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 93.

    Cameron is a Scottish name, so can we him sent to Scotland please to give you a hand in government.

  • rate this

    Comment number 92.

    I wish they would get on with it! This issue is boring me.

    I don't care whether they are with us or without us (I am English). All I care about is that independence means independence and they don't come to us for backdoor handouts.

  • rate this

    Comment number 91.

    I am always amazed how quickly these things fill up with the "English taxpayer subsidizes the Scots" comments. England is running at a large deficit. Scotland is running at a smaller deficit. Both Coutries are running at a loss and no one is subsidizing anyone - but Scotland is adding less per head to the UK debt according to Gov figures. Facts eh dont let them get in the way of a xenophobic rant.

  • rate this

    Comment number 90.

    Even if they vote for independance Scotland will still be blaming England for all it's problems in a hundred years time.

  • rate this

    Comment number 89.

    We have spent years building a strong union (UK) and the EU could learn a lot from this but people want to break it up. What next Huddersfield, Torquay, Norwich, Cumbria, Essex etc all go independent - back to dark ages, and tribal feuding etc. (a bit like football then) not to mention the power hungry greedy dictators who will lead the tribes to destruction

  • rate this

    Comment number 88.

    I think it's a disgrace that the referendum will only apply to those living in Scotland. There are a lot of non-Scots living there and a lot of Scots not living there. Something as fundamental as this should be voted on by ALL Scots-born people, whether resident or not.

  • rate this

    Comment number 87.

    The same argument could be put for GB in Europe, but it seems that makes us isolationists.

    “It is about who should be taking decisions about Great Britain - those who live here or politicians in Brussels.”

    On a lighter note – can we southerners keep British Summer Time when we don’t have to worry about how dark it gets in Scotland in the winter?

  • rate this

    Comment number 86.

    Nobody knows whether people in Scotland will be financially better off on average or not five or ten years after choosing independence. Everyone posting here who thinks they know that are just mouthing off.

    I want Scotland to be our "body politic"; the UK body politic is poisoned by the first-past-the-post, two party system and an inability to shake off the mentality acquired during Empire.

  • rate this

    Comment number 85.

    Although I'm English, I support Scotland voting for independence & being independent. It strikes me that Scotland mostly have the last moral fibres remaining in the current UK, the Welsh running a close second. However, as the tentative exchanges between for & against are finding their way into newspapers and broadcast media, I'm less convinced Scotland will achieve independence, unfortunately.

  • rate this

    Comment number 84.

    An act of self belief? More like an act of self destruction. Tell us Alex, do you still wish to model the Scottish economy on Iceland and Ireland? Do you still think HBOS and RBS are "global leaders today, tomorrow and for the long-term"?

  • rate this

    Comment number 83.

    For the hard of thinking. The referendum is not voting for a finite plan for a future Scotland; (rUK refuse to pre-negotiate it for a start!) The SNP clearly states that the voters of Scotland, through the ballot box, will chose their first leader after Independence. The referendum next year is quite simply voting for the right to make our own decisions.

  • rate this

    Comment number 82.

    To Chewbacca stole my Girlfriend - RBS is 80% owned by the BRITISH taxpayer, so only a tiny bit of it belongs to the Scots.This is the whole problem, it's too complicated to divide things up. Devolution was supposed to make the people who live in Scotland and Wales feel better - it's actually done the opposite. Many people in the UK have a combination of English, Scots and Welsh ancestry anyway.

  • rate this

    Comment number 81.

    BBC house rules means that I am not able to comment because I would upset those people who have no interest of remaining within the UK as they hate Great Britain as pure nationalism as simple as that. Any little critics would be seen as racism against Scottish people ... and this comment will be removed shortly x

  • rate this

    Comment number 80.

    Vote yes and make yourself a foreigner in the rest of the British isles"

    "Foreigner" isn't a dirty word, crevice is a dirty word, but foreigner isn't. (Apologies to General Melchett).

  • rate this

    Comment number 79.

    I think some Scots harbour deep prejudices against the English (Salmond is one of them) I think it is this hate that drives him not any long term benefit for the Scottish people

    Just like I wouldn't like Yorkshire to have autonomy despite the best efforts of John Prescott, who presumably would be King

    The Scots have a national identity within the UK already & what happens in 30 years after oil

  • rate this

    Comment number 78.

    I hope the people of Scotland are paying attention to the non benefits to us of HS2 which will be part funded by Scottish tax payers.

    A yes vote is not for Alex Salmond but for us to make our own decisions about our lives and our future. If Scotland is such a bad place why are large companies choosing to invest here.

    We should only fear what Westminster has in store for us if we vote no.

  • rate this

    Comment number 77.

    More like an act of self-destruction. And I say that as a Scot.

  • rate this

    Comment number 76.

    It isn't about Salmond or Cameron as both will be gone soon.

    Surely the question is whether a more egalitarian independent Scotland would be more resilient economically in the medium to long term. (After the oil). I can't find the answer.

    Does anyone know, please?

  • rate this

    Comment number 75.

    I dont think many people this side of Hadrians Wall would be too upset if all those Scottish chappies voted for independence because their unhealthy drinking and eating habits are an ever increasing burden on our NHS, and their leaving would free up more money for us more deserving English folks who would reap the benefit.

  • rate this

    Comment number 74.

    HS2 would be a massive benefit for Scotland. Risks could be pooled as part of the UK. It could prove much more convenient for travellers and possibly cut out internal flights with their negative effects on the environment. Does the SNP have any proposals on how an independent Scotland would finance an extension to HS2? Aberdeen can afford to drop a bit, so that other parts of Scotland gain.


Page 114 of 118


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