The prospect of an independent Scotland, with decision-making over every aspect of people's lives taken here in Scotland rather than at Westminster, is the "opportunity of a lifetime" First Minister Alex Salmond said today.
Speaking on the day which marks a year to go until the historic independence referendum, and ahead of a Scottish Government-led parliamentary debate on the future of Scotland, Mr Salmond said:
"Today marks one year to the biggest opportunity Scotland has ever had – referendums like this are a once in a generation event, which means the vote on September 18th next year will be the opportunity of a lifetime for many people in Scotland, as we get the chance to choose our country's future.
"We know that people across Scotland agree overwhelmingly that decisions about Scotland should be taken here in Scotland – and the record of the Scottish Parliament since 1999 has shown time and time again that when decisions are taken here in Scotland we get positive outcomes.
"On policy areas education, health, justice and climate change, Scotland has shown the way, with innovative, popular policies which the people of Scotland overwhelmingly agree with. Westminster, in contrast, all too often produces policies which damage or hinder Scotland.
"Scotland can more than afford to be a successful independent country. We have enormous advantages in terms of our human and natural resources, but we need the political and economic tools to help create a wealthier and fairer society.
"This referendum is not about any one politician or party – it is about completing Scotland's Home Rule journey which has been underway for more than a century."
Deputy First Minister Nicola Sturgeon, who joins the First Minister this morning on a visit to meet pre-school children who attend North Edinburgh Childcare, Training and Creche Services, said:
"The referendum exactly one year from today is a historic opportunity to put Scotland's future in Scotland's hands.
"The Scottish Parliament has made great strides over the last 14 years, but we can and should be doing so much better as a nation. Westminster's damaging policies, such as its economic austerity agenda and the deeply unfair welfare cuts, are holding Scotland back.
"Independence will give us the chance to transform peoples' and communities' lives for the better – it will be the biggest and best opportunity any of us have ever had to create a fairer, more equal and more just society.
"Scotland is one of the wealthiest countries per head in the world, as the official figures show, and we have paid more taxes per head than the rest of the UK for every one of the last 30 years.
"Yet despite this, far too many people in Scotland do not see the benefit of this wealth. An independent Scotland, with control over all policy areas affecting people's lives, will give us the economic and political tools we need to build a more prosperous society.
"And the question everyone must ask, given all we know about the advantages of having decisions taken here in Scotland instead of at Westminster, is whether we can afford not to be independent."