Hey everyone As I watched my leader and my country’s leader speak to our people from the comfort of my living room I have to say I was happy proud and inspired not only to be a member of the broader Yes Scotland coalition which includes other groups which I have joined to serve the cause such as Women For Independence and National Collective but to be a member of the SNP and have a leader of my party of the stature of Alex Salmond.
Make no mistake Alex Salmond is a man of stature who has given his life to serve the people of Scotland and I believe in his speech to conference he showed both a vision for his country and respect for those of differing political traditions. He is a powerful passionate patriot who believes that this is our moment to shine.
As is often the case he started his speech with a joke saying that the fact that the Scottish Grand National was being held on the same day as his speech shows he has no say on the timing of the SNP conference. He then got on to the main business of the day and outlined the case as to why Scotland can, should be, and must be independent.
Mr Salmond started his speech by stating that in this our party’s 80th year we are privileged to have opportunities that our forebears could only dream of. Then giving due acknowledgement to our all embracing movement he said this includes the opportunity to be part of a greater campaign to build a better Scotland. This he said was a grassroots campaign made up of people from all parties and none working together for the benefit of Scotland.
In making this point, I believe he highlighted not only the strength of our movement but the weakness of our opponents and believe me they have a major weakness in this campaign they don’t have the activists nor the motivation that we have and that is what will carry us to victory. Well it’s hard to be passionate about the union unless you have some pretty serious vested interests and stand to make a lot more than your talents decree you should. So it seems to me that the union has only one weapon at their disposal that is fear. Unionists forget however that fear only works as long as people allow themselves to be afraid and Alex Salmond is not afraid of Westminster or their allies. He believes in himself and more importantly in our country and has instilled that confidence in the party and our supporters.
Contrast this if you will with the relentless negativity of the no campaign whom he mocked as not only having no grassroots but not a single grass root. He then quite rightly said that the more people hear from no the more inclined they are to vote Yes, and slaughtered Lord George Robertson whose comment that the forces of darkness would celebrate a yes victory was described as laughable and ludicrous. It is my opinion the noble lord has always been laughable and ludicrous.
Mr Salmond went on to taunt UK Prime Minister David Cameron for running away from a head to head debate with him. This was in my opinion a masterstroke if only because Cameron once said he would and I quote him verbatim ‘Fight for this United Kingdom with every fibre of my being’ he didn’t add the caveat that he would only fight for it from the safety of Westminster and would never have the guts to tackle our democratically elected First Minister because he was afraid of losing just like his deputy PM Nick Clegg had in TV debate with UKIP’s Nigel Farage.
Indeed the First Minister asked the question which the unionists can’t keep avoiding. Why if the leaders of the parties who are 4th and 5th in the polls in Scotland could have debates over Europe does he refuse to debate the future of the country he says he believes in.
The First Minister captured the mood of the conference went on to say that the Yes campaign must be positive and focused if we are to win the day for the people of Scotland. This was spot on from a man who was on top form and called better together what I and others see them for ‘the most miserable, negative, and depressing political campaign in modern history’. This is a campaign beyond parody and it has long ago descended in to farce and that my friends is where it is on its good days.
The theme of a broad based campaign as a movement for change ran through the First Minister’s speech and he was quick to point out that many voters who as he correctly have never voted SNP in their lives will be voting yes in September. Many he said were Labour voters who would be voting Labour in 2016 he even went so far as to say what I have been saying for years when he stated that Independence would be good for Scottish Labour and I have to say I agree with him on this as it may give them a chance to reclaim their party and take it back to the socialist roots abandoned long ago in the name of Middle England.
In a speech which was powerful, passionate, patriotic, and pragmatic, there were no personal insults to his Labour opponents despite them queuing up to launch spiteful and venomous tirades at their half empty gathering a couple of weeks ago. That is because Alex Salmond is a statesman fit to represent his country in stark contrast to small minded charlatans such as Labour’s current Scottish leadership at both Holyrood and Westminster who as he said at every opportunity side with the Tories and unelected Lords to talk Scotland down whereas the SNP and independence movement takes every opportunity we get to build Scotland up.
This referendum was he said a moment for Scotland to decide what kind of country we want
to be. It was he said a choice between two futures. This can be validated by the fact that we face future of fear under the austerity of a Westminster government of whatever shade, or a future of hope and optimism in an independent Scotland. Mr Salmond being a pragmatic man was however quick to point out that not everything will be sunshine and roses as soon as we become independent. This was not a speech for leading people up the garden path one only needs to look at what happened to the popularity of one Nicholas Clegg when the dream of a fairytale Britain turned sour and meant a political wedding with the Tories a wedding for which the Liberal Democrats are still paying an unfair price at the polls.
This is not a road Alex Salmond is prepared to take. The First Minister is nothing if not a realist and reminded us that there are and will be post independence choices to be made and challenges to be faced and we won’t get it right all the time. To believe would do so would be arrogant in the extreme no country has ever or will ever make the right call every time but Mr Salmond captured what I believe is the prevailing mood in of the nation when he said whatever choices we make they will be our choices and not those of others made for us by others and not made in our interests.
The clincher for me however came when he said that there will be Labour governments an independent Scotland there will also be SNP or coalition governments, but what there will never be is Tory governments we did not elect. The days when we have to take the governments that others choose will end with a yes vote in September. To thunderous applause he told both delegates and the wider audience that those days are over and they are over for good. It should be noted he did not say was that there would be no Tory governments in a future independent Scotland Alex Salmond is far too politically astute to that make what would be a not only a political mistake but an error of judgement, however it was implied that there would be no Tory governments until Scotland made the choice to elect them. In other words with independence we would always get the government we have chosen no matter its political colouring and that it is only right and proper that this should happen. I often have to explain to unionists that is how real democracy works and if they don’t get it the first time then believe me I will explain it to them as many times as I need to until the penny drops.
The themes of equality and fairness were key drivers in a speech which was clearly aimed as much as those watching who live outside the political village as it was at those inside the hall. Highlighting the inequalities of the United Kingdom, the First Minister told the watching audience what many of those involved in politics already know that in this United Kingdom the five wealthiest families have acquired more wealth than the poorest 12 million citizens or should I say subjects of UK PLC. Now I believe in wealth creation and doing as well as one can given our individual circumstances but this by any standards is totally obscene and this September we the people of Scotland will have the chance to say this kind of society is a society we do not want to be part of. We want the chance to create something different we deserve and demand better than this.
An Independent Scotland Mr Salmond said will be an inclusive Scotland reminding those watching that the exclusive nationalism of Nigel Farage and UKIP will have no place in the Scotland we seek to build. This will be a Scotland where all who want to be a part of it can play there part in making our nation the success we know it can be. To emphasise his commitment to equality he announced that both Shona Robison and Angela Constance have been promoted to full members of cabinet and said that an independent Scotland will bin the bedroom tax and make sure that the Equal Pay Act is fully implemented. Funny to think that than an act introduced by a UK Government in 1970 when this blogger was either 8 or 9 depending on what month it was given the royal assent has never been pursued to the full rigour of the law.
It was time the First Minister said to build a fairer nation and transfer money from Westminster’s priorities to Scotland’s priorities. The choice between these two competing interests could not be greater and nowhere are the contrasting visions between them more clearly illustrated than by the attitude to nuclear weapons. This Mr Salmond said can be demonstrated by the fact that whilst the UK wanted to build new weapons capable of destroying the world an Independent Scotland would build a childcare and early years learning system which Mr Salmond said would be the envy of the world.
This is he said our moment to shine. To build a better Scotland an inclusive nation we can be proud of and a beacon of hope for the world. Let us go to the to voters and persuade them that in the choice of two futures he talked about independence is by far the better and safer option not only for ourselves but for the long term future of our nation. Let us prove that the vision of a powerful passionate patriot is not unique to him but is shared by a based movement which says we deserve a better nation and we are going to get it by putting Scotland’s future in the hands of the people who live here.
Love And Best Wishes