Roscoe Lecture: Rt Hon Alex Salmond
14 February 2012
Rt Hon Alex Salmond MSP, First Minister for Scotland, delivered a Roscoe Lecture arguing the case for an independent Scotland.
To begin the lecture Mr Salmond spoke of the similarities between Liverpool and Scotland and made reference to the mutual admiration William Gladstone, son of Liverpool and former Prime Minister, and Robert Burns, Scotland's best-loved bard, had for each other. He said they had the same values of equal rights, equal laws and the importance of friendship. This, he said, was key to the situation with England and Scotland today and would be the overall theme of his lecture; how it would be possible to strengthen the strong ties of friendship if Scotland was independent.
He explained his view that the current situation is unsustainable as it is leading to resentment in England and Scotland. He gave examples such as UK tax payers having the perception that they are funding Scotland's 'perks'. This was untrue, he claimed, saying Scotland more than pays its way in the Union. Another issue he raised was the often asked question why Scottish ministers should have a say on English matters.
Independence for Scotland would end the sense of grievance on both sides, he claimed, saying the friendship between England and Scotland would be better if they were independent of each other.
He also confronted other arguments against independence, claiming there were several myths that needed to be dispelled such as the Scottish economy not being able to survive without being part of the UK economy. The First Minister argued that an independent Scotland would prosper as it would give the country the opportunity to determine what it spends its money on in the future in order to enhance the wellbeing of the Scottish people.
He also mentioned how both Liverpool and Scotland have faced problems with being abandoned and recalled the recent revelation that in the 1980s then chancellor Geoffrey Howe proposed the 'managed decline' of Liverpool. The First Minister asked the audience: "Why should George Osbourne, MP for Tatton, care more about Liverpool than Geoffrey Howe, MP for East Surrey, did?"
He went on to give statistics from a recent poll which revealed that only 10% of people in the north of the UK think the government looks after everyone equally and most people believe the capital gets special treatment, even people who themselves live in London.
He recalled William Gladstone's quote:
"All the world over I will back the masses against the classes," saying Westminster is out of touch with the masses and that seems worse the further north that you travel.
An independent Scotland, he claimed, would act as an example for others to follow. The First minister concluded the lecture by saying that, in his view all the opportunities independence would give Scotland seem to him to also be opportunities for England.
During the lecture Peter Ross, who attends St Edwards College in West Derby, and Emma Bailey who attends Holy Name Catholic Primary School in Fazakerley, were presented with Good Citizenship Awards. Both award winners are members of the Liverpool Schools' Parliament; Peter is the Young Lord Mayor of Liverpool and Emma is the Junior Lord Mayor of Liverpool.
Pictured (left to right): Rt Hon Alex Salmond, Emma Bailey, Peter Ross, Professor Nigel Weatherill, Lord Alton of Liverpool
An audio version of the lecture is available on the Roscoe Foundation for Citizenship pages here