This election is our chance to unite and put Scotland first

Last weekend I launched the SNP’s 2024 election campaign,  speaking before SNP members and the assembled press to outline our vision for a better Scotland.

I’ve never pretended this would be an easy election for the SNP. We are  living in difficult times, but we will never take your support for granted.

My SNP colleagues and I across Scotland are determined to win every vote we can and honour the trust that the people of Scotland have so graciously given us these last seventeen years.

I’m proud to lead a government of the moderate centre left for a modern and diverse Scotland. As a young boy of fifteen, I could hardly imagine that joining a fringe political party could one day lead to me being given the chance to serve as leader of my country, with a passionate team of colleagues who are just as driven as I am to build a better future for Scotland.

Scotland’s SNP MPs work tirelessly against the suffocating, stifling climate of Westminster; they speak up for Scotland every single day and shine a light on areas the two main parties are content to  ignore. From the horizon scandal to infected blood to WASPI women, we are there, making Scotland’s voice heard. We are always champions for Scotland, punching above our weight and ensuring that Scotland’s voice is heard.

At this election we are asking people to vote SNP to put the interests of Scotland first. To renew your t and  vote for a future made in Scotland, for Scotland.

It’s clearer than ever that we need to get rid of this rotten Tory government. It has forced Scotland to endure a reckless, hard Brexit that we didn’t vote for, a cost of living crisis caused by the economic mismanagement of Liz Truss, and a collapse of standards in public office that were once unimaginable. The Tories are finished – but only the SNP can make this a reality in Scotland. We are the main challengers in every Tory held seat – and unlike Labour, we aren’t promising to stick to cruel, right-wing policies like the two child cap, the rape clause, the bedroom tax and Thatcherite economics. Only we  can defeat the Tories and ensure we see the back of their outdated ideas too.

But Scotland has so much more potential. We can make a change that means we never face another Tory government.

Westminster mistakes have been forced on Scotland. Brexit, austerity and the mini-budget have sent household costs soaring, damaged our economy  and slashed the money available to spend on vital services like our precious NHS.

Ultimately, the only way to properly protect Scotland from more of the same is for decisions about Scotland to be made in Scotland – with independence.

I am proud to stand on the shoulders of SNP giants who have built a vision for how Scotland can be different, going above and beyond to defy the constraints of devolution and put us on a different path away from the broken Westminster consensus – and towards a progressive, pragmatic model enjoyed by so many of our European neighbours.

We have a record to be proud of, delivering the best performing A&E units in the UK for nine years and making sure there are more doctors and nurses per head than in any other part of the United Kingdom.

Since the SNP took office, we’ve delivered over 40% more affordable homes per head of population than in Tory run England, and over 70% more than in Labour run Wales.

We’ve not left families to fend for themselves,  working hard to help with the cost of living through free prescriptions, free bus travel for under-22s and all day off peak rail fares.

We have expanded early learning to give children the best start in life and made university tuition free so that our young people have more opportunities.

We’ve built a fairer tax system so that those on the lowest incomes pay less and are given a helping hand to build a better life.

And we are  incredibly proud that the game-changing Scottish Child Payment, now increased by 150%, is helping to keep 100,000 out of poverty.

These achievements have set Scotland apart from the rest of the UK, but the Westminster parties will undo that good work  – Labour has already said free tuition needs to be reviewed and efforts will be made to go further in privatising our NHS.

To protect the progress we’ve made together, I’m asking voters across this country to vote SNP.

You know what we stand for. You know that we value honesty, unlike the Labour Party. You know we value honour and decency in politics, unlike the Tories. And you know that unlike this broken, brittle Westminster system, we will go above and beyond to deliver for Scotland.

A win for any other party will be used to silence Scotland’s voice, sideline our contributions and diminish our influence. Labour MPs keeping seats warm at a cabinet table won’t deliver the change Scotland needs – they never did before.

Only SNP MPs standing up for us in Westminster and an SNP government delivering in Holyrood are up to the challenge of fighting for the change we need.

And with independence, our Scottish Parliament – not Westminster – would be able to take all the decisions that affect Scotland. The decisions that fundamentally affect the lives of people living here, would be taken here.

Independent European countries comparable to Scotland, like our friends Denmark and Ireland, are wealthier, greener, fairer and more successful than the UK. So, with all we have to offer, with all our people and industries and creativity and talent – why not Scotland?

At this election, let’s unite to protect our public services, tackle the cost of living crisis, and escape the disaster that is Westminster’s Brexit. Let’s put the interests of Scotland first and unite for the kind of brighter future that Westminster can never provide  and is only possible with independence.