The Scottish First Minister hit out at politicians at Westminster who he claimed were "unwilling to do what is best for Scotland".
With voters due to vote on the country's future in 2014, Mr Salmond insisted: "Now is the time for Scotland to choose, to seize a different future."
The First Minister used his speech to the Scottish National Party's annual conference in Perth to launch a furious attack on a Westminster Government hit by political woes in the last 24 hours.
Andrew Mitchell yesterday stood down as chief whip after admitting the row over his confrontation with police officers in Downing Street made his position untenable - although he continued to insist he had not called a policeman a "pleb".
Meanwhile Chancellor George Osborne was forced to pay a £160 upgrade for his train ticket after he was caught sitting in first class with only a standard ticket.
To cheers from the audience Mr Salmond demanded: "Why on earth do we allow this incompetent bunch of Lord Snooties to be in positions of authority over our country?"
He added: "Westminster would put this first class nation in the second class carriages."
But the SNP leader declared: "No more second best for Scotland. It is time, it is past time, for a fresh start for our nation."
Mr Salmond told the conference: "Westminster has had its chance and Westminster has fallen short.
"It's not just that in Westminster and London we have a government that is unwilling to do what is best for Scotland. It is incapable of putting the people of Scotland first."
He continued his attack, hitting out at the UK Government's stewardship of the economy and its continued support for nuclear weapons.
"We face a Westminster government that is hell-bent on pulling our society apart at the seams," Mr Salmond said.
"Austerity, a one-way street with tax cuts for the rich and benefit cuts for the poor. Billions to be spent on new nuclear weapons while families struggle to heat their homes. What kind of brave new world is this?"
In his keynote conference address the Fist Minster declared: "Westminster is beyond salvation."
But he added: "Our social democratic Scotland can still be won."
With the independence referendum taking place in two years he said the choice before voters was clear.
Mr Salmond said: "Scotland can vote no and achieve nothing. Or we can vote yes to get the platform that we need."
Although a poll on Thursday showed just 30% of Scots supported leaving the UK, Mr Salmond insisted there was a majority in favour of some kind of constitutional change.
He told the packed auditorium: "Many want independence. Many want more powers. But have no doubt, once again the majority of our fellow citizens are for change."
And he said: "Over these next two years our task is clear. To tell the truth about Scotland and what we can achieve. To proclaim that we have, in ourselves, all we need to truly prosper.
"That is the platform on which we shall win independence for our country."