“As an independent country, we can be decision-makers, partners, bridge-builders. And we have a right, if a majority of us want it, to choose that future.”
Nicola Sturgeon opening remarks to the SNP’s first ever virtual conference.
In the midst of our concerted response to the pandemic, and the hardship and sorrow it has brought, we must do all we can to tackle the poverty and inequality that still exist in 21st century Scotland.
We can hold to the belief that love and solidarity – albeit with a lot of help from science – we will get us through this. And that soon we will be looking back on it, not living through it.
In the midst of this emergency, which more than ever demands international co-operation, Scotland is having to cope with the prospect of another crisis — leaving the Brexit transition period at the end of the year with either a thin agreement on a future relationship or no deal at all.
Scotland’s key workers – especially in our NHS and social care services, but also including our supermarket staff, police officers, cleaners, delivery drivers and those working in public transport – have all worked day and night to keep the country safe and moving.
The challenge for us now is to continue to suppress the virus whilst also moving towards a gradual lifting of restrictions.
As we slowly lift restrictions, we must rigorously monitor the spread of the virus, and ensure we don’t undo the progress we’ve worked so hard to achieve by allowing it to run out of control again.
The restrictions are working – and your cooperation in staying at home, except for essential purposes, is reducing the numbers of people becoming seriously ill and it is saving lives.
On Monday, First Minister Nicola Sturgeon updated the nation on Scotland’s plan to tackle the coronavirus – stay home, protect the NHS, save lives.
If we were to do that, we would risk lives and lose all the progress we’ve made so far, potentially causing a dangerous second spike of the virus. That is a risk we cannot afford to take.
Our central objective must continue to be suppressing COVID-19 and minimising its damage in health terms but, if possible, with a better balance.
Our challenge is to find a way to live alongside the virus while continuing to suppress it as we’re finding the “new normal”.
We are truly in unprecedented times. It is difficult to comprehend the huge life changes we have all been asked to make in just a matter of weeks.
We can all play our part in stepping up the fight against the spread of coronavirus. Let’s ensure those in our communities who need our support most are not left to cope alone.
The Scottish budget is without a doubt progressive and focused on what matters for Scotland. It will support the delivery of ambitious policies which will improve the lives people across Scotland now and help us safeguard the planet for the generations to come.
In Scotland we are serious about the net zero challenge and our ambitions are backed by strong investment.
At 11pm tonight, Scotland will cease to be part of the EU after almost half a century. That is a moment of profound sadness for me, and for countless others across Scotland, and indeed the rest of the UK.
As the great Nelson Mandela said – ‘It always seems impossible until it is done’. In Scotland I believe we are on the cusp of such a moment.
The start of a new year and a new decade is an opportunity to look ahead and think about what sort of country we want Scotland to be by 2030.
Nicola Sturgeon has set out the next steps in Scotland’s right to choose its own future.
Later this week I will publish the detailed democratic case for a transfer of power from Westminster to this Parliament to allow for an independence referendum that is beyond legal challenge.
The people of Scotland have spoken – it is time to decide our own future.
I am asking people to look ahead – not just to the next few weeks, but towards the future we all want to see for Scotland.
People in Scotland have the right to consider an alternative future. A future with Scotland as an equal partner with our closest friends in the rest of the UK and with the EU.
It’s absurd that a willingness to kill millions is now seen as a virility test for leadership, and I want no part.