Tomorrow we go to the polls in an election which could determine Scotland’s future path for many years to come.
Brexit, the NHS, and the very future of Scotland are at stake – and the nightmare scenario is surely the possibility of 5 years of Boris Johnson as Prime Minister.
Chaos, confusion and a rallying of his right wing Brexiteers have been the hallmarks of Boris Johnson’s time in Downing Street. All of that – coupled with the damage of austerity and welfare cuts – means that this us the the time to end the Tories’ ruinous reign.
This election campaign has certainly flown by – and for those of us pounding the streets, it’s fair to say that the month of December wouldn’t be our first choice to be out knocking doors.
I’ve been out and about all over Scotland speaking to people, and although the weather may have been cold, the reception for the SNP’s message in this campaign has been warm.
But while I’ve been out and about speaking to people, Boris Johnson seems to be going to all sorts of lengths to avoid scrutiny. He has dodged TV interviews and debates left, right and centre – and has done his level best to avoid speaking to ordinary voters in Scotland.
It is little wonder he refuses to be challenged on his policies when all the evidence is that they will cause such deep and lasting damage to our NHS, workers’ rights, the economy and to living standards for this and generations to come.
Boris Johnson’s repeated claim that Brexit will effectively be wrapped up by Christmas is the biggest con since the one painted on the side of the Vote Leave bus – and it demonstrates why people are right not to trust him.
The truth is that Brexit will not be ‘done’ any time soon – even if Boris Johnson succeeds in dragging Scotland out of the EU with the UK. What follows will be years – potentially decades – of arguing over trade deals and future relationships. Let’s remember that leaving was supposed to be the easy part.
This brings me to another issue that is on the line in this election – the NHS. Although health is devolved to the Scottish Parliament, meaning the Scottish Government has responsibility for running Scotland’s NHS, we don’t have control over things like trade negotiations – and these could have a fundamental effect on our health service.
Notwithstanding all the panicky denials during the campaign, we know that Boris Johnson is desperate to do a trade deal with Donald Trump. We also know that US drug firms want ‘full market access’ to the NHS, and we know that Donald Trump would jump at the chance to charge our NHS more for drugs.
All of that could be devastating for our NHS budget. Even a 20% increase in drug prices would take hundreds of millions of pounds out of the frontline NHS budget.
Putting the NHS up for negotiation in any such talks would threaten the founding principles of the health service. In short, a re-elected Boris Johnson government poses perhaps the biggest threat to the NHS in its 70-plus year history.
I believe people in Scotland deserve a lot better than this as their future – and in tomorrow’s election we have a chance to aim higher than Boris Johnson and the sorry mess of Brexit.
SNP MPs will demand an end to austerity, an extra £4 billion for Scotland’s NHS, as well as guaranteed protection for the NHS from a Trump trade deal. We will push for fairer pensions, enhanced maternity and parental leave, stronger action on climate change and an end to the misery of Universal two, the child cap on tax credits and the shameful rape clause.
And for Scotland, we can ensure that decisions about our future are made by the people who live here – not by Westminster.
That is the fundamental point of independence.
Scotland has so much potential. From our successful industries of renewables, tourism, financial services and life sciences, to our highly educated workforce – many countries can only dream of having the resources that we so often take for granted.
Independence would unlock all of this potential, and build a better and brighter future for the people living here.
But whatever your views on Scotland’s constitutional future, surely we can all agree that our future should be decided by people living here, and not imposed on us by the likes of Boris Johnson.
This election will not decide the question of independence – but it does give us a chance to protect Scotland’s right to choose our own future.
So I am asking people to look ahead – not just to the next few weeks, but towards the future we all want to see for Scotland.
Do we want 5 years of Boris Johnson, Jacob Rees-Mogg and the Brexit extremists, imposing draconian policies on Scotland and dragging us out of the EU against our will?
Or do we want Scotland’s future in Scotland’s hands?
I think the choice is clear. And that brighter, better future is possible if Scotland votes SNP tomorrow.