Cameron visit impresses Salmond

By staff

David Cameron is visiting Scottish first minister Alex Salmond in Holyrood today as he bids to repair relations between London and Edinburgh.

Before the meeting, the prime minister visited the Scottish parliament.

Flanked by Lib Dem Scotland minister Danny Alexander, Mr Cameron joked that the fact that this was his first parliamentary visit as PM, Westminster included, showed he wanted “a fresh start” in relations between the two executives.

Earlier he had been forced to enter the building through a side entrance to avoid a crowd of about 100 protestors who say he has no mandate to govern in Scotland and he should not make cuts.

Asked about his mandate north of the border, Mr Cameron said: “We had a UK election, which delivered a UK government. In fact if you add up all the votes the Conservatives and the Liberal Democrats got in Scotland it was more than the SNP got when they became [the] government.”

He did concede that the Conservatives would “have to work hard” to get support in Scotland.

Mr Cameron and Mr Alexander are now in meetings with Mr Salmond but the prime minister’s attempts to improve poor contact between Whitehall and the devolved administration may be stalled by a series of demands from the first minister.

The Scottish National party leader wants to secure an advance on next year’s Scottish funding under a ‘capital acceleration’ move to boost Scotland’s recovery from recession.

He is also expected to request £180 million from Scotland’s share of the fossil fuel levy and funding from the 2012 Olympics.

“When I meet the prime minister I think I will argue that a respect agenda has to be justified by deeds and actions as well as words,” Mr Salmond told the Telegraph newspaper.

“I’ve listed a number of things that I would have thought he will be prepared to support. All of us have our political differences but we have a shared responsibility for the future of the Scottish economy.”

The terms of the Liberal Democrat-Conservative coalition agreement included a commitment to the implementation of the Calman Commission’s proposals which will extend the transfer of powers from London to the devolved administrations.

The Tory-Liberal tie-up prevented the nationalists from securing additional influence in the Commons, however, as they had hoped. A four-way ‘progressive alliance’ including Labour, the Lib Dems and the two nationalist parties was quickly ruled out by Labour.