Building a better Scotland

This week marks 10 years since the SNP first took office.

The 2007 election win, when we pipped Labour by a single seat to become a minority government, was a watershed in Scottish political history.

A decade on from that landmark is a good time to both take stock and to look forward.

Our opponents will, of course, try and cast doubt on our record.

That’s nothing new. They have been doing so just about every day for the last 10 years – but the people have delivered their own, positive verdict in election after election since.

And while I am the first to recognise that we face challenges and have more – much more – to do, a look at our record shows just how much the SNP has already delivered.

Yes, we have challenges in education, and as I made clear last week that just makes me more determined to drive forward with the reforms we need to improve learning for all our youngsters. Our £120 million Attainment Fund is, right now, putting money directly into the hands of head teachers to help them do that.

But, notwithstanding the challenges, we are seeing record exam passes and positive destinations for our school leavers, meaning that more of them are going straight into university and college, training or employment.

And that includes more young people from the most deprived backgrounds going to university.

We have also protected free university education, which means that students and their families do not face the eye-watering tuition fees of up to £9,000 a year imposed in the rest of the UK.

In health, we have the best performing A&E departments anywhere in the UK. We have taken the difficult step – dodged by past governments – of integrating health and social care.

And we have taken NHS funding in Scotland to an all-time high while also delivering more doctors, dentists and nurses than ever before – up by more than 12,000 in the last 10 years, and patient satisfaction is now at an all-time high.

And those staff are working in state of the art facilities, such as Glasgow’s Queen Elizabeth Hospital.

That is just one of the landmark infrastructure projects delivered by the SNP.

To date, we have invested £7.6 billion overall in new schools, hospitals and key transport projects, including the iconic new Queensferry Crossing over the Forth, the Aberdeen bypass and ongoing work to dual the A9.

Meanwhile, we have delivered more than 1,000 extra police officers and have seen crime fall to its lowest level in 42 years.

We have delivered for household budgets by scrapping prescription charges and having Council Tax bills that are lower than in England.

We are delivering for older people through our commitment to free personal care.

And, with the still limited financial powers at our disposal, we are delivering for our economy.

Our Small Business Bonus has saved firms more than £1 billion to date, while productivity – a key driver of economic growth – has risen 9.4 per cent since 2007 while remaining virtually flat for the UK as a whole.

Meanwhile, Scotland remains among the top UK destinations outside London for valuable foreign direct investment.

Ten years on, Scotland is, I believe, a far better place for everyone who calls this country home.

But all of that progress is threatened by the prospect of a Westminster Tory government with an increased majority, which now thinks it can do whatever it wants and get away with it.

That’s why – now more than ever – it is vital we have strong SNP voices standing up for Scotland at Westminster.

Help us protect Scotland from an unopposed Tory government, donate to our General Election campaign