We are the SNP

It has been 31 days from nomination to result. 31 days of solid political campaigning at the top tier of Scottish politics – the first leadership election within the last 20 years for our party.

In this time we’ve had a debate schedule that rivals, and in many ways out paces, all other elections within both Scotland and the United Kingdom.

Between us all we have given more interviews and spent more time being grilled by the media than any other electoral force on this island.

We have travelled to the far reaches of the country and where land ended, our digital frontier was explored. When the cameras went off, the emails went out.

I would like to take a moment to thank not only my brilliant team, but the other two candidate’s teams. The background heroes and heroines of the campaign. Those who serve us to serve you.

I’m told we’ve sent nearly twenty thousand emails to media organisations and we’ve handled nearly two thousand media enquiries. The sheer scale of campaigning is incredible.

Now quantity of messaging is easy but to connect with people through a clear message that shows you care, is what counts, to advance the conversation all across this nation and take our people to a place they can believe in.

I started out by saying Independence – nothing less. In these 31 days, we have normalised talking about Independence again.

Together we have moved the conversation to the front and centre. where it belongs.

Together we have discussed currency. We have normalised and promoted the idea of a Scottish Pound.

Together we have propelled new ideas and new strategies on how to first demand our democratic will is respected, and in time, delivered.

There has never been since 2014, such a robust, engaging and challenging debate. There has never existed a moment where we could not advance our argument with detail and passion.

The defining metric of this campaign is how it has relit the fire in the spirit of the movement to go on to deliver for our country. It is not the argument of yesterday but of today.

It is right that we look at where we have lost our way, because it is incumbent on us to steady our ship. It is right that we take control and we embrace our critical friends. It is right we listen to and learn where we got it wrong.

You see, the opposition, the Westminster elite, the UK Government, have enjoyed this leadership election. They’ve enjoyed the media showing our fault lines, exposing them, and showcasing them on live television.

However, know this, friends. We are our own best opposition. We are our own greatest critical friend. We are our own guiding light. There is a reason the opposition have not managed to land a blow in years.

Know that the SNP from this moment will find unity and strength, overriding division and grudges.

Know that the SNP are built to win elections in Scotland.

Know that the Beltane flame has been lit again for the light of independence and will connect across our land. It will not go out.

And finally,

Know that the greatest fear the union has – is us – firing on all cylinders, with the full powers of the Scottish Parliament and with the backing of the Scottish people.

Many column inches have been written about how vicious, detailed, and incisive our fury has been with each other – well, they have seen nothing like what is about to be unleashed on the union.

They have no idea how a reenergised SNP will deliver even greater political force and result.

We stand here not as three candidates any longer but instead a party. A party united against the fundamental structures and constraints of this dis-united-kingdom. A party fit for the democratic fight for our people.

The SNP that has emerged will tackle the ills of inequality that scar our country, from poverty, to addiction to drugs and alcohol, while inspiring new generations of learners in education that will once again lead the world.

There is no possibility of us not tackling head on the extremes of a decaying Conservative government and the hapless enablers of the Labour Party.

These are not serious electoral challengers, they are small men, strangled by special wealthy interest, who will not deny a just democratic future to the people of Scotland.

We are a resource rich nation and our people deserve better. No individual can change Scotland, only a collective effort will deliver.

The Independence phoenix has risen from the ashes – and will burn brighter and stronger on the fuel of our collective experience.

We are taking our fight up a notch to match our rising ambition. We are discussing big ideas and bold promises. We will not speak softly, we will assert what we know is true.

The people of Scotland are sovereign, and only the people of Scotland will decide when it is time to reject the decline of Westminster and chart a new course – into the safety of Independence.

In ten days the SNP will celebrate 89 years as a political force spanning nine decades. We will complete our founding mission before we celebrate our centenary, that much is certain.

I am honoured to serve you, my fellow members, as together we serve the people of Scotland.

We are the SNP.


What if Westminster say no?

There is growing domestic and international attention to my plan to use the Ballot Box to decide whether Scotland becomes an independent country. 

Today I can confirm this plan is supported by 93% of SNP voters and 52% of Scottish voters. [1]

I have the only plan that has historic precedent, can be delivered legally by Scotland alone, moves us beyond the referendum stalemate, is supported by the majority of SNP members, and is accepted by the public. 

I have often been challenged on ‘what if the UK say no’ and this is where I should mention I hold a Master of Science degree in Development Management, in the study of how countries develop, alongside my Bachelor of Arts in International Relations – which means I’ve taken for granted the foundation on which I speak. 

Bluntly, there is no possibility of the UK Government not agreeing, as demonstrated in the 65 examples of countries that have left the UK or British Empire. 

There is a 100% success rate in those countries getting the UK Government to the negotiating table after an initial refusal. It is not credible to suggest anything else, the UK Government will even concede this fact.

The UK Government has denied the moral mandates of my predecessors for a rerun of a referendum – they can do this because legally they have that power reserved. The Supreme Court opined that an advisory referendum could not be held by the Scottish Government due to the outcome having an effect on the Union. 

This is important, as it demonstrates a key fact now established in the UK law, that even advisory referendums would be so great in their power, that the Union would be altered. 

This is exactly what my Voter Empowerment Mechanism does. It allows the people of Scotland – not politicians – to decide when they are independent.  The achievement of a majority of votes for a collection of manifesto pledges to become independent, and open negotiations would meet the criteria to alter the Union. 

This is Pillar 1: The Smith Commission is the only agreed written document on the matter and it states clearly in chapter 2, point 18 ‘It is agreed that nothing in this report prevents Scotland becoming an independent country in the future should the people of Scotland so choose’.

It is important to note ‘should the people of Scotland choose’ – is agreed by every party in the Scottish and UK Parliament. The fact that the Scottish people are sovereign on matters of their independence is a settled matter. 

It would be extraordinary for the UK to change its stance from legally blocking a referendum to illegally ignoring an election in which its Electoral Commission oversaw the process. I cannot imagine the Prime Minister or his cabinet calling into question the legitimacy of a UK or Scottish election. It would be a significant regression to a country identifying as one of the oldest democracies in the world. 

This is Pillar 2: The International Community has recognised UK elections as fair and democratic since its inception. The international community has rallied and expressed support for every election winner and First Minister of Scotland, delivered through this mechanism. It is recognised and considered the democratic will of the Scottish people. 

Much has been made in the media over the last few days, as the UK Government seem to have noticed something that was never a secret. Every SNP MP and MSP since our election victory with Winnie Ewing has advertised and normalised the idea of an independent nation. I’m half surprised it took so long for them to catch on, Winnie’s campaign was ‘Stop the world, Scotland wants to get on’. 

Of course our representatives make a powerful case for recognising and working with an Independent Scotland, it is what they are elected to do. We do not enter these discussions in the manner in which the UK do, with binders of rules and demands, instead we offer warm hospitality and kind friendship. I think on reflection this is why it eluded them. 

You can watch on YouTube my colleagues address the European Parliament and receive a huge standing ovation on this very point. There is an enormous warmth of feeling toward the Scottish people and an understanding in Europe of our mission of Self Determination. The idea that we would not be recognised by these friends is unthinkable. 

This is Pillar 3: The Scottish Parliament has the ability with a simple majority to change the frequency of its election cycle – this was helpfully clarified by my colleague Angus Brendan MacNeil with the House of Commons library staff, with the clerks in Holyrood also confirming this point.

We do not need to ask Westminster’s permission to hold an election on a date and time that suits us. There is no legal method to stop the Scottish Parliament from deciding when it wants an election, in the same manner the UK Government can decide when it wants one. 

Our elections are overseen by the same Electoral Commission, and they are delivered in line with international law and recognition. The power can be handed to the people of Scotland at any point. 

And finally, Pillar 4: The United Kingdom is not a full democracy. It is a Constitutional Monarchy, with a Head of State, that is a defender of Self Determination and a celebrant of Self Government and of Independence. 

I quote his speech to the independent nation of Barbados of November 30th 2021, announcing itself as a Republic:

“The creation of this Republic offers a new beginning, but it also marks a point on a continuum – a milestone on the long road you have not only travelled, but which you have built.

From the darkest days of our past, and the appalling atrocity of slavery, which forever stains our history, the people of this island forged their path with extraordinary fortitude.  Emancipation, self-government and Independence were your way-points.  Freedom, justice and self-determination have been your guides.” [2]

King Charles is the Head of State for the United Kingdom and his public speeches show us the character of the man on the throne. 

As First Minister, I would be required to attend audiences with him, and would serve as a member of his Privy Council – which is the recognised mechanism for reaching interdepartmental agreement for ‘prerogative business’, which is the business of which no other precedent or clear delegation to minister or department exists. 

In summary; the UK Government defends their current position with bluster and bullish statements. However, the institutions of democracy, state and judiciary in this country are very clear in their categorical observance of democratic certainty. The small men that throw barbed comments about Scotland being held in perpetuity, do so without the solid foundations on which this country was built.

[1] Polling data: Scot goes POP!, Find Out Now – 10/3/23

[2] Speech: