We remain full of the energy and vision needed to build a better Scotland

By , 08/10/17

The SNP’s annual conference kicks off in Glasgow today – and, more than 10 years into government, we remain the dominant force in Scottish politics.

 

I take nothing for granted, and – having worked so hard to win the trust of voters – I never will.

 

The SNP is working harder than ever to deliver for people across the country.

 

And – despite claims from our opponents – we remain in a stronger position than most governments anywhere after a decade in office.

 

Opinion polls show we remain far ahead of other parties in voting intentions for both Holyrood and Westminster.

 

And those same polls also show that we are now in a stronger position now than we were at the same stage in previous years.

 

We are now outpolling our performance in 2008 and 2012 when, like now, we were a year or so on from winning a Holyrood election.

 

People support the SNP because they see a party and a government delivering for communities across Scotland.

 

And that stands in stark contrast to our main opponents, who are tearing themselves apart in bitter infighting.

 

Those internal conflicts show how the Tories and Labour are obsessing about themselves rather than thinking about how to better the lives of ordinary people.

 

Theresa May’s chaotic conference speech was symbolic of the shambles she now presides over.

 

The Tories are lurching day to day from crisis to crisis – rudderless, clueless and increasingly leaderless.

 

As for the Scottish Tories, don’t believe the hype.

 

The polls suggest they are now on the slide.

 

This is a party which has not won a single election in Scotland in more than 60 years.

 

And they are increasingly being exposed – not just for the unsavoury views of some of their politicians – but also for their lack of policies.

 

Aside from their constitutional obsession they have nothing to say, and have now fallen behind a bitterly divided and leaderless Scottish Labour party in the polls.

 

Labour themselves do not have the answers Scotland needs.

 

On key issues like Trident and, crucially, Brexit their stance is at best vague and at worst deeply damaging to Scotland’s interests.

 

Our position on Brexit is clear – Scotland voted to stay in Europe, and we oppose the Tories’ extreme Brexit plans to drag us out of the single market and customs union.

 

That threatens to do massive damage to jobs, investment and living standards across the country.

 

And that looming threat is why I believe that Scotland should have a choice on its future once the terms of the Brexit deal are clear.

 

There are growing signs that Scottish opinion is turning strongly against the Tories’ bungling of the negotiations.

 

And Theresa May’s continued failure to offer full guarantees on the rights of EU citizens living here is disgraceful.

 

Those EU nationals who are already living and working here under freedom of movement should not be made to jump through hoops to remain.

 

The UK government must make the process as simple and easy as possible – and those affected should not have to pay for something that is their right as EU citizens

 

But if charges are imposed on EU nationals forced to apply for settled status, the Scottish Government will support those in our public sector – where losing our EU citizens would mean losing doctors, nurses and other valued public servants – by ensuring devolved public bodies pay any fees required.

 

Ten years on from entering office for the first time in our history, the SNP remains full of the energy and vision needed to build a better country.

 

This article originally appeared in The Sun.

  

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