Alex Salmond: Taking money from an anti-gay marriage donor doesn’t mean the SNP opposes it

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The Scottish First Minister Alex Salmond, has defended the Scottish National Party’s (SNP) acceptance of major donations from an anti-gay marriage businessman, saying he thinks he is an “outstanding entrepreneur”.

Earlier this year it came to light that the Scottish National Party had accepted a £1 million donation from Stagecoach boss Sir Brian Souter – who funded a campaign to keep Section 28.

Mr Souter funded an unsuccessful Keep the Clause campaign in 2000 to maintain the anti-gay law, which banned the “promotion of homosexuality” and the teaching of the “acceptability of homosexuality” in schools.

He was controversially awarded a knighthood in 2011, and later warned that a decline in “traditional marriage” would “implode” society.

Speaking to Eddie Mair on Radio 4’s PM programme, Mr Salmond defended his party for accepting the donations, saying it was clear it was not influenced by Mr Souter’s personal views, and that it showed that there was “honesty and integrity” in politics.

After pointing out Mr Salmond’s outspoken support for same-sex marriage, Mr Mair asked him: “How much money has your party taken over the years from one of Scotland’s wealthiest men, Brian Souter?”

Mr Salmond responded: “I don’t have a figure to hand, but I don’t think that would be an argument against same-sex marriage legislation. Brian is entitled to his views on whatever he chooses, but I am not certain – I may be wrong about this – he has made a public statement. He has certainly not launched a public campaign against same-sex marriage. I doubt very much that he supports it, knowing his Christian views. I may be wrong, but I don’t think he’s made a public statement.”

When Mr Mair pointed out that the Stagecoach boss had spent £1 million on a campaign to keep Section 28, and that more recently he did publicly oppose same-sex marriage, Mr Salmond claimed it showed that the party was not influenced by his views.

He said: “He certainly hasn’t launched a campaign [against same-sex marriage]. I know Brian Souter, I think he’s an outstanding Scottish entrepreneur, and I think he’s done some amazing things in building up his businesses, but I would have thought that, if you can have an example of a major donor to a political party whose attitude clearly hasn’t been followed through in the policy of that political party, wouldn’t that be an example of honesty and integrity in politics?”

Mr Salmond continued to say that Mr Souter had no influence on him, or his party’s policies.

Speaking in 2011, the Stagecoach boss had said:  “We are arguing here about what kind of society we want to live in. Are we going to be in a Babylonian-Greek-type of society, where sex is primarily a recreational activity, or are we going to stick with the Judeo-Christian tradition, where procreation is something that we want to put within a marriage context?

“Quite honestly the issue about gay relationships is a small side-product from that discussion.”

He previously accused Google of censoring his personal website because of his views, claiming it had “mysteriously disappeared” from search results.