Scottish independence: Salmond rallies SNP activists

Alex Salmond urged delegates to do 'every single thing' they possibly could in the run-up to the referendum. Picture: Allan Milligan
Alex Salmond urged delegates to do 'every single thing' they possibly could in the run-up to the referendum. Picture: Allan Milligan
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ALEX Salmond yesterday claimed that “trust”, “passion” and “commitment” would ensure a Yes vote as he rallied SNP activists on the final day of their conference.

The First Minister urged delegates to do “every single thing” they possibly could in the run-up to the referendum so they could wake up the day after to a “wonderful, independent future” for Scotland.

At Perth Concert Hall, the SNP leader was the final speaker in a two-hour independence rally organised by the Yes Scotland campaign.

Looking ahead to the most important period in his party’s history, Mr Salmond evoked the “Now’s the day and now’s the hour” passage in Robert Burns’s Scots Wa Hae when he declared, “next year is Scotland’s day and Scotland’s hour”.

Moments later the conference closed in traditional manner with a rendition of the famous song inspired by Robert the Bruce’s address to his troops before Bannockburn.

Mr Salmond claimed that the trust the public had in the Scottish Government was the Nationalists’ “ace card”. The First Minister referred to recent polling from Ipsos Mori, which showed that the Scottish Government had an approval rating of plus 23 per cent compared with minus 28 per cent for the UK government.

“Trust is our ace card as we approach the referendum,” Mr Salmond told activists at the end of a four-day conference, attended by 1,300 registered delegates.

Mr Salmond said that the job for pro-independence campaigners was now to “transfer that trust in this government on to the referendum campaign”.

The First Minister added: “The trust comes because we are a government elected by the Scottish people, that is the connection – people trust the government because it is their government.” He said other key factors that would achieve independence were the Nationalists’ “passion to improve our nation” and their commitment.

He said: “Just think about our opponents in this campaign, their passion seems to be to talk the country down, to talk about what the country can’t do. They are entirely in negative.

“They have a negative mindset to the potential of the Scottish people. They won’t be able to match our ambition, our passion, to make this country more prosperous and more just.”

It was the the SNP’s ability to “deploy tens of thousands of activists who believe in the cause”, that was the campaign’s “greatest weapon”, Mr Salmond said.

Although he was quick to condemn Better Together’s “negative” approach, there were more signs that Yes Scotland was prepared to indulge in some negativity of their own.

At a conference that saw Nicola Sturgeon predict on Friday that a “No” vote would see Westminster “turn the screw” and threaten Scotland’s public services and universal benefits, Yes Scotland chief executive Blair Jenkins ramped up the attack.

“If you are sick and fed up of the corrosive and cynical world of Westminster, then next year we can be rid of all that,” Mr Jenkins said as he took to the stage, the first of nine speakers.

Turning his guns on Labour politicians who took the UK into war in Iraq, and the House of Commons expenses scandal, Mr Jenkins said: “Vote Yes and we can say ‘Enough!’ to the remote House of Commons and the ridiculous House of Lords. Enough of the war-mongers and the job-cutters; enough of the asset-strippers and mortgage-flippers; enough of the welfare-bashers and the bedroom-taxers.

“Let’s be done with them. Let’s make our own decisions and live by our own values. It’s time to speak up for Scotland. It’s time to stand up for Scotland. It’s time to vote Yes.”

Later Angus Robertson, the SNP’s Westminster leader, gave activists a demonstration of Yesmo, a mobile phone app the SNP believes will play a key role in identifying undecided voters they can convince to vote Yes.

Mr Robertson said the Yesmo would give Yes campaigners the edge over rivals by enabling them to canvass voters in pubs, cafes and their homes and relay their voting intentions to party headquarters.

Speaking before Mr Salmond, Ms Sturgeon described how she felt “incredibly lucky” to be deputy SNP leader at a momentous time in the party’s history.

Finance secretary John Swinney spoke of his frustration at having budget cuts imposed on him by George Osborne. He also reflected on life as an older father and how he wanted his three-year-old son to have the opportunities that would be brought by independence.

And Ivan McKee, a businessman working for Business for Scotland, told delegates how he had been persuaded that independence would be good for entrepreneurs.


SNP conference: ‘Salmond will debate independence’

SNP conference: ‘Trust will bring us independence’