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Alex Salmond: I would have ‘definitely finished the A9 by 2025’ as First Minister

By Scott Maclennan

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From left: Alex Salmond, Jimmy Duncan, Karl Rosie at the Alba Party event in Inverness.
From left: Alex Salmond, Jimmy Duncan, Karl Rosie at the Alba Party event in Inverness.

Former First Minister Alex Salmond said “the SNP government has effectively turned its back on the Highlands” over the A9 dualling at an Alba Party meeting in Inverness last night.

A trenchant Mr Salmond hit out at a range of targets last night from the low prices of the ScotWind sell off, the lost opportunities for independence in the last decade but top of the list was the failure to dual the A9.

Mr Salmond told the event that a soon to be released new poll by Alba indicates that the party could gain as many as 24 seats in 2026. He was speaking alongside the party’s latest recruit, Highland Councillor Karl Rosie who recently left the SNP.

Fergus Ewing has already warned that “the big beneficiary of the 2026 election will be Alex Salmond and the Alba Party.” He argued that people who “strongly support independence but don’t want the Greens” will vote for Alba.

Now the former First Minister confirmed the party will run at least one candidate in the general election in the Highlands as Mr Salmond and Cllr Rosie sought to put forward the party’s vision for the north.

Mr Salmond boiled it down to “Independence for Scotland goes hand in hand with home rule for the Highlands.

“The job of the Scottish Government is to provide the infrastructure required to allow the Highlands and Islands to flourish whether it be roads in the mainland, ferries to the islands or electronic infrastructure everywhere.

“As First Minister, I demonstrated that commitment by holding cabinet meetings in Inverness, Caithness, Inveraray, Moray and the Northern and Western Isles. Each of these meetings committed promises to north communities and indeed many were honoured like the University of the Highlands and Islands.

“However, over the last 10 years, the SNP government has effectively turned its back on the Highlands, much to the frustration of outstanding local representatives such as Fergus Ewing MSP and Angus Brendan MacNeil MP.

“I made a firm commitment to complete the dualling of the A9 to Inverness by 2025 at a historic cabinet meeting in Inverness Town House in 2008. It was ready to roll by May 2012 but was subsequently downgraded in the capital plans.”

He added: “I can tell you that if I had remained as First Minister the A9 would have been finished.”

Mr Salmond also gave a survey of what he feels has gone wrong in Scottish politics in the last decade that included: Brexit and Boris Johns with an unmistakable gibe at Nicola Sturgeon.

He said the “biggest mistake of my life was resigning as First Minister because if someone told me within two years we would have Brexit and Boris Johnson then I may have stuck around.

“The tragedy of the heaven sent opportunity of the UK Tory party taking Scotland out of the EU and then premiership of Boris Johnson, the greatest strategic opportunity in Scottish political history was just frittered away.”

Highland manifesto

On the prospects of Alba in both the general election – which is now expected after the summer – and the 2026 Scottish Parliament elections, Mr Salmond wants to get back into Holyrood himself and that starts with the Highlands.

“Now Alba wants to see new ideas and initiatives coming from the Highlands itself,” he said. “That’s the purpose of asking Cllr Karl Rosie to gather together a manifesto for the Highlands and Islands to tackle key problems such as the twin scourges of depopulation and lack of affordable housing.

“Our task in ALBA is to make sure that we are in a position in the next Scottish Parliament to ensure that it is implemented.”

Cllr Karl Rosie said: “It is as a new recruit to ALBA a great honour to be asked to coordinate our Highland manifesto. In my opinion, it is exactly the initiative that the Highland communities have been waiting for from a Scottish Party.

"Already I have had many offers of assistance and I am open to a great deal more. The SNP Scottish Government should realise that they have had their chance and the Highlands have had enough”

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