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Last Updated: Friday, 13 October 2006, 17:23 GMT 18:23 UK
Salmond sets out 'winning vision'
Alex Salmond
Alex Salmond made his speech to the party conference
Scottish National Party leader Alex Salmond has delivered his vision for victory at the Scottish election.

Addressing the annual conference in Perth, he said the party was "alive, kicking and winning".

Mr Salmond, who is bidding to return to Holyrood as an MSP, also claimed that support for Scottish independence was at an all-time high.

He set out his plans for health, education and the economy in a hall packed with more than 1,000 delegates.

Mr Salmond told the conference that the party had a "dramatic six months" ahead, before the Holyrood elections next May as he pointed out a string of local by-election victories.

The MP said: "Today we ride on the crest of a wave - this time, in our time - there shall be change for Scotland."

'Running to win'

He continued: "Two years ago when Nicola (Sturgeon) and I came to lead this party, I told this conference that I was not here to go through the motions, but back to rid Scotland of a small-minded managerial administration and to deliver a vision capable of touching the very soul of Scotland.

"I am standing for first minister and we are running to win."

Mr Salmond, who was given a standing ovation before and after his speech, said an SNP government would give everyone a fair chance and make Scotland an international economic player.

He said the burden of debt would be removed from Scottish-domiciled students and graduates and floated the idea of dedicated class teachers at secondary school.

Scotland's only small to those who think small
Alex Salmond

He also raised the prospect of every home and school having a wind generator, solar panels or insulation system and gave backing to the world's first commercial carbon-capture hydro power station.

On health, Mr Salmond promised an inquiry into the problems surrounding Holyrood's flagship free personal care for the elderly policy and said there would be direct election of health board members.

And he again criticised the "illegal" war in Iraq, calling for British troops to be brought home.

He also launched an attack on Labour, branding its vision of Britishness "narrow, bland and boring" and criticised Jack Straw for having the "temerity to instruct his constituents on what to wear".

"Jack Straw - Alf Garnett without the braces," said Mr Salmond.

Then it was the chancellor's turn: "Gordon Brown wants to be British prime minister so he tells people to plant a Union Jack in his back garden and that Paul Gascoigne's goal against Scotland was his favourite moment," he added.

And Mr Salmond criticised First Minister Jack McConnell's often-used slogan that Scotland was "the best small country in the world".

"That one phrase encapsulates everything that is wrong with the first minister, with the executive and with our national tourist agency," he said.

"It combines the worst of 'wha's like us?' with the worst of an inferiority complex.

"Scotland's only small to those who think small. It's time to think big."

Alex Salmond conference speech

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