Tributes were being made last night by political leaders as well as rank and file members of the Scottish National Party following the resignation of Alex Salmond.
The First Minister announced that he would not continue as SNP leader or First Minister beyond his party’s national conference in November.
Mr Salmond made the announcement hours after Scotland rejected his plans for Scottish independence, saying that it was time to step aside – but insisting that he would never give up on his dreams of an independent Scotland.
The First Minister said that it was right to step aside and let someone else take over the process of increased powers for Scotland promised by the leading UK political parties in the closing days of the referendum campaign.
Mr Salmond said: “I believe that in this new, exciting situation, redolent with possibility, party, parliament and country would benefit from new leadership.”
[box] “No one has achieved more for Scotland in modern times.” – Richard Lochhead MSP [/box] One of the first to pay tribute to the First Minister was Banffshire & Buchan Coast MSP Stewart Stevenson, who constituency includes part of Moray.
He said: “Alex is a great team builder and a great team player, and he will be looking at what the decision that the people of Scotland made in huge numbers means for the country, and he will have put that at the forefront of the decision that he’s made today.
“Alex has achieved an enormous amount – 3.6million people voted for change. Both the No campaign and the Yes campaign represent change, and it was almost inconceivable even a couple of months ago that Alex Salmond would have got us there.”
Favourite to take over from Salmond is his current deputy Nicola Sturgeon, with Moray MP Angus Robertson being quoted by Ladbroke’s at odds of 12/1.
Last night Mr Robertson paid his own tribute to the departing First Minister, saying: “Scotland has been served amazingly by the remarkable talent and leadership of Alex Salmond – our best First Minister.”
Moray’s MSP and a member of Mr Salmond’s Scottish Government team, Richard Lochhead, also paid posted his own tribute on social media, saying: “It has been a privilege to have worked with Alex Salmond for over 20 years.
“Personally I owe him a huge debt and no-one has achieved more for Scotland in modern times.”