Alex Salmond, the first minister, will advance the debate on the Scottish government’s promised independence referendum by welcoming the idea of also giving Scots the chance to vote on full fiscal autonomy, known as “devolution max”.
On Saturday, Mr Salmond will tell the Scottish National party’s first conference since it won an unprecedented outright majority in May’s Holyrood elections that “devo max” is a legitimate option.
It has also been endorsed by Henry McLeish, a former Labour first minister at Holyrood.
But Mr Salmond will contrast the progress that Scotland could make under “devo max” with the opportunities that he insists only independence offers.
“Fiscal responsibility, financial freedom, real economic powers is a legitimate proposal,” he will tell the Inverness gathering. “It could allow control of our own resources, competitive business tax and fair personal taxation. All good, all necessary, but not good enough.
“Trident nuclear missiles would still be on the River Clyde, we could still be forced to spill blood in illegal wars such as Iraq, and we could still be excluded from the councils of Europe and the world. These things only independence can bring.”
Angus Robertson, the SNP’s campaign director, said on Friday that he was confident the Scottish people wanted to be “persuaded to support independence”.
He said the SNP was preparing to launch the biggest campaign in Scotland’s political history to win the referendum.
Nicola Sturgeon, deputy first minister, told the conference she was confident that the SNP would win the referendum because it was offering a message of “hope and possibility”.
She said: “The panic engulfing our opponents shows that they know we are winning the independence argument.”
Ms Sturgeon, who is also health secretary, said the SNP would introduce a bill within a month to set a minimum price for alcohol – a move that was blocked when the SNP had a minority government at Holyrood before May’s election.
She said: “When that bill is passed, Scotland will become the first country to introduce a minimum price per unit of alcohol. The world is watching us.”
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