Scotland politics

SNP conference: Salmond addressing delegates in Inverness

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Media captionScottish National Party conference 2013, including Alex Salmond's speech

SNP leader Alex Salmond will further his case for independence, days after announcing the date of the referendum.

The first minister will tell his party's conference in Inverness that Scotland can be a "prosperous and just" nation if it chooses to go its own way.

On 18 September 2014, voters will be asked the yes/no question, "Should Scotland be an independent country?"

Mr Salmond will also use his speech to attack the policies of opposition parties and the UK government.

Legislation setting out the terms of the independence referendum, including issues like campaign spending limits, was brought before the Scottish Parliament this week.

A separate bill on letting 16 and 17-year-olds vote is also being considered by Holyrood.

In his speech, Mr Salmond will seek to move the focus of the debate from the process to the reasons why Scotland needs to be independent.

This week in Holyrood saw the SNP condemn the UK government decisions to invade Iraq a decade ago and maintain Clyde-based Trident nuclear weapons.

The Scottish government also accused UK ministers of "deceit" over the terms of a funding increase for Scotland in Wednesday's Budget - an attack which was denied by the Coalition.

In contrast, the first minister will highlight the strength of Scotland's finances, which he says are £4.4bn stronger than the UK as a whole, or £824 per person.

Ahead of his address, Mr Salmond said: "Conference will set out the 'why of independence' to the people.

"What won't happen in an independent Scotland will be getting dragged into illegal wars, having Trident nuclear weapons dumped on the Clyde for another 50 years, or the imposition of bedroom taxes.

"And what will happen will be the mobilisation of the human and natural resources of Scotland to build a prosperous economy and just society."

The first minister added: "In six years, we have taken trust in the Scottish government to a high of 71% - four times more than trust Westminster.

"With the partial independence the Scottish Parliament has in health, education, justice, business support and social services, we have achieved much - and with the full measure of independence we get by voting 'Yes', we will achieve much more for Scotland."

25,000th member

The SNP conference also comes in a wake of a recently leaked Scottish Cabinet document which warned of "cost pressures" on public spending and volatility in oil revenue.

And in January, the Scottish Social Attitudes Survey suggested support for Scottish independence was at its lowest level since the creation of the Holyrood parliament in 1999.

A total of 23% of the 1,229 people questioned in the survey between July and November last year said they favoured independence.

The Yes Scotland campaign said the independence debate had moved on significantly since it was carried out.

On Friday, the SNP welcomed the 25,000th member of the party, Elysee Ahmed-Sheikh.

Meanwhile, SNP deputy leader Nicola Sturgeon will be taking part in a BBC webcast interview with political editor Brian Taylor on Saturday morning, to be shown on the BBC Scotland news website.

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