Alex Salmond: They can cut Scotland out of the debates but not the argument

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At thsi election the London parties think they have it sewn up. They have tried to carve the SNP – indeed Scotland – out of their prime-time debates.

And the capitulation of the broadcasters in that stitch-up is a democratic outrage. They have even told us our nation is irrelevant to the outcome. But they have forgotten the most important thing.

Elections aren't just won in the TV studios. It isn't the pundits of the politicians who decide. They are won on the street and on the doorsteps, in the new media. Friends, it is the people who will vote; the people who will decide, and on polling day, make no mistake, the people of Scotland will be heard.

There is of course another reason the London parties don't want the SNP in the leaders debates. They know we offer an alternative to their cosy consensus. A consensus on cuts that will see the pain inflicted this year whether it is Gordon or David in Number 10.

The wrong cuts at the wrong time – that is their foolish agenda.

A cosy consensus on Trident. The extent of their disagreement is whether we have three new submarines or four new submarines. But we say – no nuclear submarines, no nuclear missiles, no weapons of mass destruction on the River Clyde. Theirs is a consensus on nuclear power. On nuclear dumping.

Consensus on the deeply flawed tax proposals from the Calman Commission – proposals that would see a 5p hike in income tax just to see Scotland's budget stand still.

Tory and Labour agree on student fees, punishing taxes on fuel, post office privatisation and post office closures. It won't be much of a debate.

And friends, they don't just want to silence the SNP. Their rules, the rules they have demanded, even silence the audience. They say no clapping – I would have thought that's a pretty unnecessary rule! They would do better to ban booing.

Only questions submitted in advance. Friends, we've got plenty of questions the London parties need to answer.

They can try – they can try – to silence our arguments in the TV debates. But they won't silence us in the communities of Scotland.

Taken from a speech by the SNP leader at the party's spring conference in Aviemore at the weekend