Ex-SNP leader Alex Salmond announces he is to stand for UK Parliament

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Alex SalmondImage source, PA
Image caption,
Mr Salmond unveiled his candidacy in the Gordon constituency at a meeting in Ellon

Former SNP leader and First Minister Alex Salmond has announced he is to stand for a seat at Westminster at next May's General Election.

He unveiled his candidacy for his party's nomination in the Gordon constituency at a meeting in Ellon.

The seat is currently held by retiring Lib Dem MP Sir Malcolm Bruce.

Mr Salmond said the north east of Scotland had been his "political home" since he entered representative politics.

He stood down as SNP leader and Scotland's first minister after the "Yes" campaign was defeated in September's independence referendum.

Media caption,

Alex Salmond: "It's impossible to stand on the sidelines...I am a candidate"

He currently represents the constituency of Aberdeenshire East in the Scottish Parliament.

However, he confirmed his decision to seek election to Westminster when he addressed a meeting in the Gordon constituency.

He said three things had become "self-evident".

Mr Salmond said the Smith Commission had "not measured up to what was promised".

He added that Gordon Brown, "the man who said he would stand guarantor of the vow", had retired from politics.

Media caption,

Gordon MP Malcolm Bruce says Alex Salmond will fail in his bid to become an MP

Thirdly, he said he believed the SNP and "progressive allies" could emerge as a "powerful force" at the UK Parliament.

Mr Salmond said he had no ambition to lead the SNP group at Westminster and would, if elected for a year with a dual mandate, donate one salary to a charity supporting local youth causes.

He also ruled out any potential coalition with the Conservatives after the election.

Analysis: Glenn Campbell, BBC Scotland News

Like Gordon Brown, Alex Salmond has ruled out taking a seat in the House of Lords.

Instead, he's seeking a return to the Commons, where the SNP has just six MPs - less than 1% of the total.

By standing for Westminster, Mr Salmond is betting that his party will do much better in the 2015 general election.

A series of opinion polls have suggested that the SNP is ahead of Labour in voting intentions, with five months to go. (Labour won 41 of 59 Scottish seats in 2010).

Labour, which is soon to have a new Scottish leader, hopes to regain its traditional strength as polling day draws nearer and the focus increasingly turns to who will be prime minister: David Cameron or Ed Miliband.

The SNP does not seek to govern the UK. But if it makes gains it could wield influence in a hung parliament. It is in this scenario that Mr Salmond sees himself as a player, negotiating to increase Holyrood's autonomy.

While the nationalists have ruled out propping up a Conservative government, they have hinted at possible deal-making with Labour.

The snag is: a big increase in SNP strength at Westminster, would probably decrease Labour's chances of finishing as the largest party and forming a government.

"We won't have any deal with the Tories - they are not trusted by the people of Scotland" he said.

"Other permutations are possible."

Mr Salmond also set out "three big local challenges" in health, transport and jobs in the constituency.

He said they had to "rally round" the local NHS under its new leadership, secure "key investments" on routes in the area and encourage local companies to diversify.

In response to Mr Salmond's candidature, Mr Bruce told BBC Radio 4's Broadcasting House programme: "This is not all about Alex Salmond, as he seems to think it is.

"It's about the people of Gordon and how their interests are best served.

"They're not best served by a man whose mission is to disrupt Westminster, to provoke division and to ignore the way the people voted on that issue."

'Stark choice'

He said he felt that meant Mr Salmond had a "problem to address".

"I've been out and about in the constituency and he's not a popular man," he added.

The Lib Dems' candidate for the constituency, Christine Jardine, said she intended to be a "strong voice for all the people of Gordon".

"The people of Gordon deserve better, just as they deserve an MP who will stand up for what's important to them, not chase their personal political agenda at the cost of what's best for the people of the north east," she said.

Labour candidate Braden Davy said the people of Gordon faced a "stark choice" between "the politics of fairness verses the politics of division".

"Aberdeenshire and Aberdeen overwhelming voted No in the referendum, yet Alex Salmond thinks he can run here and treat Gordon as a runner-up prize," he said.

"Local people deserve better than that."

Scottish Conservative candidate Colin Clark added: "Salmond is Scotland's yo-yo man, forever skipping between Scotland and Westminster. It seems he's now desperately wooing the very parliament he failed to destroy.

"People in Gordon roundly rejected separation, and that is the tag the former First Minister will find difficult to shed in this campaign."

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