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 313.

    @270. Yes I want my own democratically elected Parliament, without he Scots, Irish or Welsh MPs voting on what they want, but regards Scotland can't do it for them. Oh so they have Independence, good close the boarder.

  • rate this

    Comment number 312.

    Scots have always had more than a fair share of the very top jobs in the UK (a product of their better education system). There does seem to be just an element of a lack of confidence in the independence movement that Scotts are no longer up to finding success in the bigger pool of the UK. That is sad as speaking as somebody from the SE of England I believe both sides will be worse off.

  • rate this

    Comment number 311.

    I am concerned there is a 'campaign' for this issue. Its a one-off decision, not a general election that is reversible in a few years. It should be free of spin, sell and 'promise-ering'. Cut energy bills?! Steak knives? The spruiking of 'benefits' sounds like Call-Centre School.

  • rate this

    Comment number 310.

    S.N.P. N.S.D.A.P. B.N.P. All claim as part of there banner nationalism ! you have to play with the word for a while, workout what it mean's what nationalism is it they offer ? it can once sucked to see leave a very nasty taste behind indeed. Nationalism seem to me a blanket that many a scoundrel wrap themselves up in. I would always advise you poke it with a very big stick before picking it up.

  • rate this

    Comment number 309.

    With the parochial argument that London is a long way from Scotland (it's not really though is it?), can we also agree then that Brussels and Strasbourg is an even greater distance from Yeovil, Ilkley Moor and Drumnadrochit too. Like any good old Marxist, Salmond will happily lead his country into economic oblivion to dismantle the UK. We must keep the door open for our Scot brothers come the time

  • rate this

    Comment number 308.

    Lots of questions along the lines of "What will it cost us, 10 years from now, to be in an independant Scotland?"

    No-one knows

    I will vote YES, but I will rephrase your question

    "What will it cost to be part of the UK in 10 years?"

    Again, who knows the answer to this. It is akin to betting on the races.

    Instead of worrying about money, worry about the principle of the matter.

  • rate this

    Comment number 307.

    Divide and rule is, and always has been, the tories' mantra.
    But now, having divided, there is a real prospect of them not ruling any more, at least in Scotland.
    And they don't like it.

  • rate this

    Comment number 306.

    Frank W @270

    The old 'learn to spell comment', so if somebody has difficulty spelling then their not allowed an opinion/comment? Also, Salmonds ambition is to get Scotland into the EU club, so tell me, how will this mean making your own decisions? 80% of the decisions from Westminster come from the EU!

  • rate this

    Comment number 305.

    It will make a difference to you as more oil will need to be imported from the mid-east and this will make the balance of payments much wider. This will have to be met with increased borrowing leading to increased taxation and/or lower services. The rump of the UK will be worse off without Scotland. Thankfully this will never happen as the majority of Scots do not want independence.

  • rate this

    Comment number 304.

    Let's look at the standard of recent Scottish politicians:

    Blair, Brown, Darling - destroyed the U.K economy & started two major wars and 5 smaller ones. Michael Gove - messing up education, Ian Duncan Smith - messing up everything for years, Charles Kennedy - a proven lying alcoholic, Ming Campbell - just plain useless.

    England will be glad to see the back of the likes of them.

  • rate this

    Comment number 303.

    @260. Cheers for the extra YES votes. I hope one day in an Indy England, you will have an education system.

  • rate this

    Comment number 302.


    I've just got off the phone with Valdamir in Moscow. Last week he emailed the Achitectural blueprints of his new palace over to Alex & Nicola, after they expressed interest in "a Palace each".

    He also sent his spreadsheet detailing how his home is "economically green" by ensuring the project paid for out of oil revenues.'s_Palace

  • rate this

    Comment number 301.

    @276. shumaker was a dangerous cheat
    :) That's why I said we'd have to find something to back it up. Would be a whole lot less complicated those smart guys at the BofE still actually had anything but imagination backing up their own currency. They sure as heck don't have the gold to back it up, it's entirely afloat on our imagination.

  • rate this

    Comment number 300.

    If the UK invested more in the regions than the continuous centralised investment in London and the SE then perhaps Scotland would not feel such a strong urge to leave.

  • rate this

    Comment number 299.

    As it is certain Orkney and Shetland will vote to remain in the UK then there will be no or very little oil money the YESNP to spend once never mind 5 times over.

  • rate this

    Comment number 298.

    Please for the love of God just go. Fund your own Socialist paradise, have Salmond as Chairman, sorry, President and we can all laugh as he bankrupts the country in a timescale that would make even Labour blush. Will be interesting to see what excuse they come up with when then don't have the English to blame. Sadly it will never happen, too many Scots are sensible and know the score.

  • rate this

    Comment number 297.

    Can I devolve my house, I grow my own veg would be willing to barter for other goods services from other like minded people, perhaps set up a community independent of government and its half wits.

  • rate this

    Comment number 296.

    The majority of the Scots opt for either National Socialism (sorry) or Scottish Labour socialism - it is clear if they vote for independence that socialism in one guise or the other will be the future for Scottish government.
    The inevitable financial debarcle which will follow the unaffordable state spending will directly effect the rest of the UK adversely.
    A break up is bad for all.

  • rate this

    Comment number 295.

    Scotland is like the cheated wife that keeps threatening to walk out. Hopefully this time it will happen and life can move on.

  • rate this

    Comment number 294.

    Let's have independence for London?! That will shaft the lot of you.
    The whole country scrounge off London and yet London has all the brains and creates all the wealth.
    I don't venture north of Barnet; what for when the rest of the world lives in London...


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