ALEX Salmond will this week embark on what has been described as 'the biggest gamble of his political career ' as the campaign for a "Yes" vote in the independence referendum gets underway.
Opinion polls consistently show that most voters are unimpressed by his party's core policy on seperation. Mr Salmond will unveil the Yes Scotland campaign in Edinburgh in the hope of winning hearts and minds by 2014.
Mr Salmond was joined by politicians from other parties, including the Greens, who want Scotland to leave the UK. A message of support from actor Sir Sean Connery, a long-standing supporter of independence, was read out to the crowd. Alan Cumming, the Scottish film, television and stage actor, also attended.
Mr Salmond said:
– Alex Salmond
"We don't start from scratch. We have a parliament which has earned its spurs for more than a decade. If the parliament can run education, then why can't it run the economy? If it can be trusted to run the health service, then why can't it represent Scotland internationally?
"If it can be trusted to protect our old people, then why can't we protect the country, and do so without the obscenity of nuclear weapons?"
After a round of applause the Scottish National Party leader continued:
– Alex Salmond
"I want Scotland to be independent not because I think we are better than any other country but because I know we're as good as any other country.
"Like these other nations, our future, our resources, our success should be in our own hands."
The campaign will be built "brick by brick" across communities, he said.
"We intend to take our case to the people by community activism and online wizardry,"
"By the time we enter the referendum campaign in autumn 2014, our intention is to have one million Scots who have signed the independence for Scotland declaration.
"Friends, if we achieve that, then we shall win an independent Scotland."
The message from former James Bond star Sir Sean was read out by Martin Compston, who starred in the Ken Loach film Sweet Sixteen.
– Sean Connery message read by Martin Compston
"This is a historic day for Scotland....the Yes campaign has centred on a positive vision for Scotland. It is rooted in inclusiveness, equality and that core democratic value that the people of Scotland are the best guardians of their own future."
The secretary of State for Scotland Michael Moore MP ahs been speaking to ITV Border's reporter Jenny Longden, he says he still believes that UK is stronger together and weaker apart and admits the 'No' campaign has a huge battle ahead.