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Last Updated: Wednesday, 16 May 2007, 13:14 GMT 14:14 UK
Salmond's victory speech to MSPs
Alex Salmond has made political history by becoming the first Nationalist first minister of Scotland.

Following his election, here is the speech he made to MSPs in the Scottish Parliament as his wife Moira, father Robert and sister Gail looked on.

This parliament, created by the people of Scotland in a referendum, is bigger than any of its members or any one party.

I believe that Scotland is ready for change and for reform. This is a small nation with a big future. But it is also a small nation with big challenges.

"It was said the other day that Scotland is a divided nation. Given the closeness of the election result, I can understand that in some ways.

However, it's not the case.

Alex Salmond

Certainly, the gap between rich and poor is too great. We need to grow faster. We need to heal the scars of the past. We need to be greener. We need to be still smarter. But we are not divided.

We have a sense of ourselves. a sense of community and, above all, a sense of the 'common weal' of Scotland.

In some ways we're not even a divided parliament. Of course, in this part of the chamber we seek independence and equality for Scotland - not everyone agrees.

Woven in tartan

But there is a broad consensus on the need for this parliament to assume greater responsibility for the governance of Scotland.

There is an understanding that we are engaged in a process of self government - and an awareness of the distance we have already travelled.

In 1961, Bashir Ahmad came to Glasgow to drive buses. In 1961, the very idea of a Scottish Parliament was unimaginable. In 1961, the very idea of a Scots Asian sitting in a Scots Parliament was doubly unimaginable.

But Bashir is here and we are here, and that part of the community of Scotland is woven into the very tartan of our parliament.

And we are stronger - so much stronger - as a result. We are diverse - not divided.

The nature and composition of this third Scottish Parliament makes it imperative that this government will rely on the strength of its argument in parliament and not the argument of parliamentary strength.

Despite all the challenges we will face together, I welcome that as a chance to develop a new and fundamentally more reflective model of democracy.

Policy by policy

The days since the 3rd of May have been understandably dominated by questions over the structure of government - will there be a coalition or will we have minority government?

Let me say to parliament that what matters more to the people we all represent is less the structure of government and more what we, all of us, achieve of the people's behalf.

Presiding officer, all of us in this parliament have a responsibility to conduct ourselves in a way which respects the parliament the people have chosen to elect.

That will take patience, maturity and leadership on all sides of the chamber. My pledge to parliament today is that any Scottish government led by me will respect and include this parliament in the governance of Scotland over the next four years.

In this century, there are limits to what governments can achieve. But one thing any government I lead will never lack is ambition for Scotland.

Today I commit myself to leadership wholly and exclusively in the Scottish national interest. We will appeal for support policy by policy across this chamber.

That is the parliament the people of Scotland have elected, and that is the government that I will be proud to lead.

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