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 113.

    Trimm Tabb

    Those same facts include the fact that UK debt per capita will be higher in England than Scotland because investors see Scotland as a 'dead duck' compared to that of England. Tell me what future industry Scotland has got without fish and oil? Glasgow is most likely the benefit capital of Europe.

  • rate this

    Comment number 112.

    "I think the two biggest things that will guarantee a No Vote is the thought to many Scots that Salmon and Sturgeon "

    I think the biggest things that will guarantee a Yes Vote is David Cameron, George Osborne, Ian Duncan Smith and the rest of Tory party.

  • rate this

    Comment number 111.

    91, that's the real point, nobody has "the Facts" these differ widely depending on who you ask. Ho wmuch of the Oil is in English Waters, how much RBS will cost, will Scotland have to join the EU and the Euro, all these subjects are being fudged

  • rate this

    Comment number 110.

    A major factor will surely be any EU referendum; many Scots are fearful of being dragged out of the EU on the coat-tails of English xenophobia, and losing the benefits of EU membership.

  • rate this

    Comment number 109.

    The prospect of independence from the braying Old Etonians is an enticing one.Scots have the opportunity to maintain a semblance of decent public services not be available to the remainder of the Disunited Kingdom
    Were I living in Scotland,despite my Murdoch based reservations over Salmond, I would not think twice about escaping the tyranny of tory privatisation and victorian employment conditions

  • rate this

    Comment number 108.

    Whatever the pros or cons for Independence, the long drawn out crawl to the referendum is a needless, pointless, self inflicted wound and ill befits this nation. Uncertainty stunts recovery (note the region in the UK with falling house prices). If Mr Salmond et al. believed in the strength of his argument he would put it to the nation today. Bring forward the referendum. Lets end this tomorrow

  • rate this

    Comment number 107.

    I think the two biggest things that will guarantee a No Vote is the thought to many Scots that Salmon and Sturgeon will be running the gaff.
    Scotland produce the best politicians on the planet.
    How did they get stuck with these two idiots?

  • rate this

    Comment number 106.

    If you are unfortunate enough to live in one of the most deprived areas of Scotland you can look forward to the shortest life expectancy in the northern hemisphere. As such the union has failed you. A vote for anything other than independence is a betrayal of your countrymen.

  • rate this

    Comment number 105.

    Act of "self belief"? More like an act of self delusion. Silly little man.

  • rate this

    Comment number 104.

    An independent Scotland will, I think, do us all good.

    We will be able to make make endless unfavourable comparisons between Westminster and Edinburgh.

    "Well they seem to have managed it in Scotland, why can't you?"

  • Comment number 103.

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

  • rate this

    Comment number 102.

    I am so bored of the independence "debate". The Scots voted the one-policy Scottish NATIONAL Party into power and so have already voted for independence. Let them have it now instead of wasting all this time and money on a referendum..

  • rate this

    Comment number 101.

    The Yes and No campaigns both fail to mention that Parliament and Holyrood are both governed by the Eu parliament. Fuel subsidies to the Isles being one case in point.

  • rate this

    Comment number 100.

    @93. taz
    You try send him to Scotland, 2nd class post, we'll send him back first class with insurance just to show how little we want him here ;)

  • rate this

    Comment number 99.

    Scotland would have to join the Euro if they left the UK , unless they kept their own currency.

    Alex Salmon the new King of Scotland, or perhaps you would invite Mel Gibson for that role?

  • rate this

    Comment number 98.

    68.Obania Of course you are (or rather The SNP) are left wing - that why Nicola Sturgeon is already expecting more hand outs and subsidies from the EU! IF Scotland is allowed to remain - which is very questionable.

  • rate this

    Comment number 97.

    The key point that the SNP are making that after a Yes vote all the key decisions will be made in Scotland is just not true. We will have no control over currency, interest rates, our laws eg minimum alcohol pricing will still be blocked by EU, within NATO we will be obliged to send our army to fight if Turkey is attacked and even our budgets will have to be agreed by Westminster. Vote No!

  • rate this

    Comment number 96.

    The bbc reporter at the SNP conference Saturday morning could not help himself, repeatedly reminding views that 25% of Scots want Independence.
    A figure that is so out of touch with what is really going on in Scotland. Keep this little game up if you like bbc.

  • rate this

    Comment number 95.

    Out of 650 MPs called the House of Commons there is only one ONE Scottish Cconservative MP still left, David Mundell (and after he said that Scotland didn't exist as it was only part of England I don't rate his chances at next Election) One MP? LOL That's hardly a reason to give any Tory PM a mandate to govern Scotland from London. Vote YES!

  • rate this

    Comment number 94.

    @ 13 If the East Midlands want a vote for independence they better start campaigning now - it's taken the Scots decades to get this far.


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