disabled etc. Guess basically I'm saying we'd manage to pay a bit more if others need it more (my husband had a ten percent paycut due to the recession but we managed - I know we're relatively fortunate). But I'm not in favour of spending more than we have so I support the budget cuts in principle and hope that Scotland will do the right thing in protecting the most vulnerable rather than playing politics like what seems to be happening in England.

These are certainly challenging times for all of us, Abdnhiker, but I know you appreciate that it may be tougher for others than for ourselves. That is why in Scotland we are doing everything in our means to protect frontline services.

And when it comes to protecting the most vulnerable, the SNP Government is absolutely committed to doing the right thing - that's why we have pledged to protect key policies like free personal care for the elderly.

GeraldineMumsnet (MNHQ) Tue 15-Feb-11 14:47:23

That's all, folks. Off for brew and a few biscuit and to stock up on Tunnocks wafers.

venusandmars Tue 15-Feb-11 15:00:41

Oh sad. My question was higlighted in orange on the previous page, but there was no answer to it. Technical glitch?

JosieMumsnet (MNHQ) Tue 15-Feb-11 15:05:52

venusandmars Yes, that was a technical error. Really sorry about that.

Aitch Tue 15-Feb-11 15:32:15

oh SHIT. nothing about gaidhlig education at all. sad

Gentleotter Why are a shed load of people not going to vote SNP ?

GentleOtter Tue 15-Feb-11 16:23:40

Because they have been let down, TapsalteerieO.

Because the industry that they have worked at and supported has been sold down the river.

Do you want me to go on?

None of the parties are worthy of votes until they can come up with something far better than the burach that we have now.

I think I will still vote for them, to keep the alternative choices out.

Farmers should start some direct action protests, like French farmers would, you need to get media attention to make a difference IMHO.

GentleOtter Tue 15-Feb-11 17:05:48

Yes, they ought but they won't.

The tenant farms are either being sold off to property developers and new entrants cannot afford the rents and conditions. Who would invest in a farm only to be moved on after 5 or 10 years?

It is more lucrative for landowners to build huge windfarms and to hell with the hill farmer.

The average age of the traditional farmer is in the 'mature' to 'getting on a bit' range and with few to hand the farms on to, plus an Agricultural Law which is untenable, farming will die out.

They tried a protest outside Asda but were served with an injunction.angry

Singinginmychains Tue 15-Feb-11 18:31:36

Forests? sad

Aitch Tue 15-Feb-11 18:51:49

oh dear, no answer came the loud reply on gaidhlig, farming and forestry. not looking good for highland voters.

Singinginmychains Tue 15-Feb-11 18:52:22

Also, he didn't answer my question about privatisation properly. The way I interpret his answer is that he'll only protect our services if the SNP is given 'the normal financial powers of a normal parliament, raising the money we spend rather than relying on dwindling Westminster handouts'. So only if Scotland becomes independent?

But if the SNP does manage to bring in a local income tax, as mentioned above, then we will have the money. Won't we?

Sorry, Mr Salmond. Your answer was disappointing. I wanted you to say that you were against the selling off of our services and assets (eg forests) and that you would make sure it didn't happen in Scotland.

I want so much to have a government in Scotland that is truly on the side of the people of Scotland. Not the property developers or the multi-billionaire owners of global companies who want to buy up the health service. A government that is on the side of little old ladies and their cats. Me.

GentleOtter Tue 15-Feb-11 18:58:52

Singinginmychains for First Minister.

It is the Clearances all over again, Aitch.

Singinginmychains Tue 15-Feb-11 19:16:34

It is, GentleOtter, it really is! But this time it's happening in England, and we don't want it to happen here.

Salmond did say he would protect the unis and care for the elderly. But what does that mean? I am now so sceptical about politicians, after the fast one pulled by the Tories and Lib Dems ...

Well said Singinginmychains.

OooohShiny Tue 15-Feb-11 20:18:57

Can't believe I missed this ......rats

I would have reminded him that his Civil Servants are human beings (and voters) too and maybe the next time he shouldn't ignore the nice gesture I make him, blank and be downright rude to me and then fawn all over someone he sees as 'a typical voter' 2 seconds later hmm

that said, I've been pretty impressed with the rest of them on the whole

SookieD Tue 15-Feb-11 20:53:50

Singingmychains - there's no doubt that of all the parties in Scotland, the SNP is the only one that'll avoid privatisation of public services. If we end up with another Lab/Lib Dem govt, they will almost certainly introduce what is affectionately known as 'modernising' which will doubtless see greater involvement of private sector and certainly introduce some kind of fee for higher education.

It was, after all, the Labour party who were the biggest proponents of PFI/PPP - an absolute scandal that has made consultants and lawyers very very rich and will leave our children still paying for schools in 25 years time. The SNP might not have found a perfect replacement but at least they ended PPP.

Local income tax is something that was only scuppered thanks to the Lib Dems not voting for something that was supposedly a key issue of theirs (it wasn't the right kind of LIT) but irrespective would probably only cover existing council tax income (but in a fairer way) so wouldn't provide that much extra cash. I'm afraid it's true that when you're only responsible for spending the money and can't make changes to different taxes, charges etc to balance the books (which is how every other economy works) then it's always gonna be a bit tricky for any Scottish Government.

So it might not be perfect or give the cast iron guarantees everyone wanted (to be fair, which politician would these days?!) but there's no doubt on the basis of the past records of both Lab and SNP governments in Holyrood that your best bet for keeping public services public has to be the SNP.

Still, you pays your money you takes your choice and all that.

prettybird Wed 16-Feb-11 10:50:32

According to the Scotsman you are a man majorpettigrew hmm

.... a lazy journalist who assumes that our posting names can be used to deduce our sex.

Personally, I think that there were more interesting aspects of the discussion to report (although it was nice that Alex said sorry) - it shows a lack of respect by Andrew Whitaker that there could be a reasoned politicial discussion of a website populated mostly by women.

Thanks for the link Prettybird, cannot believe that is all they picked up on grrrr!

I do think we all have to put more pressure on our MP's to highlight our concerns, when do we ever ask anything of our local MP's? Might be worth forwarding our questions, especially regarding big issues that were brought up here, protecting vital public services, education, farming, roads and travel links, fuel pricing to our local MP's and see what kind of response we get?

prettybird Wed 16-Feb-11 11:00:56

The Herald was much better - I could be biased and say that that was because it was written by a woman wink

crapbarry Wed 16-Feb-11 11:09:30

herald much better, yes - although having the word crap in my username is good for preventing me from being mentioned in the press, clearly

It is good to see some press coverage.

mumm2three Wed 16-Feb-11 15:22:34

I am that mum from the recent meeting Mr Salmond mentioned. Just a couple of corrections, I only have three children & I am actually scottish : )

FannyFifer Wed 16-Feb-11 18:46:50

I've the word Fanny in mine so clearly had no hope, lol

MajorPettigrew Wed 16-Feb-11 22:03:21

Hahahhaha!! grin That's hilarious.
Going to have to get a copy of the paper!!!!

Arse - I can't even tell anyone about it or I'll out myself!

Although, it doesn't seem to have been taken in the tounge in cheek way it was intended. Ho hum

MajorPettigrew Wed 16-Feb-11 22:08:21

TapselteerieO - you are quite right.
It does that the piss that The Scotsman only wrote about the umbrella incident when there was some real issues discussed.

Probably just to try and suggest that the whole discussion was a load of fluff.

Sorry about that - feel a bit guilty now.

gaelicsheep Thu 17-Feb-11 00:26:10

AS did not answer the question about parcel delivery to the Moon the Highlands. He talked about the Royal Mail/Parcelforce, whereas the problem is with private couriers. Also with many firms who use Royal Mail and charge us highlanders extra so they can deliver free to the rest of the UK. I'm disappointed that AS is so badly informed on thus.

RRocks Thu 17-Feb-11 22:31:18

Despite the mention in the Herald, Mr Salmond did not answer the question on what was the effect on Scottish universities of the recent changes in the funding of universities in England. Nor did he say how the government proposed to deal with that - only that it would not involve tuition fees.

They need to do something to bring the Scottish universities up to the funding levels of English universities or their quality will deteriorate.

Why won't he tell the electorate what they propose to do?

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