Alex Salmond – 2014 Speech to SNP Conference


Below is the text of the speech made by Alex Salmond, the Scottish First Minister, in Aberdeen on 12th April 2014.

We meet here in this conference centre in Aberdeen as ordinary members of the Scottish National Party.

But also the most privileged members of the SNP in our 80 year history.

For this generation has the opportunity our forebears could only dream about.

But we are no longer just members of a political party.

We are also now part of a greater movement.

A movement of young and old, of women and men, of trade unionists and businesspeople, of writers and artists.

A movement of glorious diversity, reflecting our country’s rich spirit.

Dedicated to a common goal:

To build a better Scotland.

To create a fairer society.

To become an independence country.

Make no mistake – momentum is with this campaign.

The people are coming towards us.

Political public meetings are being revived.

Halls have been crowded across Scotland as we discuss our nation’s future.

The messages from these meetings of hundreds are amplified a hundred times through social media and the campaign momentum continues.

Can the No campaign match this?

Well not really. To do it you have to first organise meetings and then you have to have people wanting to turn up.

Last month the BBC finally discovered this grassroots campaign and tried to cover both sides of the debate.

Their problem was that the No campaign struggled to find them any grassroots group to film – or even a single grassroot.

It is rather like what happened a few weeks back when the UK and Scottish cabinets met on the same day here in Aberdeen.

What a contrast.

We met in Portlethen church hall in a public meeting with hundreds of people.

The London Cabinet met in private behind the security screen in the HQ of Shell Oil.

Big oil meets big government with small ideas.

So let me repeat my offer to David Cameron. Prime Minister we can drum up a crowd for you in Scotland.

All you have to do is say ‘yes’ to a debate.

I mean what can you possibly be frightened of. Just think how well your deputy did debating UKIP!

And if the fourth and fifth parties in Scotland can have a TV debate then why not the First Minister and Prime Minister?

So let us at last have that debate about the future of this country in a proper open and democratic way.

And let us agree to do it now.

Of course not everyone is feart on the no side.

One man is still game.

Alistair Carmichael is still fighting hard for the Westminster establishment.

Last month Alistair was on home turf in Shetland – a safe distance, he must have felt from Nicola Sturgeon.

Reading the Shetland News – which has the motto: “Great is the Truth and it will prevail,” I saw that Alistair had not lost his touch.

After a debate with Mike Mackenzie MSP and local activist Danus Skene, the Shetland News reported:

“A show of hands revealed that Mackenzie and Skene had succeeded in widening the gap between yes and no from a single vote to 22.”

Great is the truth and it will prevail.

The trouble for the No campaign is this:

The more the people of Scotland hear the case for No, the more likely they are to vote Yes.

And no wonder.

They are the most miserable, negative, depressing and thoroughly boring campaign in modern political history.

They are already out of touch with the people and are now losing touch with reality.

Lord Robertson told a startled Washington that the “forces of darkness” are getting ready to celebrate a Yes vote.

The “forces of darkness”!

Darth Vader, Ming the Merciless, the Klingons and Lex Luthor must all be watching the campaign closely.

The Daleks though are not so happy.

Word has reached them that Dr Who is to be banned from an independent Scotland.

That’s the no campaign – totally laughable and completely ludicrous.

There is though this serious point.

We are engaged in a consensual constitutional process which will be decided at the ballot box. Not a unique process – but rare in this world – and something which should be cherished.

The referendum in Scotland is being held up to the world as an example of best practice. We should do everything in our power to keep it that way and each and every one of us carries that individual responsibility.

A people exercising their right to self-determination in a lawful, agreed, respectful, democratic manner is not a threat but a noble thing.

The Yes campaign is positive, uplifting, hopeful and must always stay that way.

That is the basis on which we will win this referendum and our country’s independence.

There was something else that caught my eye in the report of that Shetland debate.

It was this passage:

“Local architect Iain Malcolmson said he had never been an SNP voter but would vote yes in September.

“Half his family are Geordies, and on a recent trip south for his grandmother’s 90th birthday he had asked for their views.”

Their response: “Of course you should vote yes.”

This touches on a fundamental truth.

Many people who have never voted for our party will be voting Yes.

This referendum is not about this Party, or this First Minister, or even the wider Yes campaign.

It’s about putting Scotland’s future in Scotland’s hands.

A Yes vote in September is not a vote for an SNP government in 2016.

It’s a vote for a government in Scotland that the people of Scotland choose, pursuing policies the people of Scotland support.

A government in control of tax, the economy, social security, employment, immigration, oil and gas revenues, European policy and a range of other areas currently under Westminster control.

That may be the SNP. It may be Labour. It may be a coalition.

I tell you what it won’t be.

It won’t be a government led by a party with just a single MP in Scotland.

A government dismantling our welfare state.

Privatising public services.

In an independent Scotland we can give this guarantee:

The era of Tory Governments unelected by the people of Scotland handing out punishment to the poor and the disabled will be gone and gone for good.

The Westminster establishment is fighting hard to maintain its grip on Scotland.

David Cameron’s government has produced edict after edict opposing independence.

Members of the House of Lords have given us their unelected, distilled, wisdom from beneath their ermine robes.

All of it designed to tell Scots how impossibly difficult it would be to run our own country.

Backed up all the way by a Labour Party leadership that has totally lost its way.

That has lost touch with the values of Labour voters.

That supports illegal wars, a cuts commission to roll back the gains of devolution and the Tory assault on social security.

Independence will be good for Scottish Labour.

The Labour Party, freed from Westminster control, will have the chance to return to its core values: many of which we in this party agree with and share.

But there is something the Scottish National Party will never agree to – will never be a part of.

Something we will campaign against with every fibre of our being.

The leadership of the Labour Party are hand in glove with the Tories in a shameful attempt to run Scotland and its people down.

Let us look at the reality.

Scotland’s contribution to mankind has been immense.

Great enlightenment philosophers.

Our commitment to science and medical advancement.

Innovators, industrialists, educators and inventors.

I’m just back from Scotland Week in New York. There is enormous interest in Scotland – huge profile. It helped us gain over a thousand jobs this week alone.

In the opinion of American historians, Scotland ”invented the modern world” – something we wouldn’t claim for ourselves but don’t mind repeating as often as possible!

But still today in modern Scotland:

More top universities, per head, than any other country.

A hot bed of life sciences.

Brilliance in creative industries.

A world-class food and drink industry.

Manufacturers exporting across the world.

25 per cent of Europe’s off-shore wind and tidal potential.

60 per cent of the EU’s oil reserves.

A Government 100 per cent committed to building a better future.

We will not let anyone tell the people of Scotland that we’re not good enough to run our own country.


A short distance from this conference centre is a vibrant, busy harbour.

It’s full of vessels servicing Scotland’s thriving oil and gas industry.

They will be here for many decades to come.

The oil – and the tax revenue – will continue to flow.

What a shock this scene must be for the opponents of independence.

In the 1970s they said No to self-government because they told us the oil would all be gone by now.

In the 1980s they said No even though the Tories were laying waste to our steel industry, car industry and coal mines.

In the 1990s the doom-sayers were still saying No because they said we weren’t capable of running our schools and hospitals.


Scotland’s has got what it takes.

Our Parliament working together, introduced free personal care for the elderly.

We’ve passed world-leading climate change legislation.

And this party in government has restored free education.

We’ve kept Scottish Water in public hands.

And there is no better example of why decisions about Scotland are best taken in Scotland than the future of our National Health Service.

At Westminster the NHS is being softened up for privatisation.

The Tories are forcing through a costly, confusing and harmful top-down re-organisation.

Nurses are being denied the pay rise they deserve.

Scotland has gone down a better route.

We reject the free market in health.

We’ve abolished prescription charges.

And nurses in Scotland are getting their recommended pay-rise.

Let us be absolutely clear conference.

It is because we have control of the health service we can give this pledge : Scotland’s NHS will never be up for sale.

Scotland is a wealthy country. We more than pay our way.

As an independent nation we would be the 14th richest country in the developed world.

The UK are 18th.

Is anyone seriously meant to believe that the 14th most prosperous country in the developed world cannot sustain itself as an independent country?

Of course they don’t, which is why the ratings agency Standard & Poors – not known for their unbridled optimism on any country’s prospects – said in February:

“Even excluding North Sea output……. Scotland would qualify for our highest economic assessment.”

And so in September the people of this wealthy country will face a choice between two futures.

One future is to put our faith in Westminster.

In a system where the five richest families own more wealth than the poorest 12 and a half million people.

Where charities are warning of a “poverty storm engulfing Scotland.”

Where families with children need emergency food aid.


These aren’t reasons to put our faith in the Westminster system.

These are reasons to get rid of the Westminster system.

All of us campaigning for Yes know an independent Scotland won’t get every decision right.

There will be choices to be made and challenges to face.

The point is to be equipped with the powers we need to meet those challenges.

Not to shrug our shoulders and accept Scotland as a region of a grossly unequal country.

But to take responsibility.

To build a more resilient economy.

To create jobs and opportunities.

We can do this by capturing a sense of shared national purpose, a shared national mission to build a fairer and more prosperous country.

By giving our companies a competitive edge in taxation, by reindustrialising Scotland and by building a lasting social partnership.

But more than anything: whether we succeed or fail in our ambition will be down to one factor: the talents and abilities of our people.

So the days of wasting talent and denying opportunity must end.

And yet charities tell us up to 100,000 more Scottish children are set to grow up in poverty because of the Westminster government’s actions.

So we will stop the poverty-creating policies.

The minimum wage will rise at least in line with inflation.

And in the first year of an independent Scotland we will abolish the bedroom tax.

To release potential of all of the people we must do more.

That is why we will put into action our independence plan to transform childcare – a plan put to me first by the late Professor Ailsa McKay of Glasgow Caledonian University whose motto is “For the Common Weal” – and a woman who was passionate in her belief that independence could change Scotland for the better.

We will start the process by transferring money from

Westminster’s priorities to Scotland’s priorities.

We will save £50 million a year because we won’t be paying for the House of Lords, sending MPs to the Commons or funding the Scotland Office.

In a time of tight resources we do not believe it is right to go ahead with David Cameron’s married couples tax allowance: a policy that discriminates against widows, single parent families and which only benefits one-third of married couples.

For us, childcare for all families is the priority: not tax breaks for a few.

And we will have another priority.

Spending £100 billion over a generation on a new generation of nuclear weapons is obscene.

We give this cast iron guarantee.

A Yes vote on September 18th is a vote to remove these weapons of mass destruction from Scotland once and for all.

This then is what we mean by a choice between two futures.

Westminster wants to renew a weapons system that can destroy the world.

In an independent Scotland we will build a system of childcare that will be the envy of the world.

Let me tell you why this is so important.

It is about changing the destiny of Scotland’s poorest children.

Early years’ education and childcare benefits the most – those families who have the least.

For many parents, childcare costs can be crippling.

These costs are a barrier to work, the real route out of poverty.

With devolution we are investing more than a quarter of a billion pounds over the next two years to expand childcare.

But to transform childcare, we need the powers of independence.

Some people say that it could be done under devolution. But under devolution nearly 90 per cent of the tax generated on women’s employment earnings go straight to the Westminster Exchequer not to Scotland.

In an independent Scotland, with control of our budget, our resources and taxation, we can invest far more in our children’s future.

High quality universal childcare and early learning – for all of Scotland’s children, that’s the independence pledge.


Transforming childcare will open up opportunities for many more women in Scotland.

But our ambitions must go further.

An equal opportunity to join the workforce – and an equal opportunity within the workforce.

In an independent Scotland we will want our companies to aspire to at least 40 per cent female participation on their boards.

And we will have the power to enforce the Equal Pay Act.

This issue of equality, of equal opportunities, is of the highest importance.

Shona Robison is the minister in charge of equality in the Scottish Government so today I have asked Shona to join the Scottish Cabinet as a full member and to also take on a specific brief on pensioners’ rights.

The Scotland we are seeking to build will be an equal Scotland.

A Scotland where everyone has the opportunity to make the most of their talents.

Youth unemployment is the single biggest challenge we face in meeting that goal.

The Scottish Government is working hard to tackle this blight of joblessness among the young.

25,000 Modern Apprenticeships, working with the voluntary sector, and the guarantee of work or training place for every 16-19 year old.

Sir Ian Wood’s Commission is producing exciting proposals which will align our education and training systems ever closer to the work place.

This work has been overseen by Angela Constance as the only Minister for Youth Employment in Europe.

Today I have also asked Angela to become a full member of the Scottish Cabinet and to take full policy responsibility for work training and the implementation of the Wood Commission.

These appointments underline our commitment to equality, to pensioners and to helping the young people of Scotland into the workplace.

And, subject to Parliamentary approval, with these two outstanding ministers in the Scottish Cabinet, we practice what we preach.

The Cabinet is our board as a country and women will make up 40% of the members of the Scottish Cabinet.

In this speech I have stressed that an independent Scotland will be an inclusive Scotland.

There are many different colours and threads woven in to the Scottish tartan and we celebrate them all.

We need to mobilise all the talents and the potential of all of our people.

And we have to reflect that in how we will proceed after September the 18th , in the approach we will take to bring Scotland together as we prepare to move forward.

With a Yes vote on September 18, that work will begin.

An all-party “Team Scotland” negotiating group, including non-SNP members will be convened.

It will secure expertise from across the political spectrum and beyond and indeed from Scotland and beyond.

That group will begin negotiations with Westminster before the end of September.

The discussions will be held in accordance with the principles of the Edinburgh Agreement.

That means with respect and in the interests of everyone in Scotland and indeed the rest of the UK.

The campaigning rhetoric will be over. The real work will begin.

And in March 2016 Scotland will become an independent country and join the international family of nations.


Last week as the great life of Margo MacDonald was celebrated, many pictures were posted showing Margo out campaigning for independence down the years.

In one, which is on the cover of Holyrood Magazine, a young

Margo was outside the old Royal High School in Edinburgh, holding a big poster of a loveheart with the words: “Yes, We Love you Scotland.”

In this referendum debate we often hear that same sentiment.

For some it will be a love of the astounding natural beauty of our country.

The rich diversity of the life and the landscape.

But our cause is about more than the landscape, the history and the legends, no matter how romantic or moving.

The historian J D Mackie once wrote of Scotland’s significance and vitality as a human community.

That’s what the campaign for Scottish independence is about.

Our human community.

I think that it what it was for Margo. She didn’t just love Scotland. She loved Scots. She loved people.

And she held the unshakable conviction that we can do better for and by our people.

And this referendum will be won when we, as a people, no longer feel the need to ask of others: “tell me what will happen to us.”

It will be won when we, as the people of Scotland say: “ We are going to take our future into our own hands.”

The eyes of the world will be on Scotland in September – watching, intently, to see how we will vote.

When the polls are closed and the voting has been done, let’s resolve this.

Let’s keep the eyes of the world on Scotland.

Not to see how we are voting but to watch in admiration at what we will be building.

Building a new and better Scotland.

Let’s take all our ideals, all our talent, all our commitment and our energy.

Let us build a nation that carries itself with pride and humility in equal measure.

That looks to its own but which gives of itself to the world as much as it possibly can.

Which yields to no one in compassion and to no-one in ambition.

And that, come independence day, walks tall among the nations of the Earth – on that day, and on every day thereafter.

This is our moment.

To be a beacon of hope.

A land of achievement.

Our country, our Scotland.

Our independence.

Alex Salmond – 2013 Speech to SNP Conference


Below is the text of the speech made by the Scottish First Minister, Alex Salmond, to the 2013 SNP Spring Conference.

A week is indeed a long time in politics.

On Thursday we announced the date of the independence referendum – Scotland’s date with destiny.

My advisers told me that within a few minutes of making the announcement, I was “trending” in Edinburgh and Glasgow.

Delegates, I was so disappointed – at first I thought they said I was “trendy” in Edinburgh and Glasgow!

Well friends. Meet cool Eck fae Buchan.

On 18 September 2014 we will have the opportunity to ensure that decisions about Scotland are taken by the people who care most about Scotland – the people who live and work here.

Few nations and very few generations are fortunate enough to make such an important decision – we are in every sense  the lucky ones.

It’s a vote for the people of Scotland – every citizen aged 16 up – and rightly so.  But do not underestimate the positive lesson to the wider world of a nation deciding its future by debate and democracy.

It was former President of Ireland, Mary McAleese, who last October described Scotland’s referendum as a “remarkable and wonderful phenomenon”.

Whether you are Yes, No – or like many at this stage a Dinnae Ken – we can all be proud that our nation is embarked on such an exciting journey in an impeccably democratic way.

The 18th September 2014 is the day when every one of us will be asked to take the future of our country into our hands.

And for years to come people will be asked to say by friends, neighbours, children and grandchildren to say how they voted on that day.

And when that question comes, as come it will, let us make sure that each one of us can proudly say YES.

I was one of those who voted by majority for a new future for Scotland.

Friends, this party has never wavered from our commitment to trust the people to decide the issue of independence.

While the Westminster parties ganged up to block a referendum in the last parliament – when the SNP were a minority – we held fast to Scotland’s democratic rights.


This moment – Scotland’s moment – was the life-work of dedicated servants of Scotland such as the much-missed Jimmy Halliday.  When Jimmy led our party in the 1950s, a referendum to achieve an independent Scotland was just a dream  – but one he never wavered from.

And the work of Jimmy and countless thousands others has made their dream our  reality – we thank them now, and will thank them best by achieving that Yes vote in the referendum.

And because we have always trusted the people, I believe they will put their trust in the Yes campaign on the 18th of September next year – and vote with those of us who want to build a prosperous economy and a just society.

Next year will be a huge year for Scotland not just for politics but for a range of events which will focus the attention of the planet on our country – the Commonwealth Games, the Ryder Cup, the second Homecoming Year.

We will make sure that each of these events is a success for Scotland, but we also wish to see them as a catalyst for positive change.

Exactly a year ago  I announced the establishment of a £10 million fund to help local communities bring sports facilities across Scotland into the 21st century.

This year we are going further adding another £7 million to this initiative, meaning that over 80 projects across Scotland will be completed in good time for the Commonwealth Games.

So whether its snowsports in Midlothian (for which there is plenty of raw material), Olympic swimming pools in Dundee and Aberdeen, 3G pitches in Dumfries and Galloway, or the outdoor community facility in Aviemore these facilities will provide real benefits.


Friends – it is said that to govern is to choose but even more fundamental than that is to choose how you are governed.

That choice – THE REAL CHOICE – becomes clearer by the day – the opportunity to use our vast resources and talent to build a better country, or to continue with a Westminster system that simply isn’t working for Scotland – a system which has not worked in the past, is not working now and will not work in the future..

Take the big issues debated in the Scottish Parliament last week – they illustrate exactly why an independent Scotland is the right choice.

It is ten years since the Scottish Parliament first debated the Iraq war – when a catalogue of deception by a Labour Prime Minister – a Labour Prime Minister – led the UK into an illegal conflict that came at enormous human cost.

Almost 5,000 allied soldiers – 179 from the UK – and well over 100,000 Iraqi civilians lost their lives as a result of a foreign policy disaster which made Suez look like a picnic in the sun.

Now when our brave service men and women are sent into danger, we have a duty to give them our full support – and we have an equal duty to discuss the reasons why.  The people who elected us to public office expect nothing less.

However, the No campaign parties in the Scottish Parliament actually tried to gag us from debating Iraq – Labour even claimed it was not a real issue.

Try telling the families who have lost a loved one to the war in Iraq that this is not a ‘real issue’.  Try telling them it should be airbrushed away.

The reality of the situation is that our opponents want to avoid confronting their demons, because they know they backed an illegal war based on a lie – the myth of weapons of mass destruction.

In the Scottish Parliament, there are still 8 of the Tory MSPs and 15 Labour MSPs who voted for the Iraq war – including their leader.

11 of the Scottish Labour MPs who voted for the war are still in the House of Commons – including No campaigner in chief, Alistair Darling.

Another 10 have even been ‘elevated’ – if that is the right word – to the House of Lords.

Labour and the Tories, Tories and Labour – they were wrong together about the Iraq war 10 years ago.

And they should apologise together now.

Friends, the imposition of the Poll Tax by Margaret Thatcher persuaded the majority of people that we needed a parliament with the powers to stop such divisive social experiments being visited upon Scotland.

Instead of being just a good idea, a parliament became necessary if we were to protect Scotland’s social fabric, and ensure that domestic policy reflected the will of the people.

Tony Blair’s legacy is to demonstrate why Scotland needs to go further.  The catastrophe of Iraq shows why our parliament needs to have the powers of independence – so that never again can Scotland be dragged into an illegal war on false pretences.

I’m certain that the lie that led to Iraq would not have been perpetrated by the government of an independent Scotland, of any political persuasion. But we have to be absolutely certain.

Other countries – including Denmark, the Netherlands and Ireland – have constitutional guarantees that they will not go to war without a proper process of parliamentary approval, and a similar such undertaking could be written into the constitution of an independent Scotland.

Friends, I believe it should be – indeed it has to be to demonstrate that our new Scotland is something worth voting for.

That is part of the WHY of independence.

The US/UK invasion of Iraq was about non-existent weapons of mass destruction.

But delegates, there are real weapons of mass destruction. Weapons Inspectors  would have had no problem finding them in Scotland.

Just one hundred and fifty miles from here the Trident missile system is based on the Clyde Estuary, just along the road from our most populous city, with an estimated cost for its renewal of up to one hundred billion pounds.

Trident was conceived by the Tories, presided over by Labour just as Polaris before it was conceived by Labour and presided over by the Tories.

The process of its renewal for another 50 years – another half century – is happening under a Tory/Lib Dem coalition supported by Labour.

Trident is Westminster’s ultimate vanity obscenity but now is entirely dependent on next year’s vote.

Because, delegates, it’s now clear that the only way, the only way, we can finally remove these weapons of mass destruction is with a Yes vote for independence.


Friends, I’m proud to lead a Government that has made the Scottish Parliament work for our people.  That’s why the Scottish Social Attitudes survey showed that 71 per cent of people trust Holyrood to act in Scotland’s best interests – four-times more than trust Westminster.

In the face of appalling financial pressures, we have have chosen a different path from Westminster – a path that reflects Scotland’s social democratic consensus, our shared progressive values, our priorities as a society.

On all the key domestic issues Scotland trumps Westminster.

Down south, the UK Government’s own figures reveal that England will see a 16,000 reduction in the number of police officers.  And to compound this, the starting wage of new officers has been reduced.

South of the Border the thin blue line has just got a lot thinner.

In contrast, the SNP government has delivered and protected 1,000 extra police officers on our streets.  A great achievement – and one that Labour said would take us 13 years!

Just next week, Scotland’s new national police force comes into place, along with Scotland’s new national fire and rescue service.

Friends this Government will always value the work of our emergency services – the people who have been mobilised all of last night helping our fellow citizens.

It is our approach to front line policing which has delivered not only a 37-year low in recorded crime but also a fall in the fear of crime that causes such misery.

That’s why Scotland’s Justice Secretary Kenny MacAskill gets cheered to the rafters at the Police Federation conference.  And why his Tory counterpart at Westminster gets booed off the stage.

On health, Scotland continues to protect frontline health spending, despite the Westminster cuts and the huge pressures on our budget.

Prescription charges – the tax on the sick – have been abolished in Scotland, even as they rise to £7.85 in England.

We have record patient satisfaction with our health service, the job our health professionals do, often in difficult circumstances.

We have maintained a genuine National Health Service in Scotland – free at the point of need – even as the NHS is being fragmented and privatised south of the Border, first under Labour and then by the Tories.

Professor Don Berwick is a world-renowned expert on patient safety, David Cameron’s new ‘health tsar’, and a former adviser to President Obama.  This is what he says about the strength of the Scottish system:

“The Scottish Patient Safety Programme marks Scotland as a leader, second to no nation on earth, in its commitment to reducing harm to patients, dramatically and continually.”

That must always be our goal, in every aspect of our health service and national life – ‘second to no nation on earth’.


Since then healthcare acquired infections have dropped by 80 per cent.


The Scottish Parliament does not control the key economic levers but we do have economic powers. We have used them to deliver the best help for the small business sector – the backbone of our economy – available anywhere in these islands.

We have used them to win more jobs from inward investment compared to any other part of these islands – including London.

And we now have lower unemployment – including youth unemployment – than the UK as a whole.

One year ago youth unemployment was almost 25 per cent as young people bore the brunt of the Labour/Tory recession.

Then we appointed Scotland’s first Minister for Youth Employment, gathered together our stakeholders from the STUC and from business, almost doubled the number of apprenticeships, focussed college courses on full time preparation for employment, introduced the youth guarantee for 16-19 year olds.

What has been the result?

In one year youth unemployment has gone down by one third, from 103,000 to 68,000.  Still far too high, but a dramatic difference to the lives of thousands of youngsters.



We cannot allow these successes to be blown away in an eternal economic winter of Westminster austerity.

This week’s Westminster Budget is following a familiar pattern, fizz on the day, a hangover the day after.

Even the fizz only lasted until we found they had swiped another £50 million from the Scottish Budget for this coming year, without so much as a by your leave.

But there is much more bad news in this Budget. Analysis by the Institute of Fiscal Studies shows that from 2016 the Westminster Budget means either £500 tax rises for every family or further cuts in public services which they describe as “eye watering”.

That is the grim future for Scottish families under Westminster rule.

And would there be a different prospectus from Labour? – not a chance.

At Westminster they dance to the Tory tune. In Scotland they are preparing to rip up the social gains of devolution.

This week was one of Labour abstention in votes in Holyrood and Westminster.

They abstained on the war, they abstained on Trident, they abstained on bus passes, they even abstained on workfare at Westminster.


The SNP offer a different future.

At Holyrood we will defend the social gains – policies such as free personal care and bus passes for our older folk – who have paid their taxes, powered our economy, raised the children, and deserve something back from society.  That is what it means to be a society.


Delegates, the Yes campaign is predicated on the compelling truth that decisions about Scotland are best made by the people who live and work here. That was once a theory, but is now an indisputable fact.

Since the restoration of our parliament in 1999, we have demonstrated that in law & order, health, education, business support, and the great social services of Scotland – our parliament delivers the policies that are right for Scotland, and reflect the views and votes of the people.

That is the very prize and purpose of self-government.

And if it is true in these devolved areas, it is equally true in all areas of public life.

That is the prize and purpose of an independent Scotland.

With each passing day it becomes clearer that the Westminster system is not fit for any purpose – it is further away than ever from Scotland’s values, and past its time.

The iniquitous Bedroom Tax is the latest example – in a House of Commons debate led by the SNP and Plaid Cymru, over 90 per cent of Scottish MPs voted against it.

We know from Scottish Government research that the extra costs the Bedroom Tax impose on the Scottish economy will outweigh any savings the UK Government makes – even before we factor in the wider social costs and the distress and disruption it will cause.

But still it is imposed on Scotland.  And to add insult to injury, the architect of this  shambles – Iain Duncan Smith – has to be dragged kicking and screaming to deign to defend his policy to a committee of the Scottish Parliament.

Friends this is an iniquitous, unfair, anti-family imposition conceived because of runaway rent levels in the south.


Friends we have acted to mitigate the worst impacts of welfare changes. Acting with COSLA we have sheltered hundreds of thousands of families from council tax rises, we have established loan funds, increased support for advice centres.

And today I can announce that all SNP-led local authorities will follow the lead of Dundee in halting the threat of evictions from this disgraceful tax for those struggling to pay.

However what Scotland needs is not mitigation but power, not just a defence against Westminster but a removal of Westminster authority over Scotland.

Delegates last year I made a speech pointing out the opportunities to grow the Scottish economy with control over our taxation policy. No-one in this world owes Scotland a living, every policy we articulate needs to focus on our competitiveness as a country.

That is part of the WHY of Independence.

Today I want to illustrate why social change can also release the untapped potential of Scotland and make us not just a prosperous economy but a just society and why these concepts go hand in hand – a prosperous economy and a just society.

Last week the unemployment figures showed Scots unemployment below the UK average. However look behind these figures and see a glaring inequality which holds the nation back.

66% of women are in employment compared to 76% of men.

Now that is not down to lack of talent. Women now make up 55 per cent of entrants into higher education and the number of Modern Apprenticeship starts for women has increased from 27 per cent to 43 per cent.

But in terms of lower numbers of women in employment it really doesn’t have to be like that. Elsewhere in Europe the gender gap is much much less.

If we closed the opportunity gap we would add to our national wealth and to our taxation base by mobilising the skills of women into our workforce.

But there would be another change – a fundamental opportunity to improve the life chances of many of our children.

We have long cherished the ambition to increase pre-school education.  In our first term, we moved it from 412 to 475 free nursery hours per annum, benefiting 100,000 children a year.

And last year I announced a step further – a statutory guarantee of over 600 hours of free nursery education for every 3 and 4 year old, and for every looked after 2 year old in our land.

This is a statement of faith and commitment to the future and it is being carried forward without the fears of lower standards now prevalent in the south of the border.

Flexible in its delivery, using the wisdom of the Early Years Taskforce to help us, but definite in our intent.

For every young mum and dad juggling work and parenthood, this SNP Government is here for you and your family.

This is what we can achieve with a devolved Parliament.  But devolution can only take Scotland so far.  We don’t have the financial freedom to give us the biggest bang for our buck – to invest in areas where Scotland could make huge social and economic strides.

So let us consider what more we could achieve in an independent Scotland.


Our ambitions for childcare are the hallmark of our approach to social and economic policy – we promote the measures we do because they advance both our economy and our society.

Some argue there is a contradiction between the two, but the reality is that a progressive social policy boosts the economy, and a dynamic economy enables us to build the fairer society we want.  Each is the handmaiden of the other.

It will not be done in a day, or a year, or even completed in the first term of an independent parliament.

But I believe a transformational shift towards childcare should be one of the first tasks of an independent Scotland.

That too is part of the why of independence.

Friends ours is a noble cause because we are arguing for the rights and responsibilities, not of ourselves, but of our country.

We are arguing for something bigger than any individual, any party, any campaign –the benefits of which will endure for generations to come.

The biggest advantage of the Yes campaign is that we put no limits on the abilities of this nation to build prosperity and wellbeing for all the people.

The biggest problem for the No campaign is their fear and scorn of a Scotland aspiring to equality of status among the nations of the world.

Our opponents in the No campaign will say and do anything to keep Scotland where they think it should be.

In terms of GDP per head, right now an independent Scotland would be the 8th wealthiest country in the league table of the world’s most developed nations.

If the No campaign believe Scotland doesn’t have what it takes to be an independent country, they must think that only the 7 countries above Scotland can be independent – and the UK wouldn’t be one of them, because it trails at number 17 overtaken this year once again by Iceland!

Delegates, our opponents often say we cannot afford to be independent.  I say Scotland can’t afford NOT to be independent.

To listen to the No campaign, they’d have you believe that a new generation of Trident nuclear weapons on the Clyde was a fantastic asset – and having generations of oil and gas revenues to come was a big problem!

That is the looking glass fantasy they want Scotland to believe.

But the people aren’t daft – they know that Scottiish energy resources are the asset, Trident is the problem, and Westminster the liability.

Combining the natural and human resources of Scotland is the way to fairness and prosperity.

Our call for the 18th of September next year is one to optimism and progress.

There was a referendum once when Scotland was cheated out of our right to self-government.

Listen to just this one example – among the tirade of scare stories – used to frighten people into voting No to self-government in 1979.  It was a Daily Express editorial 10 days before the referendum:

“How much of Scotland’s economy will be left intact if a Scottish Assembly gets the go-ahead on March 1?  Will our coal mines go gaily on?  Will Ravenscraig or Linwood thrive?  Will Bathgate flourish and Dounreay prosper?”

No assembly came in 1979 – and every plant and facility listed by the Express closed under Westminster-rule – all gone, every one.

We will not be conned again.

We achieved a Parliament in 1997 – overcoming a welter of scaremongering in a referendum.  And we have never looked back.  The latest survey shows that only 6% of Scots want to turn the clock back to having no parliament.

It will be exactly the same with independence.

All of the things they say about independence now were said about devolution then.  And we know they were wrong, because as a nation we have proved them wrong together these past 14 years.

We can now look back and say that thanks to having a parliament, Scotland has a National Health Service worthy of the name, free education for young Scots, and personal care for our older citizens.

None of these things exist south of the Border, and none would exist in Scotland today without self-government.

I believe in ten years time we will look back and say that thanks to independence we will have a thriving economy, a welfare state worthy of the name, the best childcare system anywhere in these islands, and the obscenity of Trident nuclear weapons on the Clyde will be but a distant memory.

Friends, the referendum for an independent Scotland is a precious opportunity – one given to no previous generation.  We do not know if we will pass this way again.

I believe Scotland will vote Yes next September – and give a renewed purpose to this old nation.

A ‘new sang’ to sound a better Scotland.

Alex Salmond – 2013 New Year’s Speech


Below is the text of the news release relating to the speech made by Alex Salmond to mark 2013.

The First Minister’s New Year message highlighted the restoration of free higher education as an example of the kind of difference that could be made in areas such as social security and foreign affairs following the referendum in 2014.

Following the abolition of graduate endowment fees in 2007, Scotland’s colleges and universities have seen record numbers of Scots, English and overseas students studying higher education, while the number of people accepted into Scottish universities has increased again this year.

In his message, recorded at the University of Aberdeen’s ‘magnificent’ new Sir Duncan Rice Library, Mr Salmond recalled that one of the Scottish Government’s very first decisions, in 2007, was to restore Scotland’s “centuries-old tradition of free education” as he asked people across the country to consider the position if Scotland had had to follow the same route as the rest of the UK.

He added: “The results of this are now plain to see. This year, people accepted into Scottish universities have increased. And we’ve record numbers of Scottish, English and overseas students studying higher education at our Scottish colleges and universities. In contrast, the prospect of sky-high tuition fees in England has seen acceptances for universities there sinking like a stone, with tens of thousands of youngsters being denied their life opportunity.

“Now this contrast between what is happening here and what isn’t happening there has only been made possible because it is the Scottish Parliament which runs Scottish education. But let’s imagine what would happen if we didn’t control education or if, as some people suggest, we imposed English-style tuition fees. Numbers at our universities would collapse. We would be mortgaging our own country’s future.

“And just as the Scottish Parliament has restored free education, so it offers security to our old people with free personal care and protects us all by keeping vital public services, like health and water, in public hands. It is what makes it worthwhile to have our own Parliament and it is why the Scottish Parliament is now trusted by almost four times the number of people who trust Westminster.”

The First Minister invited Scots to consider how they might vote if the referendum in 2014 was for an independent Scotland to give up its independence and hand over powers in areas like welfare or foreign affairs to the Westminster Parliament in London. Those arguing for such a move would be pursuing “mission impossible” and would be “laughed at from Gretna Green to Dunnet Head,” Mr Salmond continued.

“This New Year the joke’s on us – because that is exactly the position that we have in Scotland right now. But in 2014 we will all have a once-in-a-generation opportunity to do something about it.”

“This Scottish Government has a positive vision of the future of this country. We can build a new independent nation. It is a vision of a country that earns its wealth and shares it more fairly. A country confident in itself and its place in the world. A country which makes the most of its natural resources. And a country where everyone gets a fair shout and a decent chance. In the meantime, as we work towards that future, let me wish each and everyone of you a happy and prosperous New Year.”

Alex Salmond – 2011 Speech on Scotland’s Future


Below is the text of the speech made by Alex Salmond, the Scottish First Minister, on 22nd October 2011.

Firstly Scotland has many friends internationally. People cheering us on and wanting us to do well.  That international reach is a great asset for this country.

Secondly climate change is perhaps the greatest issue facing this planet. The responsibility of the Scottish Parliament for it is almost accidental. It wasn’t even on the agenda back in 1997 and therefore wasn’t specified as reserved in the Scotland Act. As a result it was devolved.

So given that by international acclaim we have handled this mighty issue so well as a parliament, what possible argument could there be that the Scottish Parliament is not capable of discharging ALL of the issues facing the Scottish people.

I also wanted to say a word about Scotland’s late national poet Eddie Morgan. A man whose modesty as an individual was matched by his brilliance as a poet. He didn’t wear his politics on  his sleeve but he has left this party a financial legacy which is transformational in its scope, and Angus Robertson will spell that out tomorrow..

However his real legacy is to the world in his body of work.

Eddie Morgan once told our Parliament:

“We give you our deepest dearest wish to govern well, don’t say we have no mandate to be so bold.”

Delegates by your applause let us salute our Makar Edwin Morgan.

When I was cutting my teeth in politics in West Lothian the late Billy Wolfe once told me that the SNP stood for two things – independence for Scotland and home rule for Bo’ness!

In reality the SNP does stand for two fundamental aims – and these are enshrined in our constitution – independence for Scotland and also the furtherance of all Scottish interests.

These are our guiding lights and they are equally important because they reflect the reality that our politics are not just constitutional but also people based.

I tried to reflect this on election night when these self same people, the community of the realm of Scotland presented to us the greatest ever mandate of the devolution era – an absolute majority in a PR system – a system specifically designed to prevent such a thing ever happening

Mind you it was designed by the Labour Party so we should not be too surprised  that their cunning plan didn’t  work.

“The best-laid schemes o’ mice an’ Lord George Robertson gang aft agley.”

What I said on election night was that after almost 80 years we had lived up to the name of one of our founding parties – east, west , south and north.


It is a good phrase “the community of the realm”. It was developed in mediaeval Scotland to describe a concept of community identity which was beyond sectional interest.

The best Scots term for it would be the common weal.

It does not ignore the fact that sometimes as a Government we have to take sides within Scotland, as well as taking Scotland’s side.Particularly when times are tough we have to ask the rich to help the poor, the strong to help the weak, the powerful to help the powerless.

But we do so in pursuit of the common weal, the community of the realm.

We love Scotland but we don’t believe our country is perfect. We seek to make it better.

We know that in building the new Scotland we must confront our demons from the past like sectarianism and our problems from the present like the abuse of alcohol.

Some people say tackling these things is unpopular. But the election  told us that the people respect and understand that sometimes it takes guts to govern.

But we shall always govern for that common weal..

We govern – we have governed – wisely and will continue to do so.

We have sheltered the community from the economic storms in so far as it is in our power to do so.

Our people – our community – face a hugely difficult position – a squeeze between falling incomes and rising prices.

To help family budgets we have frozen the council tax for FOUR years and will continue to freeze it through this coming parliament.

Labour say we shouldn’t do this. Really!  And then we would have the same 60 per cent rises as when they were in power. A Council tax rise of £680  for a band D property.

To help family budgets we have held down water rates.

The Liberals say that we should privatise water. Really!  And then we would have been  as powerless to act on water bills as they are right now on energy bills.

To help family budgets we have abolished prescription charges.

The Tories say we shouldn’t  do this. Really! Tell that to the 600,000 Scots on incomes of only £16,000 who were forced to pay for their medicine.

Every household bill which is under our influence, we have tried to control.

Every household bill under UK influence is out of control.

In Scotland we have a prices and incomes policy.

In England the Tories control incomes – except of course in the boardroom- but not prices.

None of these things- the freeze on the Council Tax, the ending of prescription charges, the stability of water bills, are easy.

They are all difficult.


The unionist parties have lost touch with the people.

Labour and Tories are parties without a leader. The Liberals have a leader without a party.

We govern well. They oppose badly.


Governing well makes a real difference to real people.

Back in 2007 we said we would put 1000 extra police on the streets and communities of Scotland. Labour said it couldn’t be done.

But it has been done.

And the result has been a 35 year low in recorded crime in Scotland. I’ll just repeat that.

Recorded crime in Scotland is at its lowest since 1976 when Jimmy Carter was elected President of the United States and Jimmy Saville was presenting Top of The Pops.

Earlier this week a poll showed that peoples FEAR of crime in Scotland was running at almost HALF of the level in the rest of the United Kingdom – 28 per cent against 48 per cent.

Much of that success is down to the  extra police officers.

We are the SNP. We believe in freedom.

But the freedom of people from the fear of being mugged or robbed is a key objective of this Government and the 1000 extra police in the communities of Scotland is a substantial part of achieving that objective.


Right now our focus is on jobs and the economy.

John Swinney and his team spend every waking minute seeking to encourage our own businesses to grow and to attract new companies to Scotland.

We have the most competitive business tax regime in these islands.

80,000 small businesses either pay no business rates or have a substantial discount.

We know, as they do, that their success holds the key to job creation. We will continue to offer that crucial incentive throughout this Parliament.


In the last few months a procession of major international companies have chosen Scotland as the place to conduct their business.

From Amazon, Mitsubishi, Doosan, Gamesa, Vion, Avaloq the message has been the same – Scotland has the people and the resources to allow them to conduct their international operations from a Scottish base.

And what have the UK Government been concentrating on while we focus on jobs and investment?

They have formed a Cabinet sub Committee to attack Scottish independence.

Let’s get this right. Cameron, Clegg, Osborne and Alexander sit in a committee working out how to do down Scotland and they engage in this while the European Monetary system teeters on the brink of collapse, while the jobless total in England is at a 20 year high and inflation more than double its target.

And these politicians wonder why they carry no confidence among the people of England never mind the people of Scotland.


We need more capital investment not less, finance for companies and price and job security for the people.

And what is their grand strategy to restore their flagging political fortunes?  To have more Ministerial day trips to Scotland.


Of course these visits to Scotland are selective. Very selective.

Last week the Prime Minister came to Scotland to hail the billions of investment in the new oil and gas fields off the western approaches.

However there was no sign of a Prime Ministerial visit this week when his Government betrayed the future of Longannet.

Over £13 billion from Scotland’s oil and gas in the course of this year but not even a tenth of that to secure the future of the clean coal industry in Scotland.

Not even one tenth of one year of oil and gas revenues to secure a world lead in planet saving technology.


When he was making the BP announcement David Cameron claimed his geography teacher at Eton had told him that all the oil would be gone by the turn of the century.

The Prime Minister’s memory is faulty. It wasn’t his geography teacher. It was successive Labour and Tory Governments.

Like Margaret Thatcher’s Energy Minister who claimed oil was declining in 1980!

Now the cat is well and truly out of the bag and we know that oil and gas will be extracted from the waters around Scotland for at least the next 40 years.

Can I therefore put forward this simple proposition.

After 40 years of oil and gas Westminster had coined in some £300 billion from Scottish water – around £60,000 for every man women and child in the country.

The Tories’ own  Office of Budget Responsibility figures suggest another  £230 billion of oil revenues over the next 30 years – and that was before the latest announcements.



Scotland has the greatest array of energy resources in Europe. Oil, gas, hydro, wave, wind and tidal power and clean coal..

On Thursday I went to Nigg to announce the redevelopment of that great fabrication site. Once again thousands of jobs can be developed there as marine engineering comes alive in the Highlands.

Today I am announcing a further important development on our journey to lead the world in wave and tidal power.

A new £18 million Fund to support marine energy commercialisation.

This will support the deployment of the first commercial marine arrays and the scaling up of the devices currently on test in Scottish waters.

And this is part of a £35 million investment over the next three years which will support testing, technology, infrastructure and deployment.




Conference, right now some two thirds of wave and tidal projects in Europe are in Scottish waters. That will soon be three-quarters. The announcement by Kawasaki Heavy Industries on Thursday of their intention to test in the Orkney Islands   underlines the international impact that Scotland is now making.

And as we develop wave and tidal commercially in our waters then we will export that technology across the planet.

Our objective in wave and tidal power is to have not just demonstration projects but hundreds of mega watts of electricity by 2020 -enough to power  half a million Scottish homes.

The green re-industrialisation of the coastline of Scotland is central to our vision of the future.

And the jobs impact will be felt from Machrihanish, to the Clyde, to Leith, to Methil to Dundee to Aberdeen and the North East ports to the Moray Firth, to Nigg and the Highlands, from Orkney waters to Arnish in the Western Isles.

Onshore wind power has one serious drawback. And that is, only little of the fabrication is home based.

Despite the fact that the first modern wind turbine was demonstrated in Marykirk Aberdeenshire  in 1887 the technology of the onshore industry was exported to Denmark and Germany more than a generation ago.

However we can do something about our offshore renewable opportunity.

Our objective is that Scotland will design, engineer, fabricate, install and maintain the great new machines which will dominate the energy provision of this coming century.


And in doing so we will create jobs and opportunity and hope for young people of Scotland.

It is the inescapable responsibility of this Government and indeed of every adult Scot to help  tackle the scourge of youth unemployment.

Employment among Scottish youngsters is almost five per cent higher than elsewhere in these islands. We have a near record of school leavers going on to positive destinations of a job, apprenticeship or full time education.

However this is not enough. Youth unemployment is still far too high.

So this is what we are doing and this is what we shall do.

First apprenticeships. There will be 25,000 modern apprenticeships in Scotland – 60 per cent more than when we took office -not just this year but every year – and in Scotland remember every single youngster on a modern apprenticeship is in a job.

Secondly every major contract or grant from Government will now have an apprenticeship or training plan attached to it. For example when Vion chose Broxburn as their centre of excellence for food production there were 50 modern apprenticeships among the new jobs.

Thirdly every single youngster who is not in a job or full time education or an apprenticeship will be offered a training opportunity. That is every single 16-19 year old under Opportunities For All.

Fourthly we shall ensure that university and college education remains free to Scottish students. We now have more world-class universities per head than any other nation on the face of this planet.





We cannot wipe every tear from every cheek but we can try. And everything we do will reflect the common weal of Scotland.

The best way to get people back into work is through capital investment. That is why John Swinney has diverted funds to sustain economic recovery.

That is why we have created the Scottish Futures Trust to gain value for money. Major contracts sponsored by the Scottish Government are now delivered on time and on budget.

And this gives me the opportunity to make a further announcement today.

Two years ago we set out plans for a new school building programme in Scotland.

Led by the Scottish Futures Trust, our investment was to deliver 55 new schools.

Already 37 schools have been committed in the first two phases.

Conference, the Scottish Futures Trust has levelled the playing field in public sector construction contracts. We have sunk the PFI and replaced it with value for money programmes.








We face a winter in this energy rich country of ours where people will be frightened to turn on their heating.

Fuel poverty amid energy plenty. What a miserable, disgraceful Wesminster legacy for our energy rich nation.

Fuel poverty amid energy plenty. If there ever was an argument for taking control of our own resources then this must be it.

The Prime Ministers fuel summit was little more than hot air. We don’t control the energy markets but we can and will do something to help.









Delegates –

On the way to Inverness I noticed an outdoor company called ‘naelimits’. No limits is a beautiful idea, and somehow it carries more punch in Scots.

Nae limits to your ambition, your courage, your journey.

Nae limits sums up the spirit of freedom which many of us take from our magnificent landscape, and which we wish for our society and politics.

This same spirit was reflected in the words of  Charles Stewart Parnell:

“No man has the right to fix the boundary of the march of a nation; no man has the right to say to his country, ‘Thus far shall thou go and no further’.”

No politician, and certainly no London politician, will determine the future of the Scottish nation.

Mr Cameron should hear this loud and clear.

The people of Scotland – the sovereign people of Scotland – are now in the driving seat.

Twenty years ago when Scotland faced a previous Tory Government a cross party group drew up a Claim of Right for Scotland. This is what it said.

“We do hereby acknowledge the sovereign right of the Scottish people to determine the form of government best suited to their needs, and do hereby declare and pledge that in all our actions and deliberations their interests shall be paramount.”

Twenty years ago we demonstrated for that right in front of an open topped bus in the Meadows in Edinburgh.

But we had no Parliament then.

But we have now, and next month I will ask Scotland’s Parliament to endorse anew Scotland’s Claim of Right.

The point is a simple one.


Robert Kennedy once said, ‘the future is not a gift, it is an achievement’.

That is true for Scotland as for any nation. Our future will be what we make it.

The Scotland Bill isn’t even enacted yet it lies in the past. Unloved, uninspiring, not even understood by its own proponents.

The UK Government haven’t even gone through the motions of considering the views of the Scottish Government, the Scottish people, the last Scottish Parliament Committee, the current Scottish Parliament Committee -total negativity to even the most reasonable proposal to strengthen the Bill’s job creating  powers.


This is Westminster’s agenda of disrespect – not of disrespect to the SNP but of fundamental disrespect for Scotland.

The Tories and their Liberal frontmen have even taken to call themselves Scotland’s other Government. A Tory Scottish Government?

If Murdo Fraser thought such a notion was conceivable then he would’t be trying to disband the Party!

In contrast fiscal responsibility, financial freedom, real economic powers is a legitimate proposal. It could allow us to control our own resources, introduce competitive business tax, and fair personal taxation.

All good, all necessary but not good enough.

Delegates even with economic powers Trident nuclear missiles would still be on the River Clyde, we could still be forced to spill blood in illegal wars like Iraq, and Scotland would still be excluded from the Councils of Europe and the world.


We have the talent, resources and ingenuity . The only limitations are our imagination and our ambition. So give Scotland the tools, put the people of Scotland in charge and see our nation flourish as never before.

Let us a build a nation that reflects the values of our people.

With a social contract – and a social conscience – at the very heart of our success.

The society, the country, that Scotland desires, that Scotland believes in – it is not a country or a future on offer from the Tory government down south.

Even that one institution which really made Britain great – the National Health Service,  – is being dismantled in England.



Remember the founding principles.

We are committed to winning Independence for Scotland.

And we are pledged to the furtherance of all Scottish interests.

Both are in our DNA.

It is who we are and what we are for.

They are what makes us Scotland’s National Party.

And it is more than a name – it is an attitude.

Over these past three days, at this conference, I have seen that passion and belief in action.

We are a party with a mission, because we know Scotland’s cause is great and we know Scotland’s need is great.

Let us be strong.

Let us have our own debate about our own  future on the timescale which was endorsed by the people in May.

And let us decide it in a proper fashion.

Our task is to work – to convince the people of this nation that we can do better.

To work at building a society which is not simply better than today’s, but a beacon of justice and fairness to the world.

All these things will come from hard work, from toil and from sweat.

Look around you, look at where we stand.

And tell me this was easy – it was not.

This was eighty years of hard work.

We stand where we do because of generations before us, because of party workers and campaigners who never saw this day.

And we shall prevail – because we share a vision.

A vision of a land without boundaries.

Of a people unshackled from low ambition and poor chances.

Of a society unlimited in its efforts to be fair and free.

Of a Scotland unbound.

Nae limits for Scotland.

Alex Salmond – 2011 Acceptance Speech to the Scottish Parliament


Below is the text made by the Scottish First Minister, Alex Salmond, on 18th May 2011.

When Donald Dewar addressed this parliament in 1999, he evoked Scotland’s diverse voices:

The speak of the Mearns.

The shout of the welder above the din of the Clyde shipyard.

The battle cries of Bruce and Wallace.

Now these voices of the past are joined in this chamber by the sound of 21st century Scotland.

The lyrical Italian of Marco Biagi.

The formal Urdu of Humza Yousaf.

The sacred Arabic of Hanzala Malik.

We are proud to have those languages spoken here alongside English, Gaelic, Scots and Doric.

This land is their land, from the sparkling sands of the islands to the glittering granite of its cities.

It belongs to all who choose to call it home.

That includes new Scots who have escaped persecution or conflict in Africa or the Middle East.

In means Scots whose forebears fled famine in Ireland and elsewhere.

That is who belongs here but let us be clear also about what does not belong here.

As the song tells us for Scotland to flourish then “Let us be rid of those bigots and fools. Who will not let Scotland, live and let live.”

Our new Scotland is built on the old custom of hospitality.

We offer a hand that is open to all, whether they hail from England, Ireland, Pakistan or Poland.

Modern Scotland is also built on equality. We will not tolerate sectarianism as a parasite in our national game of football or anywhere else in this society.

Scotland’s strength has always lain in its diversity. In the poem Scotland Small, Hugh MacDiarmid challenged those who would diminish us with stereotypes.

Scotland small? he asked.

Our multiform, our infinite Scotland, small?

Only as a patch of hillside may be a cliche corner.

To a fool who cries “Nothing but heather!

The point is even the smallest patch of hillside contains enormous variation – of bluebells, blaeberries and mosses.

“So to describe Scotland as nothing but heather is, said MacDiarmid.” Marvellously descriptive!

“And totally incomplete!”

To describe Scotland as small is similarly misleading.

Scotland is not small.

It is not small in imagination and it is not short in ambition.

It is infinite in diversity and alive with possibility.

Two weeks ago the voters of Scotland embraced that possibility.

They like what their parliament has done within the devolved settlement negotiated by Donald Dewar.

They like what the first, minority SNP government achieved.

Now they want more.

They want Scotland to have the economic levers to prosper in this century.

They are excited by the opportunity to re-industrialise our country through marine renewable energy, offering skilled, satisfying work to our school leavers and graduates alike.

But they also know we need the tools to do the job properly.

This chamber understands that too.

My message today is let us act as one and demand Scotland’s right. Let us build a better future for our young people by gaining the powers we need to speed recovery and create jobs.

Let us wipe away past equivocation and ensure that the present Scotland Act is worthy of its name.

There is actually a great deal on which we are agreed. The three economic changes I have already promoted to The Scotland Bill were chosen from our manifesto because they command support from other parties in this chamber.

All sides of this parliament support the need for additional and immediate capital borrowing powers so we can invest in our infrastructure and grow our economy. I am very hopeful that this will be delivered.

The Liberal Democrats, Greens and many in the Labour party agree that Crown Estate revenues should be repatriated to Scottish communities. We await Westminster’s reply.

Our leading job creators back this Government’s call for control of corporation tax to be included in The Scotland Bill. The Secretary of State for Northern Ireland – a Conservative – supports the devolution of this tax – and the cross party committee of this last parliament agreed unanimously that if the principle was conceded in Northern Ireland then Scotland must have the same right.

But these are not the only issues which carry support across this chamber. There are three more constitutional changes we might agree on.

Why not give us control of our own excise duty. We have a mandate to implement a minimum price for alcohol. We intend to pursue that in this parliament come what may.

However our Labour colleagues agree that it is correct to set a minimum price for alcohol, but they were concerned about where the revenues would go.

Gaining control of excise would answer that question. It means we can tackle our country’s alcohol problem and invest any additional revenue in public services.

So I ask Labour members to join with me in calling for control of alcohol taxes so that we together we can face down Scotland’s issue with booze.

Another key aspect of our national life controlled by Westminster is broadcasting. All of Scotland is poorly served as a result.

If we had some influence over this currently reserved area we could, for example, create a Scottish digital channel – something all the parties in this parliament supported as long ago as the 8 October 2008.

We agree that such a platform would promote our artistic talent and hold up a mirror to the nation.

How Scotland promotes itself to the world is important.

How we talk to each other is also critical.

These are exciting times for our country. We need more space for our cultural riches and for lively and intelligent discourse about the nation we are and the nation we aspire to be.

Finally, many of us agree that, in this globalised era, Scotland needs more influence in the European Union and particularly in the Council of Ministers.

At the moment that is in the gift of Westminster.

Sometimes it is forthcoming, more often it is withheld.

We in the Scottish National Party argue for full sovereignty – it will give us an equal, independent voice in the EU.

However, short of that, the Scotland Bill could be changed to improve our position. When the first Scotland Act was debated in Westminster in 1998, there was a proposal, as I remember, from the Liberal Democrats, to include a mechanism to give Scotland more power to influence UK European policy. It was defeated then but why not revisit it now. Let Scotland have a guaranteed say in the forums where decisions are made that shape our industries and our laws.

I have outlined six areas of potential common ground where there is agreement across the parliament to a greater or lesser extent: borrowing powers, corporation tax, the crown estate, excise duties, digital broadcasting and a stronger say in European policy.

I think we should seize the moment and act together to bring these powers back home. Let this parliament move forward as one to make Scotland better.

Norman MacCaig observed that when you swish your hand in a stream, the waters are muddied, but then they settle all the clearer.

On May 5th the people of our country swished up the stream and now the way ahead is becoming clear.

We see our nation emerge from the glaur of self-doubt and negativity.

A change is coming, and the people are ready.

They put ambition ahead of hesitation.

The process is not about endings.

It is about beginnings.

Whatever changes take place in our constitution, we will remain close to our neighbours.

We will continue to share a landmass, a language and a wealth of experience and history with the other peoples of these islands.

My dearest wish is to see the countries of Scotland and England stand together as equals.

There is a difference between partnership and subordination.

The first encourages mutual respect. The second breeds resentment.

So let me finish with the words of Andrew Fletcher of Saltoun, who addressed this parliament in 1706, before it was adjourned for three hundred years.

He observed that: “All nations are dependent; the one upon the many.” This much we know.

But he warned that if “the greater must always swallow the lesser,” we are all diminished.

His fears were realised in 1707.

But the age of empires is over. Now we determine our own future based on our own needs. We know our worth and should take pride in it.

So let us heed the words of Saltoun and:

“Go forward into the community of nations to lend our own, independent weight to the world.”

Alex Salmond – 2005 SNP Conference Speech


Below is the text of the speech made by the leader of the SNP, Alex Salmond, to the 2005 SNP Conference.

Delegates, There are many reasons why I am going to miss having Winnie as our Party President but one of them is her introductions to my speeches at Conference. I never know quite what she is going to say. No, I never know at all what she is going to say. However, I am delighted that she is in the Chair today because it gives me the opportunity to pay tribute to the outstanding Scottish politician of her generation.

Let us consider just two of the phrases which Winnie has carved into the lexicon of Scottish politics “Stop the world Scotland wants to get on” and “this Parliament adjourned in 1707 is hereby reconvened.” Winnie you changed Scotland’s world in 1967. And without you, there never would have been any Parliament of any kind to be reconvened.

At this Conference, we pay you tribute and you have the thanks not just of every single delegate but of ever single person who cares about Scotland. And what does Winnie intend to do in her retirement? Well I happen to know that her first plans for her well earned relaxation – are a few days campaigning in Cathcart and Livingston. And I will be proud and happy to be campaigning along with her as I know every single one of us in this hall will do.

Delegates the cat is out of the bag. I have been reading “A Spin Doctors Diary” by Lance Price. It lifts the veil on behind the scenes at Downing Street. It should have been called “Confessions of a Spin Doctor” – just like a blue movie. Some of it is absurd – sex on the sofa at No 10. Come on.

However, apparently even the air turns blue in Downing Street. Our great Prime Minister re-acts to the prospect of defeat in Wales by swearing at the Welsh nation – just think what he might be saying about us come next Friday. It gives a blow-by-blow account of the backbiting, the tantrums and the squabbles at the heart of the Blair nexus.

He is depicted not just at swearing at Wales but about Scotland’s late Cardinal, Thomas Winning – someone whose boots Mr Blair was not fit to lace, not to mention insulting Donald Dewar. The Prime Minister emerges from the account as a posturing popinjay – totally unfit for office.

But let us take just one matter arising, which illustrates how dirty the game is played in Blair’s Britain. Lord Birt is now a personal special adviser to the Prime Minister – responsible would you believe for “Blue Sky Thinking.” These diaries reveal that when Director General of the BBC he plotted with Downing Street to stop the Scottish 6, to stop Scotland getting its own full-scale news bulletin.

We know this to be true since Lord Birt was arrogant enough to put in his own memoirs. Therefore, the Director General of the BBC – that independent impartial national broadcaster – conspired with the Prime Minister’s office in an essentially political campaign. After which he gets ennobled and is now a special adviser to Mr Blair.

Lord Birt should be pleased about his peerage. In Blair’s Britain, many other people have had to pay big money. Every single donor who has given Labour more than a million pounds has been given a knighthood or a peerage. 80p out of every pound donated by individuals to Labour comes from people who have been honoured.

And this is the Government of the regular sort of guy who wanted to clean up politics?

Now I know what Lord Birt’s successor thought about the story of the Scottish 6 because I asked him. Gregg Dyke told me he was “shocked” by this revelation. He went on to assure me that political manipulation of the public broadcaster would not happen in his term of office. I believe that to be true. That is why Greg Dyke is now an ex-Director General. The message is clear.

In Blair’s Britain if you defend your journalists right to tell the truth about the war in Iraq then, you end up having to resign but if behave like Lord Birt then you get a peerage and a title as special adviser.

There is something rotten in the state of Blair’s Britain. And can I just say how glad I am that this party will not be nominating any Scottish patriot to set on the ermine benches between Lord Archer and Lord Watson.

However, the Lance Price book gives an insight into an even more important matter. Price claims that Blair “relished” sending forces into war. Or at least he did before No 10 censors forced him to amend that passage. We are eight years and five military actions into Blair’s premiership. The present action in Iraq has resulted in carnage – 95 British soldiers, 1907 American soldiers, tens of thousands of Iraqis and no end in sight.

It is a war built on lies, which has fanned the flames of international terrorism. The consequences for this country have been murder and atrocity on the streets of London, essential liberties under serious threat and community relations under real pressure. Every member of the Government, Blair , Brown and the rest, every Member of Parliament who voted us into this sequence of disasters should hang their heads in shame.

Bush and Blair should now be on their knees to the United Nations asking for a security force to be drawn from Islamic countries to replace American and British forces. What we need – and we need it right now – is a strategy and a timetable for withdrawal not more years of Blair’s blood price.

Of course, the tales about Blair’s sofa style of Government are not the only revelations of late. Let’s talk about Scotland’s oil. We have released secret papers from the 1970s demonstrating the level of deceit from Tory and Labour administrations about the true nature of Scotland’s oil wealth. Gavin McCrone was the Scottish Office economic adviser. He wrote a paper on North Sea oil and the difference it could make to Scottish economy. No wonder they kept in secret.

Labour say they did not lie. Really! Let’s make a few comparisons between what McCrone said to Labour and what Labour told Scotland. McCrone said that an independent Scotland would have title to 99 per cent of the oil revenues and that the only thing wrong with SNP estimates is that they were too low.

Labour told Scots our figures were wildly exaggerated. McCrone compared Scotland’s economic prospects to Switzerland. Labour to Bangladesh. McCrone said that oil had overturned the economic arguments against Scottish nationalism. Labour said Scotland couldn’t manage. McCrone praised how Norway had dealt with the international companies and said that Britain had failed.

Labour said that Scotland would be too small to deal with big oil. McCrone said that Scotland would be a welcome and influential member of the European Community. Labour said that we would be out in the cold.

Every bottom of every political barrel was scraped to keep London’s grip on Scotland’s oil. And they are still at it today. This week Gordon Brown said that the price of oil was volatile – that you cannot rely on a single resource. The sub text is that it’s not really worth all that much. That is the myth. What is the reality?

This Chancellor is getting £1 billion a month from Scotland’s wealth. Right now, it is the black black oil, which is filling Brown’s black hole. Gordon says that we cannot depend on one natural asset. Strange that his former adviser Ed Balls MP says that bulging North Sea revenues are “the main good news on the economic front ,” and remember when Balls speaks its Brown speaks its Balls.

After 25 years of wasted opportunity, we don’t need lectures from any London Chancellor on how to handle our natural resources. We only have to look across the North Sea to see how to husband a capital asset. The Norwegian fund for future generations has now topped £100 billion and the interest and earnings from it are as great as this year’s Norwegian oil revenues. Norway celebrating 100 years of independence is also celebrating 25 years of oil.

People ask, how long will oil last? For Scotland, the answer is between 30 and 50 years.

For Norway, the answer is for all time. Why? Because the economic impact of their fund will last for all time.

In contrast, thus far Scotland’s oil has disappeared down the gullet of the London Treasury. Therefore, what is the importance of these 30-year revelations for today and tomorrow? Firstly for the present. If Tory and Labour politicians were prepared to lie and cheat Scotland in the 1970s why should anyone believe a word they have to say about Scotland in 2005 or in 2007? Then for the future.

There is as much oil and gas in the waters around Scotland as has been exploited thus far. – Another 30 plus billion barrels of oil, another £200 billion of revenues. We have a second chance to transform our economic prospects and we must seize it with both hands. Of course, I can understand London politicians who deprecate the ability of Scots to fully govern themselves.

It is a tactic employed by Westminster towards many countries for generations, for centuries. However, how do we excuse the politicians from Scotland to whom it seems second nature to run down the ability and potential of their own country? The truth is out there because we have published it. Now we must never let them forget it – not now, not ever.

It is still Scotland’s oil.

As McCrone predicted and as Stewart Hosie has demonstrated this week the extent of oil and gas revenues would propel the Scottish economy into chronic surplus. We are launching an economic offensive. Our opponents are discredited – their past has caught up with them. The present demonstrates a strong financial platform for independence.

But what really matters is the future. What matters is moving the Scottish economy onto a strong growth plane. The failure to grow the economy over these last 25 wasted British years. It is why we are loosing population. It is why we have not just blighted streets but blighted lives in Scotland.

Off our East coast is independent Norway with oil growing at 3 per cent a year. Off our West coast is independent Ireland growing at 5 per cent a year. If we had grown at the rate of independent Norway over the last 20 years we would be £5,000 a head richer. If we had matched the growth rate of independent Ireland we would be £20,000 a head richer.

What we need is the economic strategy to unlock that potential, to be among the most competitive countries in the world, to match the growth of the other small independent European nations. If we were to do that, it would mean an independence bonus of an additional 19 billion in the economy by 2015, or £4,000 per Scot.

When Nicola and I stood for election a year ago, we put forward a proposal to reduce business rates to below the levels of England. I know it was influential. How do we know?

Well one of Mr McConnell’s henchmen left his comments on our manifesto on a Scottish Parliament photocopier. “Should we pre-empt this?” the note said. Of course when he finally got round to doing something Mr McConnell’s main concern was to brief that this initiative was nothing whatsoever to do with his Liberal Deputy who was told nothing about it. Now Mr Stephen says it was all down to him.

That’s their story and who needs Ballymory when we have McConnell and Stephen – the Scottish Executive? Actually it was nothing to do with either of them. Lacking ideas of their own the were just pinching SNP policy.

Listen guys you don’t have to talk to each other. I don’t blame you. I wouldn’t want to talk you either. Just keep reading Nicola’s lips to get your ideas.

In the General Election we published a plan to Let Scotland Flourish -how to give our economy a competitive edge in the modern world. It has seven key policies to lift the Scottish growth rate. We intend to develop that further over the next year and make it a centre piece of the campaign for 2007.

One of our proposals is to give Scotland an edge not just in business rates but in corporate tax – to reverse the long process of loosing headquarters and decision making centres from Scotland.

More than 20 years ago, I was a young economist working for the Royal Bank of Scotland. There were takeover bids for the Bank from Standard Charter and Hong Kong Shanghai. They were kicked into touch by the Monopolies Commission as being against the Scottish public interest.

Last week I attended the opening of the new world headquarters of the Royal Bank now the 5th largest Bank on face of the planet. It will provide opportunities in Scotland for thousands of young people to pursue careers to the very top of their chosen profession, and yet if it had not been for that decision of 20 year ago, there would have been nothing to celebrate. Gogerburn would be but an empty field.

In the next few weeks, bids will emerge for Scottish Power our largest industrial company headquartered in Scotland. If it disappears into the maw of a company, which already owns Power Gen south of the border, then its headquarters functions will also disappear.

No one argues that it is possible in the modern world to protect every business from takeover. However, no normal country allows its key strategic companies to disappear without considering the public and competition interest. The Germans do not allow it and neither do the French. For Scotland, this is our biggest industrial company. Energy is our strategic resource.

The Scottish Executive sit on their hands – helpless, hopeless and hapless – with as much control over things that really matter to Scotland as King Canute had over the tide. Scotland has now just a handful of world reach companies headquartered in Scotland.

We pledge at this conference to fight them until we have the economic edge of independence which will bring many more to join them.

In the general election, we gained our first seats from the Labour Party at a Westminster election since 1974. This year we have started to win by elections at local level across Scotland. Our aim for 2007 is to win seats across Scotland from Labour, the Liberals and the Tories. Some people say it can’t be done. I say yes it can.

We have to gain 20 seats first passed the post and then others from the list. What we do will be determined by our own efforts. Mind you we will be greatly helped by our political opponents. Labour once had the longest suicide note in political history. Michael Howard is engaged in the longest resignation note in political history.

Charles Kennedy wants to turn his party into a Tory Party although the delegates – in best tradition of the Liberals – are not sure. I have the solution for both parties. It is not too late for another entry into the Tory leadership contest. Kennedy is the remedy for the Tories.

And we don’t even need a crystal ball to say what a Liberal / Tory coalition look like. Just ask the thousands of Council workers in Aberdeen who were sent letters telling them that their wages were to be cut by a Liberal/Tory Council.

Delegates to win in 2007 we have to have confidence in three things – ourselves, our programme and our country. Firstly, in ourselves. This year we have rediscovered the will to win. Stewart Hosie in Dundee, Angus Brendan in the Western Isles, local government seats the length and breadth of the country. Remember there are more people in Scotland who would vote for this Party than any other. All we have to do is to demonstrate that we are worthy of that support.

Secondly, confidence in our programme. We are a social democratic party. That means we match and marry economic efficiency with a social programme, which shapes the public purpose. Our economy can be the new Celtic tiger not the Caledonian pussycat. Our public services can be made to work efficiently and our ideas to do that are flowing through this Conference agenda.

Our belief in social and international justice can find expression through our political institutions. We judge the temper of our people correctly – Scotland wants a party which uses both the head and the heart.

Thirdly and most importantly importantly confidence in our country. Unionism depends on the notion that somehow our nation of Scotland is incapable of making the big decisions. – war and peace, taxation, international aid – issues like Iraq, tax credits, the betrayals since the G8.

What exactly is it about Westminster’s handling of these issues that we are meant to admire? The truth is that Scotland is good enough, big enough, and talented enough to be independent.

We are not going to allow our potential as a people to be measured by the mediocrity of the Scottish Executive. We are not going to allow our nation to be traduced and misrepresented by the mendacity of Westminster. And we are not going to allow our country to be a dumping ground for nuclear waste of the next generation of nuclear missiles.

Our political strategy is clear – clear as crystal. We intend to win the elections of 2007. We intend to demonstrate to Scotland that we have the competence and credibility to run Scotland and run it well. We intend to offer the people of this country – within the first term of office – the opportunity to move forward to independence.

We need the freedom for our country to match the generous heart of our people – the generous heart we saw after the Tsunami. We need the power to capture the opportunities of renewable energy power and the hydrogen economy. We need the ambition not just to march to make poverty history but to have a Government, which lives that dream.

In the summer I paraded with the Sir William Wallace Free Colliers to the Wallacetown monument -they have marched every year since 1861. Back then when the miners were looking for a hero to symbolise their struggle for freedom from the serfdom of the coal owners they chose Wallace and they chose wisely. 700 years ago Scotland’s greatest hero gave his life for that freedom.

We are not required to make that sacrifice – only invest our votes, our hopes and our time. But we are not an ordinary political party nor is our mission the ordinary stuff of politics. Our immediate aim is to rescue the politics of this country from the mediocrity of an Executive with – as someone said recently – the attention span of a goldfish.

But our objective is to break the grip of the London parties over Scotland – not just the political grip but their unionist mindset of defeatism , can’t do and second best. Forget the old excuses about lack of confidence. We aspire to lead into a new age of responsibility for Scotland.

Scotland needs Independence, self determination and self respect. And right now Scotland needs the SNP.

Alex Salmond – 2004 Scottish National Party Conference Speech


Convener – fellow Scots.

This is a speech I never expected to be making.

I never thought to have the privilege of being, once again, the leader of this movement.

But let’s get one thing absolutely clear

I didn’t accept this challenge in the hope things might work out.

Nor did I listen to those of you who were kind enough to ask me to return just for the dubious pleasure of exchanging pleasantries with Mr McConnell.

I sought the leadership of this party because I share your frustration and the anger of every thinking Scot.

We campaigned, shoulder to shoulder, for Home Rule because we believe in Scotland.

We celebrated devolution because it promised to usher in a new era of politics

But instead, we have seen our Parliament devalued by a government, which doesn’t understand the very concept of public service. Which dulls the expectations of our nation and which seeks to bore the electorate into submission.

So to anyone who still doubts why I sought leadership once again let me make it plain.

I’m back to turf out the over promoted Labour machine politicians who demean the Scottish Parliament.

I’m back to rid Scotland of small-minded, managerial administration and deliver a vision capable of touching the soul of Scotland.

And I’m back to give the message direct to the Labour Party in Scotland –

Your time in government is coming to an end.


What I intend to do today is to lay out exactly what we can achieve as a party and as a movement for Scotland over the next few years – and how we intend to go about it. .

But let me first pay tribute to John Swinney. I happen to think that John was badly treated by the press and poorly served by some in this party.

He is a better man by far than all of his critics combined.

Nicola and I – all of us – owe John a democratic debt for the one member, one vote election, which galvanised the SNP over the summer.

All of us here thank you, John, for everything you have done and in particular for that crucial and essential reform.

And I would like to thank the party for the huge mandate, that Nicola and I received.

We intend to harness that mandate to make the changes required to allow the SNP to renew our challenge for political leadership in Scotland.

But let me make one thing clear.

Nicola and I campaigned as a team, we will lead as a team and we will win as a team.

And that team approach extends throughout the party. Every single one of us shares responsibility for the party’s shortcomings and our successes.

We are all now collectively responsible for whether the SNP – indeed whether Scotland – succeeds or fails.

We have a substantial task in hand – I know that – you know that and I will need the help of the whole party – all of you – to succeed.

But I have to say I comfort myself by looking at the state of our opponents.

Charles Kennedy started the week by lambasting the government over health cuts in Scotland – good thing too –

The only problem is that he was attacking the Scottish government – his own government – that is the one his party props up

Charles wants to bring down a Lab/Lib government and replace it with a Lab/Lib government!

Strikes me that if he wants rid of Malcolm Chisholm or any other hopeless Labour minister then all he has to do is to tell his troops to vote them out of office.

Nicola said on Wednesday that she will force the matter to the vote in the Scots Parliament so they will soon have their chance.

Of course, if they are not prepared to do that – if they vote to keep their ministerial Mondeos rather than to save the health service – then people at the coming election can conclude that every liberal vote is not a vote for Charlie’s angels but for Labour’s little helpers.

Then there is Michael Howard. The only thing that has upset him recently is not being invited to the republican convention in New York.

Just think of it the leader of the Tory party is the one man on the planet – who is too right wing to be allowed to meet George W Bush!

Those who the gods seek to destroy, they first render ridiculous.

No wonder David McLetchie is a part time leader.

Best to keep his hand in at the law for after the next Scottish elections.

However, for the art of looking ridiculous none of them hold a candle to Mr McConnell

Forget the pin stripe kilt – did I actually say that?!

How can anyone forget the pin stripe kilt?

Never mind snubbing the D Day veterans – or his cultural minister – that’s right Frank McAveety is his minister of culture – nipping out for pie and beans in the canteen.

Let’s even excuse him telling the Scottish Opera staff they were sacked in a newspaper leak

I want to focus on the one incident that proves Mr McConnell is unfit for office – the day he announce to the parliament during question time that he was waffling and sat down.

Now I have seen many ministers in many parliaments and I’ve seen many ministers waffling but I have never heard of any one – far less a First Minister – actually declare himself to be a waffler.

Usually you leave that to the opposition

It is often said that Mr McConnell is no Donald Dewar – Donald Dewar?

Jack McConnell is no Henry McLeish.

Now delegates I want to say something about the position in Iraq.

There will be no jokes from me about the Prime Minister. I believe that Tony Blair’s conduct puts him beyond the normal banter of politics.

Like everyone else at this conference and throughout the entire country, I hope and pray for the safe return of Kenneth Bigley but like his anguished family, we fear the worst.

However, I believe that this Prime Minister now operates outside the currency of debate, beyond the pale of decency.

All Prime Ministers tell fibs – Wilson dissembled about Polaris on the Clyde, Thatcher massaged the unemployment figures every single month. But no leader – no Prime Minister – has lied about the reasons for going to war.

I don’t just challenge his policies – I challenge his morality.

18 months ago George Bush declared that the war in Iraq was over. On Sunday, Blair told us that the conflict was ongoing.

18 months ago Blair told us that we had gone to war to uphold the authority of the United Nations Last week Kofi Annan told us that the conflict was illegal.

18 months ago Blair told us that the Iraqi survey group would find the weapons of mass destruction. Now the group’s final report concludes that there were none.

Now this is not a question of this Prime Minister – any Prime Minister – making a judgement call and just being wrong

It is not a matter, as Blair would have us believe, of someone acting in good faith and making an honest mistake.

This is a man who buried the intelligence that was inconvenient,

Manipulated the information to suit his purpose

And entered into a secret pact with the American president to go to war come what may

In addition, as we now know from this last weekend, he even concealed the warnings from the very heart of his own government that the conflict after the war would be nasty, brutish and long.

Blair once said that he would be prepared to pay the blood price for standing shoulder to shoulder with the United States of America

But he hasn’t paid the blood price

14,000 Iraqis, more than 1000 Americans, 66 British soldiers, 69 from other countries, hostages – these are the people who have paid and are still paying Blair’s blood price

Nor has he stood shoulder to shoulder.

Most of the time he has been on his knees.

He has cosied up to the American president, thumbs in the gunbelt down at the ranch –

The sheriff and his sidekick – the Lone Ranger and Tonto.

But George W. Bush is not America no more than Tony Blair speaks for Scotland.

And what loyalty does the Prime Minister show to those he sends into his war.

The Black Watch are currently on their second tour of duty.

As a regiment, it may be their last ever tour of duty.

The Scottish regiments the finest infantry soldiers in the world. They fight Blair’s wars and he stabs them in the back while they stand in the line of fire.

And so let me say this to conference

This Prime Minister needs to be humbled in an election and next year we will take our case to the country.

But this Prime Minister deserves to be impeached and we with others will present the case that he should be required to answer.

What is impeachment – well let us describe it as a weapon of mass democracy- the final democratic deterrent against the abuse and misuse of executive power.

This Prime Minister should be drummed from office and we will use each and every opportunity to remove him.

It is a long way from war in Iraq to the Holyrood project.

Iraq is about people dying while Holyrood is just about money – a building project gone badly wrong.

However, there is one key connection.

At the heart of the war in Iraq is the misleading of the Westminster parliament. And thus the people

The real issue in the Holyrood scandal is the misleading of the Scots Parliament and thus the people.

When the Parliament was told in June 1999 that the price tag was £109 million they voted for it by a wafer thin majority of just three votes

The real price at that stage was over £200 million and the project totally out of control or as Fraser said it was “not in a viable and healthy condition“.

There were three separate Holyrood plots

Plot one was to conceal the costs to get labour through the 1999 election.

Plot two was to conceal the costs to get the project through the parliamentary vote.

Plot three was to conceal the costs to hand it over and then blame the hapless MSPs

According to Lord Fraser, the key decisions were made under Westminster control by civil servants who are still under Westminster control – which makes Mr McConnell‘s claims that he is about to reform them absurd even by his standards.

Civil servants may share the blame but it is ministers, politicians who are accountable.

And the line of accountability should be thus.

Let those who voted for this nonsense like the labour and liberal parties take the responsibility.

And those of us who voted against it learn the lessons by making it impossible to ever again mislead our parliament with impunity.

As for the building itself then it is time to move on.

Whatever its origins there is now a building which feels like a parliament

It is now up to all MSPs to act like parliamentarians

Five years ago the MSPs were cheered into their offices in the mound. Now they must begin the long march back into public esteem.

There are basically two explanations as to why devolution has been one big let down.

Either there is something wrong with Scotland or there is something wrong with the leadership that Scotland has been getting.

To put it simply either Scotland’s rubbish or labour’s rubbish.

I prefer to think that it is New Labour who are the problem and new leadership is the answer.

And so if we are to replace the Labour Party as the government of Scotland in 2007 then we have to present principle where there is none and vision where now there is only vacuum.

Nicola and I have asked shadow cabinet members to develop our policy programmes for the election next year.

We have to make progress next year to win in 2007, and we have to win in 2007 to move forward to Independence.

To make progress we will demonstrate that only the SNP can be trusted with Scottish interests

It is not only that SNP MPs work harder although we do.

When the Commons Library compile the annual stats for which MP has asked the most questions or made the most speeches the only thing that changes is which of my colleagues comes out first and which of the Labour Party comes out bottom.

But it is more than work rate. It is that we can always be trusted to represent and defend Scottish interests.

Foundation hospitals south of the border were bad for Scotland but labour MPs voted them through

Tuition fees south of the border were bad for Scotland but labour MPs voted them through

Strip stamps were bad for a great Scottish industry but labour MPs voted them through.

And the contrast when the SNP is moving forward is clear for all to see.

Martin Sixsmith blew the whistle at the centre of the labour spin machine but in 1999, he was working for GEC.

He has now set out the inside story of how it was fear of the SNP, which saved the Govan shipyard from closure in 1999.

And therefore delegates if we can save Govan in 1999 then SNP advance can save the fishing industry and the regiments in 2005.

We can make Westminster dance to a Scottish tune.

But progress next year is to a greater purpose.

When Mr McConnell became first minister of Scotland he said he wanted to do “less better”

Some have criticised Blair for just wanting power – McConnell just wants office and position in a nation without power – it’s even less forgivable.

What a rallying call that is to the nation. “Let’s do less better” – well he has managed to fulfil the first part of that boast

He certainly does less.

When the SNP brought to the parliament a debate the impending war in Iraq our opponents used their time on the same day to talk about dog fouling!

When the SNP first forced the issue on Iraq the first minister chose not attend. He sent someone else to tell the people of Scotland that Iraq was a reserved matter.

When we argue that, we have to save our fishing communities from disaster in the European constitution we are told to that that is a reserved matter.

And when we join with Scots across the country in our outrage that children have been and can again be imprisoned, at Dungavel we are told again that it is a reserved matter.

Well First Minister, Dungavel is about values, fishing is about communities and war is about conscience.

And values, communities and conscience can never be reserved matters.

They are Scottish matters and we demand a parliament with the power to do something about them.

We intend to lift the ambition of Scots. – to set our sights on the Scottish horizon.

We are building a programme to march that ambition

We will develop an economic policy, which lifts the Scottish growth rate.

We will restore the people’s faith in Scotland’s public services

We will introduce the fresh air of democracy into Scottish institutions.

And we shall restore this ancient land to its rightful place as a free and equal member of the community of nations.

Now Mr McConnell says that growth is his top priority.

In fact, he has as much control over the Scottish economic growth as Heather has over the weather.

To make Scotland work we need a competitive economic environment, we need an infrastructure fit for the 21st century not for the middle of the last century and we need capital markets which allow Scots with ideas to bring their products to the international marketplace

And the stakes are high.

If the Scottish economy had hit the UK rate of growth over the last 25 five years we would all be £2000 better off.

If we had hit the European level, each of us would be £5000 better off

And if we had grown at the level of independent Ireland, we would all be £20,000 a year better off.

One key to growth is infrastructure.

We will establish a Scottish trust for public investment to launch a new age of improvement in Scotland.

It will provide the financial mechanism to transform Scotland’s infrastructure into one fit for the challenges of today’s economy and tomorrow’s society.

Provost William Smith used his opening speech to the conference to lobby us on dualling the A9. He is right. This is the capital of the highlands. It has two major road connections to the south and the east. One is a dirt track and the other is a death-trap and both are totally unacceptable.

The trunk roads in the south west and north east of Scotland are a disgrace while central Scotland still awaits the linking of the motorway network.,

We don’t even have rail links to our major airports or a bullet train between Edinburgh and Glasgow.

In 1905 it took 1 hour to travel between Edinburgh and Glasgow. A century later we have improved by 12 minutes.

The journey time should take 20 minutes.

A few days back I received a letter from a liberal MSP asking how it could be possible to fund a bullet train between Edinburgh and Glasgow.

Then her own party transport spokesman said he wanted one between Edinburgh and London.

The Scottish Liberals really should try and keep up!

Our country, this nation, found the right financial mechanisms to fund the westward expansion of America.

Is it really said that we can’t do the same to transform Scotland?

If McConnell and Wallace had been in charge of Glasgow in the 19th century they would still be waiting for running water in Govan.

Of course, infrastructure is more than roads, railways and broadband. It is also providing the platform to exploit this country’s natural resources.

Right now Scottish oil revenues are running at £8,000 million a year.

That’s right £1,500 this year for every man women and child in the country and its all disappearing into the maw of the treasury, into Gordon Brown’s back pocket.

And the oil and gas will flow for another 50 years.

But delegates we have won the energy lottery again- this time in renewables. Scotland has 25 per cent of Europe’s potential wind power, 25 per cent of its tidal power and 10 per cent of its wave capacity.

The Pentland Firth has been described as the Saudi Arabia of tidal power.

And this is offshore potential.

If a community owns an onshore wind farm or there is a perceived community benefit fine. But onshore wind will never meet the energy requirements of Scotland

Just one offshore project could generate 5 times the electricity of all the onshore wind projects put together.

So what is stopping this new Klondike – or as one company put it the “biggest single threat to viability” and the billions of investment and thousands of jobs that will go with it.

What is stopping it is a proposal from Offgem, a government agency, after a period of grace, to charge generators in the north of Scotland £20 a kilowatt to connect to the grid while they propose to subsidise projects in London by £9 a kilowatt.

That is a proposal from the national grid and Offgem. If you want to build a windfarm offshore in the Moray Firth they will charge you. If you want to build it on top of Big Ben, they will pay you.

They should remember that offshore Scotland there is lots of wind. Around Big Ben there is only hot air.

All of which proves there are three great lies in life. Darling I’ll respect you in the morning – the cheques in the post and I’m from the London treasury and I’m here to help Scotland. . The challenge for his party is clear. London government has filched thirty years of oil revenues.

We shall not let them sabotage our future in renewables.

An SNP Scotland will become the renewable capital of Europe.

We want to see the nation prosper but the Scotland we seek is one, which defends the public interest, the common weal, the sense of community, which protects the vulnerable.

To restore faith in Scotland’s public services we need to revitalise social democracy in Scotland.

We pay social democratic levels of taxation, we spend social democratic levels of funding but we do not have social democratic levels of service.

Take the crisis in the health service. The health service should not be run for the convenience of the health boards, or the consultants or the government.

It is not the Health Boards’ health service or Malcolm Chisholm’s health service it is the people’s health service

In order for Scotland’s health service to function, it requires a national strategy but it also needs public confidence and support at local level.

That is why we will make health boards elected to prevent them being the lickspittles of central government

But we will go further. People despair that the current consultation process is a sham.

We say that when a closure is threatened then petitioners should have the ability to call a time out.-

To stop the process while it is examined properly to make protest count.

We have to engage real people in a real democracy

Real democracy doesn’t begin and end with a parliament. It begins and ends with the people.

In the summer Nicola and I caused a stir when we suggested allowing the public the opportunity to nominate one subject for debate in the parliament each week.

Vested interests were outraged. How could we possibly trespass on the preserve of parliamentarians and their right to choose to debate dog fouling and hedge rows.

Well it ain’t the politician’s parliament. It is the people’s parliament and it is time – well past time – to let the people in.

So we now intend to go further. Not only should there be direct nomination of subjects for debate but the petitions committee will be charged to bring forward, where appropriate, legislative proposals from the best supported petition each year which then can be put to the MSPs for debate and decision.

A new economic policy for Scotland. Revitalised social services a real citizen’s democracy.

These are the building blocks for inspiration and success

But they are set in a context – and that context is this ancient land as a full and equal member of the community of nations.

Devolution is yesterday’s news. It has not responded to today’s reality never mind the challenges of tomorrow.

Independence is about equality.

The same rights – the same responsibilities as other nations.

The right to choose between war and peace.

The right to choose between stagnation and economic progress.

The right to choose to live in a society which protects those who stumble along life’s path.

The responsibility to ensure that the distinctive contribution of Scotland is not silenced or ignored in the councils of Europe and the world.

And our responsibility. To defend and have faith in the idea of Scotland.

In ancient times the city of Sparta had no walls – it didn’t need any The people were the walls of Sparta – its defenders its strength and its faith.

At this particular moment, you – all of you – the people are the walls of Scotland – its defenders, its strength and its faith.

Faith that we can build a better future.

Faith that we can transform this nation.

Faith that our ambitions of today will become tomorrow‘s reality.

Equality, responsibility, Independence.

Alex Salmond – 1987 Maiden Speech in the House of Commons


Below is the text of the maiden speech made by Alex Salmond in the House of Commons on 29th June 1987.

You have called me to speak at rather an apt time, Mr. Deputy Speaker. I have been watching with interest this evening and counting the relative strengths of the Scottish Nationalist party and Plaid Cymru, on the one hand, and the Scottish Conservative contingent, on the other. As the debate has worn on, the relative strengths have to-ed and fro-ed. At the moment, with five hon. Members on our Benches and only two Scottish Conservative Members, we have the most satisfactory result of the evening so far.

I confess that I have been playing my game of spot the Scottish Tory for some time. Their number has been as low as one and as high as seven during this debate, but for most of the time there have been four Scottish Conservative Members in the Chamber. For some time, I thought that the Secretary of State for Scotland had laid down his particular 40 per cent. rule on his own contingent of hon. Members.

My first duty is to pay tribute to my predecessor, Mr. Albert McQuarrie, who was known in the House and elsewhere as a robust character. He came to the House late in life, but I know that he played a full part in its debates, and I am sure that all hon. Members will join me in wishing him a long and happy retirement.

Banff and Buchan, the constituency for which I now have parliamentary responsibility, is a constituency of robust characters, as one would expect from an area that depends for its livelihood on fishing, farming and oil and the industries related to them. My constituency has robust characters who work with their hands and get their faces dirty. They are involved in producing, making and catching things. They are people engaged in the manufacturing and primary sectors who are the real creators of wealth. If Government policy was orientated more to the primary and manufacturing sectors of industry, rather than to the rentier economy produced by the Conservative party, the long-term health and welfare of this country would be better served.

I shall examine in turn the problems facing the three basic industries of my constituency—farming, fishing and oil. I notice that a good deal of attention was paid in the Gracious Speech to the problems of the inner cities, and I welcome Government initiatives on that serious problem. However, in Scotland we do not have a serious inner city problem. In our major cities we have problems on peripheral housing estates, but we have, too, an enduring and extremely serious problem in our rural communities. I do not think that the Government realise the extent to which the decline in farm income is causing such problems for the rural areas and I hope that they will turn more of their attention to that as the Session progresses.

Conservatives claim that theirs is the party that reduces business taxation. If that is so, I hope to hear soon that they intend to abandon their plans to levy additional taxation on the fishing industry in the form of light dues—the dues paid for navigational lights. At the moment, the Government propose to remove the traditional exemption from light dues from the fishing industry while retaining that exemption for the owners of yachts and pleasure boats. I am sure that the right hon. Member for Old Bexley and Sidcup (Mr. Heath) would be very relieved to hear that, but I think too that he would join Opposition Members in arguing strongly that we should not impose an additional tax on working fishermen while those who own pleasure boats and yachts remain exempt. Light dues, which relate to a public service concerned with public safety, should continue properly to be met from the public purse.

We have heard some interesting remarks from the Secretary of State for Scotland who, since the turn of this year, has ascribed all the problems of the Scottish economy to the decline of the oil industry in Scotland. That is a remarkable feat, given that Scotland has lost 180,000 manufacturing jobs since 1979.

If the Secretary of State thinks that the impact of the oil downturn has been so serious in Scotland—it has cost us 30,000 jobs—why was it that the Government argued so forcibly for, welcomed and encouraged the decline in oil prices, which has caused these grievous burdens for the Scottish economy? Since 1979, successive Chancellors have received from the Scottish oil industry in revenue terms and in 1987 prices the sum of £70,000 million—approximately £14,000 for every man, woman and child in Scotland. Those Chancellors have been very sure that that should not be Scotland’s oil revenue, but, when it comes to a downturn in the industry, there has been no doubt that Scotland should have the job losses. For these three industries—farming, fishing and oil—I will argue at every opportunity in the Chamber, and I will argue for a stronger defence of their welfare.

I move on to the political position facing Scotland and the reaction of Scottish Members to the Gracious Speech. Without doubt the Gracious Speech is interesting not for what it contains about Scotland but for what it does not contain. There is no sign that the Government will make any concessions to Scotland following their massive defeat at the polls. That position was encapsulated by the Secretary of State who, in an interview on Scottish television last week, said that the Gracious Speech is the same as that which we would have had if the Conservative party had won 72 Scottish seats instead of 10. That betrays the arrogance and contempt with which the Conservative party now proposes to treat the Scottish electorate. in its view, it does not matter what we in Scotland say or do, how we vote, how we think or how we learn from our experience of the policies under which we suffer. That position is not sustainable in the longer term. How long it is sustainable will depend on the level of opposition from Opposition Members.

A number of questions have been asked about the importance attached to self government by the Scottish electorate. If the election results do not provide a convincing answer to that question, I have here the results of an opinion poll commissioned during the election campaign. The Conservative party has an interesting and geographically split view of opinion polls. It believes in them in England when they show that it is winning, but it does not believe them in Scotland when they show that it is not winning.

I remember earlier this month when this opinion poll was released. I was sitting in a television studio with Mr. Michael Hirst, who did not believe the contents of the opinion poll. The results of the poll showed that the majority of Scottish Conservatives were about to lose their seats, although the Secretary of State for Scotland had said that such opinion polls were unreliable, that this could not happen and that the Conservative party in Scotland would increase its representation. In fact the poll has been proved correct in its analysis of how many Scottish Conservatives would lose their seats.

It also asked people how important they regarded the setting up of a Scottish assembly. No fewer than 62 per cent. thought that it was very important or quite important. Only 25 per cent. argued that it was not very important or not at all important.

We take opinion polls as we find them, but it is an incredible proposition from a party reduced to such a rump in Scotland, as a result not just of this but of a series of elections, to argue that it has the divine right to interpret the wishes of the Scottish electorate more than any other party, or particularly the party that won the Scottish election—the Labour party.

Like many new Members I am engaged in moving home, and as I was clearing out some of my files I came across some yellowing pages of newspaper cuttings from the period immediately before and after the general election of 1983 in Scotland. In them, a number of Scottish Members of Parliament were making the case that the rights of Scotland should be respected—a case with which I agree. They were called “Labour’s new dogs of war,” and they included the hon. Members for Glasgow, Cathcart (Mr. Maxton), for Carrick, Cumnock and Doon Valley (Mr. Foulkes), for East Lothian (Mr. Home Robertson) and for Glasgow, Shettleston (Mr. Marshall). They argued that, by their efforts, they could impose the will of the Scottish people on the House and that they would manage to extract for the Scottish people a measure of Scottish devolution. We are now four years on and the dogs of war not only have not bitten very hard but have lost their bark.

I scrutinised with some interest the speech made by the hon. Member for Cathcart on Thursday, in which he came up with the incredible proposition that the Conservative party has half a mandate in Scotland. His argument was that the Conservative party has a mandate over such sectors as the economy and United Kingdom matters, but does not have a mandate over specifically Scottish Office issues such as education. It is an incredible argument that the Conservative party has the right to destroy the Scottish economy but does not have the right to destroy the Scottish education system. It is not a case of half a mandate. The Conservative party either has or has not a mandate in Scotland.

My hon. Friend the Member for Caernarfon (Mr Wigley) has put the case for the rights of parties coming up from the people. The hon. Member for Falkirk, West (Mr. Canavan) has argued eloquently why the Conservative party has no mandate in Scotland. For the benefit of Tory Members, I shall repeat it. The Tory party does not have a mandate in Scotland because Scotland is a nation and as such has a right to determine its own political destiny.

I will repeatedly argue for independence for Scotland within the context of the EEC. I recognise that that is not the majority view in Scotland, although opinion poll evidence shows substantially more support for that position than for the position favoured by the Tory, party—the status quo. Scottish people have the right to choose the amount of devolution or self government that they want. Therefore, I am prepared to argue that, because the Labour party won the election in Scotland, it has the right to insist on its plans for the Scottish people being put into effect.

The basic question is: how will the Conservative party be made to do this? The hon. Member for Glasgow, Garscadden (Mr. Dewar), in his quick-fire speech, was long on description of the condition of Scotland, but short on what he and his colleagues are going to do about it. The most with which he threatened the Conservative party was a few late nights for the reduced band of Scottish Conservatives. Incidentally, I am told that in Labour party circles at the moment the hon. Member for Garscadden is considered as something of a radical. If he is a radical, I wonder how conservative the rest are. I do not know what he does to Tory Members, but if I were in their position he would not frighten me.

The same applies to the eloquent address of the hon. Member for Glasgow, Hillhead (Mr. Galloway). He cannot convince the Conservative party, Scottish Conservative Members or the Secretary of State for Scotland, by argument or appeal, to change their position. The Scottish Conservatives are a lost cause. They have lost their ability to argue their case before their fellow countrymen and women.

I find remarks about the largesse of the London Treasury to areas such as Scotland, Wales and the north of England amazing, as Scotland has an annual surplus of revenue over expenditure of £3.5 billion. I cannot, therefore, take seriously the idea that Scotland is subidised by the London Exchequer.

I hear other remarks about the history and geography of Scotland which make me realise why so much of the Gracious Speech is devoted to the English education system. I suspect, however, that, in looking at the state education system in England, English Conservatives are looking at the wrong sector for additional education on economics, history and geography. I seriously suggest to Conservative Members representing English constituencies that the nations of Scotland and England have a close and long history. Sometimes it has been a troubled history but it has always been a close one. At this juncture in our affairs, when there is a dramatic political divergence between Scotland and England, and indeed between England and Wales, would it really hurt them so much to concede a little justice to the Scottish nation?