Alex Salmond accused of telling voters ‘blatant untruths’

The former First Minister issues a leaflet to voters in Gordon taking credit for pensioner policies introduced before he took power at Holyrood.

Alex Salmond has been accused of telling voters in the seat he is contesting “blatant untruths” by claiming credit for policies implemented by Labour and the Liberal Democrats when he was not even an MSP.

The former First Minister sent a leaflet to constituents in the Aberdeenshire seat of Gordon in which he said the SNP had “led the way” by providing free personal care and bus passes for pensioners.

He said he was “immensely proud” of the SNP’s record but both policies were introduced by the Labour and Lib Dem Scottish Executive after he stood down as an MSP in 2001 and before he won power in the 2007 Holyrood election.

Christine Jardine, his Lib Dem opponent in the seat, attacked Mr Salmond for trying to rewrite history in the hope of trying to fool voters.

It also emerged that the SNP have approached several newspapers attempting to blacken Ms Jardine’s name by claiming that she lives in Glasgow and not the constituency.

She last night claimed the accusations were “desperate” and “sexist” as her career means she lives in the North East, apart from her husband, in the same way many male oil workers have moved to the region to make a living away from their families.

Free personal care for the elderly was proposed by Henry McLeish, the former Labour First Minister and introduced in 2002. His successor, Jack McConnell, oversaw the introduction of free bus travel across Scotland for pensioners in 2006.

But Mr Salmond sent a leaflet claiming credit for both policies to voters in Gordon, where the Lib Dems’ Sir Malcolm Bruce has been the MP since 1983. However, he has decided to stand down and the former First Minister is favourite to win the seat for the SNP.

The leaflet read: “I am immensely proud of the SNP’s record in government when it comes to standing up for our pensioners. We have led the way with bus passes and free personal care.”

Ms Jardine, a journalism lecturer at Robert Gordon University in Aberdeen, said: “Experience has taught us that Alex Salmond sometimes has problems remembering the fine detail of the actualise, but, even by his standards, these are blatant untruths.

“It’s typical of the SNP’s attempts to rewrite history, but I’m confident that voters in Gordon will see past these false claims and remember that the Lib Dems have a genuine record of working with like-minded colleagues to deliver real improvements for pensioners and other vulnerable groups in our communities.”

The SNP sent information to several newspapers arguing that Ms Jardine lives in Glasgow, where her husband worked until recently and they have a family home.

However, she said she moved back to the North East, initially in 2013 to contest the Donside Scottish Parliament by-election then permanently in January last year.

“It seems pretty desperate to me. If they were confident they were going to win, why would they stoop to this?” Ms Jardine asked.

Mr Salmond said: “What a lot of nonsense from the Liberals. the SNP defended the free bus pass and free personal care throughout my term in office despite swingeing cuts from Westminster.

“The opposition parties in the Scottish Parliament told us it could not be done but the SNP sustained these policies as well as freezing council tax, abolishing tuition fees and introducing free prescriptions.

An SNP spokesman added: “People in Gordon do not mind where anyone comes from, the issue is a candidate giving the impression they are from the constituency when they aren’t. The simple fact of the matter is that the Liberal Democrat candidate’s address in Newmachar for nomination, which appears on the ballot paper, is her campaign manager’s.”