MOSCOW, November 15 (Sputnik) — Former Scottish First Minister Alex Salmond has refused to rule out SNP presence in a possible coalition in the British parliament, if the next general election again results in a hung parliament at Westminster.
In an interview with the BBC, Salmond described the prospect as “unlikely,” but went on to say that such an arrangement could benefit Scotland: "In particular to hold Westminster's feet to the fire in terms of delivering the vow, the pledges that were made to Scotland that proved so decisive in the final days of the referendum campaign."
Salmond’s Scottish National Party lost a referendum held in September on independence from the UK, winning 1,617,989 votes to leave the union, against 2,001,926 votes to stay. In the final weeks of the referendum campaign, as the "Yes" to independence vote was edging ahead in polls for the first time, former Labour Prime Minister Gordon Brown crucially went out to bat for the "No campaign", with promises of a federal Britain in the coming years.
The SNP is currently holding a party conference in Perth, Scotland, where Salmond used his valedictory speech as party leader on Friday to remind the conference of Brown’s intervention. “Let us remember his words, 'We're going to be, within a year or two, as close to a federal state as you can be’. He pledged 'home rule' — his words not mine. That is now the yardstick by which the Smith Commission will be measured.”
The Smith Commission was set up in the aftermath of the No vote to come up with proposals for further devolution of powers to the Scottish Parliament, and is due to produce its recommendations by November 30. “If the Westminster gang reneges on the pledges made in the campaign — they will discover that Hell hath no fury like this nation scorned,” said Salmond Friday in a speech where he defiantly made clear his belief that an independent Scotland is inevitable.
In an interview the outgoing First Minister was asked about the possible eventuality of the SNP becoming Britain’s third largest party, if his declared aim of winning the general election in Scotland is achieved. The outgoing leader said he was in agreement with his successor, Nicola Sturgeon, that a coalition with the Conservative Party was “out of the question,” and that “you couldn’t trust them further than you could throw them.”
On Friday, the Guardian disclosed an “open secret within the SNP and among Scottish political observers that Salmond intends to run for the House of Commons” in the Scottish constituency of Gordon in next year’s general election. Such a move would ensure Salmond’s continuing presence in British politics, and make him in effect the leader of the SNP in the House of Commons. Incoming party leader Sturgeon will become First Minister in the Scottish Parliament after succeeding Salmond as head of the SNP.