with Alex Salmond, First Minister and MSP for Aberdeenshire East

Countdown to the Referendum

Scotland now has less than 100 days in which to complete a 100-year-home rule journey.

Scotland is a hugely wealthy country. Official figures show that, as an independent nation, we would be the 14th most prosperous per head in the developed world, ahead of France, Japan and the UK itself.

Scotland has paid more taxes per head than the rest of the UK for every one of the last 33 years. We have great creative industries and have more top universities per head than any other country in the world. We are renowned across the globe for our engineering brilliance, our rich industrial heritage and our spirit of innovation.

From the Forth Bridge in the 19th century to the cutting-edge life sciences in the 21st, we have abundant evidence of Scotland’s industrial, scientific and creative genius.

And, as the pace of change increases and technological, digital and engineering advances take shape, it is hard to think of another country with greater potential than Scotland to become a global hub for the industries of the future.

That huge economic strength is a reason the global credit rating agency Standard & Poor’s recently declared that – even without North Sea oil and gas – Scotland is a wealthy nation and, as an independent country, would qualify for its “highest economic assessment”. Unfortunately, despite that huge native wealth meaning we are one of the wealthiest countries on the planet, for too many people living in Scotland today it does not feel that way.

Westminster rule has turned the UK into one of the most unequal countries in the developed world. In Scotland that means too many people, including many children, are consigned to a life of poverty, while we still have some of the lowest life expectancy statistics in Europe.

That is simply unacceptable, and a Yes vote this September will give us the tools we need to ensure Scotland’s great human and natural resources are put to work to create not just a prosperous economy but a fairer and more just society.

No other nation in history has been as well-placed as modern Scotland to become independent – and when September the 18th arrives, I am confident the people will say “Yes”.