Nicola Sturgeon: “We’ll stand up for Scotland”

This week it has become clear beyond doubt that, for Theresa May, party comes before country.

For months the Prime Minister has said that a snap, early election was, in her view, the last thing the country needed.
Now was not the time, she said, to be distracted from the job at hand.
But she has suddenly changed her mind – not for the good of the country – but for simple party advantage.
Her motive is clear. She knows that as the terms of her hard Brexit become clearer, the deep misgivings that so many people already have will increase and grow.
So she wants to act now to crush the parliamentary opposition that she faces. Labour’s self-inflicted weakness has presented the excuse.
Theresa May herself has said that politics is not a game, but by calling this election to suit her own party interests she is playing with fire.
No Prime Minister, not even Mrs Thatcher, has complained that there should not be robust debate in Parliament. That is  a healthy and indeed necessary in any parliamentary democracy, but Theresa May does not seem willing to acknowledge any views other than hers.
That simply isn’t acceptable in a democracy. A virtual one party Tory state is a horrifying prospect – but given how weak Labour is, and the Lib Dem’s past record of propping up a Tory government, it is clear that only the SNP can offer strong and credible opposition in the House of Commons.
The SNP in this election will, as we always do, stand up for Scotland.
The 2015 election turned UK politics on its head, and over the last two years, SNP MPs have provided the only effective opposition to the Tories at Westminster.
On issues from austerity to wasting billions of pounds on new nuclear weapons, the SNP has been the only clear and consistent voice speaking up for Scotland’s interests.
It was the consistent campaigning of SNP MPs which saw the Scotland Bill, which is seeing new powers devolved to the Scottish Parliament strengthened – though they are still not strong enough.
Mhairi Black, the youngest MP in over 300 years, has campaigned tirelessly on the injustice of women’s pensions being slashed.
Eilidh Whiteford secured a significant victory as her Private Member’s Bill – which will require the UK Government to ratify the Istanbul Convention on violence against women – received the backing of MPs.
Alison Thewliss has led the campaign on the two-child tax credit limit and the disgusting rape clause, which will require women who have been raped to prove this to a professional in order to access financial support for their child.
Rather than stand up for women and families on low incomes, the Scottish Tories have thrown their full weight behind the family cap and the rape clause – a decision which will haunt them throughout this campaign.
And Angus Robertson has regularly been the only leader in the Commons willing and able to hold the Prime Minister to account.
So as we head into this election campaign, the choice facing the people of Scotland is clear.
A vote for the SNP is a vote to protect Scotland’s interests. If the thought of an unfettered Tory government worries you – as it should – a vote for the SNP can help secure a strong opposition that can hold them to account.
A vote for the SNP is also a vote to end austerity and for investment in our public services.
And it is a vote to ensure that the future of Scotland – the kind of country we are – will be decided, not at Westminster but in Scotland, by the Scottish people.
Make no mistake – if the SNP wins this election in Scotland, and the Tories don’t, then Theresa May’s attempt to block our mandate to hold another referendum when the time is right, will crumble to dust
The fact is, there is already a cast-iron mandate for holding an independence referendum.
The SNP was elected, with the largest vote share in the history of the Scottish Parliament, on an explicit commitment that the Scottish Parliament should be able to hold a referendum in exactly the circumstances in which we now find ourselves – so there is an electoral mandate, endorsed by the Scottish Parliament just last month.
This General Election won’t decide the question of whether or not Scotland becomes independent – but it can ensure that the choice in future is one for the people of Scotland to make, not Westminster.
The desperate attempts by the Prime Minister to run from this mandate shows that she knows the damage she is doing in Scotland.
And she is running scared of TV debates in this election because she knows how badly her hypocrisy, contradictions and U-turns will be exposed.
Over the next few weeks we will ensure that the people of Scotland are clear about the choices open to them.
The simple fact is that there is no cost free Tory vote in this election.
We have already seen the damage the Tories have done since 2010, first with no majority of their own, and then with just a small majority.
Every Tory vote risks a strengthened Tory government and we should be in no doubt what that would mean.
It would mean not just the hardest possible Brexit, but also further austerity and deeper cuts.
It would mean damage to our public services and more pain for the vulnerable. And it would mean a rightwards shift in the governance of the UK that just a few years ago, UKIP could scarcely have dreamed of.
In short, the Tories would think they could do anything they want to Scotland and get away with it.
That is why it is so important that Scotland continues to have a strong voice against this Tory Government.
The SNP intend to make sure that in this election, the interests of Scotland come first.

This article originally appeared in the Scotsman.