Tony Blair, the Prime Minister of the U.K. pleaded with the Scottish people, not to “rip Scotland out of the UK " , saying full independence would be disastrous for the country as a whole.

Asked about a poll that suggested 51% of Scots favoured independence, Mr Blair said he would have to persuade them otherwise.

He blamed the people who wanted an independent Scotland , for trying to claim voters were only "true Scots" if they were backing independence.

Tony Blair

The Scottish National Party leader Alex Salmond answered his statement; he went on to say that, the Prime Minister of the U.K. was "out of touch with public opinion in Scotland ."

Blair then went on to describe what he defined as the S.N.P. Folly

Blair said: "To end up having a separate Scottish currency, separate Scottish armed forces, separate Scottish economy when we are so integrated together would be disastrous for people. I think that when this debate progresses, it's not just that people will realise the folly of the SNP position."

With only a few weeks to go before the Scottish parliamentary elections, polls suggest the SNP is neck and neck with Labour - which rules in coalition with the Liberal Democrats

The SNP has promised a referendum on independence within four years, should it win power in the may 2007 elections

Asked about a poll in a Scottish newspaper, Mr Blair said it showed he would have to speak to Scottish voters, and persuade them the benefits of remaining in the UK . He went on to say that in his opinion, increasing Holyrood's powers was not the answer

"What I think it's about is the attempt by the SNP and others to say: 'You're only truly Scottish, in inverted commas, if you are making the case for independence," he said.

"But that's rubbish. The question is what is in the best interests of Scotland and what is in the best interest of Scotland is to have a strong Scotland within the United Kingdom , where you have the benefits of devolution” he also said;

“You take your local decisions in relation to law and order, education, health and so on, but at the same time you get the benefits, as we do in England , of being part of the UK .”

Blair stated that England and Scotland benefited from shared trade, currency, armed forces and social security systems.

"You rip Scotland out of the UK , which is the SNP policy, you will lose those benefits," he said.

"You will end up with an uncertain economic future with less power for people in Scotland to effect the big changes that are happening in the world."

In response, Mr Salmond the S.N.P. leader said: "The more the prime minister attacks independence, the more popular it becomes. I urge him to continue in a similar vein” he went on to say

"Labour's negative smears and fears campaign simply isn't working in the face of the SNP's positive case for Scottish independence."

He said most Scots wanted more powers for Holyrood and said there was a "clear consensus" for an independent Scotland .


An “opportunist group of nationalists” threatens the identity of the United Kingdom , Gordon Brown has warned.

The chancellor told the Fabian Society that some groups were "playing fast and loose" with the union of England , Scotland , Wales and Northern Ireland .

He then stated that the UK was a country "built on shared values" which served as a "model for the rest of the world" .

SNP leader Alex Salmond disputed what Brown, had said, and that he was thinking only of his "self-interest as a prime minister designate" .

It is expected in most circles that Mr Brown, (who is a Scot) and MP for Kirkcaldy and Cowdenbeath, will take over as prime minister of the U.K. later this year.

Mr Brown, when speaking to former Labour MP Oona King at the start of the Labour think tank's conference, stressed the importance of the country's shared values.

“It is very important to recognise that Britishness and Britain itself is not based on ethnicity and race," he went on to state.

"It is founded on shared values that we hold in common: a commitment to liberty for all, a commitment to social responsibility shown by all, and a commitment to fairness to all."

He said there was now a dividing line in Britain that pitted "those of us who are prepared to support the shared values of the union" against "those who are prepared to play fast and loose with the union and put the whole future of the union at risk".

This year is the 300th anniversary of the Act of Union that merged the English and Scottish parliaments, that was formed in 1707

The pro-independence Scottish National Party are expected to do well in the Scottish Parliament elections in May, with the independence debate to be a major issue in the campaign

Mr Salmond, who is the SNP leader said the chancellor "could not tolerate the idea of Scotland slipping out of Labour's control just at the point he wants to move into No 10". He went on to say;

"Revealingly, Mr Brown is unable to accept that, under his chancellorship, the Scottish economy has lagged behind both the UK and spectacularly, the small independent countries in Europe ."

For some time now The Conservatives have been voicing the opinion that it might be better if exclusively English laws were voted on by English MPs alone.

However, Mr Brown the Chancellor, said the idea of "English votes for English laws" would pull the union apart.

When speaking to the Fabians, Mr Brown pledged support for the idea of raising the school-leaving age to 18, but this idea has not gone down well and is seen as a way to give false impressions on the amount of people registered unemployed.

Brown, told delegates that terrorism and security issues could not be solved through military means alone.

Earlier, he had written an article in a daily newspaper where he criticised the Conservatives for siding with the nationalists over constitutional issues.

In the article, the chancellor warned: "It is now time for supporters of the union to speak up, to resist any drift towards a Balkanisation of Britain and to acknowledge Great Britain for the success it has been and is."

He attacked the Conservative Party for embracing "anti-unionist positions" in collusion with nationalists - contrasting them with the stance Lady Thatcher, took in support of the union.

Sir Menzies Campbell, who is the Liberal Democrat leader, said the chancellor was right to highlight the "Faustian bargain" between the nationalists and the Tories.

"They may have different motives but their actions will jointly lead to the same conclusion - the break-up of the union," he said.

However, Shadow Scotland secretary David Mundell said the chancellor was "undermining Britishness with his support for English regionalisation, identity cards and the European constitution."

Mr Mundell also accused the chancellor of sticking his "head in the sand" over any modernisation of the union.

He told a television news programme that: "Gordon Brown simply sticks his head in the sand and says the only way to deal with that issue, and that question, is not to ask it."

GORDON BROWN yesterday attempted to put a spoke in the SNP bandwagon with a scathing attack on their tax and spending plans.

Just four days before delivering his final budget, the Iron Chancellor turned his fire on the nationalists' economic pledges.

He said their plans for the nation's currency and joining the Euro are "all over the place".

The chancellor Mr.Brown also attacked their local tax policy which would scrap council tax and replace it with a 3p-in-thepound income tax. And he warned of a multi-billion pound hole in their spending pledges.

It is his most hard-hitting attack yet in the campaign for the Scottish elections.

Brown said: "None of the SNP's policies is properly thought out. Then said,

"When you look at these policies of the Scottish National Party, they are falling apart.

"They don't know, they are totally confused about Scottish interest rates and a Scottish pound.

"They have fallen apart when asked about their replacement for the council tax. Only this morning they couldn't explain who would pay it, whether it would apply to unearned income.

"They have fallen apart on spending because we have shown in great detail how all the commitments of the SNP just do not add up.

"The Scottish National Party is about grudge and grievance.

"What people want are more jobs, more prosperity and better public services, not the grievances of the SNP.

"Labour is the party of jobs, not the party of chips on the shoulder."

Gordon Brown, said that in his opinion the Labour's election campaign was going well - but he admitted they faced a challenge to convince people a vote for Labour was a vote for jobs.

He added it was important to keep reminding people of the numbers of jobs created since Labour came to power in 1997 and also to get more people into better jobs in modern industries.

He said: "The next few weeks is a chance for us to get across to the people of Scotland just how successful they can be in the economy of the future.

"That does not need a change in the constitutional arrangement, it needs investment in education.

"If you look at unemployment today, it has halved since we came into power from 162,000 to 82,000.

"And the amount of jobs being created in Scotland ,we have gone from 2.26million to 2.51, so there are 250,000 more Scots who have a job now.

"If people had said 10 years ago we were going to create 250,000 jobs in Scotland , they would have said that was very difficult - but that is exactly what has happened.

"Now the key is that people who are economically inactive get the opportunity to get into work, that single parents who want to get back to work can do so, that young people are leaving school with the qualifications to get these jobs.

"That is where education is so important. We aim to create 100,000 more jobs in Scotland . Only Labour can help people get the skills they need to work in the industries of the future.

"Any diversion from that, like spending years with constitutional chaos, I think the Scottish people would find unacceptable."

The Chancellor also hit back at high profile SNP supporters such as former top banker Sir George Mathewson, who claimed Labour's election campaign amounted to scare tactics. Brown said: "Of course he is entitled to his view.

"But I don't hear the current leaders of the financial services industry repeating these things.

"Standard Life issued a statement saying stability is what they value and anything that contributes to instability is a problem.

"I've heard Sir David Murray saying these things in stronger terms. I have heard it from people on the board of Rangers and the board of Celtic.

"There is a common cause - none of the SNP's ideas is thought out."

Because of his attempt at using the ‘Old Firm' many people have condemned him and accused him of clutching at straws. People are saying that he must feel under pressure to take such desperate measures. They think that Brown has resorted to the old religious connotations with these two huge Glasgow football clubs, in an attempt to gain votes for the Labour party.


Alex Salmond

Alex Salmond Speech to Spring Conference
Snp - 2007-03-18
Making his keynote address to the SNP's Spring Conference the SNP Leader Alex Salmond MP said it was time to build a better Scotland, to build a special place for our people, prosperous but also just, a thriving economy and a great society, with an eye to the future and a heart to forgive.

Mr Salmond said: "My name is Alex Salmond - and I'm running for First Minister.

"And things are going all right - like a Gaelic song, as Angus MacNeil would say - and I, and we, owe so much to Nicola Sturgeon and her brilliant leadership of the Scottish Parliamentary Group.

"Almost three years ago when Nicola and I ran together for leadership of this Party when we said that we intended to remove the dead hand of Labour Party control from the governance of Scotland not too many people believed it to be possible.

"Now EVEN the Prime Minister believes it to be possible which is why he is spending so much of his last days in office coming UP to Scotland to talk DOWN to us.

"Every time Blair flies up to place his big carbon footprint in our country SNP support soars.

"He's on his way out.

We're on our way in.

"His time is over.

Our time is coming. "Or to coin a phrase. He is the past. We are the future now. "And what better place to be launching our campaign - contesting for political leadership of Scotland - than in this great and gallus city of Glasgow.

"Willie McIlvanney once called Glasgow the city of the stare - it is also the city of the smile. And right now Glasgow and Scotland are smiling on the SNP.

"Even the BBC are smiling on the SNP - delegates, I remember when we were only allowed just one or two broadcast SNP conferences a year!

"But this year there have been a whole series of SNP conferences. Loads of them. All over Scotland - and they have all been on the telly. "Last November there was an SNP conference in Oban - well, I know it was meant to be a Labour Conference - but they spent their entire time talking about us. Apart from having a go at the SNP, they had nothing else to say. And apart from the security and the polis there was virtually no-one there!

"Last month, there was another SNP conference, this time in Aviemore - when the Lib Dems used some rather illiberal language about us. They really will have to decide whether to be the nice party or the nasty one - and are they really going into an election campaign determined to prop up the Labour Party in Scotland?

"And just a week ago, there was about to be another SNP conference in Perth - except the Tories spent the whole time attacking each other, and forgot about us! I would never be as rude about them as they are about each other. David Mundell - their only MP - finally hit the headlines by writing a memo calling his MSPs stupid. I would never say that about the Tories. Well, I might think it!

"These other events were the "surreal" SNP conferences. Here in Glasgow's wonderful science centre it's the REAL SNP conference. "And delegates, here's the surprising thing. This conference - unlike these other ones - isn't really about us. It isn't about the SNP. "This conference - our conference - is about the future of our country of Scotland. "It's about what the SNP have to offer to build a more successful Scotland. That's what brought me into public service. "That's the bond every one of us shares with the people of Scotland. "The SNP stand for Scotland's interests, body, heart and soul.

"We have something which is very scarce and very rare in politics - belief, vision and ambition for our country. "And fundamentally, that is why we are fighting a campaign focused on Scottish success in this election.

We can do no other, because we are Scotland's Party. "So let the other parties try to talk down the SNP. We will get on with the job of talking up Scotland. "This is a special time in our nation's story, and we have the opportunity to take Scotland forward.

"In just 46 days, Scotland goes to the polls and the choice is clear - more of the same from the London-based parties, or a step to a better future with the SNP. "The SNP are riding high in the polls, but there is more - much more - to the SNP's success than that. "For the first time in Scottish political history, the SNP are ahead across all social and economic groups - those who are thriving, those who are getting by, and those who are struggling. "Our lead stretches right across Scottish society, as therefore does our obligation. "And I am just as proud that we now lead for the first time among those who are finding life difficult, on low wages, on fixed incomes as I am that we lead for the first time among those who are successful and prosperous.

"They all look to us for fairness, for hope, for justice - for if there is no justice people lose faith and they lose hope. "The SNP must speak for all of Scotland because all of Scotland needs the Scottish National Party. "The SNP's message speaks to all of Scotland because we reflect Scotland in all of its diversity.

"We ARE Scotland's national party. We ARE a part of all that we experience. "And I am proud that in 46 days time it is from the SNP that we shall elect the first Scots-Asian MSP, here in Glasgow, and take one more step towards our Parliament reflecting the society it represents. "And let me say that Cllr Bashir Ahmad is not just one of the nicest men I know - if all of our nation had just a fraction of Bashir's patriotism, his generous love of country, then what a place Scotland would be.

"The SNP's cup is full, and we are brimful of ideas to improve the quality of life for every person living in Scotland. "Our policy programme is unique, because it is the only programme made in Scotland for Scotland.
"It's brewed in Scotland - from girders.

"That is why the SNP are trusted to speak for Scotland. And we are building trust with the people right across the policy agenda. "After 8 years of a lacklustre Labour/Liberal Executive, the SNP are now more highly trusted on health, on education, and to tackle crime.

"Today I am launching this detailed action plan for the first 100 days of government. "Now Rome wasn't built in a day, and we cannot achieve everything in the first hundred days or even in the first year, or two years, but after this standstill executive, we can start to move the Parliament and country forward.

"We offer fresh thinking and a new approach. "An SNP government will be smaller government, a more effective government. "The savings we make will be directed into the front line of public services and into lower and fairer taxation.

"That is our social democratic contract with Scotland. "We will move clearly and confidently towards new national goals.

"In EDUCATION, we will be driven by a determination to deliver more personal education that fully prepares ALL young Scots for life. "We want to see each and every child getting more time with their teacher and getting education that is best suited to their individual needs. "That's why we will cut class sizes in early years. In primaries 1 to 3 class sizes will become a maximum of 18. In these first years of school our children learn to read, so throughout their education they can read to learn. "No Scottish child should be denied opportunity in education. "I went to Gordon primary in Huntly the other day. I was talking to the combined class fives about democracy and campaigning. I said I had been to the funeral of Britain's oldest lady - Annie Knight at 111 - who had been a suffragette in Aberdeen before the First World War. "I asked the class what they thought of that - one lad - lets call him Jimmy, for his own protection - said that 111 was about the same age as his teachers!

"We then had a debate and vote on whether Jimmy should get detention. He got off by a large majority because although he had been cheeky he had been quite funny - mind you the teachers voted for detention! "What's the point of this story - in most of our primary classes like that one the children idolize their teachers, they are often the most stable reference point in what for many our children can be a difficult and uncertain world. "The most important thing for children is teacher contact; the most important thing for teachers is the time to do the job properly.

"As First Minister I will use the first 100 days to start the move towards lower class sizes. I won't be spending the last fifty days trying to explain why it hasn't happened.

"In government the SNP will keep vital HEALTH services local. "We will introduce legally binding individual waiting time guarantees.

"Together these mark our determination that Scots are treated quickly AND close to home. "Our efforts must be as much on prevention as cure.

"That's why we propose a new focus on the health and wellbeing of young Scots. Our plans will see wider access to healthy food in school and new annual health checks and fitness plans for Scottish school pupils. To achieve this we will double the number of school nurses.

"And for their parents, our commitment to health for life will see all Scots offered a full personal health check at the age of 40 and by the end of our first term, our aim is to be able to offer Scots reaching retirement age another health check, allowing the right health intervention and support at this important time of life.

"Delegates recently I visited the largest hospital in Oslo. I asked them how they were coping with hospital acquired infections. They told me that their rate was virtually zero. I asked why. They said their cleaners were part of the Health Service, they were paid decent wages had low staff turnover and their hospitals were clean.

"Delegates to be successful a health service has to put patients first, it has to deliver at local level, it has to engage in prevention as well as cure. But above all it should be a National Health Service not a privatized health service. "I have no doubt Scotland can be safer.

"In government the SNP will put more police on local streets. A visible police presence to detect crime and deter the criminals. "And we will clamp down on the sale of alcohol to under age Scots - irresponsible alcohol sales that fuel the anti-social behaviour that blights too many Scottish streets and thus lives.

"An SNP government will mean zero tolerance towards underage alcohol sales. "And the SNP in government will come down hard on serious and organised crime. "We will build the broadest and most effective enquiry and prosecution team yet seen in Scotland. Maximising the chance of success in any investigation and success in identifying and seizing the assets of these criminal organisations.

"I visited Craigmillar in Edinburgh recently to see at first hand the problems that under age drinking was causing in good, decent neighborhoods. The challenge is clear and so are the solutions.

"Delegates, it is time for a safer Scotland, safer communities and safer streets. "And Scotland needs justice in local taxation.

"I am proud to be a constituency Member of Parliament. I have never had a constituent at a surgery in tears because of income tax. No-body likes paying any tax, but tax based on income is fair and progressive.

"However I regularly get people in real distress because they cannot afford the Council Tax - and it's always the people who make sacrifices in other areas to pay their bills.

Pensioners who turn down their heating not because they are going green but because they will go cold in order to pay their bills.

"Any MP or MSP who does not understand the distress that Council Tax is causing is not fit to be a Member of Parliament. "That is why as First Minister I will abolish Labour's Council Tax.

"Fairness in local taxation is a talisman for the fair society the SNP will build. It represents the Scotland we seek.

"Delegates, as we look forward to the next step in Scotland's journey, let's consider how we arrived at where we are now.

"The long years of a Tory government running Scotland with a handful of seats north of the Border - imposing unpopular policies such as the Poll Tax - deepened and strengthened the case for a parliament in Scotland. "Baroness Thatcher may have faced a mixed reception in Scotland - mixed between those who didn't like her - and that was just the Tories - and those of us who had a stronger view! - but she did at least teach us the importance of a nation governing itself, instead of being governed by someone else.

"And the momentous events since we voted for our parliament have persuaded more and more people in Scotland that it's not enough to have responsibility for health, education and housing.

"We need the REAL powers of a REAL parliament. "With real powers we can Let Scotland Flourish.

Some people have been surprised by the extent of heavyweight business support for the SNP - certainly it has surprised the Labour Party! "And certainly it upset the Prime Minister. Incidentally if I could offer a confidential word of advice to Tony. It is not really a good idea to come up to Scotland and attack George Mathewson and suggest he is not a real business man.

"Six years at the Scottish Development Agency, 20 years at the Royal Bank helping to build it into a world force headquartered in Scotland. "George Mathewson has forgotten more about the Scottish economy than Tony Blair will ever learn "Oh, there is one other difference between the business people who back us and the ones who back Labour, and it's not just that we don't sell titles or peerages. "Brian Souter and Tom Farmer have been busy building businesses up.

The London hedge funds who support Labour Party have been busy closing them down. "But this support for the SNP has not come about by accident. It has come about through the hard work of Jim Mather, John Swinney, Stewart Hosie, Jennifer Erickson taking the case to the business community.

We offer Scottish business a competitive advantage to unleash the potential of the Scottish economy. "It's time to let Scotland flourish with the real powers of a real parliament.

"Delegates this week marks the fourth anniversary of the disastrous decision to launch an invasion of Iraq. "With real powers for our parliament, never again will Scotland be dragged into an illegal war.

"Delegates, I have here letters from the front line. With no sense of self pity it lays bare the reality of Blair's war, poor body armour, poor facilities, badly fitting boots, service families spending up to £40 a week sending out food parcels to Basra. If our soldiers are injured some are not receiving proper care. If they die their families wait months or even years for an inquest. "What manner of man is this who could be so cavalier about sending our men and women to war, and so careless of his fundamental duty of care to our service personnel.

"Delegates it is time to bring our troops home from Iraq.

"With real powers, Scotland can release our huge potential to develop clean, green energy, and say no to new nuclear power stations in Scotland.

"The Government says that they want to save the planet. They can't even get moving to support the Peterhead carbon capture project - planet saving technology where Scotland has a two year world lead. "It is time to seize the opportunity of clean and green power.

"Delegates we seek the responsibility of Government. And in Government, in the interests of Scotland we will co-operate with Westminster in the interests of Scotland. "Carbon capture is an early example, action on poverty is another, proper representation for Scotland in Europe is a third where the present ridiculous situation was laid bare by the leaked memo from Michael Aron, Scotland's top civil servant in Brussels, revealing how Scottish Ministers were left sitting in the ante rooms.

"As First Minister I shall co-operate on all these matters and many more. It is in Scotland's interests, and it is also our recognition that we must build credibility as a Government, and in Government, as we seek to take Scotland forward.

"However a line has to be drawn. We cannot have a majority of Scottish MPs voting against new weapons of mass destruction, and that vote ignored by Westminster. "50 more years of weapons of mass destruction desecrating the Clyde. "We say no and Scotland says no.

"Mr Brown I will co-operate on many things. Green energy for one. Action on poverty for another. But read my lips. "There shall be no son of Trident dumped in Scotland against the sovereign will of the Scottish people.

"Yesterday Bruce Kent endorsed the SNP and challenged us as a party in Government to hold a conference on the draft international Treaty to abolish nuclear weapons from the planet. "We accept that challenge, and furthermore not just our national obligation to stop Trident but our international obligation to help end the scourge of nuclear weapons.

"Delegates if Margaret Thatcher taught Scots why we needed devolution then Tony Blair has taught us the lesson of why we need independence - to have responsibility for the big decisions on the economy, for the environment, against war and to stop weapons of mass destruction being deployed in Scotland. "Scotland needs real powers. We need independence. "And that is why as First Minister I will trust the people of Scotland to decide on our nation's future within our 4-year term of government.

No ifs, no buts - if the Scottish people of Scotland trust us, we will trust the people to choose the right future for Scotland.

"Delegates "We aspire to join that arc of prosperity around our shores - Ireland, Norway, Iceland and others. These independent nations are successful because they benefit from swift decision making and social cohesion. "Scotland is not there yet - but we are on our way.

"The folly of Labour's description of Scotland as "the best small country in the world" is that it combines the "wha's like us" bombast with the debilitating Scottish Cringe. "Scotland may be small in population, but we are not small in thought or ambition. We are only small if we think small. "The only thing really small about Scotland is the small mindedness of those currently in charge.

"The SNP think bigger and better. "And how absurd of Labour to argue that this supposed "best small country" is somehow incapable of running all of our own affairs. "Delegates, just under three years ago I announced my hope that I would earn the people's trust to lead Scotland as its next First Minister. "I hope to represent the people of Gordon in the Scots Parliament and I hope to represent all of Scotland in Europe and to the wider world.

"Our nation faces big issues in this new century - and my confidence in why we can do this is simple and straight-forward, and I'll tell you where I acquired this belief. "This afternoon my father is here. And I learned my confidence in Scotland - my confidence in Scots - while sitting at HIS father's knee, learning about Scottish history and the scale of our achievement.

"I have never said that Scots are any better anyone else and I never will. But I will not let anyone - from Westminster, from Holyrood or anywhere else, from any party, or from any newspaper say we are less capable than any other nation.

"So what are these big issues and how do we address them?

"How we compete in the face of globalisation? - as we always did, on our wits, the content of our ideas and our hard work.

"How we contribute to the security of the world? - democratic peace brokering - not illegal wars and nuclear proliferation.

"How we contribute to a fairer world? - by drawing on our tradition of caring - and acting - around the planet.

"How do we help secure the very future of the planet? - in the choices we make for our own lives, and in leading the world in clean energy from our shores.

"How do we build a better Scotland? - by accepting our responsibility to each other and to our country - to build a special place for our people, prosperous but also just, a thriving economy and a great society, with an eye to the future and a heart to forgive.

"These are the serious issues facing Scotland and it is time to let serious people deal with them.

"It's time - Time for the SNP


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© Crann Tara 2006