Scottish Independence: Alex Salmond makes his case

Alex Salmond said independence would prevent unpopular Westminster policies being carried out in Scotland.  Picture: Jane Barlow
Alex Salmond said independence would prevent unpopular Westminster policies being carried out in Scotland. Picture: Jane Barlow
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Independence would give Scotland a more “cost-effective” Parliament that “truly reflects” the people’s wishes, the First Minister will say today.

Taxpayers north of the border contribute £50 million a year to the running of the Houses of Parliament in London and the Scotland Office in Whitehall, Alex Salmond said.

But in a speech today he will say that these institutions do “not deliver for Scotland”.

The First Minister will use a speech at Nigg Energy Park on Cromarty Firth, in the Highlands, to make the case for independence.

Mr Salmond will brand his political rivals as a “parcel of rogues” and attack their “scare stories” about independence.

“The parcel of rogues in the No campaign have been caught out big time in the nature of their arguments.” he will say.

“They claimed that mobile phone charges would go up in an independent Scotland the day before the European Commission set about abolishing roaming charges across Europe.

Project Fear

“They said that the UK’s triple-A status was crucial to Scotland and then proceeded to lose it for the UK.

“They said that UK embassies would no longer promote whisky, oblivious to the fact that they already charge for such receptions.

“All of this nonsense and much, much more is wrapped up in what the Better Together campaign themselves describe as Project Fear; their confidence that they can scare people out of voting for independence.

“Scare stories give way to reason, and hope will always trump fear.”

Mr Salmond will argue that “we don’t need to spend £50 million a year on a political system that simply doesn’t deliver for Scotland”.

He will say: “Despite a majority of Scottish MPs voting against bedroom tax, child benefit cuts or the housing of nuclear weapons on our shores, we still have these measures imposed on us.

“With independence, we invest in ourselves and deliver a far more cost-effective, transparent and representative Parliament that truly reflects the wishes and expectations of the people we are honoured to represent.”

He will also criticise a proposed large pay rise for MPs, by the Independent Parliamentary Standards Authority, of 11% to £64,000 after the 2015 general election.

Austerity

Mr Salmond will say that “at a time of severe economic constraint it is simply unacceptable for parliamentarians to receive such substantial increases to their salaries when families and individuals are facing unprecedented austerity”.

The First Minister will say that Holyrood can mitigate much of the impact of Westminster’s policies but this is just “papering over the cracks”.

He will say: “We have introduced and protected free health and education and defended free personal care for the elderly. We have cushioned 500,000 Scots against London cuts to council tax benefit, protected capital spending and focused on tackling youth unemployment.

“But much of what the Scottish Parliament can do is mitigation, papering over the cracks created by Westminster.

“And then there is what we can’t do. We can’t stop the bedroom tax. We can’t have a country free of nuclear weapons. We can’t even prevent fuel poverty in energy-rich Scotland.

“With devolution, we can frame policies which allow us to do a bit better than most of the rest of the UK. Only with independence can we build the Scotland we want to see.”

His address comes the day after former chancellor Alistair Darling, who is leading the anti-independence campaign, set out what he described as a “powerful, principled and positive case for remaining in the UK”.