ALEX Salmond has delayed a North American tour to promote his new book until after the election, after it threatened to overshadow today's opening of the SNP conference in Glasgow.

The former First Minister had been expected to undertake a "whirlwind" tour of North America and Canada for the Stateside launch of The Dream Shall Never Die on April 7.

His publishers pencilled in signings in New York and Toronto for the week after next, during the annual Scotland Week festivities.

Banff & Buchan MP Eilidh Whiteford was also lined up to appear at a hustings in Gordon, where Mr Salmond is the SNP candidate, during his absence.

Jean Marie Kelly of HarperCollins in New York said yesterday: "Unfortunately, we only have him in Toronto for one day and in New York for one day so a very whirlwind trip.

"We are just firming the exact dates and times, but all indications are the week of April 6."

However after press enquiries to the SNP, Mr Salmond's plans melted away.

His rival candidates in Gordon said a transatlantic tour mid-election would have demonstrated an ego "spiralling out of control".

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon previously criticised a Labour rival for deserting an election.

In 2003, after MSP Gordon Jackson flew to Spain for four days, his SNP challenger in Glasgow Govan said it "beggars belief that any candidate would leave the country".

An SNP spokesman said: "There are no arrangements in place for Mr Salmond to travel to North America before the General Election, and he will not be doing so. He will consider invitations after the General Election."

Despite packed signings so far, Mr Salmond's book has generally received poor reviews.

Paddy Ashdown, the former leader of the LibDems, called it "the longest exercise in literary masturbation since politics began".

Mr Salmond is due to hold another book signing at the SNP conference in Glasgow tomorrow.