ALEX Salmond has sought to pressure the BBC ahead of the General Election, claiming the corporation will continue to be biased against the SNP unless power over broadcasting is transferred to Holyrood.


The former First Minister launched a fierce attack on the BBC during a Q&A session at the SNP conference in Glasgow.

It came as delegates passed a motion banning its MPs from any public criticism of the party.

In other developments, First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said Nationalist MPs would sit on all Commons select committees, including those scrutinising mainly English affairs, if the SNP becomes the third biggest party at Westminster after the election.

Stewart Hosie, the deputy leader, said he would expect a minority Labour government to negotiate with the SNP before unveiling its first Queen's Speech.

He also confirmed the SNP would support Labour's plans to restore the 50p top rate of income tax.

Mr Salmond was scathing about the BBC and sections of the "metropolitan" press as he took questions from an audience of around 2000 party members.

He said he had expected Conservative-supporting newspapers to be hostile to the SNP during the referendum campaign but added: "What surprised me was the degree to which the BBC allowed themselves to be influenced by the headlines of a biased press".

Speaking from the conference hall floor, one party member was cheered when he told him: "I'm one of thousands of people who have cancelled their TV licence," before asking what activists could do to challenge claims made by their political opponents in the absence of an impartial media.

Mr Salmond said: "The experience of the referendum has scarred the BBC.

"I reality, I don't think the broadcasting issue in terms of how it treats Scotland, will be properly resolved till we have broadcasting under the remit of our democratically elected parliament in Scotland."

Mr Salmond urged SNP supporters to buy The National, the strongly pro-independence paper published by The Herald's parent company.

On press criticism, he said: "We should take it as a Tartan badge of courage.

"Every time it happens we should say you only get kicked if you are worth kicking.

"We should take that as an indication of their fear."

Mr Salmond has repeatedly criticised the BBC's coverage.

In the run-up to the referendum, thousands of independence supporters demonstrated outside BBC Scotland's HQ in Glasgow.

But the former First Minister's latest attack was seen as an attempt to pressure on the corporation as the election campaign gathers pace.

A Scottish Liberal Democrat spokeswoman said: "The BBC is respected across the globe for its reporting - except for Alex Salmond and his conspiracy theorists.

"It is time for time Alex Salmond to stop hunting for excuses for losing the referendum and move on to building a stronger economy and a fairer society."

A BBC Scotland spokesman said: "Our coverage of the referendum was fair and balanced and our coverage of the General Election is fair and balanced."

During the Q&A, Mr Salmond was also asked about the Conservative's election poster depicting Labour leader Ed Miliband in his coat pocket.

He said: "I don't think it is doing Labour any harm and I don't think it is doing us any harm whatsoever."

Mr Salmond received a rapturous reception at the Scottish Exhibition and Conference Centre.

He read sections of his bestselling referendum diary, The Dream Will Never Die, before answering questions from MSP Michael Russell and party members.

Reflecting on the referendum, he said: "The real change has been in the psyche of a huge number of our fellow citizens."

He added: "Everything over the last six months has vindicated the notion that we may have lost the referendum but we are substantially on our way to winning Scotland."