Salmond says Scots two-thirds of way to 'freedom' « Previous « PreviousNext » Next »View GalleryPublished Date: 03 May 2009 By Tom Peterkin, Scottish Political Editor ALEX Salmond has declared that Scotland is "two-thirds" of the way down the road to independence, hailing the "extraordinary" progress made by the SNP since devolution. Marking the 10th anniversary of the first Scottish election, the First Minister said the prospect of splitting up the United Kingdom is now closer than at any time since the Act of Union was signed in 1707. "I think Scotland's closer to independenADVERTISEMENTce than it's been for 300 years," Salmond said. He also paid tribute to nationalists like Winnie Ewing, who made a breakthrough by winning the 1967 Hamilton by-election, her late daughter-in-law Margaret Ewing and Allan Macartney, the late MEP who was the party's deputy leader. Salmond said those figures would be gratified by the progress the SNP had made after decades of political obscurity. "We've had the party around for the best part of 70 to 80 years now and all these years for them to get self-government on the agenda would have been an achievement. "So if we take the Parliament as step one, the SNP Government as step two step three is independence and I think we are two-thirds of the way there." Salmond's comments to be broadcast on Clyde 2 and Forth 2 radio stations today at 1am provoked an angry response from Iain Gray, the Scottish Labour leader. He said: "During the worst economic crisis since the war, the rest of Scotland is planning for recovery but Alex Salmond is planning for a referendum. "Separate from the rest of the UK, our banks and building societies would have vanished, losing all the jobs, mortgages and savings. It's not that big countries are immune from the recession look at America it's that they have the strength to recover faster."