Hey everyone On Saturday to a packed hall SNP leader and our country’s First Minister Nicola Surgeon gave her address to her party conference. Celebrating her first year in charge of both her party and her country since taking over from Former First Minister Alex Salmond she reminded delegates that it had been a\ very busy and eventful year but stressed the need to get the message across to the voters that the Scottish National Party were only alternative to what she branded Tory cruelty and Labour incompetence. Whilst she said this had been a tremendous year for the party sweeping the boards at the UK General Election and winning 22 out of 24 council by-elections since that election in May she cautioned delegates not to rest on our laurels.
In a speech benefiting her position as a stateswoman Nicola Sturgeon was pragmatic as she looked to the future and the role she envisaged for her party at Holyrood, Westminster, and beyond. At Holyrood the First Minister said the SNP have a record of delivery in Government, a record of which she said the party should be proud. This included a record on crime which currently stands at a 41 year low, a record of protecting the National Health Service from the most savage Tory cuts, and a record of delivering on key upgrades such for example the M 74 which was brought in under budget. The First Minister also emphasised her party’s achievements in protecting free personal care and travel for our older and disabled citizens and freezing council tax for the 8th year in a row to protect the those who were among the poorest in our society. At Westminster, the First Minister said that with The Labour Party now divided and lacking direction the SNP were now the only credible opposition to the Conservative austerity agenda
Laying out a very personal agenda Nicola Surgeon said that there are those who say that the old left-right argument doesn’t matter as much as use it to. This she said, was wrong because where you stand matters and that as far as she was concerned the SNP are and always will be a left centre party committed to the vision of a more equal and inclusive society. In support of this case the First Minister stated that Scotland was leading by example by having one of the few gender balanced cabinets in the world. We had also she said proven our commitment to this aim by giving the vote to all 16 and 17 year olds not only last year’s independence referendum but also for the forthcoming Scottish Parliamentary Elections. When you add to this the fact that we had made the country fairer by introducing equal marriage, then this is a pretty impressive record and a record on which the SNP are proud to stand for re-election.
This was stirring stuff intended to rally the faithful both in the hall and in their homes but what of her opponents, what was the First Minister’s message to them. In a passionate and principled speech Nicola Sturgeon wasted no time in giving them their character. The Tories she she were drifting further and further to the right as was witnessed not only at home by their attacks of the poorest and vulnerable members of society but also internationally with their derisory offer of help to the Syrian refugees at the hour of their greatest need and she urged Prime Minister to do more to help this appalling situation. The First Minister also reminded Mr Cameron and his government about their promise to tackle poverty telling Westminster that you don’t tackle poverty by reducing the income of the lowest paid. These comments went down well with the delegates and with those of us who watched the speech from the comfort of our living room, as did the pledge that the SNP would campaign to keep both Scotland and The UK in the European Union.
Having dealt with the Conservatives Nicola Sturgeon turned her fire on the Labour Party saying that whilst the Conservatives were going to the right Labour didn’t seem to know whether to go left, right, or round in circles. Personally my money’s on the last of those three options as they seem to have been spinning in all directions since the SNP sent them hurtling in to orbit in the early hours of May 8th. As for Labour’s new leader the First Minister told the conference that Jeremy Corbyn had not changed the Labour Party, the Labour Party had changed Jeremy Corbyn as he has kicked every issue he once held dear in to the political long grass Labour she said did have one useful purpose and that was to remind the Scottish National Party of what we must never become. Namely arrogant, complacent, and out of touch with the voters. How right she is in that. The SNP she said will never take the voters of Scotland for granted
On Independence Nicola Sturgeon said that there will be no second referendum until there is a clear message from the voters that they want it to happen. Like me and many others she believes as i do that this is a matter of when rather than if. However when that day dawns Nicola Sturgeon had a message of her own for those in the hall, in the SNP, and in the wider Yes movement and that message was that we must convince those we didn’t convince last year that independence is the best future for our country.
Whether this referendum is within the term of the next Scottish Parliament or i suspect a wee bit further down the road the First Minister said we as a party will do what we believe to best for Scotland. We will she said always use our existing powers wisely and well but let us make one thing very clear the Scotland Bill does not come close to honouring the promises of the vow. Launching a furious attack on former Labour Prime Minister Gordon Brown, the First Minister said much to the delight of the delegates that he should apologise to the people of Scotland for acting as guarantor for a Tory Government
As began her summing up of a powerful pragmatic and passionate speech Nicola Sturgeon told the crowd and the audience Our cause is not about flags and anthems it is about 5 Million people and a nation which had shaped much of what we know as the modern world. The First Minister then sent out this optimistic message to the nation when she said Let’s dare to dream Scotland will shape tomorrow’s world just as decisively as we’ve shaped today’s. These are noble sentiments with which i find hard to disagree and why as Nicola Sturgeon correctly says Scotland will always be stronger with the SNP and a pragmatic woman of principle will i believe be re-elected as First Minister next May and begin to write the next chapter in the story of our nation. You see unlike certain other politicians who make vows they can never fulfill Nicola Sturgeon seeks not to con, frighten, or procrastinate she seeks to inspire others and make Scotland a better nation because we can. For those who underestimated our First Minister and whether she would be up the job, i say look at her record in office and you will see not only a woman of principal you will see a woman of achievement with a woman with ambitions for Scotland .
Love And Best Wishes