Alex Salmond’s keynote speech: Only the SNP speaks for all of Scotland

47
2312

Alex Salmond’s speech to the Scottish National Party conference set out to ensure that the coming election campaign is fought on Scottish issues.  He said only the SNP spoke for all of Scotland and had the record, vision and ambition to lead the country in the interests of all its people.

He questioned Labour’s attempt to fight the election on Westminster matters by sending MPs and shadow ministers such as Ed Balls north to speak to the media last week instead of Iain Gray’s team.  Labour, he suggested, had failed to speak up for Scotland in the past, even when it held power in both countries.  It could not be trusted to defend the country against the Tories.

The First Minister said:  “This is a Scottish election for a Scottish parliament.  Ed Balls ain’t standing.  Neither is Ed Miliband nor even Douglas Alexander …

“They hope that it will distract Scotland from what is really at stake in May.  They want to convince us that this election is about enhancing Labour’s status at Westminster.

“But this election is not about who rules in London.  It is about who is chosen to serve Scotland.

……………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………

See article: SNP Conference, view from a delegate
……………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………………

He said Labour represented vested interests while the SNP spoke for all of Scotland.

“We speak for the poorest Scots – the low paid families and pensioners who have benefited most from our freeze on the council tax and our ending of prescription charges.

“We speak for the young – delivering the 25,000 apprenticeships that Labour voted against, lowering class sizes and keeping education free.

“We speak for the vulnerable – we are protecting them with 1,000 extra police officers who have led crime to a 32 year low.

“We speak for the aspirational – the millions of Scots who want a better future for themselves, their children and their grandchildren.

“We speak for those who want to start their own business.  The small business bonus has cut or abolished rates for 80,000 small businesses.  Labour voted against that as well.

“We speak for the communities of Lossie and Leuchars who have served this country well and expect loyalty not betrayal in return.

“Delegates, we speak for all of Scotland and all of Scotland needs the Scottish National Party”

He asked if previous Labour governments spoke for Scotland when they went to war in Iraq, raised council tax by 60%, imposed and raised university tuition fees, promised cuts that were deeper and tougher than those of Margaret Thatcher, ran up billions worth of public debt through PFI schemes, and promised to spend £100 billion on a replacement for the “obscene” Trident nuclear programme.

Instead the party stood for cronyism, jobs for party members, cheap booze and higher taxes.

“Keir Hardie will be birlin in his grave in Cumnock cemetery – the Labour Party in Scotland – cheap booze and higher taxes.  Has there ever been a more miserable and depressing prospectus ever proffered to the people of this nation?”

The First Minister outlined his vision of 21st century Scotland as a wealthy but egalitarian society built on green engineering and cutting edge technology.

The £90m investment in Strathclyde University’s International Technology and Renewable Energy Zone he announced the previous day was, he said, a perfect example of the knowledge economy.

He said renewable technology could restore the Clyde’s status as the world leader in marine engineering.  The low carbon sector could generate 130,000 jobs across Scotland by 2030.

He said the Strathclyde deal, which will generate 700 jobs, combined Scotland’s great strengths: “Our environment, our people and our education.

It was an example of “an aspirational Glasgow and a can-do Scotland – a university, a government and the private sector like Scottish Power, the Weir Group and Scottish and Southern Energy, coming together to stake their claim for the future.”

He reminded delegates that Scotland was already rich and revealed new figures showing that record oil prices mean another £4billion worth of extra tax revenues going from Scotland to the London Treasury – £14bill in total in 2011.  This amounts to around £3,000 pounds a head for every man, women and child in Scotland.

“If you applied even half of that £4 billion windfall to cutting fuel tax in Scotland you could reduce it by 50p per litre in Scotland – in the UK by 5p a litre.

“We have had enough humming and hawing on this.  The case for a fuel tax regulator is made.  Let the message go out loud and clear to the chancellor – cut fuel duty and cut it now.”

Mr Salmond concluded by saying that Scotland would be fairer and richer as an independent nation.

“We must have these powers.  And there is only one way of getting those, of making further advance.  To vote for Scotland …

“We are the lucky nation, rich enough to deliver it all, yet we cannot without power.  Our sense of the common weal is strong and should not be denied by the rich elites of elsewhere.

“A Scotland caught between the universality of hope, and the parochialism of power for power’s sake.  As Labour peddle fear we have led hope.

Mr Salmond invoked the memory of Thomas Muir of Huntershill, the 18th century reformer and founder of the Friends of the People movement that agitated for democratic change.

Muir was transported to Australia for his political activity but was confident that his ideals would eventually triumph.

Mr Salmond made the same prediction for his vision of a Scotland that was “confident in its skin”.

“This movement, this nation, has been patronised, talked down, told it wasn’t good enough.

“And yet this party has risen from a few MPs and a land without a parliament, to a Scotland with a parliament, and an SNP government.

“We never lost the strength of hope – and we fought on to triumph.

“But we, in our mix of the national and the international, of the personal and the political, we fought not to govern over people but for the people to govern over themselves.

“It is for that reason and that reason above all that we are the Friends of the People of Scotland and for that reason we shall prevail.”