Alex Salmond, First Minister of Scotland, and leader of the "Yes" campaign in the Scottish Independence Referendum taking place next week has been repeatedly hawking the phrase "Team Scotland". Over the past twelve months Mr Salmond has been pumping up the anti-English rhetoric, mocking opponents and patronizing journalists who ask questions he can't answer. Where did he acquire the very large chip on his shoulder?
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Salmond's start in life was nothing unusual. He was one of four children, living in a council house in Linlithgow with his civil servant parents. While he attended Linlithgow Primary School and then Linlithgow Academy he was quiet and hardworking, but also joined in with the fun. He suffered with asthma, and was often off school, gazing out of the window at the swing park below. Could he be jealous of the "Eton elite" and "incompetent Lord Snootys" that he derides so eagerly?
One former teacher suggests that the arrival of the BMC car factory in nearby Bathgate might have been a contributing factor. English workers arrived talking about how they were going to "civilise the Scots" which wouldn't have gone down well with local young Scottish boys.
Alex Salmond, despite his asthma, was desperate to play football. He followed the Hearts of Midlothian team, and took delight in memorizing facts and figures about the game. His first trip to England, aged 17, was to watch a game between Hearts and Wolverhampton Wanderers. Hearts won the game, but lost on aggregate. Salmond was never selected to play football at school, though he has continued to follow both Hearts and Scotland, and often turns up to matches.
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While personal attacks and word games are part and parcel of political wranglings in the 21st Century, Alex Salmond seems to take this to extremes. He appears to pillory and marginalize those who disagree with his views. His debating style is aggressive, constantly interrupting and hectoring his opponents, as seen in the recent televised referendum debate. He can also give the impression of being overbearing, arrogant and patronizing. Just days ago Alex Salmond handed a bag of Liquorice Allsorts to 26-year-old Daily Telegraph journalist Ben Riley Smith, and called him "son", simply because he was unable to answer the questions which the political reporter kept posing.
According to psychologists, the kind of behaviour where one person feels the need to put other people down, and criticize them or make personal attacks, is either a remnant of our predatory behaviour known as Rankism (Robert W. Fuller, PhD), or it's a sign of low self esteem. The person making the attacks lacks confidence in their own position or ability, and compensates by putting others down to make themselves feel better.
Could Alex Salmond, by reverting to school playground polarized politics, be playing out his own lack of self-esteem? Does he feel out of his depth in a political system largely built around English private schools and Oxbridge academia? His own early political career involved being elected in a mock election at primary school by promising free ice-cream and half days, and then being elected as an office bearer in their University branch of the Federation of Student Nationalists, on the basis of being one of only two paid-up members of the Scottish National Party. He's climbed to the top of the playground climbing frame, and is clinging on shouting "I'm the King of the Castle, and you're the dirty rascals" - is this really how we want the politics of our country to be decided?