Scottish Independence: Alex Salmond Says New Scotland Will Be A 'Beacon For Progressive Opinion'
Alex Salmond hopes to position an independent Scotland as a "beacon for progressive opinion" for those south of the border.
The Scottish First Minister, writing in the Guardian newspaper on Tuesday, sought to compare policies, particularly on health, with those of the Tory-led Westminster government.
He is due to expand on the theme in the annual Hugo Young lecture for the Scott Trust, which owns the paper, in London tonight.
Salmond wrote: "An independent Scotland can be a beacon for progressive opinion south of the border and further afield, addressing policy challenges in ways that reflect the universal values of fairness and are capable of being considered, adapted and implemented according to the circumstances and wishes within the other jurisdictions of these islands and beyond.
"That is a far more positive and practical Scottish contribution to progressive policy than sending a tribute of Labour MPs to Westminster to have the occasional turn at the Westminster tiller - particularly as the opposition's policy is increasingly converging with that of the coalition on the key issues of the economy and public spending."
Salmond, the Scottish National Party leader, has an overall majority at the Scottish Parliament and intends to hold a referendum on independence in autumn 2014.
Before his speech tonight, he underlined his ambition to bring about independence as the means by which people can "best fulfil their potential".
He recalled the support given at a BBC Question Time appearance in Liverpool where he urged English voters not to allow Westminster parties to "destroy" the NHS south of the border.
And he highlighted Scottish policies for free university tuition, no prescription charges and free personal care for the elderly.
Scotland was also first in the UK to implement a smoking ban in enclosed public places, he said.
Salmond said the current British constitutional settlement prevents Scotland from "innovating" in more areas, such as welfare.
He added that an independent Scotland would play an "active and responsible" role in the world.
"After Scotland becomes independent, we will share more than a monarchy and a currency. We will share a social union," he said.
"It just won't be the same as a restrictive state which no longer serves the interests of either Scotland or England."
But a poll carried by the newspaper showed the SNP still has work to do if it wants Scotland to leave the union.
The ICM survey put support at 30% with 63% against. A YouGov poll for Channel 4 on January 16 showed 39% support for independence, with 61% opposed.