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 293.

    270Frank W
    The anti-Scottish anti-Salmond bile on here is spouted by probably the most ill-informed bigots on earth.
    Since steel and coal have gone abroad Wales has been a net receiver from the UK and its unlikely to change. Do you know why no one cares? Because they don't go on and on and on and on about nationality. 'English bile' as you put it is a response to constant Scottish nationalism

  • rate this

    Comment number 292.

    Where is the increasing government spending coming from? Is it just lack of experience?
    Perhaps they will decide to actually collect taxes or maybe they won't attempt to jump into wars like the hapless Hague It's possible they won't buy horrendously anachronistic yankee weaponry because they haven't got a toadying Liam Fox because they had the good sense to export him No House of Frauds

  • rate this

    Comment number 291.

    At least with independence there is a positive vision.

  • rate this

    Comment number 290.

    211. thestoneroses
    "That you’ve shed blood and stood shoulder to shoulder with Welshman, Englishmen & Ulstermen for 300 years against a very hostile world counts for nothing..."

    It counts for an awful lot. Not being used as cannon-fodder ever again for the machinations of an inbred elite is a case for independence all by itself.

  • rate this

    Comment number 289.

    The BBC really are a political tool.
    While we all squabble about this Osbourne is selling off RBS at a loss under the radar and that humps all of us.

  • rate this

    Comment number 288.

    No more Westminster. No more Cameron. No more tories. No more illegal wars. What's not to like?

  • rate this

    Comment number 287.

    spluffy 231,
    For god sake I wish you would do a bit of fact finding for yourself. Scotland is not leaving the EU, it is not leaving NATO, it is not leaving the UN, it is not leaving this world. Scotland, after independence will be one of the wealthiest and healthiest countries in the WORLD..
    With our lower corporation tax, we will attract a lot more companies to Scotland that rUK.

  • rate this

    Comment number 286.

    Let the Scots have their independence. It will save the rest of Britain £50billion pounds a year.
    Then in the ensuing years we will watch them crying over their porridge for making such rash decision.

  • rate this

    Comment number 285.

    In one way I want them to vote yes because it decreases the chance of Labour getting back into power. Which can only be a good thing.

  • rate this

    Comment number 284.

    A really good reason to vote Yes

    You will no longer need to buy a BBC TV licence.

  • rate this

    Comment number 283.

    As a young man raised in Wales with mainly Irish blood, I'm not exactly speaking on behalf of the Scottish people. But Scotland should be independent. No doubt about that. All of the UK would be better off splitting from the dictating powers that be in London (BofE) and we should have a new UK of our own. Consisting of Scotland, a unified Ireland and Wales. Coming from someone born in England

  • rate this

    Comment number 282.

    I was born in England but now live and work in Scotland and feel very privileged to do so as it is a very progressive country in many ways. Living so far from London I consider myself as a 'Scottish citizen'. Many here think the same and will be very tempted to vote 'Yes' because of this....we just have to be convinced about one thing - will it cost us anything??.. that is still unclear to me

  • rate this

    Comment number 281.

    NHS, public transport, defence, the cost of building the Scottish Parliament, benefits for a disproportionate percentage of the UK's benefits recipients, roads, bridges, etc - all paid for by the British (not just the Scottish) tax payer. Of course people need regional representation, but Salmond underestimates the intellect of his fellow Scots if he believes they will fall for his spin

  • rate this

    Comment number 280.

    Sturgeon says Westminster wants to cut Scotland's budget if a no vote happens. If a yes vote then there should be no budget from England, Wales and NI, let the SNP fund their own Socialist dream. Scotland has been bankrupt before, and had to be bailed out, I expect it will do so again.
    So many welfare promises, so little income to fund them.

  • rate this

    Comment number 279.

    I've read a lot of the comments here, including the best and worst rated. 99% are reasonable even where I don't agree with them.

    Most commenters outside Scotland won't realise that in general the BBC does not allow comments to be made on Scottish political news stories.

    If you disagree with that policy and believe the BBC should treat Scottish politics the same as the rest of UK please ^ this.

  • rate this

    Comment number 278.

    Of course the big question is will the BBC talk over Alex Salmond's speech today as they did with Nicola Sturgeon yesterday ?

    Unbelievable sight, as soon as Sturgeon opened her mouth to speak, some BBC goon would start commentating over her.

    Maybe they'll just resort to cutting the live link with the old 'sound issues' problem - thats worked well for the last two years BBC.

  • rate this

    Comment number 277.

    If Scotland votes no just wait and see what punishment will be dished up by Westminster who 'love' Scotland so much they are desperate for us to vote no.

    We've all seen what has been done to Scotland in the past - trialling the Poll Tax here is a good example and is nothing compared to what will be done if we dare to vote no.

    Yes is a vote for your own destiny not oblivion!!

  • rate this

    Comment number 276.

    JohnBa @227

    No I have never seen a Scottish bank note, not one that isn't backed by the Bank Of England. As for out dated nuclear comment shows your complete ignorance. Nuclear power is the only fuel of the future.

  • rate this

    Comment number 275.

    I live in Lincolnshire and would like it as a county to devolve and move away from Westminster - Can we have a referendum please?

  • rate this

    Comment number 274.

    "Unemployment levels in Scotland are the LOWEST in the UK"

    Firstly, a majority of jobs in Scotland are public-sector, meaning they are 83% funded by the English tax-payer.

    Secondly, Scotland has the highest percentage of people on sickness benefit (ESA).


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