19 Sep 2014

Salmond resignation makes no camp’s win all the sweeter

Alex Salmond’s resignation at first minister and as SNP leader will make the no camp’s victory all the sweeter. He said he would’ve stayed on if it had been a yes. They will feel they have toppled him, their most potent opponent and the man who brought Scotland the brink of secession.

Mr Salmond looked close to tears as he drew his career in frontline politics to a close. He will run again for Holyrood but doesn’t expect to serve in government. He said he’d brought the cause of independence to “base camp… near the summit.”

There is no doubt who his successor will be. There have long been suggestions that Nicola Sturgeon and Alex Salmond may have come to some sort of Granita-style deal over the succession. Both of them avoided naming successors or candidates today.

The implication of Alex Salmond’s words in the press conference was that another leader might reach parts of the electorate he could not. The yes campaign seems to have remained behind with women voters. Nicola Sturgeon may be better placed to build on the younger support collected this time round.

Earlier Alex Salmond had emphasised how far his cause had come. But a political leader’s resignation, usually associated with an election defeat, colours this event even more. It will wind some supporters already emotionally battered by last night’s results.

His successor’s first political tasks will include keeping up the pressure on the pro-union vow signatories. Another main task will be trying to convert the energy captured in the referendum into more SNP Westminster seats, mainly at Labour’s expense.

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