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.
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.