Welcome to the SNP’s annual conference.
We gather at what I hope is a turning point for the world.
As the dust settles from the historic COP26 summit, I don’t think I’ve ever been so proud to call Glasgow my home city.
The outstanding organisation of the event, and the warm welcome from Glaswegians, won praise from almost every international visitor I spoke to.
I met so many inspiring people from all corners of the world, keen to hear of the contribution that Scotland is making to tackling the climate emergency.
And, in turn, we learned so much from others. Scotland made many new friends and forged new relationships that will serve us in good stead in the months and years to come.
COP26 helped ensure significant progress on a number of key issues, but it’s clear that the world needs to go further – and faster – in reducing the emissions which are placing our planet in peril.
Independent or not, the SNP will always strive to ensure that Scotland plays our part in this global challenge.
We did everything we could to ensure Scotland’s voice was heard at COP26, and I look forward to the day when we will be at the top table as an independent nation, participating in key decisions as an equal partner.
While we were focused on helping make the summit a success, Boris Johnson spent much of his time down at Westminster, managing to distract from tackling the climate emergency and creating his own emergency within the Conservative Party.
Also, as we were stepping up efforts to build a net zero society, the Tory Government refused to back the carbon capture and storage project in the North East – a project which will support tens of thousands of jobs.
Humanity is hopefully reaching a turning point in the battle against climate change – but closer to home, the rapidly changing world should also give us pause for thought.
We have had an incredibly difficult period with the pandemic, and I continue to be in awe of our health and social care staff – as well as the countless people across Scotland who have kept communities moving.
We have set out ambitious plans to ensure that our recovery from COVID builds a fairer, greener society.
But that recovery is being held back by a Tory party which is hurting our economy with an unwanted hard Brexit, and is now removing funding and powers from the Scottish Parliament as part of its drive to further tighten Westminster control.
Our actions in government are building a better Scotland today – but using the limited powers of devolution effectively also gives a glimpse of what could be achieved with the full powers of independence.
It’s been a tough couple of years for all of us – but we should always remember that Scotland is a wealthy nation, with natural resources and human talent that most countries could only dream of.
So let’s face the future with confidence and with optimism.
And let’s continue to aim high for Scotland as we persuade more people that independence is the best course for the country.