ALEX Salmond has revealed the Scottish Government will publish its blueprint for independence on Tuesday 26 November.
As he announced the date to cheers at the SNP annual conference in Perth, the Scottish First Minister also issued a fresh challenge to David Cameron to debate the country’s future with him.
Voters in Scotland will decide if the country remains part of the UK in a referendum in 11 months’ time.
Mr Salmond told party activists with that crunch vote now less than a year away they were the “independence generation”.
He said: “As we move into this crucial year for Scotland we accept, indeed relish, the challenge to furnish the people of Scotland with the information necessary to assess the opportunities of independence.
“I can therefore announce the Scottish Government will publish the white paper on independence on Tuesday, November 26.”
The date is just days before St Andrew’s Day on November 30.
Mr Salmond said the paper would “spell out” what would happen between the referendum and Scotland becoming independent in spring 2016, if there was a Yes vote.
It will also “set out the why of independence” and reveal the SNP’s “vision of Scotland”, he said.
As he revealed the date the key document will be published, Mr Salmond again challenged the Prime Minister to debate Scotland’s future with him on television.
Mr Cameron has already refused to take part in such a clash, pointing out he will not be able to vote in the referendum.
But the SNP leader said if the Tory would not debate independence with him he should “step out”of the debate over Scotland’s future.
Mr Salmond told him: “Here’s the deal, Prime Minister. We’ll publish the white paper, then you and I must debate. Prime Minister to First Minister.
“The choice is yours. Step up to the plate - or step out of this debate.”
He branded the Prime Ministers refusal to debate him “untenable”, claiming Mr Cameron had “promised a respectful debate” but had then turned the “full guns of the Whitehall machine on Scotland”, with the UK Govenrment publishing a series of papers against independence.
But the SNP leader’s message to those opposed to independence was simple.
“We intend to win this referendum,” the First Minister said.
He told SNP activists: “In less than one year’s time we can stop imagining, and we can start building. Building the Scotland we know is possible.”
Mr Salmond said a Yes vote in the referendum, to be held on September 18, was “not about a victory for the SNP, or even a victory for the Yes campaign”.
Instead he stated: “It will be, above all, an act of national self confidence and national self belief.”
Mr Salmond insisted that the more people knew about independence the more likely they were to back this, saying: “When the people hear the can do optimism of the Yes camapign up against the can’t do dirge of the No campaign, then they vote Yes.”
But he said under the current constitutional set-up, Scotland was “paying a heavy price for Westminster decisions”.
He pledged one of the first acts of an SNP government in an independent Scotland would be to abolish the so-called bedroom tax - changes to housing benefit which mean those deemed to have extra rooms lose some of their cash.
This affects some 80,000 Scottish households, with Mr Salmond saying: “The bedroom tax is becoming a symbol of why independence is necessary.”
He also vowed an SNP Government would bring the recently privatised Royal Mail back into public ownership.
The First Minister said its sale was “the latest instalment in Westminster’s privatisation obsession” and added: “If elected in an independent Scotland I give this pledge - an SNP Government will bring our Royal Mail back into public hands.”
Mr Salmond went on to claim the “Westminster economic system ain’t working for Scotland” saying this had “created one of the biggest gaps between rich and poor in the developed world”.
Now with the independence referendum taking place next year, he said the country “had a choice between two futures”.
Scotland could “accept our status as an economic region of an unbalanced and unequal system” he said, or could alternatively “embrace the powers of a national economy”.
This he said would give the country “the powers to compete, to grow businesses here in Scotland, to attract headquarters and to ensure our best and brightest can realise their ambitions in their own country”.
• The Scotsman Conferences is hosting a series of events capturing the many facets of the Scottish independence debate. 3 December sees a formidable line up of expert speakers tackle “The Independence White Paper: A Business Plan for Scotland?” For more details on this and other great events please visit www.scotsmanconferences.com