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EDITIONS
SNP Friday, 21 September, 2001, 16:56 GMT 17:56 UK
Swinney urges caution in retaliation
Caird Hall
Delegates heard Mr Swinney back 'targeted action'
Scottish National Party Leader John Swinney has called for those who carried out last week's atrocities in the US to be brought to justice.

However, in the keynote speech at the SNP's autumn conference, Mr Swinney warned the US and its allies that any action should be "targeted and based on dispassionate evidence".

Mr Swinney also signalled he would be prepared to increase taxes to improve the health service, when he addressed delegates at Caird Hall, in Dundee.

John Swinney
Mr Swinney rounded on his opponents
And he rounded on the Labour controlled Scottish Executive, promising to "lead this country to independence".

In a speech that lasted more than 20 minutes, Mr Swinney attacked the executive's record on health, education, and child poverty.

The SNP leader started his speech by referring to last week's terrorist atrocities in America.

He said those events "changed our world forever" and touched "all of us in Scotland".

Mr Swinney repeated his earlier call that the perpetrators "must be brought to justice".

He said: "They must be brought to justice by targeted action, based on dispassionate evidence."

And he remained adamant that this "cannot and must not mean innocent victims are added to those who were so callously cut down last week".


I may be faced with a choice between asking people to pay more in taxation or asking children to wait long periods for vital hospital treatment

John Swinney, SNP leader
Peace, he said, could only be attained with "with the intensification of the peace process" in the Middle East.

Mr Swinney then turned to domestic policies and set out his "vision of the future".

He said his aspirations for Scotland were "underpinned first of all by ambition" and there was "a gulf in ambition" between the SNP and other parties.

Starting with asylum seekers, he pledged to "abolish the voucher system that demeans and stigmatises".

This was followed by an attack on First Minister Henry McLeish for following a "Thatcherite ideology" of "creeping privatisation" in the public services.

Mr Swinney said the SNP would put an end to the "crazy, uneconomic and anti-Scottish" public, private partnership method of funding public service development.

Delegates
Delegates listen to the keynote address
He said the party's mission in government would be "to invest, not to asset strip" and pledged to end what he called "the under-funding of the health service or running down of the education sector".

Only fiscal freedom in the Scottish Parliament, he argued, could free up "billions of pounds of tax revenue that currently floods into the Treasury".

In a clear indication of future electoral strategy, Mr Swinney said: "I may be faced with a choice between asking people to pay more in taxation or asking children to wait long periods for vital hospital treatment.

"Let me make it clear today, I will not turn my back on Scotland's children."

Mr Swinney accused the Liberal Democrats of abandoning their commitment to proportional representation.


The party is facing in the direction of independence. Let's take our people to win it

John Swinney, SNP leader
He said local government reform was essential if "one-party Labour municipal states of Scotland must end".

To loud applause the SNP leader then repeated his party's commitment to renewable energy sources and said he would "not approve plans for any new nuclear power stations in Scotland - not now, not ever".

But in words that almost echoed late First Minister Donald Dewar, he said his "over-riding ambition" was "to end child poverty".

Mr Swinney said he was "sickened" by what he saw as New Labour's lack of ambition which would condemn many children to poverty for generations to come.

He said the key to improving prosperity was to "improve Scotland's economic performance".

'Economic success'

He cited "collapsing, business start-ups, falling manufacturing employment" and the "worst economic growth rate in Europe" as evidence that the Scottish Executive was failing business.

Small independent countries, he asserted, show the way in economic growth and prosperity.

Mr Swinney closed his speech as he opened it - with a pledge to lead the country to independence.

"It is the job we have taken up and which we must complete," he said.

"The party is facing in the direction of independence. Let's take our people to win it."

 WATCH/LISTEN
 ON THIS STORY
The BBC's Andrew Cassel
reports from Dundee
John Morrison reports
"The conference has been overshadowed by international events"
See also:

19 Sep 01 | SNP
12 Sep 01 | Scotland
26 Aug 01 | Scotland
23 Sep 00 | SNP
23 Sep 00 | SNP
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