A YES vote in next year’s referendum will be “an act of national self-confidence and self-belief”, Alex Salmond is to tell the SNP annual conference this afternoon.
In his keynote speech to delegates in Perth, he is due to argue that a vote for independence is not about victory for the SNP.
And he is set to hold up the achievements of the Scottish Parliament under both the Labour-Liberal Democrat coalition and the SNP as evidence of how life could be improved by decisions being made in Scotland.
He is expected to say devolution had offered a “taste of independence” which had helped make Scotland a better and fairer country.
He will argue Scotland’s ability to pursue distinctive policies had led to free personal care, the smoking ban, protecting the NHS from privatisation, free tuition fees, a 39-year low in crime and a freeze on the council tax.
And he will claim such achievements underlined the fundamental case for independence – that the people who live and work in Scotland are best placed to take decisions about the country’s future.
Mr Salmond will say: “A Yes vote is not about a victory for the SNP, or even a victory for the Yes campaign, or even the huge coalition of interests and enthusiasm that supports a Yes vote. It will be, above all, an act of national self-confidence and self-belief.
“The case for independence is about what is best for people in Scotland wherever they come from. It is about who should be taking decisions about Scotland: those who live here or politicians at Westminster.
“With even just a taste of independence we have been able to deliver fairer policies than elsewhere in these islands. So consider what we can achieve by extending Scotland’s powers over the things we don’t currently control – over our welfare system, our economy, pensions and defence. That is what a Yes vote means.”
Meanwhile, at a fringe meeting, polling guru Professor John Curtice said if the Yes campaign was going to win the economic argument it should spend less time talking about a more equal society. He said: “To put it crudely, people need to be persuaded independence will put £500 in their pockets, not the pockets of their less well-off neighbours.”
Former SNP leader Gordon Wilson told the same meeting that pro-independence campaigners needed to “go into attack”. He said the Yes side’s arguments should also focus on less positive issues such as the consequences of a No vote, which he claimed would result in Scotland being “thrown into despair” and could lead to Holyrood’s wings being clipped.
He said: “We cannot allow ourselves to be complacent, to stand back and hope that things will come our way.”