We arrived in Aberdeen for our 81st National Conference on a wave of enthusiasm for the upcoming Scottish Parliamentary elections. Waking up yesterday morning we were treated to news that once again the polls are showing the Scottish electorate is willing to put their faith in the Scottish National Party. Our effective and competent governance at Holyrood, coupled with the fact that we have become the only real opposition to this Tory government’s austerity agenda at Westminster, has illustrated the stark contrast the people of Scotland now face in the future.
It is little wonder then, when you have a Labour Party stripped of any credibility and a Conservative Party motivated by Dickensian notions of the future, that this conference will be the largest in our party’s history. Our party membership has continued to grow and now stands at over 114,000, with more people joining us each day.
Yet with all the positivity coming into this conference we must remember the big fights that are in front of us; stopping Scotland being dragged out of the EU against our will, opposing further the cuts to Scotland’s budget, and building a real alliance to stop the waste of £100 billion on Trident and its replacement. Scotland needs are political party that is willing to stand up to the establishment politics of Westminster and govern with a vision of making this country and fairer and more equal society.
So it was with that vision in mind that our First Minister, Nicola Sturgeon, announced today in her opening address to conference that if the people of Scotland choose to re-elect an SNP government next May, we will aim to build 50,000 new affordable houses. It is commitments such as that from our First Minister that is mark of ambition we have for this country, and for the people of Scotland.
This party conference is to be the launch pad for our 2016 election campaign, but it also allowed us the chance to reflect on the successes of the 2015 General Election. While David Cameron may have folded up the Saltire which flew over Downing Street and put it back in its box, the Scottish people refuse to be quiet, refuse curl up, and refuse go back into their box. Never again will we accept that we are too small, too poor or too stupid to take decisions for ourselves.
That is our mission at Westminster, the mission of all of the MPs that were elected in May for the Scottish National Party. A mission to ensure that Scotland is never taken off the agenda and that the values of Scotland are not betrayed by the negative attitudes of the Westminster establishment. Without the SNP we would never have had the real scrutiny over the UK government’s failures during the current refugee crisis. Without the SNP we would be forced to accept the Tories Dickensian reforms to Trade Unions without any sort of opposition. Without the SNP we would have seen Scottish MPs turned into second class representatives under the UK government’s unworkable proposals for English votes for English Laws. We have been a force for good at Westminster, we have been a force for good at Holyrood and we have been a force for progressive politics since our party’s inception.
Yet our determination to see Scotland Independent will never fade. As Nicola Sturgeon said, if there is strong and consistent evidence that people have changed their minds and that independence has become the choice of a clear majority in this country. Then we have no right to rule out a referendum.
SNP Depute Party Leader