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A very warm welcome to live coverage of the SNP's autumn


conference. The Eden Court Theatre is filling up for Party Leader Alex


Salmond's speech. The nationalists are in fine fettle after their


historic Holyrood wind. Alex Salmond has a tough task ahead as


he tries to convince the rest of the country about independence. We


will bring you his speech in half- an-hour.


I am here in Inverness. The theatre is packed. They are using all the


breakout rooms. Some 2,000 delegates and visitors are here.


They particularly want to hear Alex Salmond's speech.


Or from Brian later. That spectacular win in May allowed the


SNP to move from minority to majority government, paving the way


for an independence referendum. A difficult fight lies ahead and they


have difficulties on the policy front, too. Alex Salmond has been


buffeted by a opposition to his programme.


Infection light -- election Nitin May. At schools and sports centres,


the electorate delivered an overall SNP majority for the first time


since devolution. It was a winner that changed the way that politics


were done in Holyrood, something Alex Salmond was aware of when he


delivered his victory speech. Although the SNP have a majority of


the seats, we do not have a monopoly. The SNP's meeting here in


Inverness for its first conference since the election win. There is no


doubt that the two big stories are likely to be public spending cuts


and the independence referendum. The Scottish Government is going to


deal with the thing that Harold Macmillan feared the most - events,


dear boy, events. A Bill is proposed to deal with sectarianism.


The government backed down on its rush to pass the Lords as it stood


accused of failing to listen to church and supporters' groups.


Labour, Tories and Lib Dem members refused to support the Lib Dem --


the legislation. You can either be part of the problem or part of the


solution. If hate crime has polarised things


outside the SNP, does the issue of gay marriage have their potential


to do the same inside it? The party is keen on introducing gay marriage,


but John Mason's remarks that nobody should be forced to approve


of it sparked a row, with some of his colleagues accusing him of


encouraging discrimination. Ultimately, the SNP should overcome


these issues with its overall majority. But it it -- but is it


always as simple as that? The main challenge is the economy. The whole


of the UK is in trouble. There are billions of counts of cuts in the


next few years -- billions of pounds of cuts in the next few


years. Then there is the Battle of government - Holyrood verses


Westminster. They have clashed on things like the influence of the UK


Supreme Court on Scotland's legal system and deficit reducing


spending cuts, which the SNP says will take billions off of its


budget in the next few years. The UK Government says the Scotland


Bill will deliver the biggest single transfer of financial and


other powers in 300 years. The SNP says that its status as a pocket


money parliament means that Scotland cannot realise its


potential. A referendum on independence is to be held towards


the end of the current Parliament, with parties coming under


increasing pressure to get on with it. They fear that they will lose


an outbreak vote on whether to be in or out of the UK. They will keep


coming back until they get full independence. The SNP recognises


that not everyone backs independence. But Alex Salmond has


spoken of Scots today as being part of an independence generation.


Andrew Black reporting. Let's discuss some of those issues


further. I am joined by Professor John Curtice of Strathclyde


University and by Brian Taylor. Bryan, at this point in the


proceedings, we always talk about the mood of the conference. I take


it it is pitted -- pretty upbeat in Inverness? It is positively


ecstatic and euphoric, but there is a contained elements to that. This


party did not come into existence in 1934 to seek power. At that time


it was a distant dream. Recently, when they have gained power in


Holyrood, it is always with an eye to that greater objective of


seeking independence. Winnie Ewing famously said that she was not in


the House of Commons to settle down but to settle up. That remains the


objective of the SNP. They are euphoric at their victory in the


Holyrood parliament, but always there is the calculation of the


strategy with regard to independence.


Professor John Curtice, the stage is set in Inverness. What you think


Alex Salmond has to do in his speech this afternoon? Two things


we're looking out for. The first is the range of arguments that are put


forward for independence. I think we can probably regard this as the


beginning of a long campaigned to wards the referendum. We have seen


the SNP make the arguments, as it sees it, in favour of independence.


To that extent, I think this conference is quite an important


event. The second thing which we are looking for is what he says


about Devolution Max, his second choice. We have been told he is


going to suggest it is a legitimate proposal. I think the SNP are, as


it were, moving closer to it as something that may be a second best,


but better than nothing. This referendum is not simply going to


be an independence referendum, it will be a referendum on Scotland's


constitutional future. Around that there is an important potential


battle about who is going to claim ownership of the Devolution Max


option. The SNP, quite sensibly, are moving to try to claim


ownership of it before the opponents do. The Lib Dems said


they were in favour of home rule. Model Fraser, clearly, is not


unsympathetic to devolution powers. -- model Fraser.


It sounds like an important afternoon for the SNP in terms of


them giving a little more information about what they hope


for in this referendum, which their critics have already said they do


not give much information on. think, at the same time, it is a


conference speech. There will be some gutsy speaking from Mr Salmond.


He needs to energise the party. I have been stunned by the extent to


which there is compliance with the slow progress of the referendum.


One wit have perhaps expected some sections of the party to get a


little bit weary with that. Quite the reverse. They have bought into


the project, bought into the calculations Alex Salmond is making


about the need to be fair that referendum. Why? He promised he


would be fair it. Alex Salmond always believed that independence


would come about when Scotland felt confident about itself, not weak.


One final thought on this business of the second element of Devolution


Max, I wonder who that mandates, who would feel obliged to act as a


consequence of that - the UK Government, could dislike that


second option. Mr Salmond says that if the people of Scotland speak


they are entitled to have their way. New laws allowing gay marriage will


be brought in, according to one SNP MSP. Ministers are consulting and


stress that no final decision has been made. At a fringe event on the


issue, Pete Wishart said he was confident the government would back


reform. It has led to concern from religious groups. Glen Campbell


Traditionally, marriage is a union between a man and a woman, but


should the institution also be opened to same-sex couples? The


Scottish Government's consulting on making it possible for gay couples


to marry in Scotland. If the law is changed they say no church or other


religious organisation would be forced to carry out same-sex unions.


That has not been enough to win round Catholic bishops who have


warmed the First Minister of a serious chill in relations with the


Church if same-sex marriage goes ahead. Objections have also been


raised inside the SNP. I think there will be a trip -- terrific


amount of opposition. You do not take steps like this when society


is broken, when families are breaking up. You do not pull out


one of the cornerstones, that his marriage, which is there primarily


for the raising of children. issue that is crucial to what sort


of comfort -- country we want to be. A fringe event on same-sex marriage


heard mainly from supporters. must go forward as equals and admit


that love is a concept that we simply cannot qualify and we cannot


bind. We only really have one choice here - to support equality


for everyone. Equal marriage is about strengthening the institution.


Equality is the only answer for our future in an independent Scotland


and we should be fighting for it across the SNP, despite all the


fears across parties and society on what change brings. Two speakers


warned against same-sex marriage. believe that, whether our nation


goes forward to independence under the SNP will depend what the SNP


does with this, whether we continue to be blessed by God and be able to


lead the nation or whether God's blessing will fall from us if we


allow homosexual marriage as opposed to partnership. We did not


vote for it at and we are not having it.


The repeal of the law banning the promotion of, sexuality in schools


caused a furious row in Scotland a decade ago. Businessman Brian


Souter, an SNP principal donor, backed a referendum on the issue.


He has made no comment on the issue of same-sex marriage. It is not his


party's section 28. This is a debate that will be held with


mutual respect. What I believe will happen is that our government in


the course of the next few years, after this consultation, will bring


forward legislation which will ensure that we have equal marriage


in this country. Some worry the new law could have unintended


consequences. Priests and ministers, if they refuse to carry out these


ceremonies, could end up in court. I have a strong feeling that, under


the Equality Act, any legislation from Scotland or Westminster could


be over ruled by the Supreme Court. The Finance Secretary told the BBC


that would not happen. I do not think that is a danger at all. This


is an issue of clear sensitivity. We have to make the provision


available on the basis that the commitments and protections that we


put in place our commitments and protections that we can fully on


are. I don't support gay marriage in


spite of being a Conservative, I support gay marriage because I am a


Conservative. The Prime Minister has already promised to change the


law in England and Wales. Nicola Sturgeon is in charge of


devolved policy ins,. She made no reference to same-sex marriage in


her address to conference, but when she launched a consultation on


changing the law, she made clear her support in principle. More


recently, that Scottish Government is keen to sit -- stress that it


will consider all the response I am joined by two MSPs from the


conference. First of all, can you each state in 20 seconds your take


on gay marriage. First of all, to you, Maureen Watt, what's your take


on it? At the moment, as you know, it's out for consultation. I am


waiting to see the responses. I would be minded to support it, but


I am very much open to see what the responses will bring. And Dave


Thompson? Well, similarly, the consultation is taking place at the


moment and I am keen to see what comes in at the end of consultation.


I am on record as having said I don't see any need for change at


the moment, but let's see what the consultation brings in and let's


have a proper and full and sensible debate about it after that. What is


the need for change? We do have civil partnerships in law, we have


had those for a few years, why is there this need for a change?


I think we can see other countries moving in that direction and as we


said, we have put it out to consultation. We have said we would


do that and have done it. We will wait and see what happens. What's


your objection to gay marriage, why do you think it shouldn't happen?


Well, the consultation is drawing in a lot of responses, as your


piece just showed there, that there's a big debate going on at


the moment and we need to see just what comes in on the consultation.


It is important for a Government that is a listening Government to


listen to what the people say. I would encourage everybody out there


who wants to influence this debate to get their contributions into the


Government and we will have a full and frank and sensible debate about


the issues in due course. On the press release accompanying the


consultation it's pointed out the social attitudes survey which said


60% of Scots do support gay marriage, if you are a listening


Government why don't you just go ahead and do it? I think you have


to look much more widely than just an opinion poll. Opinion polls can


be affected by the question and how you ask it and so on. We need a


full consultation. We need to listen to what people all over


Scotland have to say about this issue and the various different


organisations that have an interest in it, as well. The sensible thing


to do for a listening Government is to wait, see what comes in, have a


proper debate, and then decide what to do. We saw some strong


objections to gay marriage in that report, words being banded around


such as God removing his blessing from the party. We have seen the


mainstream faith groups such as the Roman Catholic Church opposed to it.


Do you fear there could be unintended consequences in the


legislation, ie, forcing religious groups to perform these ceremonies?


Well, when the legislation comes, it has got to be detailed and we


have to make sure that it's tight enough, that it doesn't have


unintended consequences. These kind of things will come out in the


consultation and the debate, once the legislation is proposed and


that's why we can't pre-empt that. We shouldn't as a Government and as


parliamentarians pre-empt that. We should be, as Dave has said,


listening to all aspects and all answers to the consultation and


that's what we are doing. Dave Thompson, I am sure the legislation


would ensure that people weren't forced to go ahead with this, do


you think it's time for a more tempered discussion in the SNP and


not the kind of devisive language we saw yesterday. I wasn't at the


meeting you referred to and I am quite sure that the debate that we


will have will be a very measured debate. It will be a sensible


debate where people can put their point of view on both sides of the


argument and we can decide how to go forward. It's a debate, not just


for the SNP, it's a debate for all parties and all parties will have


different views within them. Thank you very much.


Now, the point of this party is fundamentally independence. The


referendum is going to happen but it won't be cut and dried. There is


a debate about what forms Scottish independence might take and whether


there should be more than one question. Here is our correspondent


Raymond Buchanan. They can almost taste it. An


independence referendum will be offered to the people soon, but so


far a debate on the subject hasn't been on the conference menu.


Instead, a fringe event hosted by the Daily Telegraph gave delegates


a chance to discuss the policy. This is why we are in business.


This is it. They came here to debate visions of independence. At


the top table the party's campaign director, and the former treasurer.


From the audience questions about how this party can win with a


referendum at least two years away. I have friends who are not at all


interested in politics and I was visiting them last week and they


were saying everybody is talking about independence and Alex Salmond,


how do we sustain that until 2014? My fear is dirty tricks at the


crossroads. Do you think that can happen? Firstly the issue about the


establishment, I am not sure there is an establishment in the sense,


the idea that there's some sort of huge conspiracy, I am not convinced


about. Indeed, to help them win the party hierarchy are actively


embracing British traditions, so an independent Scotland would keep the


Queen, the pound, and have an open border. When people do listen to


that they'll realise this is what every other normal country does in


the world. We can continue to have a social union we all value, but we


can also be a normal country that makes the important decisions that


affect ourselves as individuals, as families and communities.


doesn't that sound like a light- weight version of independence?


Independence is your parliament being Sovereign so parliament can


make whatever decision it is wants. It may be that there are a whole


series of areas where we continue to pool our interests, both with


our neighbours and friends on these islands, but elsewhere in Europe


and the world. The key thing is that our parliament can make


whatever decisions it likes and that means if any of these


arrangements aren't optimal in the future you can change them. If that


seems too strong for voters the SNP have another option, more powers


for Holyrood, but not independence. It's been called devolution max.


It's not what delegates here want, but it will be better than nothing


at all. One is about absolute independence and the other is about


more devolution and more powers. Which powers? Possibly tax-raising


powers. More of a Sovereign ownership on what we think of as


Scottish and Scottish issues. half-way house between what we have


at the moment and full independence where the Scottish parliament would


have more powers than it currently has, but is not the full


independence that we seek. there are some within the party who


think a second referendum question could risk confusing voters and


imperil independence. The aim should be to take the people by the


hand and show them we can create this better society and that mean


hrrb. The party are likely to back two referendum questions, but look


to others to argue for the devolution max option. Then there's


the question of when this will all happen. 2014 has been hinted at but


that's a secret to be revealed another day.


Well, let's discuss this further and go back to Inverness and our


political editor Brian Taylor. Thank you very much.


I am joined here at the Eden Court Theatre by Professor James Mitchell


and eubgs pert on -- an expert on these matters, covering these


things as long as I have anyway, which is probably a depressing


thought for both of us. You were here to deliver the Donaldson


lecture. First, this issue of the second question in a referendum,


there will be independence and then devolution Max which I kper pret as


being -- kper pret as -- interpret. Is that a clever strategic move on


the part of the SNP or a confusion? I think it's a clever move. In a


sense it's an insurance policy so that if the Scots don't vote for


independence the likelihood is they'll vote for more powers and


that seems to be where public opinion is at the moment. Polls


suggest, the large polls. We have contradictory evidence from the


polls. At least the SNP would win something if it's not the end goal.


Exactly what that more powers involves is as yet unclear. I have


to say my view would be that the SNP alone cannot define that.


That's got to be something the other political parties and perhaps


even beyond the parties have to have a share in defining. Is that


because it will be down to a UK Government to make the changes, the


Scottish Government, if that is mandated, the Scottish Government


on its own could not bring about devolution max? You cannot devolve


as it were, over the years even before we had devolution. The


problem is if Scots vote for independence it's clear-cut, you


get independence. There are negotiations but you get it. When


you vote for more powers you have got to negotiate with a UK


Government and it would make sense before you put anything on the


ballot paper to have some agreement across parties, at least some of


the other parties, on what that vote will be. The Liberal Democrats


are clearly engaging in this. They've set up a Commission to look


at this. We know there is a debate inside the the Labour Party. Who


knows who may happen in the Tory Party. Your own lecture, you


referred to Scottish identity had become more comfortable, a change


you had seen since the previous time you did the lecture. 94.


said perhaps the party near needed to recognise there were continuing


British dimensions, did you arrange a bodyguard for after the speech!


If I tried that in 1994 I wouldn't have got away with it. It wouldn't


have gone down at all well. That's a major statement, not just in the


changes here in the SNP but in Scotland. We are more relaxed about


who we are. This is an identity, a Scottish identity that doesn't feel


threatened. What do you mean by the British dimensions? A number of


different dimensions. There will be continueities, unions that will


continue. The social union, the links between people with family


and friends in parts of the UK. SNP need to begin to... They need


to articulate that. Britishness is the term to use. They've problems


with this term and we need to get over this. Now it's possible


because Scottish identity is more secure. Thank you very much.


Back to the studio. Thank you very much.


Well, Professor John Kurtice is still here. What do you think about


that, about a second question, a clever move or confusion? Well, the


truth is the history of this is that the SNP when it held the


national conversation I think through that process discovered


that indeed what some opinion approximatelies already de-- polls


already detected, the idea of Scotland being responsible for more


or less most of its domestic affairs, but defence and foreign


affairs was the most thing - through that conversation they


discovered the popularity of that position. As a result, ever since


the conclusion of the national conversation that's clearly been


potentially on the SNP's agenda. I think in part the SNP learned


something. But it's also true that certainly the opinion polls


indicate that seems to be something the public are willing to vote for,


whereas they don't seem to be willing at the moment, at least the


majority, to vote for inpence. It has to be said, if you were to go


back... Sorry, I have to stop you there. We can go straight to our


commentator Andrew Black where Alex Salmond is about to speak in Eden


I was just Can I say to the folk in the hall, you are the lucky ones.


These five overspill halls, they're all paying, you know!


The message from premier Ran should remind us of two things. Firstly,


Scotland has many, many friends internationally. People are


cheering us on, they're wishing us well. And that international reach


is a huge asset for our country. Secondly, climate change is perhaps


the biggest single issue facing this planet. The responsibility of


the Scottish parliament, the Scottish Government for it's


element accidental, it wasn't even on the agenda back in 1997 and


therefore, wasn't specified or reserved in the Scotland Act, as a


result it became devolved. So, given that by international acclaim


we have handled this mighty issue well, as a Government and as a


parliament, what possible argument could there be that the Scottish


parliament is not capable of discharging all of the issues


facing the Scottish people? APPLAUSE.


Also I wanted to say a word about Scotland's late national poet Eddie


Morgan. He was a man whose modesty as an individual was matched only


by his brilliance as a poet. He didn't wear his politics on his


sleeve, but he's left this party a financial legacy which is


transformational in its scope and Angus will spell out that tomorrow.


His real legacy, of course, to the world is in the body of his work.


He once told our Scottish parliament we give you our deepest,


dearest wish to govern well, don't say we have no mandate to be so


bold. Delegates, by your applause, let's salute the life of Edward


Nicola, when I was cutting my political teeth in West Lothian,


trying to work out what I did with that computer screen, the late


Billy Wolfe once told me that the Scottish National Party stood for


two things: Independence for Scotland and home rule for Bo'ness.


In reality, of course, the SNP does stand for two fundamental aims.


Independence for Scotland and also the furthering of all Scottish


interests. These are guiding lights and they are equally important


because they reflect the reality that our politics are not just


constitutional but based on people. I tried to reflect some of the Sun


election night when the community of the realm of Scotland presented


us with their greatest ever mandate of the devilish in Iraq. We got an


absolute majority in a proportional system, a system specifically give


up -- designed to prevent such a thing from happening. Mind you, it


was designed by the Labour Party, so... Perhaps we should not be


surprised that their cunning plan did not work out. The best laid


schemes of mice and Lord George Robertson. I said that, after


almost 80 years, we had lived up to the name of one of our founding


parties. East, west, south and north, we are now the National


Party of Scotland. It is a good phrase - the community of the realm.


It is a concept developed in medieval Scotland to describe an


idea of community identity which was beyond sectional interest. The


best Scots term would be the common well. Sometimes as a government we


have to take sides with in Scotland as well as taking Scotland's side,


particularly when times are tough and we have to ask the rich to help


the poor and the strong to help the weak. We always do so in pursuit of


that common good. We love Scotland but we do not believe our country


is perfect. We seek to make it better. We know that, in building


the new Scotland, we must confront the demons from the past, like


sectarianism, and problems from the present, like alcoholism. The


election told us that the people respect and understand that


sometimes it takes guts to govern. We shall always government for that


common good. We government, we have government, wisely, and we will


continue to do so. We have sheltered the community from the


economic storms in so far as it is in our power to do so. Our


community face hugely difficult circumstances, a squeeze between


falling in comes and rising prices. To help family budgets we have


frozen the council tax for four years and we will continue to


freeze it through this Parliament. APPLAUSE Labour say that we should


not do this. Really? Then we would have the same


60% rises as when they were in power, a council tax rise of �680


for a Band D property. We have held down water rates. The Lib Dems say


we should privatise water. Really? Then we would be as powerless to


act on water bills as they are right now to act on energy bills.


And to help family budgets we have abolished prescription charges.


APPLAUSE The Tories say we should not do this.


Tell that to the 600,000 Scots on incomes of �16,000 who were forced


to pay for their medicine. Every household bill which is on the road


influence we have tried to control. Every household bill under UK


influence is out of control. In Scotland, we have a prices and


incomes policy, in England, the Tories control in comes, except, of


course, in the boardroom, but not prices. None of these things - the


frieze of council tax, prescription charges, water bills - has been


easy. The record shows that the only party attempting to hold down


household bills is the Scottish Government and the SNP.


APPLAUSE Now, the Unionist parties have lost touch with the people.


Labour and Tories are parties without a lead of. The Liberals


have a leader without a party! LAUGHTER.


We govern well, they will pose badly. In the election, the people


decided that Labour would not fit for government. Right now, they are


not fit for opposition in Scotland. Governing well makes a real


difference to real people. Back in 2007, we said we would put 1,000


extra police on the streets and communities of Scotland. Labour


said it could not be done, but it has been done. The result has been


a 35 years low in recorded crime in Scotland. I will just repeat that.


Recorded crime is at its lowest since 1976, when Jimmy Carter was


the President of the United States and Jenny Saville was presenting


Top Of The Pops. Earlier this week, an opinion poll showed that fear of


crime in Scotland were running at almost half the level of the rest


of the United Kingdom - 28% against 48%. Much of that success is down


to these extra police officers. We believe in freedom, but the freedom


of people from fear of being mugged or Robbie is a key objective of


this government. The extra police officers and a substantial part of


achieving that objective. Let there be no mistake - at our reform of


the police service in Scotland is about protecting the front line so


that the front line can protect the people.


Right now our focus is on jobs and the economy. John Swinney and his


team spend every waking minute seeking to encourage our businesses


to grow and to attract new companies to Scotland. We have the


most competitive business tax regime across these islands. 80,000


small businesses either pay no rates a tall or have a substantial


discount. We know, as they do, that their success is the key to future


job creation. We shall continue to offer that crucial incentive


throughout this Parliament. Let us be clear - the Small Business Bonus


stays in SNP Scotland. APPLAUSE In the last few months, a


procession of major international companies have chosen Scotland as


the place to conduct their business. The message has been the same -


Scotland has the people and the resources to allow them to conduct


their international operations from a Scottish base. What have the UK


Government been focusing on while we focus on jobs and investment?


They have formed at Cabinet sub- committee to attack Scottish


independence. Let us get this right. Cameron, Clyde, Osborne and


Alexander set on a committee thinking of how to bring down


Scotland while inflation is more than double its target and don't --


unemployment is at an all-time high. And they wonder why they carry no


confidence among the people of England, never mind the people of


Scotland. Our message to these ministers is clear: Stop attacking


Scottish aspirations and start supporting economic recovery.


APPLAUSE We need more capital investment, not less.


Finance for companies, job security for the people. What is the grand


strategy emerging from London to restore their flagging political


fortunes? More ministerial day trips to Scotland. Conference,


every Tory minister who comes North puts it another 1,000 boats towards


the national cause. -- puts another 1,000 volts. -- votes.


The Prime Minister came to hail the new investment in oil and gas


fields. There was no sign of a ministerial visit this week when


his government betrayed the future of Long Gannet. Over 13 billion


from Scotland's oil and gas in the course of this year, but not even


one 10th of that to secure the future of the Clean coal industry


of Scotland, not even one 10th of one year of oil and gas revenues to


help our planet saving technology. Mr Cameron, how little you


understand Scotland! CHEERING AND APPLAUSE when he was


making the BP announcement, Mr Cameron claimed his geography


teacher at Eton had told him all the oil would be gone by the turn


of the century. The Prime Minister's memory is


faulty. It was not his Etonian geography teacher, it was


successive Labour and Tory governments, like Margaret


Thatcher's Energy Minister, who claimed that oil was declining in


1980. Now the cat is well and truly out of the bag. We know that oil


and gas will be extracted from the waters around Scotland for at least


the next 40 years. Can I, therefore, put this very simple proposition?


After 40 years of oil and gas, West Minister has coined in some �300


billion from Scottish waters. That is around �60,000 a head for every


man, woman and child in this country. The Tory's own Office for


Budget Responsibility figures suggest another �230 billion of oil


revenues over the next 30 years. And that was before the latest


announcements. London has had its turn out of Scottish oil and gas.


Let the next 40 years before the people of Scotland. -- before the


APPLAUSE Scotland, our country, has the greatest a real energy


resources in Europe - dazzling, gas, Hydro-Electric and clean coal.


I went to announce the redevelopment of a fabrication site.


Marine engineering is coming alive in the Highlands of Scotland again.


Today I am announcing a further important development on our


journey to lead the world in wave and tidal power. There will be a


new �80 million fund to support Marine Energy commercialisation.


This will support development, scaling up device is already under


test in Scottish waters. This is part of a �35 million investment


over the next three years which will support the testing,


technology, infrastructure and deployment. Scotland is leading the


race to develop offshore renewables. With this announcement, our nation


moves up another gear. The message is clear: In Marine Energy, it is


Right now some two thirds of wave and tidal projects in Europe are in


Scottish waters. That will soon be three quarters. The announcement on


Thursday of the intention to test underlines the international impact


that Scotland is having. And as we develop wave and tidal commercially


in our waters, then we will export that technology across the planet.


Our objective in wave and tidal power is not just of demonstration


projects, but hundreds of megawatts of electricity by 2020, enough to


power half a million homes in Scotland. The green


reindustrialisation of the coastline of Scotland is central to


our vision of the future. And the jobs impact will be felt to Dundee,


to Aberdeen and the northeast ports, to the Murray Forth, from Orkney


waters to the western Isles. All of these areas will benefit from the


green reindustrialisation of Scotland.


Now onshore wind power has wb one serious drawback, that is only a


little of the fabrication is homebased, despite the fact the


first modern wind turbine was tepl straighted in 1887, that's right,


1887, the technology was exported to Denmark and Germany more than a


generation ago. However, we can do something about our off shore


renewable opportunity. Our objective is that Scotland will


design, engineer, fabricate, install machines that will dominate


the energy provision of this century. That's our vision for


Scotland and we shall get there. And in doing so, we will create


jobs and opportunity and hope for young people in Scotland. It is the


inescapable responsibility of this Government, indeed for every adult


Scot, to help tackle the scourge of youth unemployment. Employment


among Scottish youngsters is almost 5% higher than elsewhere in these


islands. We have a near record of school leavers going on to positive


destinations of a job and apprenticeship, or full-time


education. However, this is not enough. Youth unemployment is still


far, far too high. So this is what we are doing, and this is what we


shall do. First, apprenticeships. There will be 25,000 modern


apprenticeships in Scotland. 60% more than when we took office. Not


just for this year, but every year. And in Scotland remember every


single youngster on a modern apprenticeship is in a job.


Secondly, every major contract or grant from Government will now have


an apprenticeship or training plan attached to it. For example, when


in the last few weeks pwrobgs stopb was chosen as there were 50 new


apprenticeships in new jobs. Every junkster not in a job -- youngster


not in a job or apprenticeship will be offered a a training opportunity.


Fourthly, we shall ensure that university and college education


remains free to Scottish students. We now have more world-class


universities per head than any other nation on the face of this


planet. And thanks to this party that opportunity will remain to


young Scots on the basis of ability to learn, not the ability to pay.


Today I am announcing a further move, companies in energy sector,


even this difficult economic climate, are reporting skill


shortages. Over the next four years we will deliver 2000 modern


apprenticeships specifically designed for the energy industries.


However, we will also now provide an additional 1,000 flexible


training places for energy and low carbon. Real opportunities for our


youngsters in the sectors which will shape the industrial future of


our country. We can't wipe every tear from every


cheek, much as we would like to. But we can try. Everything that we


do will reflect the common wheel of Scotland. The best way to get


people back into work is through capital investment, that's why John


Swinney is diverting funds to sustain economic recovery. That's


why we created the Scottish Futures Trust to gain value for money.


Major contracts sponsored by the Scottish Government have now


delivered on time and on budget. And this gives me the opportunity


to make a further announcement. Two years ago we set out plans for a


new school building programme in Scotland led by the Scottish


Futures Trust, our investment was to deliver 55 new schools. 37 new


schools already committed in the first two phases. Conference, the


Scottish Futures Trust has levelled the playing field in public sector


construction contracts, we have sunk the PFI and replaced it with


That's the sort of action that's allowed us to deliver over 300 new


or refurbished schools in the last four years. And that's why today I


am able to tell you that the next phase of the new school building


programme will be able to deliver 30 new schools across the nation, a


dozen more than previously planned. That will provide a further 15,000


pupils with 21st century learning facilities. Delegates, in the face


of Westminster cutbacks, �2.5 billion non-profit distribution


programme is crucial to economic recovery. None of that would have


been possible if we had allowed the PFI rip-off to continue. That's


We face a winter in this energy rich country of ours, where people


will be frightened to turn on their heating. Fuel poverty amid energy


plenty. What a miserable disgraceful legacy from Westminster


to our energy-rich nation. Fuel poverty amid energy plenty, if


there was ever an argument for taking control of our own resources,


then this must be it. The Prime Minister's fuel summit was little


more than hot air. We don't control the energy markets. But we can and


will do something to help. We already have the best heating


initiatives in these islands, we have invested funds this year to


make what's good even better. We have expanded our energy assistance


package to include thousands of Scottish carers. And by 2015 the


Scottish Government will increase our fuel poverty and energy budget


by one third. And because of that investment I am able to make a


further announcement. A few moments ago you heard the premier of south


Australia praising our offer of energy efficiency measures to half


a million Scottish households. I can now tell you by April of next


year that 500,000 will become 700,000, ensuring 200,000 more


Scottish families get the help they need to heat their homes in this


energy-rich country of ours. Delegates, on the way to Inverness


on Thursday, I noticed an outdoor company called Nay Limits. Now, no


limits is a beautiful idea. And somehow it carries a bit more punch


in the Scots. Nay limits to your ambition, your courage, your


journey. It sums up the spirit of freedom which many of us take from


our magnificent landscape and which we wish for our society and for our


politics. It's the same spirit that was reflected in the worlds of


Charles Stuart Parnell. No man has the right to fix of boundary of a


march of a nation, no man has the right to say to his country thus


far shall thou go and no further. No politician, and certainly no


London politician, will determine So the Prime Minister should hear


this loud and clear. The people of Scotland, the Sovereign people of


Scotland are now in the driving seat. 20 years ago when Scotland


faced a previous Tory Government, a cross-party group through up a


claim of right for Scotland. This is what it said: We do do here by


acknowledge the Sovereign right of the Scottish people to determine


the form of Government best suited to their needs and do here by


declare and pledge that in all our actions and deliberations, their


interests shall be paramount. 20 years ago we demonstrated for that


right in front of an open-top bus in Edinburgh. But we had no


parliament then. The point is a very simple one, we have now that


claim of right and next month I will ask Scotland's parliament to


endorse a new Scotland's khraepl of right. The days -- claim of right.


The days of Westminster politicians telling Scotland to do or think is


over. The Scottish people will set the agenda for the future.


Robert Kennedy once said the future is not a gift, it's an achievement.


That's true for Scotland as it is for any nation. Our future will be


what we make it. The Scotland Bill isn't even enacted yet, yet it lies


in the past, unloved uninspiring, not even understood but its own


propoepbents. The UK Government haven't even gone through the


motions of considering the views of the Scottish Government. The


current Scottish parliament committee, the last Scottish


parliamentary committee. Total negativity to even the most


reasonable proposal to strengthen the Bill's job-creating powers. The


respect agenda lies dead in the throats. This is Westminster's


agenda of disrespect, not disrespect to the SNP, but a


fundamental disrespect for Scotland. The Tories and their liberal


frontmen have even taken to call themselves Scotland's other


Government. A Tory-Scottish Government? I tell you if phraser


thought such a notion was conceivable, he wouldn't be trying


In contrast fiscal responsibility, financial freedom, real economic


power is a legitimate proposal. It could allow us to control our own


resources, introduce competitive business tax, and fair personal


taxation. All good, all necessary, but not enough. Delegates, even


with economic powers Trident nuclear missiles would still be on


the river Clyde, we could still be forced to spill blood in illegal


wars like Iraq and Scotland would still be excluded from the councils


of Europe and the world. These things only independence can bring.


It's why this party will campaign full square for independence in the


coming referendum. We have the talent, the resources,


the ingenuity. The only limitations our imagination and ambition. Let


us put the people of Scotland in charge and see our nation flourish


as never before. Let us build a nation that reflects the values of


our people. With a social contract and a social conscience at the very


heart of our success. It is not a country or a future on offer from


the Tory government in the south. That one institution which really


made that -- made great Britain great - the National Health Service


- is being dismantled. The Tories Colet "big society", I call it no


society at all. -- the Tories call it. Remember the founding


principles. We are committed to winning independence for Scotland


and we have pledged to the furtherance of all Scottish


interests. Both are in our DNA. It is to we are and what we are for.


It is what makes us Scotland's National Party. It is more than


just the name, it is an attitude. Over these past three days at this


conference, I have seen that passion and belief in action. We


are a party with a mission because we know Scotland's causes great and


we know Scotland's need is great. Let us be strong, let us have her


own debate about her own future on the timescale that was endorsed by


our own people in May. Let us decide it in a proper fashion. Our


task as a party is to convince the people of this nation that we can


do better, to work at building a society which is not simply better


than to, but a beacon of justice and fairness to the world. These


things will come from hard work and sweat. Look around you, look at


where we stand now. Tell me this was easy. It was not easy. It was


80 years of hard work. We stand where we do today because of


generations before us, because of party workers and campaigners who


are not here today. We share a vision of a land without boundaries,


of a people unshackled from low ambition and chances. We have a


vision of a Scotland on bound. No limits for Scotland! -- -- a


Scotland unbound. MUSIC: Let us Spec Together. --


Let's Stick Together. Alex Salmond was saying that they


were governing For The Common Good and governing well. He was speaking


about Scotland's Reg energy resources. Turning to the


referendum, he started to speak about how fiscal responsibility was


a legitimate proposal. There you can see Mr Salmond being applauded


as he speaks to some of the delegates. He ended his speech by


saying we shall prevail. I am joined by Professor John Carter's


from Strathclyde University. Your immediate thoughts. Alex Salmond


has a remarkable talent to always paint a positive vision of where he


is going and where the country is going, even when the current news


is not very good. That was a very strong theme of his speech. The


other thing about the SNP is that they had simply been providing


Scotland with what most people regard as reasonably effective


government. That was clearly endorsed by the election last May.


One of the things Mr Salmond is trying to do it is, the first half


was very much about defending the records of the Government, coming


up with indications of new things he is going to do, linking that


into his vision of a better Scotland and then trying to get


people by saying, if you buy into this then you what to buy into our


vision of no limits. He is trying to persuade people to move from


admiring the SNP as a competent government to wanting to have their


country, Scotland, independent as a means of delivering that vision. We


will have to see whether any of this makes any impact on public


opinion. I mentioned the point about fiscal


responsibility being legitimate, but campaigning for full


independence. There was a further indication of at two questioned


referendum. At the end of the day, it might be a lot easier to win


Devolution Max. He did not say that explicitly in the speech. He


arguably moved closer than he has in the past, saying that it is not


that bad an idea. There was one paragraph in a speech that, for the


most part, was about good government and independence.


Devolution Max made less of an appearance in the speech than


perhaps we had been led to believe it would.


Let us go straight back to the conference hall where Brian Taylor


has rushed out. I thought it was an intriguing


speech. There was the early section on jobs and the securing of jobs.


That is the way the Scottish Government is proposing to act -


going for the economy first and then the constitutional issue later.


He is clearly placing that in the context of people's aspirations.


There was also struck to to the speech. The two is in the


aspirations of independence and for the in the interests of Scotland, I


think he was making that tantamount to the two question in the


referendum. I am joined by three MSPs who were observing the speech.


Thank you for joining us. The stuff about energy and jobs and


development, are really a lengthy section on that. I know he is


evangelical about the subject. He clearly thinks it is important.


Incredibly important. You cannot come up and deliver a speech just


about constitutional future, you have to make an announcement about


what really matters to the people of Scotland. It is jobs, security,


youth unemployment. That came out with just as much passion as


anything about the constitution. I thought it was fantastic to have so


many announcements in one speech. You tackle jobs and the economy


first because that is the people's concerns, rather than the party's


concern. As he said at the beginning of the speech, the party


is about the furtherance of Scottish interest. It is about what


independence is for as well. I think what he is saying is that we


are doing our very best within the constitutional arrangements. We are


doing what we can but we are constrained by the constitutional


arrangements. We could do so much more with independence, or even


with full fiscal responsibility bus-stop and yet the focus now is


on concerns about jobs with the referendum deferred.


Yes, the focus is on the economy and any responsible government


would focus on the economy. I loved when he said that the UK Government


seemed to be focusing on setting up a sub-committee to do Scotland down


when they should be focusing on the economy. That is an intriguing


point. The vast bulk of the speech was about the Scottish Government's


achievements, but it was the big attack lines upon Westminster that


got the cheers. It is the sort of thing that gets the audience going.


As Alex said, we have no limits. The problem with them Westminster


Government is that they set limits. We have to establish the common


good for the people of Scotland. What Alex was saying throughout his


speech, and I think it came across well, is that we should have the


ambition. We need the imagination to go forward. I think that came


over loud and clear, basically. That phrase, the common good, is


intriguing. It was used in his Scotland address on setting out the


programme for government in the Scottish Parliament. He seems to be


saying that you try to govern as sensibly as possible within the


limits of devolution and then invite the voters to go that stage


further. Is that the strategy? think the phrase is saying that


there are limits and we have constraints on us at the moment. We


need to do it with good governance. The programme is to try and ensure


that we get that agenda right. We need to create a Scotland for the


future. That is why his announcements today, even with the


apprenticeships and focusing on the energy sector for those, is the way


forward. It is the way forward for our young people. The future for


Scotland is our young people. Jonathon Porrit, let us tackle the


independence referendum issue. Your political opponents are saying --


Humza Yousaf. The Tory conference is saying, have a referendum now,


get it sorted. This is what I love, not just about politicians but some


sections of the media, the utter hypocrisy of it. Independence is


riding high in the opinion polls. Alex Allan's approval ratings are


higher than all of the other leaders combined. Here we are,


sticking to the promise that we made, no mandate upon which we were


elected - take care of jobs and the economy, tackle youth unemployment


and fuel poverty. In the meantime, we are making the case for


independence with everything that we do. That referendum will come in


the latter half, as it should. That promise to defer the


referendum to the second half was not made accidentally, it was


because you calculated that the economic circumstances might not be


prepare we made the promise during the election. I am sure that, had


we broke it, you would be standing here are accusing us of breaking


promises. If I could just say something about Annabel Goldie. She


does not represent people in Scotland. Her pronouncements today


contradict William Hague, who said that the UK Government should


postpone having a referendum on Europe because of economic


circumstances. They are in complete disarray. As the First Minister


says, we do not have an opposition in this country. They do not have a


mandate. You will not is that the biggest cheer came when he


underlined that fact - that they do not have a mandate. It is


interesting that we are going to bring forward another claim of


right for Scotland. He is going to put a motion to Parliament and


challenge the other parties? Yes. The Liberals and the Labour Party


signed it in the past. If they accept the sovereignty of the


Scottish people they will sign it this time. Was that a bit of a


stunt? Not at all. It goes back hundreds of years. We are carrying


on a tradition in Scotland. This second option of fiscal


responsibility, control of tax, spending and benefits, Mr Salmond


made it clear that it is very much second best. Is that a fall-back


option for the SNP? Is that why it would be in their referendum?


think he made it very clear. The aspiration for our campaign is to


walk out there and actually go for full independence in the referendum.


Why is it in there. Why do you not just do yes or not to independence?


Alex said that we are taking things square on. He said we are for


independence. At the end of the day, it is up to the people of Scotland.


We are a party who will listen to Scotland's people and give them the


choice. That is something that is not happening in Westminster. They


are trying to dictate what should happen in Scotland at the moment.


We're saying, let's listen to the people and tell them what we are


about, give them a clear message. You listen to the Scottish people,


but if either independence or full fiscal autonomy is supported, it is


not the Scottish Government would have to act, it is the UK


Government. How would they feel mandated when they have opposed the


idea of having that question on the ballot paper? The UK Government


have made it clear that they will accept the views of the Scottish


people. On a yes or not to independence. They do not want the


second question. It is really not for them to decide, it is for the


Scottish people, as the First Minister made very clear. They do


not have a mandate in Scotland. The coalition parties got less than 20%


of the vote. They are held in complete contempt. I hear the point


about mandate and listening to the views of the people, but if it is


full fiscal autonomy it is the UK Government to would have to


implement it. Should they not been -- be involved in drawing up the


referendum? The reason it could be put on the paper is because we do


not restrict the people. The SNP campaigns for independence but we


want to hear the voice of the Scottish people. That will be


demanded and will have to listen to the boss of the people. These


activists, on those cold, wet and windy days when they have put


leaflets through the door, that will be what they want from the


people of Scotland - independence. Thank you for joining me. Back to


I am still joined by Professor John Curtice here. One interesting point


about the claim of rights, Brian was asking if that was a stunt.


What do you think could be happening with this? One of the sub


things of Alex Salmond's speech was in a sense this continuing debate


going on, and there was a story in The Scotsman this this morning,


alleging the London Government might want to take on the


referendum itself. Hold the referendum instead of the Scottish


parliament. And in so doing, as you heard there, only to put on the


issue of independence on that referendum, so there have been


various noises to suggest maybe the UK Government in parliament might


decide to try and taeupbg over the -- take over the referendum process.


Alex Salmond was laying down clearly in that speech that in his


view those moves are illegitimate. After all, I guess he would argue


none of those parties had the idea in their 2010 manifestoes which is


the mandate which the UK Government has, let alone the 2011 ones. His


point about putting the claim of right before the Scottish


parliament, in part, as you have seen, it's to embarrass Labour and


the Liberal Democrats, to accept that's a claim of right and he's


suggesting if indeed Scotland does have the right to determine its own


future, then therefore, it should be the Scottish Government in


parliament that determines how that future is decided. I think the


difficulty is, again you saw that in the recent discussion, John


Major's Government over 20 years ago accepted that Scotland did


indeed have the right to cecede from the union. It's rather more


difficult to argue that Scotland has the unilateral right to


determine the terms of its membership of the union. And


clearly if Scotland were to vote in favour of devolution max people in


England and the Government would have to be willing to facilitate it,


so that extent it's difficult to suggest that Scotland can simply


assert its right within the union as opposed to its right to


independence. This is a point that's been hammered home by the


SNP at the moment about Westminster having no legitimacy, we have been


seeing that with investigations and so on. It's a point they're really


trying to push and Mr Salmond was pushing it in his speech. They are,


of course in making those comments they're always referring to the


outcome of the 2011 Scottish election, even there the SNP didn't


get over half the vote, 44 or 45%. They don't say much about the 2010


general election when the Labour Party got over 40%. The SNP around


20. The Liberal Democrats weren't that far behind. Of course, the UK


Government will argue that's where its mandate comes from. Tories and


Liberal Democrats in Scotland didn't do that well, but equally


the SNP also didn't dominate Scotland when we were last electing


UK Government, as opposed to Scottish one. Thank you very much.


I am delighted to say that I am joined now by the SNP deputy leader


and Deputy First Minister, Nicola Sturgeon. Thank you very much for


joining me. A rousing speech from the First Minister there to


delegates. Can you tell me more about this claim of right that we


have just been discussing, is it a clever trick to smoke out the


opposition? No, it's a statement of principle. It's 20 years since


Labour and the Liberals were happy to sign up to the principle that


it's the Scottish people who gets to decide their own future. So,


it's a great idea to put that wfr the -- before the Scottish


parliament again and give all parties the opportunity to sign up


to that very simple but very powerful and important principle


that nobody has a right to decide Scotland's future, except the


Scottish people themselves. We have been hearing a lot about this


second question. Is this a way to make sure that Labour and even the


Conservatives sign up to devolution Max, that they set out their


support? Well, the First Minister made very clear in his speech there


that in the referendum the SNP will be full square behind the case for


independence. We will campaign for independence because we believe


that is the best way to build a better future for Scotland. But


fiscal autonomy, call it what you want, it's a option. We are not


hostile to the idea of that question on the ballot paper,


because we are Democrats, we believe it is the right of the


Scottish people to decide. Of course, it's for those who advocate


that option to define that option and to argue for it. OK, we have


been hearing from the First Minister about fiscal


responsibility. He was saying it was a legitimate proposal. This is


one tiny little piece of information that we have received


from the First Minister about the independence referendum that there


probably could be that second question there. Well, what the


First Minister was saying today was that the case for fiscal autonomy,


for the Scottish parliament having full economic powers, it's a


legitimate one and all the extra powers that would come with that


are good powers to have and they're necessary powers to have. But our


view is that they're not in themselves enough, because if we


just had full fiscal autonomy we wouldn't have the powers to get


triedent off the Clyde, we wouldn't be able to ensure we were never


again dragged into an illegal war, so we need as a country the full


powers of independence. But we believe that it's not for any


politician, certainly not for any Westminster politician, to decide


Scotland's future. That right lies with the Scottish people and they


have to look at the options available to them. Mr Salmond also


spoke that he would campaign full square for independence. Why don't


you just have one question then, why don't you make it a simple yes-


no? Well, we said we are not hostile to having the devo-max


option but we will see what transspires in the fullness of time


but there's absolutely no doubt that the SNP's favoured option and


the option we will campaign for is independence and we will do that


for the reasons the First Minister outlined this afternoon, the


reasons I have just repeated, because we believe financial powers


for the Scottish parliament and the Scottish people are essential. They


are necessary. Powers that are job- creating powers, we need those


powers to support and create jobs to get the economy moving. We


believe they're not enough. We need the full powers of independence and


that's what the SNP will campaign for. In his chat with the MSPs they


were speaking about why they would have the referendum in the second


half of the parliament that had been a promise made during the


election campaign. Are you now regretting that promise? You


probably took a clever calculation before the election that the world


economy would start to improve by that point and so you would


probably get a bit of a better showing, showing you were a good


Government, but looking at what's happening at the moment looks like


we are entering long years of economic stagnation? Well, we won a


majority in that election so thra's not much about the campaign that we


need to regret. We made it very clear in the election campaign that


the referendum would take place in the latter half, the second half of


the parliament. The people of Scotland endorsed that timetable in


the overwhelming mandate that they gave us in the election. So, I


think we will do something that people an say politicians should do,


we will stick to our promise. The referendum will be in the second


half of the parliament. Indeed, it's a very vague timetable, isn't


it? And everything about the referendum is vague, we have not


heard much from the First Minister, Michael Moore posed those six


questions to the First Minister talking about what happened to bank


regulation, which currency would Scotland adopt, how many inherit in


pension liability, and what would be the debt and how much eupd pence


would cost. -- independence would cost. We are never hearing anything


about these questions. These issues were laid out in the White Paper


the the Scottish Government published a couple of years ago. I


think Michael Moore would be better advised to start answering some of


the questions about the deFire Brigadeenceies of the Scottish --


deFire Brigadeenceies of the Scotland Bill he is taking through


the House of Commons. The Scottish parliament will ledge late for a


referendum in due course and the detail will be fully debated at


that time. But at the heart of the case for a referendum is that very


very simple proposition that it gives the people of Scotland the


right to decide their own future. That was something the Liberals and


Labour were happy to sign up to 20 years ago. Let's see if they're


happy to sign up to that principle now. The First Minister had some


major announcements about the economy in his speech. He was


talking about governing well and for the common wheel. He mentioned


fuel poverty and what the SNP were doing to tackle fuel poverty. We


heard from Labour earlier this month that there had been a


reversal in as they put it savage cuts to fuel poverty budget,


efforts to tackle fuel poverty. Is Mr Salmond being like a supermarket


in some sense, that he cuts the fuel poverty budget and then he


pretends that it's going up in 2015, is this a sneaky approach to


governing well? I don't think there's much credibility in much


that Labour says these days. It's recognised right across the


spectrum that our measures and initiatives to tackle fuel poverty


are amongst the best right across these islands and the First


Minister announced today that the number of people benefiting from


these initiatives will go up from 500,000 to 700,000. But the real


point the First Minister was making today, I am sure it's a point not


lost on anybody in Scotland, that we have these appalling levels of


fuel poverty amid energy plenty. That's one of the most compelling


reasons for the extra powers that independence would bring, would an


oil-rich country, a renewable- energy rich country, we shouldn't


have people living in fuel poverty. We were hearing about governing


well and he does have a reputation for having a steady hand on the


tiller, but he has been buffeted over the past few months by the


opposition to the anti-sectarian legislation and we are hearing


about divisions in the party over gay marriage. Is the SNP's ship not


just a happy ship at the moment? think anybody who's at this


conference will know the SNP ship is an extremely happy ship. It's


also an extremely big ship. This is the biggest and best conference the


SNP has ever had. One of the things the First Minister said in his


speech, again I think will reasonate with people across the


country, sometimes it takes guts to govern. You have to face up to


challenging issues and deal with them, on the same-sex marriage


issue no decisions have been taken there. We are in the middle of a


consultation and listening very clearly and carefully to all the


views that are expressed. On sectarianism, I don't know many


people in Scotland who don't think this is one of the demons of


Scotland's past, that we really do have to face. Most people think the


Scottish Government is doing the right thing in facing up to that


problem and seeking to solve it once and for all. Nicola Sturgeon,


thank you very much. Now, the finance Finance Secretary


was grilled by BBC online users yesterday in a live web-cast. Our


political editor put your questions to John Swinney on a range of


subjects from gay marriage to independence. Here is a flavour of


that chat beginning with a question on why there were no plans to


introduce a local income tax during this parliamentary session.


What we said in the election campaign was that we would discuss


during the course of this parliament with other parties and


with other stakeholders and with the communities of Scotland, how we


could move from the council tax to a position where we had an approach


that was based on the ability to pay. What's to discuss? You are in


favour of a local income tax during the previous parliament as well.


You said it was the lack of a majority that was thwarting you.


The difficulty with that we said we wouldn't ledge late for such a


proposition... Why not, if it's such a good idea? Why not is


because we acknowledged there were a number of complexities around the


issue of - there's a lots of complexities we have to overcome. A


lot of dialogue that's that's to be undertaken with the UK Government


on these questions and we wanted to get that right as part of a wider


debate within Scotland which would take place during this parliament.


The dialogue being if council tax goes, the benefit goes as well?


There's a material change in that issue, because on 1st April 2013


the UK Government proposes to devolve council tax benefit to the


Scottish Government. So in the course of this parliament there


would be a material change to the council tax benefit arrangements so


that argument that was used by the previous Labour Government to


thwart us would not be relevant because you would have the


devolution of council tax benefit. How would you still have benefit if


you have scrapped council tax? money would be transferred as a


block to the Scottish Government. The other issue which we have to


consider and one of the reasons why we decided that the local income


tax shouldn't be pursued during this parliament is clearly we have


some economic uncertainties, given the wider economic challenges that


we face, some public spending reductions which make it very


difficult to implement this at this time. And also we have the change


to income tax which are coming as a kopbs kopbs kopbs -- consequence of


the proposals in the Scotland Bill. All of that is an element of


complexity and uncertainty we have to navigate through. It's why we


are having the discussion during this parliament. If local income


tax is such a wonderful idea and it doesn't stand up when the economics


circumstances are troublesome, then it doesn't seem perhaps it is such


a fabulous idea, maybe it's not workable? I am saying about when


it's the moment of implement--ation that you have to get correct.


are committed to it still? Government is committed to local


income tax. But not in this parliament? We said in the election


campaign in May we wouldn't ledge late for it during the course of


this parliamentary parliamentary term and we are remaining faithful


to that commit. When we say one thing to people in May we honour


that in the course of the parliamentary term. A question from


south of the border also on finance, how you the Scottish Government can


afford free preskrepgses and university education, when they


can't in England? He says the people in England are having to pay


The Scottish Government is better able to manage its resources than


the UK Government. Spending in Scotland is much higher per head of


population. It is not. There is a comparable level of public


expenditure north and south of the border, in terms of the areas of


responsibility that we have. We're putting our priorities in place to


provide a range of services that are important to people. Free


optical test, for example - people say that is ridiculous. It costs us


about �26 was that if you were to get that examination in the health


service, it would cost a great deal more. One simple lie test can


detect four major medical conditions that can be averted a.


Some of these things that are described as free actually have a


real benefit that is of significant impact upon the health and well-


being of the people of Scotland. Will there be questions over some


of these services in the future? The expert report that was done for


you government suggested that free bus passes for the over-sixties,


even free personal care, may not be up for -- may not be affordable in


the long term. The review gave us a range of


options, many of which I took. The principal one was to apply


constrains the public sector pay. It has been applied to in the


course of the current budget period. They came up with a range of


options that were greater than the savings I was required to make. If


you look at the three-year spending programme, it demonstrates


absolutely that the services we provide, with a free bus passes,


free personal care, these are affordable and are fully provided


for within the provisions I have made.


Bruce from Glasgow wonders what you would do with the powers of


independence. Particularly, he asks if you believe in a fairer Scotland


where the wealthy pay greater tax? We are believers in progressive


taxation. The key judgment is to make sure you're gathering tax from


those with the ability to pay. We have to make sure we have


sufficient balance within our society and within the taxation


system that enables us to generate tax revenues from those who can


afford to pay for them to support public services that mattered to


the people of our country and to invest in the long-term future of


our economy. If you're asking me whether the balance of taxation of


the present moment is an indication of something that is relatively


correct in terms of personal taxation, I am probably comfortable


with the balance of taxation we have that the present time. I want


to tackle the issue of people on low incomes. I think the overall


balance is not far away from which it needs to be.


Brian Taylor, speaking to the Finance Secretary yesterday. The


Treasury spokesman, Stewart Hosie, joins me now. We are heaving from


the finance secretary about why a local income tax could not be


introduced and why it will be defer to the next Parliament. Is that a


definite promise that council tax will be scrapped and that local


income tax will be introduced? John Swinney is telling you that,


that is the plan. Why could it not be introduced for


this session? I am not familiar with the ins and outs of it. I


heard a bit of your package. We have frozen the council tax for a


number of years. It will be frozen for the rest of this Parliament.


The idea is to support progressive taxation. It makes sense to stick


to the timescale that John laid out. A iron surprised you're not


familiar with the proposals. The big worry was that there would


be a rather large funding gap. what John has done is to put in


place the council tax freeze. We need to make sure that stays in


place to help people in the short- term. Then, when we are in the


position to deliver local income tax, which is fair and progressive,


that is what we do. When you deliver a local income tax,


how would it be collected? Would you use the powers that Parliament


has at the moment or perhaps wait for something from the Calman


Commission, which have been against? There is a big problem in


terms of income tax that we would have effectively 50% of the base


rate with a smaller percentage of the 40% rate and the smallest


percentage of the highest rate. That is an imbalance in terms of


income tax. It also causes an imbalance in the basket of tax is


that Scotland ought to have control of. There are various technical


reasons why that poses a problem. In terms of collecting income tax,


of course, you would look use the income tax collection methods that


are in place at the time to do that. We were hearing from the Sports


Minister about how Scotland might be short changed in the future,


when it comes to the Commonwealth Games, compared to the Olympic


Games. We want equity on taxation issues. The fact that athletes for


the Olympics will not be taxed on their in -- on their income, but


have become to the Commonwealth Games they will be. It is not


acceptable or equitable. The sport Minister was saying that


some proposals for Olympic taxation are not fair and equitable. How can


you address that? It is quite important. When big international


sporting events, particular sporting individuals come here and


they are anxious about the money that they make here. Governments


encourage them to come and take part and the tax burden is set


aside. It seems to happen for the Olympic Games but they have not


made the same consideration for the Commonwealth Games in Scotland.


Obviously, pressure needs to be brought to bear on the Westminster


Government. It is a perfectly sensible thing for the minister to


be saying. You are trying to bring that


pressure to the Westminster Government. The pressure from the


Westminster Government is very much on you when it comes to explaining


the costs of independence. I was speaking to Nicola Sturgeon about


Michael Moore's six questions by Alex Salmond. No. 6 - how much


would independence cost? What is the bottom Line? For 30 years,


Scotland run a budget surplus on average. Meanwhile, the UK went


into the downturn �500 billion in debt. Even the figures for last


year, we put in more than the UK and we get less than the average


out of the UK. We make a contribution. In terms of spending


the same money in in in -- in an independent Scotland, we think we


would get more value for it. More importantly, we would have the


ability to take decisions, whether on tax or social policy on anything


else, to deliver better outcomes for the Scottish people.


There are decisions that will not be in your hands to take, even if


there is independence. John Swinney said Scotland would not join the


euro. Essentially, a monetary policy would continue to be


controlled by the Bank of England, even in an independent Scotland.


think it makes perfect sense to stay within the Stirling's on for


the foreseeable future. -- within Stirling for the foreseeable future.


-- sterling. You would not have control of


interest rates on anything. It is every single tax, duty and levy.


You could make sure that cheap, high-strength alcohol was not


available and that other things were taxed more. There are lots of


things that we can do with fiscal levers.


As Danny Alexander pointed out, Scotland's share of the national


debt would be �65 billion. How will we pay for that? We are already


paying for our share of the UK's one trillion pounds debt. It is due


to rise to 1.5 trillion pounds, most of which was created before


this downturn and before the banking crisis. We are already


contributing are full share to that. We have always said, and it is


quite right, that we would take our full the glossy picture of any debt


and we would serve as it like any other independent country, with the


advantage, of course, of having a one trillion pounds asset of


untapped North Sea oil and gas, sitting there for future


generations. Thank you for joining us.


I am still joined by Professor John Carter's from Strathclyde


University. Interesting that Stewart Hosie was not quite up to


date with local income tax there. He was pretty definite that the SNP


would introduce it in the next parliamentary session. After all,


council tax is pretty unpopular. There are a couple of developments


that will make it possible to introduce the local income tax. The


first is the decision of the UK Government to devolve council tax


benefit. Previously, the problem was that if Scotland introduced a


local income tax but council tax benefit was a ball that would mean


that Scotland would lose the amount of money in council tax benefit


that normally flows to Scotland. In order to introduce local income tax,


you would have to use the tax varying powers but the Scottish


Parliament, which is a maximum of 3p on the standard rate. The


revenue from that would not be sufficient to cover the rent -- the


revenue lost from abolition of council tax. Those two things. The


UK Government, ironically, has made decisions that are going to make it


possible for the SNP to introduce one of its own choice policies.


On the issue of monetary policy, the SNP would still have Scotland


in the pound. Stewart Hosie seemed to think that they would have


control, but a lot still remains in London. One has to ask a question


about that. One of the questions about the eurozone crisis is that


you cannot have monetary union without at least some degree of


fiscal co-ordination. The lesson from grace is that if a country


overspends it helps to drive everyone down, including the


confidence of people in that country. The SNP are saying that,


either way, an independent Scotland would remain part of a currency


union. It would be there remained in the pound bought it would join


the euro. If Scotland retain the pound, questions would clearly be


raised in London as to what is going to be done to ensure that


Scotland's fiscal stance is not so at variance with what they UK


Government regards as in the interest of Stirling, and some kind


of fiscal restraint might be required. Recent developments have


somewhat undermined the argument that monetary union is possible but


that you can still have full fiscal freedom. Scotland may have more


fiscal freedom under that arrangement, but the idea of fiscal


-- full fiscal freedom is rather more doubtful than it was a year


ago. Scotland's councillors will be the


first politicians to go over the top end next year's local elections.


They could be the ones who bear the brunt of an angry electorate.


Budget cuts mean slashed services and councillors will have to answer


for schools that close, roads that go on repaired or bins that do not


get empty. Back to Brian Taylor, who is joined by three councillors


who will be in the firing line. Thank you very much.


Let us go first to Todd Buchanan from Edinburgh. What sort of cuts


are pending in Newry area? And �92 million of cuts were announced


recently. I think it will go up to about �140 million. -- �140 million.


We are trying to make sure that we deliver the services that the


people of Edinburgh made. What is happening in East Lothian?


We actually saw this coming several years ago. We started to reduce our


personnel by natural wastage. We also came up with good ideas about


saving money. How many jobs have gone? About 600.


What is happening in Glasgow in terms of cuts? In Glasgow, the SNP


are still in opposition, so it is not really in our hands to make


that decision at the moment. I like how you have ambition there! There


is a voluntary redundancy programme going on in the council.


Unfortunately, that means a lot of Do you feel that voluntary


redundancy will have to become compulsory redundancy, even if you


are fortunate enough to take control? I would hope not. It would


be for us when we come into administration to look at the books


and see the situation. You can't make that promise? We can't, we


would hope not. You say you have staved it off by pre-empting the


issue. We have reducing a lot of our overheads but also our leader


has said we will not have redundancies... Not compulsory. We


are at that point we have lost enough people that we are out of


balance and we have to look at who is doing which job where. We


haven't necessarily lost the right people in the right places. I hear


what you are saying about protecting the frontline but


services are going to be squeezed. Is that not going to mean people


are angry with the council here, they're angry anywhere because of a


certain transport project. The The SNP were never in favour of this


transport project. But yes it is going to be very difficult.


Everybody has to acknowledge that. The settlement that John Swinney


gets in the block grant is going to directly affect the number of


people employed in public service. You got to be going to these voters


in May and saying, and it's not four years' time as it is with


Holyrood, it's in May, and saying we are going to have to cut jobs...


We have lost the link to Inverness there, but I am still joined by


Professor John Curtice from Strathclyde University. How much


have we learned from the SNP during this conference about a future


referendum? I think we have learned one important thing, but we have


also got one still big doubt that arises as a consequence, the thing


we have learned is the SNP have definitely nailed their colours to


the mast of a two-question referendum, one on both


independence and so-called devolution Max, they would have to


do a lot of rowing back now if that weren't to be the case. They've now


pretty much committed themselves. But at the same time we are still


not entirely clear as to how far they're going to be willing to back


devolution Max. We need to bear in mind here in their most recent


White Paper on this they said there would and two-question referendum,


it wouldn't be a case of put these in order. Say yes or no to


independence and devolution Max. That raises an important question.


It may well be that devolution Max is the SNP's second preference. But


how are they going to tell people to vote in the referendum? They


can't say yes, maybe. Yes to independence and maybe to


devolution Max. They're either going to have to say yes-no, or


yes-yes. We could expect the SNP to tell us soon whether the SNP


campaign in their referendum is going to be a yes-yes campaign, or


a yes-no one. Thank you. We have the line back to Inverness. Let's


go back to Brian Taylor. Welcome back. I blame the cuts!


Let's continue that discussion. That same question, isn't it going


to be hell on wheels as a councillor or any party going to


the electorate at a time of squeezed budgets and jobs going and


services? No doubt it will be difficult and certain services will


be trimmed but basically we are going to be able to sustain


virtually all of our services. People understand, since we have


not increased council tax, since we provided all the services they need,


and since we are actually talking to them because we have been more


interactive than a previous administration, we think we have


got them on side. Who is going to take the blame, UK Government, John


Swinney, Scottish Government with the allocation across councils or


is it going to be the local authority that gets a slap in the


face? To some extent it will be spread and there there be political


people who will blame the ones they want. Fundamentally the UK


Government. What do you make about that, it's not where buzz the the -


- where does the blame lie, where in the eyes of the voters?


depends which services they use and what matters most. Pensions, for


example, they will look at the UK Government and that's clearly


Westminster that's behind it. That's clearly their fault. That's


a huge issue for a lot of people. When it comes to smaller issues


that are perhaps important to some people, bin collection and things


like that, it's important but not as important as money in your


pocket. Do we have to look at new ways of providing services? We have


to look at new ways to provide service if you have a reducing


budget. You need to look at leveraging extra money from


elsewhere. You don't regard that as breaking the public sector ethos,


the unions would see it as that. in the SNP want public service jobs


to provide public sector services. But we have to recognise there will


be some back office provision and different ways of doing things that


still have a majority of services provided by public sector workers.


For example, we have not charged for ice-cream stands in East


Lothian, that's an income, lots of things like that that can support


our budget.. We have two museums staffed by volunteers, that are


going to be cheaper to run than before. Are there some areas


perhaps minor, major areas, from which authorities should simply


withdraw? I don't think so. You need to have responsible, and I


would argue for the NHS to be democratically accountable, for


example, they should expand local Government. How about that question,


some areas that local authorities should quit from? I don't think so.


A lot of the confirms we provide are so vital to people that if you


were to start to cut back on them then they would very much be missed.


I can't think of any particular areas that Glasgow provides at the


moment that it shouldn't be providing. There might be different


ways of delivering things like Dave says, looking to get more income


from different areas. We have been speaking to staff in Glasgow for


sometime now looking for ideas where they think income generation


might come from. It might not make a lot of money but lots of little


ideas can bring in the cash that we need to make the gap. Thank you,


especially for being patient during the ad break, as we might call it.


Back to the studio for real. Thank you very much. A final time,


Professor John Curtice is here with me, it was Alex Salmond addressing


the party faithful in that speech when he was talking about


independence or did he reach out to the wider public? That's always a


choice for any party leader in their speech. Surprisingly, for the


most part, Mr Salmon was talking to the audience and the hall, not the


wider public. He almost seemed to be saying to his party, look you


have heard this stuff about devolution Max but I believe


independence, we will manage to win this referendum. It's almost trying


to reassure the folk in the hall. There was much less in that


particular the independence section of the speech trying to I think


draw to the wider public to say these are the reasons why you


should back it. I think that part of the SNP political strategy,


there's still a lot to be written if Mr Salmond is going to take


making speeches that are going to make those who are outside the


existing nationalist fold want to vote for independence. Do you think


in terms of appealing to people outside he was emphasising the


governance section of... It's both the governance and his big ability,


supreme attribute, is this constant ability to present a positive


vision of where his country is going. Again as it were, we have to


recreation in part of the SNP message of 1970s. It's Scotland's


oil was a message that came in the time of the three-day week, the


miners' strikes, etc when the economy was on its knees. Again as


it were, the economy is on its knees, and again we see the


nationalists saying yes there is a brighter future for Scotland, and


it's to do with energy, it's partly to do with oil and it's partly to


do with marine power. Again it's a similar political situation for the


SNP. Trying to promote the vision of a popular Scotland against the


backdrop of a poor economic situation. Thank you very much.


Let's go back to Brian Taylor one final time in the conference hall,


he has some of Scotland's top political journalists with him, I


think. We certainly do. It's been a


remarkable conference. I described it as ecstatic and euphoria with


that contained controlled element that they are looking forward to


the referendum, but perhaps some distant future, we don't know at


the moment. There have been a couple of controversies on the go,


we discussed the issue of gay marriage earlier, it was a rather


choreographed discussion. And the anti-second tanianism Bill --


sectarianism Bill. The Minister was really very blunt indeed in saying


that the Bill was necessary and would be processed. Here is what


she had to say. It is the people's will, and not


only are they right, but we will in this party do the people's will on


this. This is, after all, the 21st century. Not the 19th century.


That's why the work we are doing is so essential. Is it going to be


easy? Well, hell no. Because if it was easy, it would have been done


decades ago. It isn't going to be easy. But just because it isn't


easy, doesn't mean we don't do it. We are not feared, we are going to


take this one head-on. Thank you very much. First of all,


that speech, they're in some trouble on this Bill to say the


least, they faced some criticism. But she's really going for it.


she is. There isn't a great deal of political problem for the SNP on


this in that the Labour Party agree with them basically, so any


criticism... Except they now say withdraw the present Bill and bring


in a better one. Start from scratch again, that's never going to happen.


They agree with the outcome. Even at that, when it was brought up the


objections to it, Salmond was quick to meet him and try and asaupblg


the reservations he had about it. Brian, your paper The Herald has


covered this Bill substantially, where do you think they are right


now on it. She sounds very determined. Not only she sounds


determined, but so too did Kenny MacAskill her boss, when he made it


clear he would not ship from getting this legislation through.


The difficulties are the football clubs in the main, the SPL and SFA


and the fans group, they're all substantial objections, but these


really have got to be overcome and I believe that this Government will


do best to do that. It's going to take some negotiation, but this


Bill is important and they will do their best to get it through.


turn to the First Minister's speech. The two options on the referendum,


but one that he really wants. he did say that fiscal independence


was a legitimate position and that was... And right on to independence.


That was as as broad as hint as you are going to get there was two


questions. But whatever we are going to be campaigning for


independence. As we were saying independence has been the word of


this - sometimes the SNP is criticised for independence-lite,


not mentioning it, but it has been hammered home this time. The SNP's


rivals are demanning this referendum be put now, Alex Salmond


doesn't seem that worried at these demands. Because it's not going to


happen. If David Cameron tries to bully the timetable for the


referendum Alex Salmond will turn that to his advantage, it will not


play well in Scotland. The Scottish people, whether they are approve of


independence, whether they want devolution Max or any variations,


will not stand for a Westminster Government saying you will do this


on our terms. Alex Salmond would be able to use that card to his own


advantage. How about this idea, that he is going to take the claim


of right, the original wording of the claim of right, the sovereignty


of the people and ask parliament to endorse that again, will that


bother the other parties or will they sign up? I don't think it will


bother the other parties. The SNP can get it through as a majority


anyway. You don't see that as a particularly... I just think - I am


surprised he is letting the referendum go for such a long time.


2014, I know there is all these pointers in 2014. Angus Robertson


said 2014 in the fringe or then said or 2015. Leaving it for three


years gives them many pitfalls and things that can happen. As


Macmillan said, events, dear boy, events. The economy can trip them


hup. They promised during the election campaign it would be


deferred to the latter half of the parliament. There's no reason why


they should change from that. Alex Salmond has the whip hand on this.


The reality is he can afford to play the long game. He wants


independence. Clearly said in the speech Westminster politicians will


not dictate what we want. He sounded almost Churchillian at one


point. There will be nay limits. We are looking at a man at the top of


his game, feeling very confident and the reality is that he may well


be prepared to settle for devolution Max rather than fuller


independence this time because he knows that gives him the


opportunity in the parliament to follow this one to ask that


question again. I say in the parliament to follow this because


there is every possibility that the SNP will still be in Government at


that time. Thank you very much. And a reference there to Churchill, who


of course is most famous as the former MP for Dundee. Back to the


studio. Thank you very much Brian for that. Also thanks to Professor


Curtice who has been with us throughout the programme.


That brings our kfrpblg to -- coverage to an end here. Remember


you can catch highlights of the conference on BBC2 and BBC Radio


Scotland tomorrow. The Politics Show is on BBC1 Scotland tomorrow


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