Only a Yes vote will achieve the powers people want Salmond tells rally

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  By a Newsnet Reporter

First Minister Alex Salmond has said that the powers over the economy and welfare that Scots overwhelmingly want will only be achieved with a Yes vote in next year’s independence referendum.
 
Mr Salmond was addressing a rally in Edinburgh yesterday when he told thousands gathered at Calton Hill that this is a solid platform on which to build a successful Yes result, in contrast to the No campaign which he described as standing on the shifting sands of a failed Westminster system.

  By a Newsnet Reporter

First Minister Alex Salmond has said that the powers over the economy and welfare that Scots overwhelmingly want will only be achieved with a Yes vote in next year’s independence referendum.
 
Mr Salmond was addressing a rally in Edinburgh yesterday when he told thousands gathered at Calton Hill that this is a solid platform on which to build a successful Yes result, in contrast to the No campaign which he described as standing on the shifting sands of a failed Westminster system.

In front of an audience made up of Yes supporters from all over Scotland and beyond, he said:

“We have an unrivalled opportunity next year – in 362 days time – to achieve something that no previous generation of Scots has done, and few countries ever do.  To vote this nation into a new future of prosperity and equality – and to do so in a totally peaceful, civic and democratic manner.

“Today is an expression of our confidence that the people will put themselves – not Westminster – in charge of their own future by voting Yes.”

Referring to the independence debate as the “great debate”, the First Minister told cheering thousands that those currently campaigning for a Yes vote, “stood on the shoulders of the giants” and called the referendum a “precious opportunity”.

He added: “Even more importantly, we stand for the aspirations that the people of Scotland already have for the future of their country.  In poll after poll, survey after survey, people in Scotland want the powers over their own natural resources, the welfare state and pensions which are vital in delivering the fairer society and stronger economy we need to build opportunity for all.

“And these powers – the people’s powers – can only be achieved by voting Yes.”

Mr Salmond contrasted this vision with what he said was the “shifting sands of a Westminster system” backed by the No campaign he argued was “unrepresentative of Scottish opinion and aspiration”.

“There is now a natural majority for a Yes vote.” Said the First Minister.

“By a factor of nearly four-to-one, people agree with us that decisions about Scotland are best made in Scotland, not by Westminster.

“Since its restoration 14 years ago, our national parliament has proved time and again that when decisions are taken here in Scotland we get the right outcomes for the people.

“The Scottish Parliament has ensured that we have university education based on the ability to learn, not the ability to pay.

“It has enabled us to maintain the integrity of our NHS, with care free at the point of need, as well as delivering free personal care for elderly people.

“In all the areas for which it is responsible, Holyrood has shown the benefits of having decision-making powers here in Scotland.”

Citing as examples of decisions that were not supported by most Scots, Mr Salmond highlighted the planned sell off of Royal Mail, the Bedroom Tax and the Trident nuclear weapons system.

He continued: “The people want a parliament which invests the nation’s resources in things that really matter such as childcare.  Therefore, any government I lead will not engage in illegal conflict and we propose a constitutional ban on nuclear weapons.

“A Yes vote next September will not be a victory for the SNP, or the Yes campaign, or even the huge coalition of interests and enthusiasm gathered here today.

“It will be the people’s victory.  ‘Yes’ will be act of self-confidence and self-assertion which will mean that decisions about what happens in Scotland are always taken by the people who live and work here – not by a remote Westminster system.

“A Yes vote is for self-government, not remote government – good government with independence, not bad government from Westminster.

“We are a lucky generation  – to achieve the powers the people want, to win a fresh start, and change our country for the better – we need only say the word. To put this country on the path of hope, optimism and achievement – to put the disappointments and missed opportunities of the past behind us – we need only say YES.”

The rally, which saw over 20,000 take part – some estimates put the figure at closer to 30,000 – saw politicians from across the political spectrum mix with celebrities and campaigners in a carnival atmosphere with giant screens beaming speeches and performances to thousands of people stood on Calton Hill.

A march led by forty pipers had taken almost two hours from High Street, to reach its destination with onlookers watching the brightly coloured procession.  Peppering the sea of Saltires and Lion Rampants were flags from Wales, Catalonia, Galicia, Flanders, Sardinia, Venice and the South Tyrol.

Police Scotland estimated that 8300 had taken part in the procession.  However asked by one marcher how many had taken part in the rally one police officer said “20,000”.  Asked how many arrests there had been he replied, “Less than the number of Tory MPs in Scotland”.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=lhMLLZBIzEo{/youtube}

Calton Hill, which holds 20,000 people, was almost completely covered with people, banners and stalls.  Organisations represented included Scottish CND, Yes Scotland, National Collective and of course Newsnet Scotland.

Throughout the four hour gathering, crowds came and went as the longed for sunshine failed to materialise.  Gusts of wind caused havoc at times and at one point the National Collective Gazebo was blown away, finally resting on a nearby bush.

Despite the weather failing to match up to last year’s sunshine bathed day, the event was deemed a complete success and organisers are already planning next year’s which, taking place weeks prior to the referendum, promises to be even bigger.

Thousands gathered on Calton Hill
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KKCFFRtzR5E{/youtube}

 

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