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Alex Salmond has compared Nicola Sturgeon to Margaret Thatcher after she announced her opposition to the proposed Cambo oil field off Shetland.
The former first minister said SNP loyalists are “baulking” at defending on the doortstep a “party which effectively wants to shut down the area’s key industry”.
He said it would be “akin to Margaret Thatcher” trying to win former mining areas and that the SNP’s stance on the issue meant it could wave “farewell to thousands of north-east of Scotland votes”.
His latest attack on his successor comes after Ms Sturgeon finally voiced her opposition to the Cambo oil field, after months of sitting on the fence over the issue.
She told MSPs she does not think the project should get the green light and that it “could not and should not pass any rigorous climate assessment”.
Alex Salmond also suggested the party’s hostile stance towards Cambo could damage the case for Scottish independence.
He said: “For 50 years, the clarion call of ‘It’s Scotland’s oil’ has fired the engine of Scottish independence.
“Last week Nicola Sturgeon turned off the switch in a response to a parliamentary taunt from a Labour MSP.
“She came out against the development of the massive new Cambo oil field.
“The consequences could be far reaching and not just for the SNP but for the whole independence movement.”
The Alba Party leader said Scotland should instead look to use the millions of pounds of revenue flowing in from the contentious development to fund its “just transition” away from oil and gas.
He added: “Cambo should be licensed but with a condition for it to be a zero carbon development.
“The only way that can be achieved is to help finance carbon capture.
“This is the sort of development vision which engages Scotland’s resources for the benefit of our people and the planet.
“Without it, then it is not just farewell to tens of thousands of north-east of Scotland votes for the SNP.
“Much more seriously, it’s Mossmorran no more, Grangemouth no more, St Fergus no more – and independence no more.”
The move has already prompted Fergus Mutch, the SNP’s former head of communications and research to speak out.
The former election candidate, who was born and raised in the north-east, said blocking the North Sea project would lead to “unemployment and more imported oil for decades”.
Did the Scottish Government announce 100,000 new green jobs and magically phase out domestic demand for oil and gas today?
If so, fantastic news well done. 👏🏼
If not, “Stop Cambo” doesn’t get us very far. In fact, it gets us unemployment and more imported oil for decades.
— Fergus Mutch (@Fergoodness) November 16, 2021
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 £1 billion 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.