31st December 1954

First minister Alex Salmond is born

Alex Salmond was the first member of the Scottish National Party to be elected First Minister. He assumed the role in 2007, was re-elected in 2011 and stepped down in 2014, to be succeeded by Nicola Sturgeon.

Route into politics

Born in Linlithgow, Salmond studied Economics and Medieval History at the University of St Andrews. He worked for both the UK government and the Royal Bank of Scotland, and joined the SNP in the early 1970s.

He was elected to the Westminster Parliament in the General Election of June 1987, representing the seat of Banff and Buchan. He unseated the incumbent Conservative MP and, reported the Aberdeen Press and Journal on 13 June 1987, “Mr McQuarrie, his political career shuttered after eight years as an MP, refused to shake hands with Mr Salmond after the result.”

Election as SNP party leader

When he stood for election as leader of the SNP in 1990, he did so against Margaret Ewing, daughter in law of Winnie Ewing, one-time president of the SNP who came to be known in the European Parliament as Madame Ecosse. Hers was the first voice heard in the inaugural debate of the new Scottish Parliament. Salmond won a comfortable majority.

He resigned the leadership in 2000 but stood for – and won – re-election to the post in summer 2004. Just under three years later, the SNP became the biggest party in the Scottish Parliament, and reached an agreement with the Scottish Green Party, which would vote to support SNP policies in return for ecological concessions. This allowed the SNP to form a government, and Salmond to be elected first minister on 17 May.

Independence referendum

In the Scottish Parliament election of 2011, the SNP increased its share of seats, winning an outright majority of four. Salmond was returned as First Minister and announced a plan to hold an independence referendum. This took place in 2014, with a narrow majority of those casting a vote declaring a preference for Scotland to remain part of the United Kingdom.

Salmond announced his intention to resign as First Minister after the referendum result had been announced. His deputy, Nicola Sturgeon, was unopposed in the contest to replace him.

He resigned from the SNP in 2018 and, in March 2021, joined the Alba Party, which had been founded the previous month, as its leader. The Alba Party had a nationalist and pro-independence stance, and stood in the 2021 Scottish Parliamentary election. It failed to win any seats.



Other events that occured in December

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