Alex Salmond address to parliament 2011 -
When Donald Dewar addressed this parliament in
1999, he evoked Scotland's diverse voices: the speak of the Mearns; the shout of the welder above the din of the Clyde shipyard;
the battle cries of Bruce and Wallace.
Now these voices of the past are joined in this chamber by the sound of 21st
century Scotland: the lyrical Italian of Marco Biag; the formal Urdu of Humza Yousaf; the sacred Arabic of Hanzala Malik.
are proud to have those languages spoken here alongside English, Gaelic, Scots and Doric. This land is their land, from the
sparkling sands of the islands to the glittering granite of its cities. It belongs to all who choose to call it home. That
includes new Scots who have escaped persecution or conflict in Africa or the Middle East. In means Scots whose forebears fled
famine in Ireland and elsewhere.
That is who belongs here but let us be clear also about what does not belong here.
the song tells us for Scotland to flourish then "Let us be rid of those bigots and fools. Who will not let Scotland, live
and let live." Our new Scotland is built on the old custom of hospitality. We offer a hand that is open to all, whether they
hail from England, Ireland, Pakistan or Poland. Modern Scotland is also built on equality. We will not tolerate sectarianism
as a parasite in our national game of football or anywhere else in this society.
Scotland's strength has always lain
in its diversity. In the poem Scotland Small, Hugh MacDiarmid challenged those who would diminish us with stereotypes. "Scotland
small?" he asked. "Our multiform, our infinite Scotland, small? "Only as a patch of hillside may be a cliche corner "To a
fool who cries "Nothing but heather!" The point is even the smallest patch of hillside contains enormous variation - of bluebells,
blaeberries and mosses. So to describe Scotland as nothing but heather is, said MacDiarmid." Marvellously descriptive! "And
To describe Scotland as small is similarly misleading. Scotland is not small. It is not small
in imagination and it is not short in ambition. It is infinite in diversity and alive with possibility. Two weeks ago the
voters of Scotland embraced that possibility. They like what their parliament has done within the devolved settlement negotiated
by Donald Dewar.
They like what the first, minority SNP government achieved. Now they want more.
They want Scotland
to have the economic levers to prosper in this century. They are excited by the opportunity to re-industrialise our country
through marine renewable energy, offering skilled, satisfying work to our school leavers and graduates alike.
also know we need the tools to do the job properly. This chamber understands that too.
My message today is let us act as
one and demand Scotland's right. Let us build a better future for our young people by gaining the powers we need to speed
recovery and create jobs.
Let us wipe away past equivocation and ensure that the present Scotland Act is worthy of
its name. There is actually a great deal on which we are agreed. The three economic changes I have already promoted to The
Scotland Bill were chosen from our manifesto because they command support from other parties in this chamber.
of this parliament support the need for additional and immediate capital borrowing powers so we can invest in our infrastructure
and grow our economy. I am very hopeful that this will be delivered.
The Liberal Democrats, Greens and many in the
Labour party agree that Crown Estate revenues should be repatriated to Scottish communities. We await Westminster's reply.
leading job creators back this Government's call for control of corporation tax to be included in The Scotland Bill. The Secretary
of State for Northern Ireland - a Conservative - supports the devolution of this tax - and the cross party committee of this
last parliament agreed unanimously that if the principle was conceded in Northern Ireland then Scotland must have the same
But these are not the only issues which carry support across this chamber. There are three more constitutional
changes we might agree on.
Why not give us control of our own excise duty. We have a mandate to implement a minimum
price for alcohol. We intend to pursue that in this parliament come what may.
However our Labour colleagues agree that
it is correct to set a minimum price for alcohol, but they were concerned about where the revenues would go.
control of excise would answer that question. It means we can tackle our country's alcohol problem and invest any additional
revenue in public services.
So I ask Labour members to join with me in calling for control of alcohol taxes so that
we together we can face down Scotland's issue with booze.
Another key aspect of our national life controlled by Westminster
is broadcasting. All of Scotland is poorly served as a result.
If we had some influence over this currently reserved
area we could, for example, create a Scottish digital channel - something all the parties in this parliament supported as
long ago as the 8 October 2008.
We agree that such a platform would promote our artistic talent and hold up a mirror
to the nation.
How Scotland promotes itself to the world is important. How we talk to each other is also critical.
These are exciting times for our country. We need more space for our cultural riches and for lively and intelligent discourse
about the nation we are and the nation we aspire to be.
Finally, many of us agree that, in this globalised era, Scotland
needs more influence in the European Union and particularly in the Council of Ministers. At the moment that is in the gift
of Westminster. Sometimes it is forthcoming, more often it is withheld. We in the Scottish National Party argue for full sovereignty
- it will give us an equal, independent voice in the EU.
However, short of that, the Scotland Bill could be changed
to improve our position. When the first Scotland Act was debated in Westminster in 1998, there was a proposal, as I remember,
from the Liberal Democrats, to include a mechanism to give Scotland more power to influence UK European policy. It was defeated
then but why not revisit it now. Let Scotland have a guaranteed say in the forums where decisions are made that shape our
industries and our laws.
I have outlined six areas of potential common ground where there is agreement across the parliament
to a greater or lesser extent: borrowing powers, corporation tax, the Crown Estate, excise duties, digital broadcasting and
a stronger say in European policy. I think we should seize the moment and act together to bring these powers back home. Let
this parliament move forward as one to make Scotland better.
Norman MacCaig observed that when you swish your hand
in a stream, the waters are muddied, but then they settle all the clearer.
On May 5th the people of our country swished
up the stream and now the way ahead is becoming clear. We see our nation emerge from the glaur of self-doubt and negativity.
change is coming, and the people are ready. They put ambition ahead of hesitation.
The process is not about endings.
It is about beginnings.
Whatever changes take place in our constitution, we will remain close to our neighbours.
will continue to share a landmass, a language and a wealth of experience and history with the other peoples of these islands.
dearest wish is to see the countries of Scotland and England stand together as equals.
There is a difference between
partnership and subordination. The first encourages mutual respect. The second breeds resentment. So let me finish with the
words of Andrew Fletcher of Saltoun, who addressed this parliament in 1706, before it was adjourned for three hundred years.
observed that: "All nations are dependent; the one upon the many." This much we know. But he warned that if "the greater must
always swallow the lesser, " we are all diminished. His fears were realised in 1707.
But the age of empires is over.
Now we determine our own future based on our own needs. We know our worth and should take pride in it.
So let us heed
the words of Saltoun and: "Go forward into the community of nations to lend our own, independent weight to the World."
Pictures of the Opening of Parliament 2007,
with our member Donny Mackay, taking part in the
‘Riding’, an honour which goes to ‘Local heroes' from all over the country, nominated by Members of the Scottish
Parliament (MSPs) for their unstinting and selfless contributions to their communities.
All pictures by Tom Whyte