By a Newsnet reporter
Scotland’s Deputy First Minister Nicola Sturgeon has urged Labour voters in Scotland to take the opportunity to reclaim their party by voting Yes in the independence referendum.
Speaking at the SNP’s conference in Aberdeen, Ms Sturgeon said that the referendum was not about party choice but an opportunity to seek a different Scotland.
She said: “To every Labour voter in the country, I say this. The Yes campaign is not asking you to leave your party, instead, it offers you the chance to get your party back.
“A Labour Party free to make its own decisions. No longer dancing to a Westminster tune.”
To rousing applause, the SNP Deputy said: “For everyone out there with Labour in your heart, the message is clear. Don’t vote No to stop the SNP, vote Yes to reclaim the Labour Party.”
Ms Sturgeon pointed to the growing grass roots campaign taking the Yes message to every community in Scotland.
“Yes Scotland is already the biggest and most exciting grassroots campaign our country has ever seen and it is an absolute privilege to be part of it.” she told delegates.
“We have Women for Independence, Business for Scotland, National Collective, Generation Yes, Farming for Yes, Trade Unionists for Yes, Academics for Yes, Scots Asians for Yes, Seniors for Yes, Radical Independence, Wealthy Nation and many, many more.
“We have local Yes campaign groups in every corner of our country.”
She told delegates that the momentum was now with the Yes campaign and the prize was the opportunity to build a fairer society. Ms Sturgeon also described how foodbanks in a country as rich as Scotland had left her close to tears.
Blaming the situation on Tory welfare cuts, she said: “One of the most disgraceful and distressing developments of the past few years has been the rapid rise of food poverty in Scotland.
“In 2010, the Trussell Trust – the country’s biggest provider of food banks – gave emergency food parcels to just over 4,000 people. By last year, that number had increased to more than 56,000.
“So many children are now reliant on food aid, that one provider in Glasgow includes nappies in its emergency parcels.
“The thought of that makes me want to cry. In one of the richest countries in the world, we have parents – many of them in work – who can’t afford the basics for their children.
“Delegates, That is an utter scandal.”
There was also a warning that opponents of independence would stop at nothing to prevent a Yes vote.
Referring to the No campaign, she said: “Because, make no mistake, the Westminster establishment is fighting hard too. There will be no scare, no threat, no smear that they will not deploy.”
However the Deputy leader of the SNP said that so far the tactics of the No campaign had failed: “Project Fear has not only failed to make a positive case for the Union.
“It has destroyed the very foundation on which that case might have been based.
“In their attempts to scare and threaten the Scottish people, the No campaign has torn apart the notion of the UK as an equal partnership.”
Ms Sturgeon added: “That attitude demonstrates precisely why Scotland must be independent. The idea of the UK as an equal partnership has been shown up to be a sham.”
Echoing the theme of the conference and the Yes campaign, she contrasted the No campaign with the positivity of the Yes campaign:
“The positive message at the heart of the Yes campaign is that it does not have to be this way.
“So let this ring out from our conference today.
“Scotland can be independent. Scotland should be independent. And Scotland must be independent.”
Highlighting Scotland’s rich natural resources she added: “We are one of the wealthiest countries on the planet. No-one now seriously disputes that fact.
“If we were independent today, we would be the 14th richest country in the world. The UK would be 18th.”
Ms Sturgeon ended her speech by acknowledging activists and campaigners who were no longer alive.
“As a tribute to those no longer with us, for everyone lucky enough to be alive at this moment in history and, above all else, for the sake of generations to come, we are going to win.
“Scotland is going to be independent.” she told the audience.
Parahprasing the words of Winnie Ewing, spoken forty years before, she said:
“On 18 September this year, we are going to stop the world, Scotland is going to get on.
“And then, when we do, the next phase of our journey will begin.
“We will regain our strength, renew our resolve, and we will get on with the job of building a country that our children, our grandchildren and their children will be proud to call home.”