There are two things I will always remember about Alex Salmond, who has just announced that he’s stepping down as leader of the SNP and First Minister of Scotland.
One of them is that on 20th May 2008, as MP for Banff and Buchan, he paid one of his rare visits to the Commons to vote for forcing women who need abortions after 20 weeks to have to leave the UK by making abortion illegal for them to access in the UK.
Most abortions after 20 weeks are either for medical reasons (read personal stories from women in Ireland who were in that situation) or because a young woman delayed getting help out of confusion, ignorance, fear – or sometimes malice on the part of prolife medical personnel: or because it took them so much time to save up the fare from Ireland and the cost of an abortion here.
When asked to explain his position on abortion as an MP by a Banff and Buchan constituent, Alex Salmond wrote back to her on First Minister notepaper to say that abortion was a reserved issue.
The other thing I shall always remember about Alex Salmond is that he routinely claimed £400 a month for food on MP expenses – the maximum amount an MP can claim for food without having to show receipts. He claimed £400 for food essential to do his duties as an MP, even during the two months when Westminster was in recess.
Between March 2007 and 1st April 2008, the Banff and Buchan MP voted on only six days in the House of Commons – but he claimed £1751.50 for food. In total that financial year, Salmond claimed £116,000 for his “expenses” – the majority of it for staffing his Westminster office, £31,336 for his own personal expenses, or just over £5000 per vote.
So that’s what I’ll always remember about Alex Salmond.
You can donate here to the Abortion Support Network, which helps women in Ireland out of the situation Alex Salmond voted to establish in the UK.