Salmond Vows to Destroy the Union; He Declares 'The Age of Empires Is Now Over'
Byline: Alan Roden Scottish Political Reporter
ALEX Salmond yesterday declared 'the age of empires is over' as he made the destruction of the Union his top priority for the next five years.
On the day he was formally re-elected as First Minister, Mr Salmond ignored his campaign pledges to make Scotland 'healthier' and 'smarter' and launched an astonishing attack on Westminster 'subordination'.
In his victory speech to MSPs, the SNP leader failed to address the crisis facing Scotland's economy, schools or health service and said his 'dearest wish' was to rip Scotland out of the United Kingdom.
He wasted no time in picking a fight with Westminster and demanded immediate and sweeping new powers for Holyrood.
The First Minister wants:
Control of excise duty in a move that would make alcohol and cigarettes more expensive than England, raising the prospect of cross-Border custom controls.
Control of broadcasting, which could spell the end of the BBC north of the Border and result in the loss of popular TV shows.
A place at the EU table for SNP ministers.
Mr Salmond claimed his landslide election result proved that a 'change is coming, and the people are ready'.
But outgoing Tory leader Annabel Goldie issued a stern warning to Mr Salmond that voters do not expect his priority to be separation.
But the First Minister's speech had Nationalist MSPs in raptures, with Cabinet Secretary Richard Lochhead insisting the words should be read by 'every Scot'.
Mr Salmond barely mentioned independence during the Holyrood campaign, because he knows that a majority of Scots are opposed to leaving the Union.
However, now he is back in office, he said it is time to bring powers 'back home' from Westminster.
He explained: 'I have outlined six areas of potential common ground where there is agreement across the parliament to a greater or lesser extent: borrowing powers, corporation tax, the crown estate (Scotland's seabed), excise duties, digital broadcasting and a stronger say in European policy.
'I think we should seize the moment and act together to bring these powers back home. Let this parliament move forward as one to make Scotland better.' The First Minister said Scotland is emerging from 'the glaur of self-doubt and negativity'.
'A change is coming, and the people are ready. They put ambition ahead of hesitation,' he said.
Mr Salmond said Scotland will 'remain close to our neighbours' - bizarrely adding that England and Scotland will 'continue to share a landmass'.
'My dearest wish is to see the countries of Scotland and England stand together as equals,' he said. 'There is a difference between partnership and subordination. The first encourages mutual respect. The second breeds resentment.
'So let me finish with the words of (politician and writer) Andrew Fletcher of Saltoun, who addressed this parliament in 1706, before it was adjourned for 300 years. He observed that "all nations are dependent; the one upon the many".
'This much we know. But he warned that if "the greater must always swallow the lesser", we are all diminished.
'His fears were realised in 1707 [the Act of Union]. But the age of empires is over. Now we determine our own future based on our own needs. We know our worth and should take pride in it.
'Let us heed the words of Saltoun and go forward into the community of nations to lend our own, independent weight to the world.' In a meeting with Scottish Secretary Michael Moore last week, Mr Salmond outlined three of his demands.
He wants borrowing powers of more than [pounds sterling]2billion to fund projects such as the Forth Road Bridge, the devolution of corporation tax to enable a lower rate north of the Border, and control of Scotland's seabed to keep the profits from offshore wind farms.
Yesterday, he announced three new demands. …