Addressing the Independence March and Rally in Edinburgh today (Saturday), Scottish National Party leader and First Minister Alex Salmond focused on the overwhelming evidence that people in Scotland want the powers over the economy and welfare that can only be achieved with a Yes vote and independence.

He argued that this is a solid platform on which to build a successful Yes result, in contrast to the No campaign standing on the shifting sands of a failed Westminster system.

Mr Salmond said:

"We have an unrivalled opportunity next year - in 362 days time - to achieve something that no previous generation of Scots has done, and few countries ever do. To vote this nation into a new future of prosperity and equality - and to do so in a totally peaceful, civic and democratic manner.

"Today is an expression of our confidence that the people will put themselves - not Westminster - in charge of their own future by voting Yes.

"In this great debate, the Yes campaign stands on a solid platform on which to build success. We stand not only on the shoulders of the giants of our movement, who worked selflessly to deliver this precious opportunity. Even more importantly, we stand for the aspirations that the people of Scotland already have for the future of their country. In poll after poll, survey after survey, people in Scotland want the powers over their own natural resources, the welfare state and pensions which are vital in delivering the fairer society and stronger economy we need to build opportunity for all.

"And these powers - the people's powers - can only be achieved by voting Yes.

"The No campaign, by contrast, stand on the shifting sands of a Westminster system that is unrepresentative of Scottish opinion and aspiration.

"There is now a natural majority for a Yes vote.

"By a factor of nearly four-to-one, people agree with us that decisions about Scotland are best made in Scotland, not by Westminster.

"Since its restoration 14 years ago, our national parliament has proved time and again that when decisions are taken here in Scotland we get the right outcomes for the people.

"The Scottish Parliament has ensured that we have university education based on the ability to learn, not the ability to pay.

"It has enabled us to maintain the integrity of our NHS, with care free at the point of need, as well as delivering free personal care for elderly people.

"In all the areas for which it is responsible, Holyrood has shown the benefits of having decision-making powers here in Scotland.

"People believe that their own parliament should also decide on the economy, should control welfare, should decide on Trident.

"The people want a parliament which sees postal services as part of the economic infrastructure required for a successful and competitive economy - and therefore for the fourth time this week, any government I lead in an independent Scotland will secure the Royal Mail in public ownership.

"The people want a parliament which makes work pay without oppressing those with disabilities. Therefore, any government I lead with the powers of independence will abolish the Bedroom Tax.

"The people want a parliament which invests the nation's resources in things that really matter such as childcare. Therefore, any government I lead will not engage in illegal conflict and we propose a constitutional ban on nuclear weapons.

"A Yes vote next September will not be a victory for the SNP, or the Yes campaign, or even the huge coalition of interests and enthusiasm gathered here today.

"It will be the people's victory. 'Yes' will be act of self-confidence and self-assertion which will mean that decisions about what happens in Scotland are always taken by the people who live and work here - not by a remote Westminster system.

"A Yes vote is for self-government, not remote government - good government with independence, not bad government from Westminster.

"We are a lucky generation  - to achieve the powers the people want, to win a fresh start, and change our country for the better - we need only say the word. To put this country on the path of hope, optimism and achievement - to put the disappointments and missed opportunities of the past behind us - we need only say YES."

Copyright © Angus MacDonald MSP 2017

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