Salmond: Vote ‘Yes’

First Minister Alex Salmond.
First Minister Alex Salmond.

In just a matter of days, we’ll hold the future of this nation in our hands. Each and every one of us will have the opportunity of a lifetime.

The chance to win our independence.

For me, it’s all about democracy. A Yes vote will finally mean decisions affecting Scotland will be taken in Scotland by the people who live and work here.

That isn’t the case at present. We continue to get governments we didn’t vote for. The Tories have just one Westminster MP north of the border – that’s one out of 59.

Their priorities simply aren’t our priorities. Take two recent reports for example. One showed that more than 100,000 more people have fallen into poverty in Scotland in a single year.

The other recommended spending billions of pounds on a new generation of Trident nuclear missiles. So, as more of our families are forced to turn to food banks, the Westminster parties plan to upgrade weapons of mass destruction on the Clyde at a cost of £4billion a year.

That’s despite the fact that a majority of MSPs at Holyrood are opposed to Trident, and a majority of Scottish MPs voted against its renewal.

To me, that’s an obscenity. We can do a lot better than this. With a Yes vote, we can remove Trident, address this searing injustice and instead mobilise our fantastic assets and people to achieve fairness, equality and prosperity.

Independence will give Scotland the opportunity to make the most of all our great industries.

From oil and gas through to shipbuilding and from life sciences to the renewable energy revolution, we are at the forefront of global innovation.

Scotland is one of the wealthiest countries in the world – richer per head than Japan, France, the UK and the majority of developed countries. But at present we simply can’t spend our money as we choose. So we don’t feel rich. With independence, that will change.

A Yes vote will mean investment in priorities like childcare and substantial savings of around £600million a year by not spending on Westminster priorities like Trident and not paying for sending MPs and peers to the Commons and House of Lords.

Independence will also allow us to protect our vital public services, including the NHS, as the privatisation of the health service in England threatens Scotland’s budget.

An independent Scotland will have a seat at the top table in Europe for the first time ever. That’s hugely important, as it means we’ll be able to fight for a better deal for our farmers and fishermen.

And if we don’t vote Yes? The alternative is risking seeing Scotland dragged out of Europe against our will in an in-out referendum as Westminster dances to a UKIP tune. That would have disastrous consequences for Scottish jobs and investment, cutting us off from a single market of more than half a billion people.

Referendum Day will be a defining moment for our nation. That choice people have on September 18 is a very simple one – should Scotland govern itself? Only a Yes vote gives us a chance to create a brighter future. September 18 can be our Independence Day ... a moment in history and a historic opportunity.

This is Scotland’s chance. We should – we must – grasp it with both hands.