First Minister Alex Salmond has promised to fight for what is best for Scotland within the current constitutional setup as well as continuing the campaign for Scottish independence.

Talking to The Times newspaper Mr Salmond explained that the current economic situation and the huge deficit left by Labour meant that independence was not at the centre of Scottish politics and insisted that he has an "obligation and duty" to campaign for Scotland's wider interests, including greater fiscal responsibility and tax raising powers for Holyrood.

Mr Salmond said:
"The centre of gravity in Scottish politics is clearly currently not independence.

"You must campaign for what is good for Scotland as well as campaigning for independence."

The First Minister added:
"It's no contradiction if you're campaigning for what's good for Scotland, which may be less than what you think is right for Scotland, and campaigning for independence

"It's not a question of [independence] taking a back seat, its a question of fulfilling your duty. I regard that as a duty.

"When the SNP was formed, if I remember correctly, the second aim of the party was to further Scottish interests.

"I believe it's part of my obligation to further Scottish interests as well as to campaign for independence. It's not either or, its as well as."

The First Ministers comments come only days after government figures show Scotland’s fiscal position would be better with independence or fiscal autonomy than with the status quo.  Many leading businessmen and independent organisations recently called for more powers for Holyrood, including full fiscal autonomy, arguing that Holyrood needs significant economic levers in order to combat the current economic malaise.

The SNP government has published a white paper on its plan to hold an independence referendum before the next election.  Unionist parties are currently opposed to such a referendum despite overwhelming support amongst the Scottish electorate for a say on the nation’s constitutional future.

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