Scottish first minister laments 'extraordinary decline' of Commons

Scottish first minister laments 'extraordinary decline' of Commons

By staff writers
18 Apr 2010

Alex Salmond, first minister of Scotland and leader of the SNP, who has been an MP since 1987 and retired this past week, says the House of Commons has declined "in an extraordinary fashion over the last two decades".

The comments were made in a YouTube broadcast recorded outside the Scottish parliament. He also spoke about the possibility of a balanced (hung) result in the 6 May General Election.

Salmond declared: "When I went there at first, when you went into the chamber of the House of Commons there were folk worth listening to, Tony Benn [left-wing Labour MP], John Biffen {liberal Tory], people of principle like that.

He continued: "They were people who disagreed, but were arguing out a principled position of politics from a different standpoint - you get none of that now, none of it at all.

"But even more seriously, the reputation of the House of Commons has never been lower. It is like the 90s and John Major and all that back to basics stuff amplified 10 times over. Not only do you have the cabs for hire, the former Labour ministers selling their services to lobbying companies quite openly, you have also got this whole issue of expenses."

The tough-talking SNP leader pointed out that all three of the big party leaders, who he said have "excluded" him and Plaid Cymru in Wales from the televised leader debates, had needed to pay money back.

Salmond belives his party could win up to 20 seats in Scotland and hold the balance of power in the event of a hung parliament.

"If we get a group, a squad, a bloc of SNP MPs put into Westminster, hopefully in a balanced parliament situation, then they will be able to get Scotland up the priority list, but not just gain things for Scotland and protect Scottish spending. Also articulate the concerns of the people to be genuine local and national champions for Scotland."

The Scottish National Party is in an electoral alliance with Plaid Cymru in Wales in an attempt to gain representation and influence in the Westminster parliament.

[Ekk/3]

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