Page last updated at 16:23 GMT, Sunday, 20 April 2008 17:23 UK

Salmond sets out 'global vision'

Alex Salmond
Mr Salmond set a target of Westminster gains

First Minister Alex Salmond has outlined his vision to make Scotland a major player on the world stage.

The SNP leader told his party's spring conference the door was open internationally, as he marked a year in power at Holyrood.

Mr Salmond also said he wanted to see 20 SNP MPs at the next UK election.

And he launched an attack on Labour - accusing the party of losing its way, forgetting its values and abandoning its roots.

Mr Salmond also announced plans for a new life sciences institute in Dundee, overseen by leading Scots scientist Sir Phillip Cohen.

'Nos' will become 'Yesses' as we make Westminster dance to a Scottish jig."
Alex Salmond
First minister of Scotland

And he announced a summer tour of the Scottish Cabinet around Scotland, with appearances in towns and cities from Dumfries to Aberdeen.

Mr Salmond told the conference in Edinburgh the minority Scottish Government had done much during its first year in power as he reeled off a list of achievements, including plans for 1,000 more police, scrapping the student graduate endowment and freezing council tax.

"We have a strong and clear sense of purpose," he said.

"We are a government with energy, ideas and vision - total confidence in Scotland's ability to succeed."

And following his recent visit to the US, the first minister declared: "The door is open to Scotland internationally."

Mr Salmond also said the more UK Labour ministers tried to bully Scotland on issues such as withholding council tax benefit - the more support there would be for independence.

ALEX SALMOND'S SPEECH

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Outlining his 20 MP target, he went on: "If we achieve that, then all these Westminster 'Nos' will suddenly become 'Yesses' as we make Westminster dance to a Scottish jig."

The first minister said the doubling of the UK 10p tax rate would benefit MSPs to the tune of 300, while those on low incomes would lose as much as 150.

The Scottish Government's local income tax plan to replace council tax - which ministers currently do not have enough support to get through parliament - would cost MSPs 600 but would help pensioners and Scots on low incomes, he added.

"The Labour Party has lost not only its way, it has forgotten its values and abandoned its roots," Mr Salmond told the packed conference auditorium.

"Self-interest has become an art form and it is at the expense of the people they are elected to represent."

Mr Salmond said good government from the SNP would increase support for independence, adding that his party now had a strong record in government to support its "noble cause".

"The reality of the 21st Century is that the processes of independence and interdependence are one and the same," he said.

"As our world becomes ever more interconnected in terms of trade, international relations, the environment and security - the case for nations having a voice at a global level becomes ever more compelling."


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