He’s the politician of the moment. Every media organisation in the world will descend on Edinburgh in the early hours of Friday morning to listen to his reaction, once the votes are counted in the Scottish independence referendum. But what do we really know about Alex Salmond, or ‘Big ’Eck’ as he is known North of the Border? Is he a force for good or a divisive figure responsible for tearing apart the United Kingdom?
The first thing worth noting about Alex Salmond is that he has always taken a gradualist view of Scottish independence. In the late 1980s, Scottish nationalism was going nowhere, following the inconclusive result of the devolution referendum in 1979. The SNP had boycotted the Scottish Constitutional Convention, meaning that plans were drawn up for the Scottish Parliament without the SNP having a say. When he first became leader of the SNP in 1990 Salmond called a halt to his Party’s over-ambitious dreams of independence. He swallowed his pride, and backed the ‘Yes, Yes’ campaign in the 1997 referendum.