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.

Start Quote

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 73.

    A nice swap of Unions in the offing.
    Seems a bit silly really.

  • rate this

    Comment number 72.

    @64.shumaker was a dangerous cheat

    As an Englishman I can't wait for Scottish Independence. We will get back our democracy

    Fail to get your logic
    Sounds a lot more like the Scottish will get back THEIR democracy if they no longer keep the UNELECTED ENGLISH ROYALS.

  • rate this

    Comment number 71.

    29 It's a myth that all the North Sea oil is in 'Scottish territory' - it isn't. Yes the majority is landed in Scotland, but as National boundries follow the line out into the sea surrounding them there is a very sizeable amount in English waters. Of course this has never been an issue as it is all British waters.
    The SNP are playing with figures, again being very economical with the truth.

  • rate this

    Comment number 70.

    An act of disbelief more like. As a resident of Scotland I'm angry that money and time is being wasted on Alex "I want my name in the history books" Salmond's fantasy when the we have many more pressing issues. Most of the genuine yes camp will admit that breaking from the English and the Tories is their main aim which are not good enough reasons. No-one says they can't do it but should they?

  • rate this

    Comment number 69.

    Don't forget it was Alex Salmond that sold off a large chunk of Scotland to Donald Trump who then put two fingers up to the Scots! Can you trust a man who won't support his own country??

  • rate this

    Comment number 68.

    @33 Philip, 39 Jockster

    These questions have all been answered. In detail. Just because you haven't bothered to escape from Better Together rhetoric does not mean there are no answers.

    @34 Milly65

    I fully agree - however, we in Scotland voted for a more left leaning government (by a huge majority) in contrast to the UK. If these things would win votes in England you'd get them too.

  • rate this

    Comment number 67.

    13 Doug
    What bugs me is the 'area' of the UK called Scotland gets a chance to vote on independence, why not the East Midlands?
    I believe it was John Precott who recommended rejection of devolution for England; big mistake. The solution to the Westminster problem is additional powers to devolved governments for the whole of the UK. Independence is a step too far.

  • rate this

    Comment number 66.

    If Scotland is such a burden on England why are so many English politicians and businessmen saying that a split would be bad. I doubt that it is from the goodness of their hearts.

  • rate this

    Comment number 65.

    Strange how government want people to stand on their own two feet and be independent yet when Scotland want to be independent they fight it tooth and nail. It`s your country Scotland, do what you believe to be right for your people, nothing less is needed.

  • rate this

    Comment number 64.

    As an Englishman I can't wait for Scottish Independence. We will get back our democracy and won't have to subsidise the Scots. Also, the Labour party will never get back in and we can vote to get out of the EU.

    By the way , we never voted to transfer our powers to the EU , we only voted for the EEC which is no longer in existence so we need a new vote.

    Scotland will not be able keep the pound

  • rate this

    Comment number 63.

    I feel the real issue is lack of information for anyone to make a reasoned decision. Alex Salmon is very keen to point out a few possible positives, but strangely very quiet on the negatives. This was debated on Question Time recently and nobody on the panel could answer any serious questions including Nicola Sturgeon, who hid all night.

  • rate this

    Comment number 62.

    Wonder how much of the UK national debt Scotland will take as part of the break up?
    Will Scotland be in EU? If so they will have very little say or influence and wil be ruled by EU just like many other small EU states
    Salmond is like every other dictator and is doing this for his own ego not the benefit of the individuals

  • rate this

    Comment number 61.

    If only we knew who was getting what, when and how, then perhaps we would know how better or worse off Scotland will be post independence. I have family South and North of the border and hope the Union will remain intact, however I can see good reason for giving Holyrood more powers.

  • rate this

    Comment number 60.

    English should not be allowed free Uni fees, free hospital parking, free perscriptions? That is all I am suggesting...
    Used to have all that in England, was Parliament vote to charge uni fees etc. In S,W&NI the devolved assemblies didn't make those changes.
    We should be angry at Westminster for changing, not S,W&NI for not changing! Westminster politicians are a disgrace.

  • rate this

    Comment number 59.

    We should just give independence to London. I'm sure most of the UK would do better without it and it's culture.

  • rate this

    Comment number 58.

    That's good to know... I'm independent! I'm also free! Because the only place either truly exist, is in belief. Anything physical can be captured and subjugated :-( But thoughts and ideas cannot! :-)

  • Comment number 57.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • rate this

    Comment number 56.

    17 continued
    Just as with HS2, & even Royal Mail sell off, biased (corrupt) politicians & their party machinery,immorally conspire to deceive the public to sell the public an idea/policy, or often just dictate it & trot out continual corrupt propaganda to validate it

    My word, if Salmond built a childs park, he would HAVE to provide a BETTER & FULL risk assment than he/SNP does for independence

  • rate this

    Comment number 55.

    The way the UK works is broken - politically and financially. London gets richer while the rest of us generally get poorer. Our current first past the post system of politics needs changing to something more representitive. Scottish independence would probably make Scotland fairer and possibly richer - do we ditch the last 300 years for the quick fix? I think fixing Britain is my preferred option.

  • rate this

    Comment number 54.

    My heart says that I would love the union to stay together for the sake of history etc.

    My head as an English taxpayer says that I wish them luck on their own.

    5 years after they will string Salmond up once they see that all the little free things are no longer free and they cant afford their massive welfare bill.

    Independence will be bad for Scotland, but good for the English taxpayer.


Page 115 of 118


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