with Alex Salmond, First Minister and MSP for Aberdeenshire East

INDEPENDENCE WHITE PAPER TO BE PUBLISHED ON 
NOVEMBER 26

Earlier this month, I was delighted to announce at the SNP conference in Perth that the Scottish Government will publish its prospectus for an independent Scotland on November 26.

The White Paper will set out the why of independence. It will detail the SNP’s vision for a fairer and more economically prosperous Scotland.

We seek a country with a written constitution protecting not just the liberties for the people but enunciating the rights of the citizen; a country where we make work pay, not by humiliating those with disabilities but by strengthening the minimum wage.

We seek a country where key public services remain in public hands, where business prospers and where the public are protected against the abuse of monopoly power.

We seek a country where the right to health and education are based on human need and ability, not on the size of your wallet.

We seek a country which understands its contribution to culture and creativity as part of an international framework.

And we seek a country which judges its contribution on how useful it can be to the rest of humanity not on how many warheads in can balance on a Trident submarine.

This is the why of independence - our vision of the Scotland that we seek.

The White Paper will expand on these principles and lay out the vision for the independent Scotland that is within reach.

EXTRA £20 MILLION TO HELP THOSE HIT BY THE
 BEDROOM TAX

Last month, the Scottish Government announced an additional £20 million to help those affected by the Bedroom Tax in 2014/15.

This funding will allow councils to increase their discretionary housing payments to the maximum amount in line with Westminster legislation.

Only an independent Scottish Parliament will ensure that the powers we need to repeal the bedroom tax - it is clear that the people in Scotland are paying a heavy price for Westminster’s out of touch decisions. One of the first acts of the SNP in a government of an independent Scotland will be to scrap the bedroom tax and create a welfare state that reflects the views and votes of those who live and work here.

BROADENING LINKS AND INCREASING BUSINESS OPPORTUNITIES WITH CHINA

China is an economic powerhouse with the second largest economy in the world and it is crucial that Scotland strengthens its position as an attractive place for Chinese investors and as an exporter of high quality goods for that market.

This weekend, I will leave on a five-day trade mission to what is one of world’s biggest economies.

I will undertake a series of meetings to deepen the friendship between Scotland and China and lead delegations demonstrating Scotland’s expertise, innovation and excellence in the oil and gas and construction sectors.

The warm relationship between our two countries is built on mutual respect of each other’s ancient societies, with deep links already established in areas such as culture and education as well as developing business links and diplomatic relations.

We’ve had great success in recent years, with overall Scottish exports to China increasing by 88 per cent between 2007 and 2012 and the winning of geographical indicator status for Scotland’s national drink helping secure a remarkable upturn in whisky exports to China over the same period.

We have also witnessed a new import deal for Scottish salmon signed in 2011; inward investments from Chinese firms such as Hutchison Whampoa bringing jobs to Scotland and agreements signed with the Chinese government for greater collaboration in the arts, heritage and creative industries.

But our ambition is to broaden and deepen these links, increasing opportunities for Scottish businesses to export their innovation and high-quality products in a range of sectors.

During all of these discussions, I will press home the message that Scotland has a wealth of natural resources, a world-class education sector and a resourceful and innovative people – quite simply, it’s a fantastic place to do business and invest.