UK

SNP Leader Alex Salmond Says No Campaign Is 'Most Miserable, Depressing, Boring' In Modern History

12/04/2014 21:11 BST | Updated 13/04/2014 15:59 BST

Scotland's First Minister Alex Salmond has described the campaign to keep Scotland in the UK as "the most miserable, negative, depressing and thoroughly boring campaign in modern political history".

Addressing the Scottish National Party's final party conference before the country's independence referendum in September, Mr Salmond said the momentum was with those campaigning for independence and said the No Campaign were out of touch.

"They are already out of touch with the people and are now losing touch with reality."

alex salmond

Alex Salmond said the No Campaign was the "depressing, negative and thoroughly boring"

He said the pro-independence campaign for independence was "positive, uplifting hopeful", adding: "It must always stay that way".

The First Minister said: "That is the basis on which we will win this referendum and our country's independence. "Make no mistake - momentum is with this campaign. The people are coming towards us."

He added: "This is our moment to be a beacon of hope. In September it is time to say yes."

In his speech, Mr Salmond said independence negotiations could begin "within days" of the September 18 referendum if there is a yes vote.

He said said a cross-party "Team Scotland" negotiating group would be set up to"secure expertise from across the political spectrum and beyond and indeed from Scotland and beyond".

He told the conference: "That group will begin negotiations with Westminster before the end of September.

"The discussions will be held in accordance with the principles of the Edinburgh Agreement. That means with respect and in the interests of everyone in Scotland and indeed the rest of the UK.

"The campaigning rhetoric will be over. The real work will begin."

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Mr Salmond embraced delegates after his speech was met with loud applause

Mr Salmond said an independent Scotland would abolish housing benefit reforms known as the "bedroom tax" and remove Trident nuclear submarines from their base in Clyde, to loud applause.

"In the first year of an independent Scotland we shall abolish the bedroom tax," Mr Salmond said. "A Yes vote in September is a vote to remove these weapons of mass destruction from Scotland once and for all."

Mr Salmond said that was a "cast-iron guarantee".

He told the conference: "In September, the people of this wealthy country will face a choice between two futures.

"One future is to put our faith in Westminster. In a system where the five richest families own more wealth than the poorest 12.5 million people. Where charities are warning of a 'poverty storm engulfing Scotland'. Where families with children need emergency food aid."

"These aren't reasons to put our faith in the Westminster system. These are reasons to get rid of the Westminster system."

The referendum on Scottish independence is due to take place on September 18.

Mr Salmond repeated his challenge to David Cameron to take him on in a debate.

"Prime Minister, we can drum up a crowd for you in Scotland. All you have to do is say yes to a debate," he said to the Prime Minister.

"What can you possibly be frightened of? Just think how well your deputy did debating UKIP.

"And if the fourth and fifth parties in Scotland can have a TV debate, then why not the First Minister and Prime Minister.

"So let us at last have that debate about the future of this country, in a proper, open and democratic way. And let us agree to do it now."

CORRECTION: An earlier version of this story said that the date of the referendum - September 18 - was the 700th anniversary of the Battle of Bannockburn. It actually took place on June 24, 1314.