The First Minister, in his New Year Message, has said that Scotland must seize the chance to create its own opportunities and determine its own future in 2011.
In a message that highlighted SNP achievements and the potential of the renewable sector Mr Salmond said that Scots would face a stark choice in 2011, either remain under London control or embrace the opportunities offered by ‘Economic Independence’.
The FM delivered the message from Edinburgh, where thousands of revellers will be taking part in the capital’s world famous Hogmanay celebrations this evening.
Mr Salmond made reference to the dreadful weather conditions that many Scots had endured in recent weeks and said the efforts of Scots had made him proud to be First Minister.
Mr Salmond began his message saying:
“New Year is a time of ringing out the old and bringing in the new.
“The old year saw extraordinary weather conditions, the worst for a hundred years, but it also saw extraordinary community spirit which carried Scotland through the worst winter weather in living memory. The efforts of thousands of individuals to help their fellow human beings was an inspiration to me and made me proud to be First Minister of Scotland.”
The SNP leader also spoke of his pride at having presided over a record that saw so many young Scots in work, training or further education and also highlighted the council tax freeze and the abolishing of prescription charges.
Mr Salmond added:
“There are many other things we can be proud of in Scotland today. I am proud of the fact that this year, a record 87 percent of our youngsters are moving into education, jobs or training. That’s a record Scotland can be proud of.
“I am delighted and proud that we as a Government are helping families by freezing the Council Tax for the fourth successive year and by abolishing prescription charges. These are tough times, and every help for families is absolutely necessary.
“We, as a country, are having to withstand an onslaught of extraordinary cutbacks led by Westminster and we, as a country, are having to defend our public services against that onslaught.”
The First Minister then turned to Scotland’s resource potential and the role that will be played by the renewable sector in the nation’s future adding:
“But Scotland has lots of potential and therefore lots of opportunities. Leading that is the extraordinary resource opportunity in Scotland. Not only the oil and gas which, at some stage, we’ll get control of the revenues for Scotland, but also the new renewables revolution.
“This coming year, Scotland will generate a third of our electricity from renewable energy. But the story is not going to stop there. In the future we will generate up to ten times the electricity that we need in the waters around Scotland. We will sell electricity across Europe and become the green powerhouse of the continent, and in the process generate tens of thousands of jobs for Scotland.
“Our water industry in Scotland also has enormous potential. We have taken it for granted for a generation and more. But now Scottish Water – in the public sector, in the people’s hands – is emerging as a powerful company, doing a range of things, not just domestically, but internationally as well. Building a hydro economy is an important ambition for the resources of Scotland.”
Mr Salmond ended his message with the choice faced by the people of Scotland in 2011. Economic independence said the First Minister would offer Scotland an opportunity to escape the savage cutbacks that await if things remain the same under what he described as London control.
Mr Salmond ended:
“But the real resource of this country is its people. And it’s the people that matter in 2011, because 2011 is going to be a year of decision for Scotland. We know what the future holds if we stay in our present circumstances with the big economic decisions dictated by London.
“We would face a generation and more of continued cutbacks in our public services. Even if we withstand that and campaign against it, there will be threat after threat.
“But there is an alternative, there is another option, and that’s why there is a decision to be made. That option is to gain economic independence and control which will enable us to mobilise these great resources of Scotland, apply them to the human resources of the people of Scotland, and generate growth and wealth in our own economy.
“That’s the decision we will have in 2011. We can either have a better future for our country, or we can have a generation of fighting against London control.
“It’s a decision I look forward to, it’s a decision I am confident about, because when all is said and done, the people will make the right choice for Scotland. Have a guid New Year.”