“We offer malice towards nobody, we offer friendship towards all … let the great debate begin”

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By G.A.Ponsonby
 
First Minister Alex Salmond has declared the debate on Scotland’s constitutional future officially open and called for the “great debate” to begin.
 
Speaking at Edinburgh Castle in front of the assembled ranks of the world’s media Mr Salmond spelled out his vision of an independent Scotland.

By G.A.Ponsonby
 
First Minister Alex Salmond has declared the debate on Scotland’s constitutional future officially open and called for the “great debate” to begin.
 
Speaking at Edinburgh Castle in front of the assembled ranks of the world’s media Mr Salmond spelled out his vision of an independent Scotland.

We seek a Scotland that is “proud of its heritage”, said the First Minister, “but looking to the future.”

The First Minister was speaking hours after the Scottish Government published its consultation document in which the question to be put to the Scottish electorate was revealed – “Do you agree that Scotland should be an independent country?”

Mr Salmond spoke of an independent prosperous Scotland emerging with many great advantages and cited the nation’s massive natural resources.

The SNP leader however stressed that the quest for independence was not solely about the strength of the economy and described his vision of “a society that has compassion at its heart”.

He listed the achievements of the SNP Government with what he described as the limited power at their disposal – free education, free prescriptions, a social wage and the lowest crime levels in 30 years.

However the SNP leader then pointed to those areas that he said no Scottish government had the ability to influence and that independence would remedy such as welfare reforms and the power to prevent our young from dying in illegal wars.


“We offer malice towards nobody, we offer friendship towards all”


Referring to the rest of the UK, Europe and beyond, the First Minister stressed Scotland’s willingness to embrace a responsible role in the international community.

Asked if Scotland would look to strengthen bonds with the Nordic nations Mr Salmond acknowledged the success of the Nordic Council and claimed that the model was one he thought could be implemented in the British – Irish council.

Mr Salmond concluded his opening remarks by highlighting the democratic and peaceful nature of Scotland’s push for independence that, he pointed out, had resulted in not one death in over 100 years.

It had been “an entirely democratic process” said Mr Salmond who added: “Not a single person has lost their life arguing for or against Scottish independence.  There hasn’t been so much as a nosebleed in the course of an entire century.”

Mr Salmond contrasted an independent Scotland, free of nuclear weapons, with the current situation that saw weapons of mass destruction parked on the Clyde.

“We see an opportunity to build a Scotland at ease with itself as a prosperous European society which styles itself, not on the might of its weaponry but on the compassion of its social services, which offers friendship and cooperation to its near neighbours and across the European continent and beyond.

“That is the Scotland which we seek, that is a Scotland worth debating for and so – let that great debate now begin.”