Alex Salmond to make Westminster comeback – threat to Lib Dem seat of Gordon?

by Stephen Tall on October 24, 2014

Alex Salmond - License Some rights reserved by Ewan McIntoshFormer Scottish First Minister Alex Salmond has hinted he might make a comeback at Westminster, as the BBC reports:

Alex Salmond has said he has not made up his mind whether or not to stand for a Westminster seat at the next general election. The outgoing Scottish first minister was asked on the BBC’s Question Time programme if he would consider becoming an MP again. Mr Salmond said he had “absolutely decisively” not made up his mind, but agreed that the door was not closed.

Alex Salmond made his name at Westminster, as MP for Banff and Buchan for 23 years (1987-2010). However, two factors will be in his mind.

First, his personal standing in Scotland means that whichever seat he stands in the chances of the SNP winning will be much, much higher. We saw this in 2011, when Mr Salmond’s decision to stand for the Scottish parliament in Aberdeenshire East boosted the SNP ticket throughout the area — to the Lib Dems’ cost.

Secondly, the chances of the SNP making a breakthrough at Westminster on the back of Labour’s collapse in Scotland means the Nationalists could wield significant influence in the event of a second hung parliament. An SNP delegation of c.15+ MPs could end up being far more powerful than Nigel Farage’s Ukip.

So where might he stand? Here’s Glenn Campbell, BBC Scotland political correspondent:

When he announced his intention to stand down as party leader and first minister following the independence referendum he promised to “continue to offer to serve” as MSP for Aberdeenshire East. But that does not prevent him from running for Westminster too. A so-called “dual mandate” is allowed. Targetting the Gordon constituency which overlaps with his Holyrood seat is perhaps the most likely option. The SNP were the second-placed party there last time and the sitting Liberal Democrat MP, Sir Malcolm Bruce is standing down.

What would be bolder and riskier would be for him to seek the SNP nomination in a Glasgow or North Lanarkshire constituency. These are areas that traditionally vote Labour but backed independence in the referendum. If the nationalists are to make gains in west central Scotland they need to persuade ‘yes’ supporters from all parties and none to vote SNP.

In 2010, Gordon was held by Sir Malcolm Bruce by a majority over the SNP of 6,748 (14%). With Malcolm retiring, Christine Jardine has been selected to try and retain the seat. She’ll have a tough fight on her hands no matter what, but it’ll certainly be tougher still if Alex Salmond does decide to throw his hat into the ring.

* Stephen Tall is Co-Editor of Liberal Democrat Voice, and editor of the 2013 publication, The Coalition and Beyond: Liberal Reforms for the Decade Ahead. He is also a Research Associate for the liberal think-tank CentreForum and writes at his own site, The Collected Stephen Tall.