The Story of The Week in Review

Alex Salmond

When I was first elected as a young MP for Banff and Buchan in 1987, I was determined to be the most hardworking constituency Member of Parliament. I won the seat with a majority of 2,441 and I was determined that I would never lose that. 

And so, a man on a mission, I set off on an epic surgery tour taking in every single town, village, and hamlet across Banff and Buchan. There were 57. I remember the number from the famous Heinz “57 Varieties” slogan. I held 57 surgeries in a little yellow SNP caravan, parking outside town halls, in main streets and public car parks across the constituency. On a Saturday in October 1987 I was doing the very last of these 57 surgeries in New Pitsligo (while intermittently twiddling the nobs on a portable radio trying to tune into the Hearts game). 

A woman came into the caravan and the first thing she said to me was “we’ve not seen much of you in Pitsligo since the election!” . . . 

I was a bit “pit oot”, so I said: “MADAM! I have been conducting 57 surgeries around this constituency! This is number 57! I’m here in Pitsligo, instead of being at Tynecastle for the match.”

Her reply came, “I’m just saying, haven’t seen you much since the election”. 

I was pretty annoyed, so in a state of high dugeon I went back home Strichen and explained to my wife Moira what had just occurred. Instead of saying “aww poor you” as you might have thought she would say, Moira’s take was “Well, of course, from the Pitsligo view of the world, the lady is correct – they haven’t seen much of you since the election! The fact that you’ve done 56 other surgeries is neither here nor there.”

And I said, “Well! I don’t know what I’m going to do! I can’t do anymore – I’d have to be superhuman!” I knew I couldn’t do any more, or work any harder, than I was already working. 

Moira’s response: “Well you’d better tell more of them then”.

So, I started the “Week in Review”, which was a weekly two sides of A4 newsletter, detailing everything I’d done and my diary for the coming week. I sent it out on request to local community groups, policemen, nurses, community councils, local worthies . . . anybody I could think of or anyone who wanted to know more about my work in the constituency or at Westminster. There were around 600 in circulation every week – more copies than some daily newspapers these days! 

In recent years, we moved to regular email newsletters for communicating my parliamentary and constituency work in Aberdeenshire East. 

I decided to re-launch The Week in Review along with my new website. Each week you will be able to find out what I have been up to as constituency MSP for Aberdeenshire East, MP for Gordon and at both parliaments in Holyrood and Westminster. I hope you might take the time to visit the site and find out a little more about my work. And for this latest, online instalment of my weekly newsletter I can only thank that lady who reprimanded the young MP for Banff and Buchan on an October day in 1987.