Alex Salmond was last night accused of pandering to anti-English bigots in Scotland after summoning support from a 700-year-old medieval Scots king in a bizarre campaign video for his new political party.
The former First Minister’s Alba party broadcast a strange 100-second clip in which an actor playing Robert the Bruce vows the rival to
In the clip, the Bruce – who led Scotland in its first War of Independence against England in the 14th century – is voiced by actor Angus Macfadyen, who played the warlord in the Mel Gibson’s 1995 blockbuster Braveheart.
The video shows modern-day images of pro-independence activists during a monologue from the Bruce, in what is a supposed endorsement of Mr Salmond’s platform to drive a wedge between Scotland and England.
The campaigners are apparently compared to the Scottish ‘forces of freedom’ who defeated armies of the English ‘oppressor’ at the Battle of Bannockburn in 1314, the Bruce’s famous victory in the war against King Edward.
It claims that the demonstration of ‘people power by the sma’ [small] folk of Scotland was the straw that broke the spine of English superiority’.
However, the video has prompted fury from Mr Salmond’s political rivals, who have accused the former SNP leader of indulging extreme Scottish nationalists to outdo Ms Sturgeon in the Holyrood election.
ALBA Party leader Alex Salmond at a photocall on Calton Hill, Edinburgh
In the clip, the Bruce – who led Scotland in its first War of Independence against England in the 14th century – is voiced by actor Angus Macfadyen, who played the warlord in Braveheart
Robert the Bruce: The hero of Bannockburn who created an independent Scotland
Robert the Bruce was King of Scots from 1306 to his death in 1329.
He was one of the most famous warriors of his generation and led Scotland during the First War of Independence against England.
As Earl of Carrick, Robert supported his family’s claim to the Scottish throne and took part in William Wallace’s revolt against Edward I of England. Robert seized the throne and was crowned king in March 1306.
Edward’s forces defeated Robert in the battle of Methven, forcing him to go into hiding before re-emerging in 1307 to defeat an English army at Loudoun Hill and wage a guerrilla war.
A series of victories between 1310 and 1314 won him control of much of Scotland, and at the Battle of Bannockburn in 1314, Robert defeated a much larger English army under Edward II of England.
Despite Bannockburn, Edward II refused to renounce his claim to the overlordship of Scotland.
In 1320, the Scottish nobility declared Robert as their rightful monarch and asserting Scotland’s status as an independent kingdom.
Robert died in June 1329. His body is buried in Dunfermline Abbey, while his heart was interred in Melrose Abbey and his internal organs embalmed and placed in St Serf’s Chapel, Dumbarton.
Mr Macfadyen, a journeyman actor who remains best known for his role in Mel Gibson’s movie about William Wallace, said the video was ‘ever so slightly tongue in cheek but still makes a very serious point’.
Former first minister Mr Salmond attempted to portray the video as light-hearted, saying: ‘With Robert the Bruce on our side the other parties should start to tremble.’
When criticised, he said victory at Bannockburn was a source of ‘national pride’ and that those attacking its message had ‘scant regard for the history of Scotland’.
However, his opponents claimed the bizarre video was designed to stoke up anti-English sentiment as he attempts to outdo Nicola Sturgeon’s nationalist platform.
Speaking to the Telegraph, Pamela Nash, chief executive of the pro-UK Scotland in Union campaign group, accused Mr Salmond’s campaign of being ‘700 years out of date’ and said ‘the nationalist mask has slipped’.
She added that making the May election ‘a battle between Scotland and England’ is ‘pathetic and divisive’ and likely to backfire with voters.
Shadow Scottish secretary Ian Murray said that the ‘unpleasantness of Alex Salmond’s mob’ had been revealed by a video which promoted ‘hateful division’.
He added: ‘Scratch the surface of many involved in Scotland’s nationalist movement and you reveal the bigotry beneath the surface. We need a Scotland focussed on a national recovery – not this kind of hateful division.’
Mr Salmond’s war of words with his one-time protegee Ms Sturgeon has intensified as the former First Minister attacked the SNP chief’s independence strategy.
The Alba leader claimed the First Minister’s suggestion that a referendum will happen in 2023 or later depending on the battle against Covid has caused ‘consternation’ in the pro-independence movement.
He also accused her of a ‘lack of urgency’ in the bid to tear Scotland out of the UK.
Ms Sturgeon used a newspaper interview to launch new attacks on Mr Salmond and claim that Boris Johnson will grant a referendum if there is a pro-independence majority.
Critics said the latest exchanges show nationalists will be ‘fighting like ferrets in a sack’ in the next term of parliament.
Calls also grew for a full judge-led inquiry into the Scottish Government’s handling of harassment complaints after Ms Sturgeon admitted the various probes had not properly got to the bottom of the issue.
Scottish Conservative candidate Annie Wells said: ‘Scotland deserves better than nationalists fighting like ferrets in a sack over who is trying to break up our United Kingdom quicker.
‘At a time when we should all be focused on our post-Covid recovery, nationalists are only obsessed with their fresh drive for another independence referendum and trying to settle personal grievances.’
Mr Salmond’s comments are the most direct attack on Ms Sturgeon’s strategy since he launched his rival pro-independence party last month.
He was responding to Ms Sturgeon telling journalists last week that her ‘preference’ is to hold a referendum in the first half of the next term of parliament, a period that runs until the end of 2023, but that whether that will ‘definitely happen’ depends on the fight against coronavirus.
ALBA party political broadcast featuring Robert The Bruce statue
Nicola Sturgeon used a newspaper interview to launch new attacks on Mr Salmond and claim that Boris Johnson will grant a referendum if there is a pro-independence majority
In a statement issued yesterday, Mr Salmond said Ms Sturgeon’s comments about an independence referendum in 2023 or later had caused ‘total consternation’ in the nationalist movement.
He said: ‘It seems to be that Scotland will not ‘be free until after 2023′ – more seriously, it seems to indicate a lack of urgency in bringing the independence question to a decision.’
Mr Salmond also claimed the Prime Minister would find it ‘substantially more difficult’ if there is a pro-independence ‘super-majority’ in Holyrood.
In an interview with the Guardian, Ms Sturgeon claimed Mr Johnson would not ‘stand in the way’ of a referendum if her party wins the election.
She hit out at Mr Salmond’s tactics – which include support for street protests – saying they will put off voters, and again questioned whether he should be able to return to public office.
Scottish Liberal Democrat campaign chairman Alistair Carmichael said: ‘Nicola Sturgeon and Alex Salmond don’t care about your job, your parent’s operation or your child’s schooling.
‘Scotland deserves better than a nationalist movement that wants to spend the next five years arguing about the timeline for independence.’
Meanwhile, calls grew yesterday for a judge-led inquiry into the handling of complaints about Mr Salmond after Ms Sturgeon admitted various probes had not got to the bottom of the issue.
Women who complained about Mr Salmond told MSPs a ‘blind eye’ was turned to his behaviour before they made their complaints.
Asked if the inquiry had discovered exactly what was going on in government prior to 2017, Ms Sturgeon told the Guardian: ‘Have any of the inquiries properly done that? Probably not.’
Murdo Fraser, one of the members of the Holyrood inquiry, said: ‘At every turn during this inquiry, it was the SNP Government who obstructed our work and attempted to keep vital evidence secret from us.’
He insisted ‘a judge-led inquiry is now necessary’.
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