Scotland has 'self-confidence to take place in world'

THE SNP's overwhelming victory in the Holyrood election was an expression of "Scotland's self-confidence", First Minister Alex Salmond has told a gathering of the world's media in London.

Following recent claims that independence is now "inevitable", he told the Foreign Press Association that history is on his side. A confident Mr Salmond addressed a packed room at the Commonwealth Club in Whitehall yesterday on his hopes for Scotland achieving its "proper place" in the community of nations.

He warned both sides of the debate about raising the prospect of "bogeymen" to blame for not achieving independence or trying to frighten people away from independence.

Hide Ad
Hide Ad

"The election result on 5 May was an expression of self-confidence by Scotland," he said. "The unionist parties ran a scaremongering campaign that claimed Scotland was too small and too poor to look after its own affairs. That mendacious message was overwhelmingly rejected."

Later, during questions, he added that independence had "always been in the hands of the Scottish people" and that it would be wrong to "blame the failure to achieve independence on bogeymen".

He was also pressed on low poll ratings in favour of independence, currently less than 30 per cent. Drawing on his recent election victory, Mr Salmond pointed out that at the start of the campaign Labour was 15 per cent ahead.

But he went on to argue that if Scots were asked whether they want Holyrood to have more powers on defence, the economy and foreign policy they would say "of course".

Mr Salmond also suggested that his party could be on the verge of becoming a dominant force in Scottish politics. "Labour, once the dominant party in Scotland, now holds fewer seats than Margaret Thatcher's Tories did in 1979," he said.

But he said he was in no hurry to hold an independence referendum, preferring to concentrate on what was in his party's manifesto to get more powers through the Scotland Bill. "Just because we have won such a big mandate does not mean I should have a rush of blood to the head," he said.