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WEBCHAT GUIDELINES 1. One question per member plus one follow-up. 2. Keep your question brief. 3. Don't moan if your question doesn't get answered. 4. Do be civil/polite. More here.

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.


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,

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?

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

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!

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.

doggiesayswoof Mon 14-Feb-11 19:08:19

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.

AgentProvocateur Mon 14-Feb-11 19:50:37

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.

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