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Last Updated: Friday, 24 September, 2004, 16:43 GMT 17:43 UK
Labour's time over, says Salmond
SNP leader Alex Salmond
The SNP must "break Labour's electoral stranglehold"
Scottish National Party leader Alex Salmond has warned Labour that its time in charge of Scotland is coming to an end.

In his first keynote speech since he took over the top job, Mr Salmond told the SNP conference in Inverness that he wanted Labour out of office.

The MP for Banff and Buchan said that he would do it by offering voters "a sense of vision".

He also said the prime minister should be impeached over the Iraq war.

Mr Salmond won the party's leadership election at the start of September after surprisingly putting himself forward following the summer departure of John Swinney.

In his first address to a major party event since the win, Mr Salmond told members that his return was prompted by "anger and frustration" at the failure of devolution.

Labour's time in government is coming to an end
Alex Salmond
SNP leader

He accused the Scottish Executive of dulling public expectations, a lack of vision and claimed it did not deliver on public services.

Mr Salmond told the annual conference: "I am back to end the managerial politics of this executive.

"They want to bore the Scottish people into submission. Scotland needs a positive vision and I am back to do that.

"Labour's time in government is coming to an end."

'Beyond the pale'

The SNP leader said Labour had been responsible for devolution becoming "one big let-down".

"If we are to replace Labour as the government of Scotland in 2007 then we have to present principle where there is none and vision where now there is only vacuum," he told the conference.

"We have to make progress next year to win in 2007 and we have to win 2007 to move forward to independence.

SNP leader Alex Salmond
This is a man (Tony Blair) who entered into a secret pact with the American president to go to war come what may
"To make progress we will demonstrate that only the SNP can be trusted with Scottish interests."

Mr Salmond criticised Tony Blair over his decision to go to war in Iraq and claimed he was operating "beyond the pale of decency".

He told the conference: "This is not a question of this prime minister making a judgment call and just being wrong.

"It's not a matter of someone acting in good faith and making an honest mistake.

"This is a man who buried the information that was inconvenient, manipulated the intelligence that was convenient and entered into a secret pact with the American president to go to war come what may."

'Drummed from office'

Mr Salmond said the prime minister should be "drummed from office", adding he "deserves to be impeached".

The SNP leader described impeachment as "a weapon of mass democracy - the final democratic deterrent against the abuse and misuses of executive power".

"We with others will present the case that he should be required to answer," Mr Salmond added.

"I believe that this prime minister now operates outside the currency of debate, beyond the pale of decency."




BBC NEWS: VIDEO AND AUDIO
The BBC's Andrew Cassell
"Alex Salmond's return as the SNP leader has already begun to revitalise his party"



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