Alexander Elliot Anderson Salmond was born on 31 December, 1954 in Linlithgow, near Edinburgh. The Scottish National Party (SNP) leader (since September 2004, as well as during an earlier ten-year period) has a Masters degree in Economics and Medieval History from the University of St Andrews.
He began government service as an assistant economist in the Department of Agriculture and Fisheries for Scotland. Then he worked in the Royal Bank of Scotland.
Salmond was elected to the Scottish Parliament in 1999. The SNP won more seats there than any other party in 2007 — lacking an overall majority, but Salmond still became the first nationalist First Minister.
That carried him to the UK parliament in Westminster.
In 2011 the SNP scored an absolute majority in Scotland.
So, he secured UK Tory Prime Minister David Cameron’s go ahead to hold the referendum on Scottish independence in 2012 — where before, the SNP had failed to obtain support from other parties and had to wait.
In one of the biographies on Salmond that has won the most exposure — called Against the Odds — journalist and historian David Torrance describes his subject as despotic verging on aggressive, opportunistic and chameleon-like.
Salmond is also clearly a showman, well up to duelling with London politicians such as British Labour’s Alistair Darling, leader of the anti-Scottish independence campaign. Salmond proved that, losing at first but not in the second of their televised debates, perhaps decisively tipping public opinion his way.
Salmond said: “The case for independence depends on a simple proposition: no one, absolutely no one, will run the affairs of this country better than the people who live and work in Scotland. No one cares more about Scotland… just like in 1979 the voices of doom tell us we can’t do it — we can’t do what every other country takes for granted — and, just like then, they are wrong.”
Salmond is married to Moira McGlashan, a retired civil servant not in politics and intensely private in a way quite unlike her husband.