“The rest of the country fails to understand Sussex and Bonfire,” says Norman Baker after backlash at Alex Salmond tableau during Lewes Bonfire

The Alex Salmond effigy created by Waterloo Bonfire Society.
The Alex Salmond effigy created by Waterloo Bonfire Society.

A tableau depicting Scottish nationalist leader Alex Salmond at Lewes Bonfire caused outrage on Wednesday night (November 5).

Earlier this year Scotland held a referendum for independence. Mr Salmond led the yes to independence campaign.

Waterloo Bonfire Society, celebrating its 50th year, decided not to burn the effigy of the First Minister after a backlash by people on social media.

East Sussex County Council tweeted a picture of the tableau, which showed Mr Salmond sitting on a wall with the Loch Ness Monster and a sign reading 45 per cent.

But the council disassociated itself with the picture when hundreds of people took to Twitter to express their disgust.

Commercial Square Bonfire Society also had a tableau of Mr Salmond.

It has been claimed by Twitter users that the effigy was blown up despite police assurances neither tableaux would be.

Sussex Police said it is investigating several complaints about the tableaux after people said they had caused offence.

Superintendent Laurence Taylor said: “We acknowledge that concerns have been raised and are trying to establish whether or not any crime may have been committed.”

The Express was inundated with emails from people.

Christina Cowen said: “I am disgusted. As a Scot I feel that the choice of burning an effigy of Alex Salmond is nothing but raw racism towards us, and a public apology to Alex Salmond and the people of Scotland is the very least that is expected.”

Speaking to BBC Scotland Mr Salmond said: “I’m in pretty good company - Angela Merkel got the burning treatment from the East Sussex Conservative council.

“I think their judgement is askew but if they think I’m a threat to the Westminster establishment like Guy Fawkes, they are right.

“I am used to insults from Tories in East Sussex and if they think that is a good thing to do it is up to them.”

Lewes MP Norman Baker, who is from Aberdeen originally, said: “There is a long history of satirical comment in Lewes in some of the tableaux and effigies.

“It’s no different from a cartoon in a newspaper but a direct comment on someone in public life.

“The rest of the country fails to understand Sussex and Bonfire. I hope the Bonfire Societies will carry on with their traditions which are a healthy expression of free speech.”

Norman also said he was burned in 1992 and did not find the effigy of Alex Salmond offensive. He added: “It’s a great over reaction from SNP trolls.”

In a statement, Waterloo Bonfire Society said: “As a Lewes Bonfire Society we have a tradition of creating satirical tableaux in caricature based on topical local, national and international events.

“It is a tradition which has endured for many years and is intended to portray familiar stories and characters in a light hearted way. “Clearly the Scottish Referendum has been a big story in the news recently and Alex Salmond is a high profile figure.”

A spokesman for the county council said: “A model of Alex Salmond, created by the Waterloo Bonfire Society, passed by our offices on Wednesday afternoon en route to the bonfire events in the town. We posted a photo of this unusual event on our social media accounts. As people in Lewes will be aware, the county council has absolutely no connection to the model or the creators of the model. We apologise if the image may have caused offence to anyone.”

The Express was unable to reach Commercial Square for comment before going to press.