SNP conference: Alex Salmond says it is time to vote for independence


Mr Salmond told delegates in Perth: "We are Scotland's independence generation. And our time is now"

SNP leader Alex Salmond told his party's conference that it was Scotland's time to be independent.

During his speech to delegates gathered in Perth, he also announced that the detailed case for independence would be published on 26 November.

The long-waited white paper will come ahead of the referendum itself, on 18 September next year.

Mr Salmond said: "We are Scotland's independence generation and our time is now."

Scotland's first minister reckoned devolution had provided a "taste of independence", but the country was now ready to make its own decisions.

Mr Salmond also told the 1,000 people gathered that, under independence the national minimum wage would rise at least with the level of inflation, to help people keep pace with the cost of living.

Start Quote

Alex Salmond may have lost a few pounds (he is apparently on the same diet as Beyonce.) However, our newly svelte FM has plainly lost none of his comic timing. The gags themselves were modestly droll but the delivery was impeccable. ”

End Quote

And he urged bosses at the Grangemouth petrochemical refinery, which has been temporarily shut down due to a dispute with workers to "fire up the plant".

At the same time he urged union officials to drop their threat of strike action.

The SNP leader said the white paper would have two functions, the first being to set out what would happen between achieving a "yes" vote in the referendum and the first elections to an independent Scottish Parliament, in the spring of 2016.

He went on: "It will therefore be clear that independence is not, at its heart, about this party or this administration or this first minister but about the fundamental democratic choice for Scotland - the people's right to choose a government of their own.

"Secondly, the white paper will set out our vision for Scotland - the why of independence - the Scotland that we seek.

"We seek a country with a written constitution protecting not just the liberties for the people but enunciating the rights of the citizen."

James Cook reports from the SNP's conference in Perth

Mr Salmond told the conference: "We will not wake up on the morning of 19 September next year and think to ourselves what might have been.

"We will wake up on that morning filled with hope and expectation - ready to build a new nation both prosperous and just.

"After almost a quarter of a century moving forward to this very moment - let us ask ourselves these simple questions: If not us, then who? If not now, when?

Salmond speech highlights

Current plans

  • The Scottish government's White Paper on independence will be published on Tuesday, 26 November.
  • A £60m package will be set up to support 43 projects across Scotland, promising to create 3,000 jobs for young people.

Post independence plans

  • An SNP government in an independent Scotland would scrap the "bedroom tax". (also pledged by Nicola Sturgeon in her conference speech)
  • An SNP government in an independent Scotland would bring Royal Mail back into public hands. (also pledged by Nicola Sturgeon in her conference speech)
  • An SNP government post Yes would establish a Fair Work Commission to look at setting up a minimum wage guarantee that rises - at the very least - in line with inflation.

"Friends - we are Scotland's independence generation - and our time is now."

Mr Salmond said of a "yes" vote in the referendum: "It will be, above all, an act of national self confidence and national self belief.

"We, the people of Scotland, have by far the greatest stake in its success."

Mr Salmond said the devolved Scottish Parliament, established in 1999, had been used to enact policies, like the public smoking ban, free personal care for the elderly and a council tax freeze.

He went on: "With just a taste of independence, we've been able to deliver fairer policies than elsewhere in these islands.

"With a measure of independence on health, on education, on law and order we've sought to make Scotland a better place.

"So, let's consider what we can achieve by extending our power over the things we don't currently control.

"Our welfare system, our economy, our energy supplies, our international security.

"Because there is no doubt that we are paying a heavy price for Westminster decisions."

Grangemouth plant Alex Salmond said the Grangemouth plant needed to be "fired up now"

The first minister said Scotland had to move away from Westminster government decisions, which he said people north of the border did not want, from housing benefit welfare reforms - branded the welfare tax by critics - to Trident nuclear weapons on the Clyde.

Mr Salmond said the national minimum wage, which was brought in by the UK Labour government and which benefits about 70,000 people in Scotland, had failed to increase in real terms in almost 10 years.

The first minister said a fair work commission, established under independence by an SNP government, would be to set a minimum wage guarantee.

He said: "This guarantee will ensure that the minimum wage rises at the very least in line with inflation.

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Here's the deal prime minister - we'll publish the white paper then you and I must debate, prime minister to first minister”

End Quote Alex Salmond SNP leader and Scotland's First Minister

"Let us pledge that never gain will the wages of the lowest paid in Scotland fail to keep up with the cost of living."

At the same time, Mr Salmond again challenged David Cameron to face him in a referendum TV debate - an invitation the Prime Minister declined after arguing the event should be between the leaders of the campaigns for and against independence.

The SNP leader said: "Here's the deal prime minister - we'll publish the white paper then you and I must debate, prime minister to first minister.

"The choice is yours - step up to the plate or step out of the debate."

Turning to the Grangemouth dispute, Mr Salmond said it was time for an injection of "common sense" into the bitter row between its operator Ineos and the Unite union.

Ineos says the site is losing £10m a month and will close by 2017 unless workers agree to a rescue package which includes a change in their terms and conditions and final salary pension scheme.

Mr Salmond left the conference on Thursday to facilitate talks between the two sides, but no agreement has been reached, and the petrochemical plant remains closed.

The first minister said the threat to Grangemouth grew the longer it was shut, saying: "To the union - drop any strike threat. To the management - fire up the plant and then negotiate against the background of a working facility, not one which is in mortal danger. Find common ground.

"Let us be quite clear - Scotland wants to see Grangemouth operating and the people of Grangemouth working - fire up the plant and do it now."


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SNP conference 2013

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  • rate this

    Comment number 33.

    Scotland would be far worse of being independent. It is no good The SNP promising hand out after hand out (eg cuts in fuel bills etc), everything has to be paid for and they won't be able to expect help from the rest of The UK.
    Have the SNP carefully thought through defence spending, all very well wanting to rid the country of nuclear bases, which employs 1000's what about its' own security?

  • rate this

    Comment number 32.

    Mike from Brum """

    I first thought that Scotland could easily be independent when Alex Salmond was in primary sdhool. And I came to believe we should be as Scottish politics drifted ever further from UK-as-a-whole politics. We in general think a bit differently from those in the heartlands of England; at least as differently as the Irish and not much less differently than the Dutch IMO.

  • rate this

    Comment number 31.

    'An act of self belief'?

    More like pride before a fall

  • rate this

    Comment number 30.

    One of the major factors making me want to vote yes is large possibility of the Conservative EU referendum. I do not want to be part of a country in Europe that thinks being part of the EEC is a bad thing.
    Parties such as UKIP, the BNP and hard-line Conservatives comprise mostly of more extreme men and women who like to think that England is the only country in Britain that matters.

  • rate this

    Comment number 29.

    Replacing the undemocratic monarchy with an elected president should be a plus.
    Just wondering though how much of the North Sea oil/gas (what's left of it) will actually become Scottish owned.

  • rate this

    Comment number 28.

    ...for example Scots have managed to afford free Uni fees, free perscriptions, free hospital parking, yet its them that still want to leave the Union, it should be us English that want to leave so we can have what the Scots already have.
    Scotland pays more tax into the UK than it takes back out. If they leave, it'll be even harder to fund those things.

  • rate this

    Comment number 27.

    10. Milly65 should be us English that want to leave so we can have what the scots already have.

    That IS the point, the scots, in general, want a different social and political model than London and the south of England but have never been able to see that as part of the union. Some English regions may well be in a similar position.

  • rate this

    Comment number 26.

    Vote for King Alex.
    If they vote yes how long till they get full independence probably years the power base will change very slowly can alex wait that long?

  • rate this

    Comment number 25.

    The sooner the Scots can get rid of the English, the sooner they can get back to the serious business of feuding amongst themselves.

  • rate this

    Comment number 24.

    I am glad that Scotland are getting this refurendum but I hope they choose to stay ! I wish we could get a choice of EU Membership, oh yes we will get one when its way too late !!

  • rate this

    Comment number 23.

    in reality there is no such thing as independence

    its how we get on with those we define as neighbours that is important

  • rate this

    Comment number 22.

    Vote yes and make yourself a foreigner in the rest of the British isles. Its seems to me rather obvious that the opportunities for Scots in the United Kingdom are considerably more than they would be in just Scotland alone.

  • rate this

    Comment number 21.

    Sceptical at first when a referendum was announced but thanks to the Tory government in place at the moment, it`s a YES from me.

  • rate this

    Comment number 20.

    The SNP must be getting desperate given the energy price reduction bribe yesterday....stealing a cloak from 'Emperor' Miliband's wardrobe of phoney gimmicks just clearly demonstrates that the SNP have no credibility in terms of the Scottish economy! Most Scots already have belief in their nation and our people and we don't need Independence to underpin our self-belief!

  • rate this

    Comment number 19.

    I say yes to independance... but then is it really independance when your currency will be ours and its exchange rates/monetary policy will be set to suit England, not Scotland

    Anyway the whole issue is more about making Alex Salmond into king alex the first rather than whats best for Scotland

  • rate this

    Comment number 18.

    Scotland is a valued part of the UK. Long may you stay with us.

    regards, A Resident of South East England.

  • rate this

    Comment number 17.

    Independence will have positives for Scotland but Salmonds propaganda machinery has done its utmost to hide/deceive & misinform & exclude the masses of negatives that will also be a consequence.

    It should not be upto opposition to be the sole provider of negatives, any decent moral politician would tell it as it is, including the bad.

    This, Salmond/SNP have not done, so cannot be trusted

  • rate this

    Comment number 16.

    The man is an embarrassment - I only hope when he loses that he takes himself and all his haggis bashing, claymore rattling mob with him to somewhere more suited to his style of government - Cuba, North Korea, Iran or Zimbabwe for example

  • rate this

    Comment number 15.

    Self belief is fine, but when it all fails and the Scots want back in, i believe we will say no.

  • rate this

    Comment number 14.

    I'm voting yet because I can, because I can choose to do what I please and it will please me to vote yes. I've been waiting all my adult life to be asked this question on a ballot and vote yes for the hell of it, I suspect many others have to.

    Attempts to assess impact before the event are nearly completely useless as the world can and will change, for better or worse, I don't pretend to know.


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