Politics is a fast moving world. On Monday night I prepared to head to bed having just put the finishing touches to my speech for Tuesday’s planned launch of the SNP manifesto.
Theresa May went to bed having had possibly the worst day of the election campaign so far.
A few hours later – for so many people – the world looked a very different place.
It is simply not possible, for those of us who haven’t been through it, to really understand the pain and suffering of the families of those who lost their lives in Manchester this week, or those who remain in hospital as doctors and nurses work 24/7 to help them pull through.
That community spirit of the people of Manchester and the dedication of people who spend their working lives running towards emergencies not running away, must be the abiding memories of this week’s tragic events.
Across the country politicians have now resumed the normal frenzied pace of a general election but I hope we have all returned to the campaign trail reminded of what we campaign for and who it is we serve, because that is what should be at the forefront of the campaign for the remaining ten days.
My ambition in politics is to make Scotland a better country – now and in the future. For me that means supporting young people with new opportunities and ensuring everyone benefits from the best possible education.
It means protecting our public services, like the NHS and our police service – and supporting those who work in public service by protecting their jobs and living standards as much as we can.
It means having a strong economy that treats people fairly and of which we can all be part – so that we minimise the numbers of people who feel left behind or threatened by others.
And it means playing our full part in the world by working with our friends and allies in the promotion and protection of our values.
On Tuesday I will launch the SNP manifesto for this General Election and I will do so with those principles uppermost in my mind.
The SNP manifesto will set out a clear alternative to further Tory austerity because – despite the SNP Scottish Government’s best efforts to mitigate the cuts that come with it – austerity is undermining the fabric of our society.
It is simply not possible to keep taking from the incomes of the lowest paid and to keep reducing the budgets available for our vital services without starting to undermine all that we hold dear.
The hard fact is that a combination of Tory cuts and an extreme Brexit are set to make the UK permanently poorer. Figures from the IFS show that current Tory policies will drive a further one million children across the UK into poverty by 2021. That would mean over five million children, equivalent to the entire population of Scotland, living in poverty in one of the wealthiest nations in the world.
That level of rising poverty is the result of political choices and it must stop.
So we will set out how we can stop the Tory cuts and help households who are struggling with rising living costs – people who despite having a job don’t always have enough money to get to the end of the week.
A different approach to the one the Tories are set on would allow us to end the attacks on families that are limiting help to only two children and have resulted in the introduction of the repulsive Rape Clause. It would put a stop to the Tories’ plans to punish pensioners by means testing the Winter Fuel Allowance, removing pension protection and imposing unfair and ill thought out care charges that create a dementia tax.
And we can do all of that without putting the stability of the UK’s finances at risk. Make no mistake, the Tory approach to austerity is a choice not a necessity. There is another way.
We should also bring an end to the reckless plans to stop hard working migrants who contribute so much to our economy from making their lives here. In the first six months after the Brexit vote Tory policies drove many people to leave the UK and put others off coming here. Standing up for economically sensible immigration policies is not easy for politicians, but it is important – a fall in migration would take up to £6 billion out of UK tax revenues, slow economic growth and present a real challenge to our universities, our service industry, our NHS and our care services. It would be devastating for Scotland.
Falling migration would harm our economy at the very time we should be investing in jobs and supporting new industries to grow.
That is why our manifesto will set out targeted plans to help businesses grow. Now is not the time for blanket tax cuts for business but instead for focusing our resources on investment that creates jobs, boosts manufacturing and puts us at the forefront of new technological developments, whilst ensuring we have fair work, with fair pay for all.
When all parties suspended election campaigning last week the Tories had been exposed for the cruelty of some of their policies, the financial incompetence of their plans and the repeated U-turns that make them look more weak and wobbly than strong and stable.
The Tories started this campaign trying to hide rising inequality under the smokescreen of Brexit. They have continued by trying to mislead the public on plans for pensioners, for taxes, for family incomes and over cuts to public services – and they have yet to explain to anyone what the Brexit deal they are so desperate for would do to our economy.
Tomorrow there will be ten days to polling day. Ten days in which it is vital to shine a bright light on the impact Tory policies will have on the country, on households and on jobs. Ten days in which we can really put a check on the Tories and put the values we seek to protect at the front of the campaign.
Ten days in which people across Scotland can say enough is enough, and vote SNP to stop the Tories and give Scotland a strong voice at Westminster.