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19/10/2013 09:12 BST | Updated 23/01/2014 18:58 GMT

Scottish Independence Is 'Common Sense' Alex Salmond Argues At SNP Conference

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Scotland's First Minister Alex Salmond addresses Pro-independence supporters as they gather in Edinburgh on September 21, 2013. Voting for Scottish independence is 'common sense', the leader of the movement to break away from the United Kingdom insisted a year to the day befor Scotland votes in a referendum. AFP PHOTO/ANDY BUCHANAN (Photo credit should read Andy Buchanan/AFP/Getty Images)

A vote for Scottish independence would be an "act of national self-belief", Alex Salmond argued today.

The First Minister used his keynote speech at the Scottish National Party (SNP) conference to hammer home a central message: that Scotland "could and should" be an independent country.

He claimed that the "common-sense argument" for ending the union is based on the record of the Scottish Parliament.

In his speech at Perth Concert Hall today he stressed that a "Yes" vote is not about a victory for the SNP, "it will be, above all, an act of national self-confidence and self-belief."

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His speech in Perth comes ahead of the independence referendum, on 18 September next year.

The case for independence is about "what is best for people in Scotland wherever they come from," he argued today.

"It is about who should be taking decisions about Scotland: those who live here or politicians at Westminster.

"This central question of who should be taking decisions is not an academic argument.

"It is a common sense argument based on our experience.

Next month the Scottish government will set out its prospectus for independence in a white paper, while on Thursday, 18 September, 2014, voters in the referendum will be asked the straight yes/no question: "Should Scotland be an independent country?"

Today, Mr Salmond told delegates that the devolved Scottish Parliament has provided "a taste of independence", in areas like health and social care, but he argued it is now time to extend its powers to areas like welfare and defence.

"With a measure of independence on health, on education and on law and order we have made Scotland a better place.

"So let us consider what we can achieve by extending Scotland's powers over the things we don't currently control - over our welfare system, our economy, pensions and defence.

"That is what a 'yes' vote means."