Scotland

Alex Salmond's last day as first minister

Alex Salmond has been carrying out his final duties as first minister of Scotland.

He has been the leader of the Scottish government for the past seven-and-a-half years, steering the SNP to two terms in office.

As Mr Salmond moves to hand over the reins to Nicola Sturgeon and steps down from the top job at Holyrood, here's a look at how events panned out.


Sands o' life

The day started out, as you do, with the unveiling of a standing stone in Edinburgh.

The text immortalised Mr Salmond's pledge on education, paraphrased from the Robert Burns poem A Red, Red Rose.

The first minister said the rocks would "melt with the sun" before he would allow tuition fees to be set in Scotland.


In the bag

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Mr Salmond then chaired his final cabinet meeting, at Bute House in Edinburgh, side-by-side with first minister in waiting Ms Sturgeon.

Before making his statement to MSPs at Holyrood, Mr Salmond had joked that he was looking forward to getting better at golf.

It's reported his cabinet colleagues supported his aspirations with a leaving present of a golf bag.

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Chamber swan song

Then to and in his final first ministerial statement, Mr Salmond called the office the privilege of his life.

The first minister said the new sense of political confidence and engagement in Scotland was the point at which he wished to depart the post. Although he did not commit to totally bowing out from politics.

But he did finish with the prediction: "More change and better days lie ahead for this parliament and for Scotland."

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For Scottish Labour, Jackie Baillie said that whatever the future held for Mr Salmond, his place in history had already been assured, while Scottish Conservative leader Ruth Davidson described him as a "political Lazarus".

The Lib Dems' Willie Rennie said the first minister's lasting legacy would be almost securing independence in the "biggest democratic experience of all our lifetimes", but with "wounds" left still to heal.

Green co-convener Patrick Harvie thanked Mr Salmond for his service to parliament. In reply, Mr Salmond wished the parliament well, ending with "Goodbye and good luck."

Not all the words were kind ones, but the political admiration was there to be seen, as ITV's Peter MacMahon noted.

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Highland fling?

Meanwhile, on the subject of speculation over Mr Salmond's future direction, a Westminster gauntlet has been thrown down in the Highlands.

Chief Secretary to the Treasury and Inverness, Nairn, and Badenoch MP Danny Alexander said he would "relish the challenge" of Mr Salmond standing against him in next year's general election.

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And so, farewell

But the focus for this day was Holyrood and it ended with a send-off from supporters for Alex and Moira Salmond.

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Career (so far) ...

So all that remains as Mr Salmond heads for the fairways, the back benches - and beyond - is the opportunity to look back at the outgoing first minister's political journey, as documented in the BBC archives.

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Media captionFirst Minister Alex Salmond's career in archive footage

And if you want to follow the further twists and turns of the Alex Salmond story, and full coverage of all of the Scottish political scene, keep up with our Scotland Politics page.

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