Alex Salmond has compared Nicola Sturgeon to Margaret Thatcher after she declared her opposition to the proposed Cambo oil field off Shetland.
In his latest attack on his successor, the former First Minister said a Nicola Sturgeon-led SNP campaigning for votes in the North East would now be “akin to Margaret Thatcher” trying to win in former mining areas.
He also described her comments as a “stunning backwards step” in the fight for Scottish independence and that the SNP’s stance on the issue meant it could wave “farewell to tens of thousands of North East of Scotland votes”.
Ms Sturgeon finally voiced her opposition to the Cambo project during a Holyrood statement about the COP26 climate change conference last week, after months of refusing to do so.
<figure class="inews__shortcode-readmore"> <div class="inews__shortcode-readmore__image"> <img src="https://i.inews.co.uk/content/uploads/2021/08/PRI_192862625-155x155.jpg" height="84" width="84" alt="Read More - Featured Image"> </div> <div class="inews__shortcode-readmore__text"> <h4>Read More</h4> <a href="https://inews.co.uk/news/environment/cambro-north-sea-oilfield-forest-size-england-offset-emissions-1132266">Proposed ‘Cambo’ North Sea oilfield would need forest the size of England to offset emissions</a> </div> </figure>
She told MSPs: “I don’t think that Cambo should get the green light…I think the presumption would be that Cambo could not and should not pass any rigorous climate assessment.”
The project, which is situated around 75 miles to the west of Shetland, was originally licensed for exploration in 2001 and could yield hundreds of millions of barrels of oil.
Drilling could start as early as next year and continue for 25 years if it is approved, but it has proved hugely controversial in light of the climate emergency.
Ms Sturgeon’s comments have already been sharply criticised by one of her former key aides, who said stopping Cambo would bring “unemployment and more imported oil for decades”, as well as costing the SNP votes.
Writing in the Sunday Mail newspaper, Mr Salmond said the First Minister’s position had triggered “consternation in SNP ranks”.
“Even ultra-loyalists in the North East of Scotland are baulking at how to defend on the doorstep a party which effectively wants to shut down the area’s key industry,” he said.
“It would be akin to Margaret Thatcher, having closed the pits, then campaigning for votes in the old mining areas of Cowdenbeath and Kelty.”
He added that North Sea oil and gas had always been “part of the case” for Scottish independence as it was a “symbol of the vast resource base of Scotland”.
“For the leader of the independence campaign to casually cast aside that card represents a stunning backwards step,” he wrote.
An SNP spokeswoman said: “It is time for politicians of all colours to get real on the climate emergency. Our journey to tackling climate change involves a Just Transition away from fossil fuels.
“Mr Salmond would do well to put the same effort into demanding an answer as to why the Tory UK Government snubbed investment in carbon capture in the North East, which would have brought a share of £1bn of investment and secured tens of thousands of jobs in the area.
“In the SNP’s manifesto in May we committed to delivering a Just Transition and were elected with a record number of votes to implement that.”