This is the most important Holyrood election since we regained our national Parliament in 1999.
We will soon have new tax and welfare powers. And it is crucial that we have a government that is capable of using those powers properly.
And, I firmly believe, only the SNP has the policies, the experience and the vision to use those powers to take Scotland forward.
Scotland is a better country today than when the SNP first came to office in 2007. We are a more confident nation, more outward-looking and more sure of our place in the world.
That, I firmly believe, is the result of having a government that always puts Scotland first, will never accept second best and which stands up for our industries and communities, protecting jobs and looking for new opportunities to make our country an even better place for everyone who lives here.
We are the only party prepared to stand up for Scotland at every turn – something which is vital when most economic powers still remain at Westminster in the hands of an austerity-obsessed Tory Government.
This election isn’t about a pointless tussle for second place – Labour and the Tories are welcome to that contest if they want.
This is about who is First Minister and who will govern our country for the next five years. And I am determined that the SNP is re-elected, to make sure the progress we have made in recent years isn’t undone.
If I am returned as First Minister, I pledge to work every day to deliver a fairer, more equal and prosperous Scotland.
I have already made clear that education will be my number one priority – from the baby boxes we will offer the family of every newborn baby through to the improvements in childcare and the £750 million boost to improving school education, I am determined that every child in Scotland is given the same opportunity to succeed in life.
The SNP will also protect and improve our health service, with independent analysis confirming we are pledging more funding for the NHS than any other party at this election.
I am very proud to stand on our record in office as we go into this election.
We have regularly outperformed the UK on jobs, our economy enjoys among the highest levels of inward investment in the whole of the UK, exports have risen and the SNP’s small business bonus has saved companies around £1 billion in total.
We have also protected household budgets through the council tax freeze, saving the average Band D payer around £1,500, as well as abolishing prescription charges and scrapping university tuition fees.
Police numbers have reached a record high, while crime is at a 41-year low, our hospital waiting times performance is far better than anything achieved by the previous administration while we have taken NHS staffing levels to an all-time high and boosted health spending to record levels.
We have also provided a huge boost to green energy while leading the world in climate change ambition – both things that we will seek to build on in the next parliament. And we have passed historic legislation on same sex marriage.
Ours is a solid record of delivery – and people across Scotland know that an SNP Government will always stand up for their interests.
We proved that when we saw off the UK Treasury’s attempts to cut as much as £7 billion from Scotland’s budget as part of the fiscal framework talks on the new powers.
And our recent intervention to help save the Scottish steel industry and the jobs it supports shows we will never be found wanting when it comes to protecting our national interests.
This campaign has also shown how the other parties cannot be trusted. Labour want to transfer the burden of Tory austerity onto the shoulders of those who can least afford it with their ill-thought tax plans which would impact those on low and middle incomes, while the Tories themselves would give tax breaks to the wealthiest while at the same time reintroducing prescription charges and university fees of £6,000 per degree.
This is the first election in which I am standing to win my own mandate as First Minister
So I am asking voters to give me a personal endorsement to continue the progress we have made, and to ensure Scotland a nation of opportunity for every child born here.
And the only way to be sure of delivering a re-elected SNP Government in a position to take forward our manifesto pledges is to give both votes to the SNP today.