ALEX Salmond has extended the hand of friendship to Lib Dem leader Nicol Stephen by offering to buy him a beautiful pony named 'Brambles'.
The SNP leader remains determined to form a coalition government and believes a bold act of generosity could bring the 16 Lib Dem MSPs to the negotiating table.
But the Lib Dems greeted the SNP gesture with suspicion last night. A party spokesman said: "Nicol absolutely adores ponies and Salmond is well aware of that. It's a cynical ploy and it leaves many unanswered questions.
"Who is going to feed it? Who is going to pay for the stables? Who is going to provide essential extras like the bridle, the saddle and the hat? It is uncosted, badly thought out and typical of the SNP."
But Salmond insisted the offer was made in good faith, adding: "The pony I have my eye on is a real beauty and I know that Nicol will be giddy with excitement just thinking about her.
"Brambles is a lovely chestnut colour and has a delightful temperament. I wish I had one."
But the two Green Party MSPs are understood to be angry at Salmond's overture to the Lib Dems, believing they too should be offered a present before signing up to a coalition agreement.
Patrick Harvie, the Green MSP for Glasgow, said: "I want a scooter. No I don't, I want an espresso machine or a foot spa. Or maybe I do want a scooter."