By a Newsnet reporter
The Scottish Cabinet is to announce a ‘Declaration of Opportunity’ to spell out what it says will be the benefits to Scotland of independence.
Styled on the historic ‘Declaration of Arbroath’ which proclaimed Scottish independence in the 14th century, the latest declaration will highlight the power of a Yes vote to protect key areas in Scottish society.
Speaking in Arbroath following the Scottish Cabinet’s meeting in the town on Monday, First Minister Alex Salmond will lay out some of the key opportunities of an independent Scotland, including protecting the NHS, building a fairer society and creating more opportunities for Scotland’s younger people, to allow them to stay in Scotland.
The First Minister is expected to say:
“A Yes vote on September 18 is the opportunity of a lifetime to build a more prosperous and fairer Scotland.
“Those of us lucky enough to cast our votes on that day are truly a privileged generation: perhaps the most privileged in this nation’s history.
“The opportunity we have isn’t unique, but it is very precious. We have the chance to take power out of the hands of the Westminster elite and into the hands of the people of Scotland.
“Everybody agrees that Scotland is a country of extraordinary talent, resources and wealth.”
Mr Salmond will highlight the strength of the Scottish economy, with a gross domestic product per head that is higher than the UK, France and Japan. Recent figures published by the ONS show that Scotland’s GDP at £26,424 is well ahead of the UK at £22,336.
Mr Salmond will add:
“We have contributed more in tax revenues, per head of population, than the rest of the UK in every one of the last 33 years. We have oil and gas reserves that will last for decades and renewable energy reserves that will last forever.
“We have a world-class food and drink industry, brilliance in creative industries, and strengths in a range of other growth sectors such as tourism and life sciences. We have more universities in the world’s top 200, per head of population, than any other country in the world.”
The SNP leader will spell out the opportunities to correct the imbalance that currently exists and will say:
“But for far too many people today it doesn’t feel that way. We need to ensure that as well as being a wealthy nation, we also become a fair society.
“So today, here in Arbroath, I am setting out a Declaration of Opportunity.
“A declaration based on the vast potential of the talented people of this country that independence can release. One which sets out three key opportunities from independence.
- – the opportunity to protect our publicly-owned, publicly-run NHS forever from Westminster privatisation and cuts.
- – the opportunity to create a fairer Scotland, ending the assault on the most vulnerable members of our society, and the unfairness which has seen a huge rise in the use of food banks in a land of plenty.
- – the opportunity for young people to stay in Scotland, to choose to build their future here because an independent Scotland has a strong economy, a just society and a good quality of life for all.
“It is because of these great opportunities that we’ll be better off with Scotland’s future in Scotland’s hands.”
The speech will signal the intention of the SNP to make equality and opportunity a central issue in the independence debate. It will consolidate the recent pledge to protect the Scottish NHS from creeping privatisation south of the border.
The speech coincides with new polling that suggests the recent focus by the No campaign on currency hasn’t yielded the benefits No campaign strategists had hoped for.
A new poll for the Scotland on Sunday shows the Yes campaign has continued to close the gap on its No rival, despite a media onslaught which saw Alex Salmond pressed for a so-called ‘Plan B’. According to the new ICM poll, No is on 55 per cent (down 2) with Yes on 45 per cent (up 2) when undecided are stripped out.
A new Panelbase poll, commissioned by the Yes campaign, puts support for Yes at 48% and No at 52%, once undecided voters are excluded. A Panelbase/Sunday Times poll published on July 27 put Yes on 46% and No on 54%.
The new poll also shows a big majority for the proposition that Scotland could be a successful independent country.