Page last updated at 00:02 GMT, Thursday, 31 December 2009

Scotland's politicians outline aims for 2010

Scotland's political leaders have published their hopes, aims and predictions for the coming year.

First Minister Alex Salmond said Scotland needed the power to manage its own natural resources so it could become the energy powerhouse of Europe.

Scottish Labour's Iain Gray believed 2010 would be "crucial to us all".

The Scottish Liberal Democrat leader, Tavish Scott, and Scottish Tory leader, Annabel Goldie, used their new year messages to focus on the election.


Scotland needs the power to manage its own natural resources so it can become the energy powerhouse of Europe, First Minister Alex Salmond has said in his New Year message.

Alex Salmond comp
Alex Salmond says Scotland could become the powerhouse of Europe

Mr Salmond predicted a "renewables revolution" emanating from a Scotland which had won the "natural lottery" - with wind, wave and tidal resources offering the capacity to produce some 10 times Scotland's own electricity requirements.

The first minister pointed to the Climate Change Act - setting legally-binding targets to cut Scottish greenhouse gas emissions by 42% and 80% by 2020 and 2050 respectively - as the most important legislation passed by the parliament in 2009.

He said: "In Copenhagen I spoke about Scotland's energy potential, our green energy potential, our ambition to be the energy powerhouse of Europe.

"Many countries saw the lead that Scotland was taking as an example of the legislation and of the action that must be taken to protect our planet collectively.

"Despite the disappointment of Copenhagen, people power internationally will force political leadership to commit to the ambitious targets for their countries that Scotland has already set."

But the first minister believes Scotland must get the benefit of its own resources if it is to become a major exporter and "the energy powerhouse of Europe".

He said: "Even now, we're being held back in the exploitation of these renewables because we now have to pay in Scotland much higher connection charges to the electricity grid than companies have to pay south of the border. That's totally unfair and totally unacceptable.

"If we're going to make the most of this renewable revolution, then we're going to have to have equal access to the grid - and the powers for our parliament to secure that proper access.

"And that's why it's important, as we move into this new year, that the people of Scotland are given their say in making sure that their parliament can extend its powers to have the ability to mobilise the resources of Scotland for Scotland's benefit.

"The referendum on the constitution is not an abstraction - it's not something for politicians. It's something for every person in Scotland. Because if we're going to harness the power of Scotland, then we need to give Scotland power.

"So this Ne'er Day, as we look forward to 2010, I'm wishing you a happy new year - renewing the energy of Scotland, renewing Scotland as a country. Have a guid new year."

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The leader of Scottish Labour said 2010 would be crucial for "all of us" and predicted that the General Election would be the most important of our times.

Iain Gray comp
"Labour stepped in to save the economy," said Iain Gray.

Mr Gray said: "The choice is between Labour's support for economic recovery and the protection of vital public services or savage Tory cuts. It's as stark as that.

"Labour stepped in to save the economy during the banking crisis while the Tories stood back. It was the right thing to do and we have seen the benefits over the last year.

"If the Tories had had their way we would have been plunged into a downward spiral.

"The economy and jobs are Scotland's priorities, not the narrow nationalist agenda of separation and a referendum nobody wants now."

He added that the SNP had failed to deliver as a government with "so many broken promises".

Mr Gray said: "But while we concentrate on economic recovery I believe that we must also ask what sort of society we want Scotland to be.

"My politics are about the respect we have for others and the respect we can reasonably expect from them. My vision is about the degree to which the society we create reflects the values we hold.

"Labour's core values are respect, solidarity, equality, fairness, compassion, community, citizenship.

"I want Labour's politics to support those who work hard, support their communities and try to be good citizens.

"Scotland's politics must take moral questions seriously and bring them to bear on broad economic and civic concerns. Not just about how we distribute things, but how we value them.

"How we promote and embed these values in the everyday life of our country is a test of who we are.

"The first decade of devolution has been a success in many ways but we need to listen more to what really matters most to the people we represent and get on with the job they want us to do."

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This year will be one of the most momentous in politics for generations, Tavish Scott believes.

Tavish Scott comp
Tavish Scott said his party could reform politics for the better

He said: "We know there must be a General Election. But nobody knows how that will end.

"The polls are all over the place, but they all show the Liberal Democrats in a stronger position in the run up to an election than we have been for generations.

"We are the challengers to Labour across Scotland.

"We have well-resourced target seats that are campaigning harder than ever.

"We have inspiring candidates who deserve to be part of the new House of Commons.

"And the choice facing the country at the time of economic recession and the failure of old politics means it has never been more important to break the red-blue-blue-red pendulum of British politics.

"Our plans for a fairer society and a sustainable economy have never been clearer.

"We will take the low paid out of income tax, cut tax bills for middle earners and stop the very richest in the land using loopholes to avoid their fair share.

"We will reform politics, not least to end an electoral system that has created a culture of a 'seat for life' and 'winner takes all' that has led so many MPs to exploit the system for their own gain.

"We will build a sustainable economy, creating jobs and opportunity for the record number of young unemployed.

"We will avoid creating a lost generation of young people, as Mrs Thatcher did in the 1980s.

"Her mistakes squandered the chances of thousands of people. The legacy remains. Poll after poll shows that most Scots still think that the Conservatives are the party for the well off, not ordinary people.

"In Scotland we have set the political pace on our campaign for a fairer society.

"We are winning the argument that there needs to be restraint on the pay and bonuses on those at the very top of the public sector in order to keep jobs and services going for those at the bottom of the income scale.

"I know that our council by-election gains from all parties in 2009 will be followed by Westminster gains in 2010."

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The leader of the Conservatives north of the border reckoned 2010 would be a year for change in both Scotland and Britain.

Annabel Goldie
Annabel Goldie says the next election will be a two-horse race

She said: "A British General Election has to take place in the next few months and that election gives people the opportunity for a fresh start.

"The choice is between a strong and united Conservative Party under David Cameron or this tired and failing Labour government.

"I want the people of Scotland to play their part in bringing about the change Britain so desperately needs.

"We need to start tackling the country's enormous national debt, we need to restore people's trust in politics and politicians, we need to fix our broken society, raise standards in our schools, improve our health service and get people back into work.

"We need to elect Conservative MPs in Scotland to ensure we have as strong and stable government at Westminster, able to get on with the job of sorting out Labour's mess.

"In Scotland the Conservatives have a really good chance in our 11 target seats.

"Voters know that this British General Election is a two-horse race between David Cameron's Conservatives and Labour.

"Voters know that the only way of getting rid of this Labour government is to vote Conservative. Voters know that voting Conservative in Scotland is no longer a wasted vote.

"I know we have a huge task ahead of us, but I also know people are listening to us again.

"Our achievements here in the Scottish Parliament have shown that our priorities are the people's priorities - more police on the beat, lower business rates for our smallest firms, a new national drugs strategy, a town centre regeneration fund.

"And at a UK level, it is David Cameron who has shown the leadership on the big issues of 2009.

"So, when the day comes to decide who should pick up the pieces of Labour's recession, Labour's debt mountain and Labour's jobs crisis, there are only two choices, and only one choice which will deliver a change.

"2010 is a year which can transform our country. 2010 is the year for change."

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