For the first time ever, FT Westminster brings you reaction from First Minister’s Questions, live from Edinburgh.
I am here this week to take a closer look at how the case for independence is going, and whether this week’s mess over EU membership has finally taken the shine off the SNP’s charismatic leader, Alex Salmond.
The SNP was left embarrassed earlier this week when it admitted it had not, contrary to what ministers had appeared to say previously, sought legal advice on whether Scotland could remain a member of the EU.
Alex Salmond believes last month’s speech by Johann Lamont was a game-changer. In it, the Labour leader in Scotland argued that many of the universal benefits currently enjoyed by Scots are not affordable in the long-term. Attacking what she called the “something for nothing” culture, she said:
I believe our resources must go to those in greatest need.
But if the devil’s greatest trick was to convince the world he didn’t exist, Salmond’s most cynical trick was to make people believe that more was free, when the poorest are paying for the tax breaks for the rich.
She picked on four things she believed should be scrapped: the council tax freeze, free personal care for the elderly, free prescriptions and free university education.