Home Tags Posts tagged with "industry"

industry

The Rt Hon Douglas Alexander MP <em>Picture: World Economic Forum</em>

The Rt Hon Douglas Alexander MP Picture: World Economic Forum

The following is the text of the Andrew John Williamson Memorial Lecture for 2011, given at Stirling University earlier this evening by the Rt Hon Douglas Alexander MP. The lecture is entitled “A Better Nation? – A Personal Reflection on Scotland’s Future”.

Good evening. It is a genuine privilege to be here to deliver the Andrew John Williamson Memorial Lecture and I am delighted that Andrew’s mother Joyce is here with us this evening. And can I also say what a pleasure it is to be here at Stirling University.

As I ruminated upon a title for this evening’s lecture my first thought – given that Dunsinane lies only a few miles up the road in Perthshire – was to ask “Stands Scotland where it did?”

Yet a moment’s reflection was sufficient to answer the question posed by Shakespeare.

And there could be few better settings in which to discuss the recent developments and future course of Scottish politics than Stirling – the seat where in 1997 Michael Forsyth played the role of General Custer in the Scottish Conservatives’ last stand, but which then passed from Labour control at the 2007 Holyrood elections – not back to the Tories, but rather into the hands of the SNP, narrowly then but earlier this year with a majority of nearly 6,000 and almost 50 per cent of the total votes cast. Nowhere illustrates more starkly the changes in Scottish politics that have taken place over recent years.

Last May we witnessed the election of a majority government for the first time in the twelve year history of Scottish devolution. And if we take them at their word, the historic victory of the Scottish National Party will ensure that the issue of a referendum on independence has now come to the fore.

And, accordingly, it is to the issue of Scotland’s political future and Scottish Labour’s place therein that I want to direct my remarks this evening.

Tonight I want to explore some of the issues that I believe will inform the necessary public discourse and debate that will precede the choice Scotland makes in such a referendum.

But let me say just a word in passing specifically on the referendum. As someone who knows how to run a campaign, one of my real concerns is that the referendum debate may become simply a fight between William Wallace and the bogey man.

Because in a time of choosing, our duty is greater, and our responsibility is heavier.

This debate demands a different quality of imagination.

“Obsolete dogmas and outworn slogans” must yield to a debate not just about our identity, but about our ideals. About what kind of nation we are, and what kind of nation we want to become.

Our fellow citizens deserve a debate worthy of a momentous choice that will help write the history of this generation.

And before the heat generated by that forthcoming battle obscures the light, I want to take the opportunity afforded by tonight’s lecture to offer some personal reflections on those forces, far from the headlines, that will shape our choice.

Let me say, first, what this lecture is not. It is not an exercise in accounting. It is not an attempt to weigh the costs and expense involved in establishing the apparatus of a separate Scottish state and disentangling ourselves from the partnership that is the United Kingdom.

There will be time enough, and no doubt plenty of opportunities, for such evidence to be set before the people of Scotland in the months and years ahead.

As someone who was centrally involved in devising Labour’s “Divorce is a Expensive Business” campaign for the first elections to Holyrood in 1999, I am not unaware of the importance of such evidence, nor do I resile from the fears I still have about the damage that Scotland’s exit from the United Kingdom would do, most of all, to Scotland.

But I said after the 1999 election that it was the last time I thought we could run such a campaign, and yet it is surely now clear that in the decade that followed, too little was done by my party to tell a different story of possibility about Scotland.

In 1999 we identified what would have been the wrong path for Scotland, but thereafter we didn’t do enough to describe the right path by which to achieve a better nation.

We all know Labour needed to show humility after our election defeats. But we also have an obligation to think – and to re-engage. My work observing and participating in democratic politics both at home and abroad over the last decade has taught me many things.

And one of them is that, in policy, statistics matter, but in politics, stories matter too.

Because stories help shape what is hidden in plain sight all around us – what we judge has meaning, and what we judge doesn’t. And it is through stories that we provoke the feelings of hope that are at the heart of participating in a progressive society – the care, concern, and compassion that has always underpinned the will to act.

Why do I make that claim? Because our emotions are the very foundation of reason – because they tell each of us what to value. Despite Plato’s description of reason and emotion as two horses pulling in the opposite direction, the truth is that how we feel about what we know is the deepest way in which we add meaning and significance to whatever information we have at our disposal – it is how what we know becomes real and rooted in who we are.

This should have come as no surprise to a graduate of the University of Edinburgh such as myself.

Because the writings of David Hume remind us that reason is often weak and sentiments are strong.

Perhaps I should just have listened more intently to my father’s sermons. For the Church, not just here in Scotland but around the globe, has understood for 2,000 years that we live our lives by parables.

It was the Church that recognised 450 years ago that education was the basis of each of us fulfilling our potential or writing our own story and so set out to put a school in every parish – an act of public service that shaped our nations identity and led to an Enlightenment period that was to spill out over Europe and beyond that challenged the very way we see the world.

So it is perhaps appropriate that I begin my exploration of these issues this evening by quoting the words of the Austrian philosopher, priest and social critic, Ivan Illich.

In an interview about one of his works, he stated: “Neither revolution not reformation can ultimately change a society, rather you must tell a new powerful tale, one so persuasive that it sweeps away the old myths and becomes the preferred story, one so inclusive that it gathers all the bits of our past and our present into a coherent whole, one that even shines some light into the future so that we can take the next step forward. If you want to change society, then you have to tell an alternative story.”

Ponder those words: “You have to tell an alternative story.”

Of course the stories we tell about ourselves, our communities and our nation are thankfully not the exclusive domain of politicians: writers, musicians, poets and artists help shape our sense of self and also our sense of our nation’s story.

The case I want to make tonight is that we need and deserve a better story about Scotland and its possibilities: one which does more justice to our sense of potential than either of the narratives that have come to dominate our political discourse in recent times.

And I want to suggest this evening that we need a broader, more inclusive, more generous story if we are to be a better nation, and that to be a better nation does not demand that we become a separate nation.

At the moment, we risk years of debate defined by polarising positions not shared by most of us in Scotland. On one hand there is a story about Scotland’s future distorted by the continued need to assert our differentness to the point of denying what we hold in common in these islands.

On the other hand is a story that draws too much from our past which has allowed the misconception to develop that any acknowledgement of Britishness somehow seeks to diminish the pride we feel in the distinctiveness of Scotland.

Neither account, it seems to me, is adequate for who we are as Scots, what we believe, or what we have it in ourselves to become in the years ahead.

And I would argue there is a real urgency in developing that better story, so that in the years ahead we don’t squander our energies on proving our difference, rather than improving our nation.

Let me draw on my personal experience to explain what I mean.

In the Scotland in which I grew up, in the 70s, 80s and 90s, our national story was widely shared. The distinction between patriotism and nationalism was widely understood and accepted. Those of us who shouted proudly – if often forlornly – for Scotland in Hampden or Murrayfield felt no compulsion to embrace political nationalism.

The villain of the narrative was the insensitive, arrogant and selfish politics embodied by Margaret Thatcher, the legacy of which still condemns the Conservative party in the eyes of most Scots, more than 20 years since she stood down as prime minister.

The narrative was reflective of Scotland undergoing the forced removal and restructuring of the industries and communities, from Upper Clyde Shipbuilders to Ravenscraig, from Linwood to Methil and the coalfields that had shaped Scotland’s sense of itself for decades.

So as a student when I joined my compatriots in protest against Thatcherism outside New College when she came to deliver her infamous “Sermon on the Mound” in 1988, or in support of the Scottish parliament in George Square, and the Meadows in 1992, we were reflecting what John Smith described so well as “the settled will of the Scottish people”.

At that time if felt like a struggle for Scotland’s soul. As William Mcllvanney described it in his 1987 lecture at the SNP conference: “We have never, until now, had a government so determined to unpick the very fabric of Scottish life and make it over into something quite different. We have never had a government so glibly convinced of its own rightness that it demands that one of the oldest nations in Europe should give itself a shake and change utterly its sense of self.

“If we allow her [Mrs Thatcher] to continue she will remove from the word Scottish any meaning other than geographical.

“We are now so threatened by a government implacably hostile to the ideas that have nourished Scotland’s deepest sense of itself that we must have to protect ourselves. We will either defend our identity or lose it – there is no other choice.”

And the heroes of this story, for me, and many other Scots, were the generation of Labour politicians who gave voice not only to our concerns but also to our hopes: Dewar, Smith, Brown and Cook.

They held out the possibility of a better Scottish nation – by their commitment to constitutional change certainly, but even more by their shared commitment to social and economic change and solidarity with the poor, even when that was not an easy path.

As Democratic Socialists, they never saw a contradiction in working for a better Scotland and a better Britain.

And they were a generation true to their word. For despite the taunts that the Labour Party “couldn’t deliver a pizza, never mind a parliament” in fact, we did deliver Scotland’s parliament.

While the Nationalists stood aside from the Constitutional Convention – something they now seek to airbrush out of their history – I am forever proud that one of the first acts of the incoming Labour government was to set out what became the Scotland Act giving birth to Scotland’s first democratic parliament.

But Labour in government delivered not just a Scottish parliament but also the Human Rights Act; a reformed House of Lords; civil partnerships; new maternity and paternity rights; new rights to join a trade union. But not just that: a minimum wage, record levels of investment in our schools and hospitals, record levels of employment, a decade of economic growth; the Minimum Income Guarantee and the Working Families’ Tax Credit.

Now of course, I am proud of the many good things achieved by the Labour government in which I was honoured to serve. And I am also proud of much that the Scottish Labour Party achieved in government at Holyrood from 1999 to 2007 – not just establishing Smart, Successful Scotland, or the Scottish Drug Enforcement Agency, but in my own community building the new schools that have literally transformed the learning environment for our local children.

But these achievements, important thought they are, were not sufficient to mask an underlying difficulty with the story Scottish Labour was telling about itself and about Scotland. We rewrote the statute book but we did not, alas, rewrite the story.

And that familiar, unchanged story we told came under sustained pressure in recent years for a variety of reasons.

First, the familiar villain of Thatcherism, in time, moved into history. I still remember 22 November 1990 – the day Margaret Thatcher resigned. It was the week before the by-election of my predecessor as MP for Paisley and I was campaigning around the town with Donald Dewar.

And when the momentous news of Margaret Thatcher’s resignation was announced by Donald through a megaphone to the children of St Fergus’ Primary School, who were out on their playtime, the whole playground started jumping for joy.

That’s the measure of the grip Thatcher held on our collective imagination by the early 90s. But there is an additional point: the post-war industrial Scotland Thatcher did so much to dismantle also began to move into history.

As Scottish Labour we were, at times, slow to identify ourselves with the underlying but profound changes in the Scottish economy. Labour’s politics, formed in the 70s and 80s, were those of struggle against decline.

Too late in the years before 2007 did we recognise that our policies in government, while not fully eradicating poverty, had created a more diverse and modern economy – reliant on banks, yes, but strong in bioscience, leading Europe in energy, from oil and gas to renewables, and with modern manufacturing and computer games software thriving.

The SNP saw that economic strength and sought to annex the sense of confidence it generated to their definition of Scotland and its destiny.

But these changes also meant that some of the old Labour “hymns” were increasingly unfamiliar to an audience increasingly without personal knowledge of the tunes.

The attachment to and insistence upon these old hymns reflected the fact that the Scottish Party, largely by reason of the unique national element in our politics, never really felt it needed to be “New” Labour.

Indeed it is arguable that the process of “modernisation” might not, in fact, have been required to defeat the Tories in Scotland, but this comfort in old orthodoxies contributed to the party’s disorientation and vulnerability when we came under attack from a different direction, and from a more nimble opponent.

More broadly, the resurgent Scottish pride and confidence, in part resulting from a decade of economic growth from 1997 to 2007, at times left Scottish Labour looking uneasy.

Why? In part the coincidence of traditional symbols of and repositories for working class identity – such as trade union membership and large scale industrial workplaces – were declining, while simultaneously there remained a strength of national pride, reaffirmed in everything from the music of the Proclaimers’ 500 Miles, sung on the terraces at Hampden, to Eddi Reader’s musical reinterpretation of Burns’ poetry and song.

The repository of emotion for many Scots moved from class-based institutions to national institutions. And while the love and respect for the BBC, the NHS, the armed forces and the royal family have stayed strong, other distinctively Scottish institutions grew in the Scottish people’s affections.

Finally, unpopular aspects of both old and New Labour combined to reduce our support. Old Labour was still associated with a sense that “Labour runs everything” from Westminster to the local council, and regrettably that stewardship was not always viewed as moving with the times.

New Labour, on the other hand, despite all its achievements, came to be associated with the conflict in Iraq in 2003, the revulsion at the MP’s expenses scandal, and the wearinesss of ideas born of successive periods of government in Westminster and Holyrood.

The combined impact of these perceived weaknesses caused many to turn away from our party.

So, by 2011, how has that story played out? It played out in Scottish Labour warning of the risks of Thatcherism decades after she had left office, and in a campaign that suggested knife crime, important though tackling it is, was the key concern of an electorate that, in truth, had many other concerns.

This was a story that sought to draw what little emotional power it could muster not from Scotland’s future, but from Scotland’s past.

And in a decisive rejection at the ballot box, in the language of the terraces, we were well and truly “gubbed”. The party which, on the day the Scottish parliament was first elected, could claim without contradiction to be the only true National Party of Scotland, within 12 years found itself supported by only one in eight Scottish voters.

And what of the winners of that election?

The harsh truth for Labour is that the Nationalist’s victory in May did not derive exclusively from their approach to national identity. It reflected differences in personnel, resources and campaigning approaches. It also reflected that those who voted for them had judged them fairly competent and broadly aligned with their values, in their stewardship of government over the previous four years.

Just as importantly, Labour, in opposition was seen as too often concerned only with opposition for its own sake. Too many Scots judged us to have complained in unspecified ways about the SNP’s failure to deliver, without articulating a clear enough alternative story and account of Scotland’s possibilities.

That weakness – for which we share a collective responsibility – allowed the SNP to deflect criticism of their record over the preceding four years in two ways: first to attribute the failures of the Scottish government to the existence and impact of the British government; and, second, to attribute their failures to their status as a minority government.

There is however, one positive I do take from last May’s result, which you might think a strange thing for a Labour politician to say.

I do not believe that, at root, Scotland was voting for independence. In that I believe I am joined by Alex Salmond who surely wouldn’t be putting off a referendum if he thought that was the case.

But what I believe Scots were saying is that they want Scotland to be a better nation. They feel pride in Scotland and want new possibilities for its people. And they didn’t feel last May that Labour was offering that better way forward.

But this analysis of our defeat sits alongside the fact that the SNP have always had a different national narrative based on the desirability and indeed inevitability of separation from the rest of Britain. And the SNP’s victory in May means that this narrative will now be central to the debate about Scottish politics for the immediate years to come.

Of course, over time, that narrative has changed, and evolved but always with the same destination – independence – and always the same villain: Britain.

So in the 1960s, with the advent of the modern SNP, the case for separation was made on the basis of our relative economic deprivation. Then in the 1970s the case for separation was made on the basis that “It’s Scotland’s oil”. Most recently, or at least prior to the banking crisis of 2008, the case has been advanced on the ability of Scotland to join “the Arc of Prosperity” of Ireland, Iceland and Norway.

In fact, this narrative always struggled to capture more than a minority of Scottish support.

That is not to dispute the scale of their victory last May: Labour lost big and consequently the Nationalists won big. It is to suggest that by 2007, the Nationalists were the beneficiaries of the weakening in support for Labour, and the diminishing of the emotive power of the key events and individuals that had previously sustained Labour’s story and indeed support.

Over recent years, Nationalists have sought to construct a new and less narrowly drawn narrative suggesting that they alone truly have the interests of Scotland at heart and that they alone are powered by a desire for a better nation.

That is why, with what I would describe as “Mandelsonian” discipline, they parrot the line about “London Labour”. It is spin designed to disqualify and delegitimise a broad swathe of Scottish opinion that does not share their agenda.

The strength of that less narrowly drawn narrative advanced in recent years has been its ability to tap into the strong sense of Scottish patriotism. Buoyed by years of economic growth, and the establishment of a Scottish parliament, the SNP have worked hard to try and capture the sense of possibility that in a previous generation was held by the Labour Party. The SNP saw the economic strength and sought to annex the sense of confidence to their definition of Scotland and its destiny.

In parallel, this new Nationalist narrative has sought to suggest a sense of inevitability about separation. Perhaps the most eloquent expression of this was in James Robertson’s book And the Land Lay Still, the winner of the 2010 Saltire Society Scottish Book of the Year – and, incidentally, reportedly Alex Salmond’s favourite book of last year. Yet while an enjoyable read and impressive work, it offers a partial rather than a convincing account of Scotland’s political struggles over recent decades.

As Ian Smart, a former president of the Law Society of Scotland put it recently in a trenchant critique: “Mr Robertson’s book purports to be a history of Scotland since the 1950s albeit through the mechanism of fiction. It portrays a country ill at ease with itself; denied its proper place in the world through the devices of the English and unable to recognise its true destiny until these issues are resolved…

“For me the political history of Scotland, during the period of which he writes, was about so much more than Scotland. The central character of the book goes to Edinburgh University in 1972 yet the only mention of Vietnam is to compare its struggle to that of Scotland (truly!);

“Allende’s overthrow is worthy of a single (and background) pub exchange; the struggle against apartheid which, while I was contemporaneously at university, albeit in Glasgow, united students of any sort of progressive opinion doesn’t rate a single mention.

“To read this book, insofar as it purports to be a fictional political history of Scotland, you’d have thought that all that was going on consisted of people sitting about bemoaning the constitution. It most certainly was not.”

Yet the other part of the Nationalists’ narrative is its exclusivity: according to this narrative at its most unattractive, only nationalists are true Scots, or its softer version – all true Scottish patriots are inevitably Scottish nationalists.

For decades, mainstream Scottish opinion has accepted and reflected the truth that you can be a patriot without being a nationalist. It is the nationalists who have struggled with this sense that Scotland’s story does not exclude but includes the shared and interwoven stories of these islands.

Why else would Alex Salmond have once said that he wanted Scotland to be good neighbours to England rather than surly lodgers?

What he fails to understand is that the United Kingdom is the house that Scotland built with our neighbours – and you can’t be a lodger in your own house.

The Scottish people have always had the power to determine our own destiny. And there has always been more than one way to use that power.

In fact, the notion of Scottish patriotism has changed significantly over time. At the 19th century height of Empire, an Empire in which – as Tom Devine reminds us – the Scots were not impotent anti-imperialists but instead, for good or ill, active participants, you could have thought that only unionists were true patriots.

This was an analysis challenged, not by the emergence of Scottish national sentiment but rather by the rise of the Labour movement and the radical claim for equality; equality first for working people but then, in time, for women and for people of all races. This was the beginning of the challenge to the old unionism based only on the deferential attitude to ancient institutions: monarchy, army, parliament. An old unionism that proved inadequate to meet the challenges of modernity.

For myself, I remain of the view that the United Kingdom, this oldest of political unions, embodies a quintessentially modern idea – and one I like and believe in: that diversity can be a strength and not a weakness.

I like the idea that on these small rainy islands of the North Atlantic we share risks and rewards in a multicultural, multiethnic and multinational union. A shared space of ideas, identities and industries.

And I also continue to believe that across Britain we gain from common services and would be diminished without them; that we achieve more working together than working apart; that unity, out of diversity, gives us strength; that solidarity, the shared endeavour of working and cooperating together, not separation is the idea of the future and the idealism worth celebrating .

So, in truth, I am uncomfortable with and unattracted to a politics that draws a substantial part of its emotional power from a constant assertion of “difference”. And I bridle at the suggestion of separateness as the essential attribute of our national story.

It takes only a few moments to read the hate filled outpourings of the so called “Cyber-Nats” on the threads of the Scotsman and other websites to appreciate this point: With their claims of treason, attacks on “London Labour” and general intolerance to everybody and anybody who does not share their outlook. To my mind, these nationalists challenge the very suggestion of a more pluralist, open, discursive politics if ever their party were to prevail in its primary purpose.

Instead, they remind me of Alasdair Gray’s evocative description in his greatest novel, Lanark, of “our own wee hard men [who] hammer Scotland down to the same dull level as themselves.”

But I do recognise that the power and the weakness of this Nationalist narrative comes from its duality: on one hand caressing an unhealthy sense of victimhood through its constant assertion that Britain is what is holding Scotland back, and on the other hand asserting pride and possibility for Scotland.

Why do I find such a narrative unsatisfying even while I have to acknowledge its appeal to some sections of the electorate?

I don’t believe that rightly asserting our own distinct identity – indeed identities – is an alternative to finding points of shared values and interdependence.

But it is also that this determination to assert difference doesn’t accord with some of my own deepest convictions – and not simply that many years ago in Edinburgh I happened to meet and fall in love with an English woman who is now my wife. I would never want my children to choose whether they were citizens of Scotland or England.

It’s not the choice of futures I’d wish to put before them. It is not the choice that so many Scots or so many English people, would want their children; their nephews and nieces, even their sisters or brothers in law to have to make.

And it’s not that I hark back to some lost British patriotism of the 1950s. I am too young to remember those days and in temperament, and in personal politics, I am more interested in the future than harking back to a past whose values and prejudices few of us would share today.

There are other and deeper reasons than my admiration of Britain and what it represents that has always made me distrustful of nationalism.

As a democratic socialist, ideals have shaped my sense of politics more than identity. I am, and always have been, much more interested in abolishing poverty than abolishing Britain. A fundamental belief in human equality is the core of my politics, more than a fundamental belief in national difference.

My work around the world as international development secretary and now shadow foreign secretary has taught me something else – that one of the most fundamental struggles of modernity is between, on the one hand, those who believe our differences are more important than what unites us and, on the other, those of us who’s preference and moral lodestar is our common humanity.

That is the fundamental tenet of my politics, and helps explain why I am distrustful of a politics that draws its energy from gleeful assertions of difference rather than expressions of cooperation.

My theme this evening is that our story matters – as individuals, as families, as communities and as nations. So let me share with you part of my own family’s story.

My parents married in Glasgow in 1959. Four days later they flew from Prestwick to New York, where my father had gained a scholarship for postgraduate study at Union Theological Seminary.

The following Easter, in 1960, they joined a group of fellow students in travelling from New York to Raleigh, North Carolina, to attend a conference.

There they queued to hear a young Baptist preacher – and were spat at by white passers-by for their trouble.

The conference was the inaugural conference of the Southern Christian Leadership Conference. The young Baptist preacher was Martin Luther King.

After this encounter, the theology of Martin Luther King had a huge impact on my parents and, in time, on the values they sought to pass on to their children – and that I seek to pass on to mine.

Now the reason I share this story is that what King described as our “inter-connectedness” still shapes how I see the world.

Let his own, far more eloquent, words speak for themselves: ‎”As long as there is poverty in the world I can never be rich even if I have a billion dollars. As long as diseases are rampant and millions of people in this world cannot expect to live thirty years I can never be totally healthy even if I just got a good check-up at the Mayo Clinic. I can never be what I ought to be until you are what you ought to be. This is the way our world is made. No individual or nation can stand our boasting of being independent. We are interdependent.”

In that concern with our common humanity I don’t simply draw inspiration from religious teaching but also from modern science. In recent years some of the most talented scientists on earth have achieved the mapping of the human genome.

Of course this has opened new possibilities for both science and medicine. But it has also revealed something I think is vital to our understanding of politics. The sequencing of the human genome has confirmed that all human beings are genetically more than 99.9 per cent the same.

As Bill Clinton put it, “while our differences matter, our common humanity matters more.”

Yet here in Scotland, our political discourse is increasingly defined by difference: Each and every day the SNP government and its spokespeople seek to challenge and undermine the cultural and political claim of those of us who do not share their determination to divide Britain, asserting that our differences matter more than that which we hold in common. Paradoxically, this process is promoted as entirely positive about Scotland’s future – but any disagreement is roundly condemned as “negative”.

The SNP have now pledged a referendum within this parliament to let Scotland decide. I do not fear the people’s verdict, but in the meantime my party has a great deal of work to do in the coming months and years. That work must begin by recognising that in the years ahead, Scottish Labour’s political purpose has to be built around the future possibilities for Scotland, not the past wrongs done to Scotland.

So what would that politics of possibility, that story of a better nation sound like?

It would start, to my mind, with a determination to uphold our common humanity, the common weal – and give expression to the feelings of care, concern and commitment which we seek in others and seek to uphold in ourselves – rather than assert and reinforce our difference.

For a democratic socialist like me it would begin from a belief in equality – and it would uphold the timeless truth that we achieve more together than we can achieve alone.

It would be a story that starts with the condition of Scotland: a nation of great strengths but also very real problems.

It would be a story that set at its heart the idea of building One Scotland. A nation in which greater equality was not just our aim, and our metric, but was, in fact, our achievement.

And surely today one of the clearest tests of our commitment to Scotland’s future is what we do for our children.

In 2011, the terrible truth remains: one in five of Scotland’s children live in poverty.

According to Children First, a quarter of Scotland’s children are missing out on basics such as proper winter clothing, after school activities and good, nutritious food – the basics we take for granted for our own children.

Worklessness is a problem but so are low wages – with around 25,000 children in Scotland being in severe poverty despite at least one adult in the home going out to work.

Of course this is not a problem confined to Scotland – a report by UNICEF in 2007 examined the effects of many decades of growing child poverty across the UK, and painted a stark picture of the deprivation, poor relationships with parents, and vulnerability to the risks from alcohol, drugs and unsafe sex suffered by too many children growing up today.

Labour in office did make a difference – using tax credits to lift millions of children out of poverty, and legislating for new rights like longer maternity leave and flexible working.

Some of that work is being undone by a Tory-led Coalition government in London, but it has also been left to wither on the vine by the SNP government in Edinburgh.

Perhaps the deepest and most abiding inequality that scars Scotland is the most basic – the stark differences in life expectancy. A boy born in parts of Paisley today will, on average, live five fewer years than a boy born here in Stirling. Closing that gap is one of the hardest, but most essential tasks we face.

Half of this difference in mortality is simply from the effects of smoking. Labour’s smoking ban was the start, but we could learn from other countries. Learning how to use what we know from neuroscience about how habits and addictions are made and broken.

But it’s not just smoking. Drink plays a major part too. I sense that Labour’s past rejection of the SNP’s proposals, however well justified in terms of the weakness of the specific policy, was judged by some voters as reflecting an unwillingness to tackle heavy drinking and rise to the challenge of making a better Scotland.

In itself, minimum alcohol pricing is no simple solution to a complex and deeply culturally rooted problem. Anyone observing the agile responses of supermarkets and wine emporia knows that. But while we can challenge the policy, or better improve the policy, as an MP for a constituency where each week I see some of the consequences of the abuse of alcohol, I understand the urging of the public health clinicians that government act to tackle these problems.

Because despite the fact that many Scots today live long, full and prosperous lives, not least in some part because of the achievements of previous Labour governments, too many still do not.

In a nation still afflicted by substandard housing, stubborn worklessness, and a relative decline in education standards, building “One Scotland” is no easy task. And it is made harder by the economic circumstances now confronting us.

The present stalling of economic growth in Britain, the Eurozone crisis, the debt ceiling debacle in the Unites States, each reflect a deeper and generational shift in productive and economic power from West to East that has only been accelerated by the Global Financial Crisis of 2008.

So the challenge facing social democratic politicians in the years ahead, not just here in Scotland, or across the UK, but in countless countries, is how to advance social justice when there is not much money around.

That endeavour demands a new statecraft for this new decade – reimagining policies in relation to economic growth, the welfare state and our public services.

To acknowledge this is not to try to write a manifesto. It is to acknowledge the urgency of a new approach. It is an analysis that identifies a more empowered people and a more equal society as defining missions of a better nation notwithstanding – indeed in part because of – the tough times ahead.

This is what I suggest deserves to be at the centre of Scottish Labour’s renewed story. A radical claim on the future. One that says the test is not how much more power a parliament has, or how much more autonomy can be achieved. Instead, what counts – in employment, in housing, in health and in education – is are our combined actions tackling the barriers and inequality that still hold back too many of our people. The barriers and inequality that still stand in the way of being the kind of Scotland we could be. Are we, by our will and by our work, creating One Scotland?

For all of our present weakness I believe the political party best able to tell this story is Scottish Labour.

I make this claim for the following reason. Our core as a party has been and remains defined by our commitment to two central beliefs: a belief in social justice, and a commitment to home rule within the United Kingdom.

So the task of rebuilding Scottish Labour is not an invitation to reject our longest-held beliefs, but to reaffirm them.

Of course that reaffirmation of political purpose, however important, is not enough. Scottish Labour also needs to embrace radical proposals to throw open its doors, and draw our future candidates from Labour “people” and not just Labour members, by which I mean people from all walks of life who share our values and who are willing us to be better, so that they can once again be proud to support us.

But, as I have sought to suggest this evening, we will only attract these people if we are clearer about the contribution we can make to the next chapter of Scotland’s story.

It is a challenge to which, I believe, we can rise. Just as years ago, New Labour had to dispel the myth that if you were ambitious, had done well, and had got on in life, you inevitably supported the Conservative Party, so now and in the years ahead Scottish Labour must dispel the myth that if you feel proudly and patriotically Scottish, and are ambitious for Scotland and its potential, you inevitably support the SNP.

Scottish Labour’s political purpose has to be about the future possibilities for Scotland, not the past wrongs, real and imagined, done to Scotland.

With this approach, I believe the history of Scotland, written by this generation, can and will be remembered not by the “The End of an Auld Sang” but positively and vibrantly by “The beginning of a New Story”.

Donate to us: support independent, intelligent, in-depth Scottish journalism from just 3p a day

David Whitton Picture: buglaowbill

David Whitton Picture: buglaowbill


David Whitton has served as the MSP for Strathkelvin and Bearsden since 2007, and is standing again in the constituency on 5 May.

The growing problem of youth unemployment is one that will have to be tackled by whoever forms the next Scottish government. As Scottish Labour spokesperson on skills, I said that this was not a party political issue but a problem for everyone.

The SNP’s commitment to skills training is fine as far as it goes, it just doesn’t go far enough. In our business manifesto Growing Scotland, we’ve detailed our ideas for making sure all young Scots get the chance of work, a training place or go on to higher education.

The demographics of Scotland, with an ageing population and declining birth rate, make it more important than ever to ensure that everyone, regardless of ability and background, is able to make a contribution to society.

Under Scottish Labour, we will launch a Scottish Future Jobs Fund with £40 million to create 10,000 places for 16–24 year olds out of work for six months or more.

There will be a Modern Apprentice place for every youngster who qualifies and wants one.

And because we know there are youngsters struggling at school with basic numeracy and literacy, we will recruit 1,000 additional teachers to provide one-to-one teaching and specialist programmes.

We already know there are skills shortages in science, technology, engineering, maths and in the tourism sector. I want employers to identify where they have skills gaps and to reform Skills Development Scotland so that it becomes the one-stop shop for careers advice for employers and employees.

Scotland also needs a new generation of young entrepreneurs, which is why we’ll make sure school pupils receive training in business and entrepreneurship and all graduates will receive the same kind of training as part of their course. There will also be a “Flying Start” programme to support those with good ideas that want to get started in business.

To make sure a Scottish Labour government delivers, we aim to establish an Economic Cabinet made up of representatives of industry, business and trades unions, that will sit alongside ministers to shape and advise on all aspects of economic policy.

As Scotland recovers from recession, it is vital that economic growth and the creation of jobs, especially for young Scots, is and remains our top priority.

Donate to us: support independent, intelligent, in-depth Scottish journalism from just 3p a day

Alex Salmond <em>Picture: Harris Morgan</em>

Alex Salmond Picture: Harris Morgan

The address given by First Minister for Scotland and SNP leader Alex Salmond to the SNP spring conference held in Glasgow, 12 March 2011.

Delegates, first and foremost our thoughts are with the people of Japan in their time of extremity.

Yesterday I sent a message to Prime Minister Kan on the sympathy that the Scottish people feel to our Japanese friends at this time. We stand ready to support or help in any way that is wished, in any way that we can.

Delegates, by your applause please express your solidarity with the people of Japan.

One of our Scottish connections with Japan is the great industrial combine of Mitsubishi, founded by a Scot, Thomas Blake Glover – born in the Broch – founded as the Nagasaki shipping company in 1870.

Now Mitsubishi are making a great impact on modern Scotland, already committed to a £100 million research and programme, and one of the intended industrial partners for the power of green energy innovation now rising on the banks of the Clyde.

For we are in Glasgow – a city of invention. Of entrepreneurs, engineers, of trains and ships.

It is said when the QE II was launched, she actually stretched – and this city’s influence has stretched across the world. First as the workshop of the empire and now as a creative city – building a new empire of the mind.

Donate to us: support independent, intelligent, in-depth Scottish journalism from just 3p a day

But I believe it stands on the brink of another great success, Gallus Glasgow goes on, as a city at the cutting edge of the green revolution. For on the banks of the Clyde made famous by is traders and its shipbuilders, a new industry is rising.

Yesterday I announced a £90m investment – Government and private sector – in Strathclyde University’s International Technology and Renewable Energy Zone, dubbed IT-REZ – less of a mouthful!

That is £90m and 700 jobs at the cutting edge of the green revolution and the knowledge economy. Combining Scotland’s great strengths – our environment, our people and our education.

It is aspirational Glasgow – can do Scotland – a university and a Government and the private sector like Scottish Power, the Weir Group and Scottish and Southern Energy, coming together to stake their claim for the future.

It is aspirational Scotland, can do Glasgow, it is a revolution of expectation believing that we can lead the world in key aspects of technology and innovation.

Delegates, this is an example of Strathclyde technology. It is a miniature map of Scotland, hardly the width of a human hair

Nano-lithography, the manipulation of molecules, with great applications in medicine and across the sciences.

This is a miniature Scotland, but Scotland itself isn’t small. Scotland’s only small in the minds of our unionist opponents – people who think small.

What did they once try to call us? – The best wee wee country in the world. Why not just aspire to be the best country in the world!

And this is a revolution in which all of Scotland is involved

Before Christmas I announced the Mitsubishi investment. Then there is Gamesa’s investment in Dundee. These are not scraps blowing in the wind but solid investments, setting roots in Glasgow, Edinburgh and Dundee. In Machrihanish, Methil and Arnish.

We are in the rapids of a new energy revolution.

Let me state for this Conference and for this country the purpose of our objective. We intend that this nation – this Scotland – researches and develops, constructs and fabricates and then supplies and maintains the new green energy systems that will dominate this century.

We intend that this city of Glasgow, marine engineers the 21st century just as it once led the marine engineering of the 19th – when ships from the Clyde carried a nation in their hold.

These investments being made now will pay off for years and generations to come. We reckon this will be worth £30 billion for Scotland in offshore wind alone by 2020. With up to 130,000 job opportunities in the low-carbon sector.

The green energy revolution in which we are embarked is the right course. It is the right course for Scotland, for Europe and for the planet. We shall be the green energy powerhouse of the European continent and a world leader in many of the key technologies.

And yet amid all of this progress, more could be done with the real powers of a real parliament.

Let us take but two examples:

In London right now under OFGEM, there is a bank account of almost £200 million of Scotland’s money paid by fossil fuel generators – places like Longannet and Peterhead. By law, these funds can only be used and accessed to support renewable development in Scotland.

We need them right now to ensure that the infrastructure is in place so that places like Nigg and Dundee are able to benefit fully from the thousands of jobs which depend on these investments.

So why don’t we just access them right now? Because the Treasury say that if we do, then they will deduct the same sum from the block grant to fund education or health.

Now the Liberal Democrats – that party of moderation and commonsense – and of course of pandering to Tory rule in Scotland – they say give up your £250 million and we will lend you the same sum through the Green Investment Bank in a few years time – a sum certainly less than the Green Investment Bank would be lending in Scotland anyway!

So they take our money and then lend us back less in a few years’ time – and that’s meant to be a good deal? Delegates, that is the sort of deal Nick Clegg is offering to English students!

I’ve an alternative idea. Why don’t we just invest in the power of an independent parliament and then decide for ourselves to invest our own money in developing our own resources?

The second example concerns oil. Norway is the only country in Europe with more oil than Scotland. They have breezed through the world recession, largely because of the £300 billion fund for future generations accumulated over the last 15 years.

We should have done that.

Delegates, with oil set to last another 40 years we still can.

Scotland is the second-largest oil producer in Europe, but we have among the highest prices for petrol and derv, placing our families under pressure and our industry at a competitive disadvantage.

The oil price rises mean that revenues rise. This coming year they could rise by £4 billion to £14 billion – the highest ever – around £3,000 a head for every man, women and child in Scotland.

If you applied even half of that £4 billion windfall to cutting fuel tax in Scotland you could reduce it by 50p per litre in Scotland – in the UK by 5p a litre.

We have had enough humming and hawing on this. The case for a fuel tax regulator is made. Let the message go out loud and clear from this conference to the chancellor – cut fuel duty and cut it now.

Our country is rich in resources. So here we are in this lucky, lucky country – we have oil and gas aplenty, we have huge supplies of the most precious resources of the 21st century, water, we have land and sea resources, we have one quarter of Europe’s wind resource, one quarter of its tidal resource and one tenth of the wave resource and we have the skilled and inventive people.

Delegates, the unionist parties tell us we are too poor to be independent and that the only reason that Tory Government in London have set their face against independence is concern for out welfare. The reality is quite different.

The unionist parties oppose independence not because they Scotland is too poor, but because we are rich. What they really fear is the loss of Scottish resources.

It is time we put the wealth of the land to the good of the people, and delivered a nation that looks after its own and does good for the world.

On this subject, I have some more news for you about Glasgow. As you know, we intend to give Scottish Water a new direction, to become a dynamic player in our economy, and to project our humanitarian values around the world.

I can announce today that Glasgow has been put on the short list, along with South Korea and the United Arab Emirates, to host the 2015 World Water Forum. 30,000 delegates to this city, indeed to this very Conference Centre, to try and solve one of the world’s biggest challenges.

We will campaign for this prize with the same vigour that brought the Commonwealth Games to this city for 2014. We intend to win it for Scotland.

Delegates, we are Scotland’s first ever SNP Government and we are standing for re-election. We do so with the best record, the best team and the only real vision for the future of our country.

In the party broadcast last evening, you saw that we claimed a record 20,000 modern apprenticeships – 20,000 investments in the future. That was this year’s figure. Next year I fear we cannot repeat that.

Instead we have determined on 25,000 apprenticeships – not just another Scottish record but 66 per cent higher than the number we inherited from Labour in 2007.

Today we publish 100 key achievements of your SNP Government. The world’s leading climate change targets – done. NHS budget protected – it was, it is and it will be. Prescription charges – ended. Bridge Tolls – removed.

A thousand extra police officers – achieved. Over 1,000 council houses built – Labour only built six! Council tax frozen – done. A commitment to our infrastructure. A new Forth crossing and £2.5 billion of capital investment.

The business of government is a steep learning curve – particularly for a minority. No doubt we could have done some things better.

Yet – even in the teeth of world recession and the consequences of Brown’s bust – we have still achieved more in four years than any other Scottish government, and we have so much more yet to do.

I wanted Scotland to have her own government, so that together we could make Scotland better. I wanted the SNP to form that government so we could serve.

I am the First Minister of Scotland. We have plenty still to do. With the people’s support, I intend to continue to be Scotland’s First Minister.

Mind you, it’s a miracle I made it here today at all. This Wednesday, Ed Balls came to Scotland and said that Labour were going to use me as a punchbag. The next day Iain Gray said he would “take me on”. He took exception to me speaking to him calmly and got very upset. And they say they are not scared of the SNP!

Well, they are right to be scared, scared of our record and scared of our team. Scared because so many Scots of all political persuasions want to see this SNP Government re-elected. Scared because only the SNP speaks for all of Scotland.

Fear leads to people doing all sorts of strange things. It has even made Labour reverse its long-standing policy of charging young people for their education, and now they are engaged in council tax gymnastics.

Let’s just remember it was Labour who introduced tuition fees north and south of the border. It was this SNP Government which removed them.

Ed Balls doesn’t speak for Scotland. He’s the man who commissioned the Lord Browne review – the self same review that the Tories are now using to impose £9,000 a year fees on English students. He’s the man who wrecked the UK economy, Gordon Brown’s aide de camp. He’s the man who failed to regulate the banks – a failure he admitted this week.

This is a Scottish election for a Scottish parliament. Ed Balls ain’t standing. Neither is Ed Miliband nor even Douglas Alexander – indeed not even Wendy Alexander.

They were all on the media circuit this week trying to convince us otherwise. They hope that it will distract Scotland from what is really at stake in May. They want to convince us that this election is about enhancing Labour’s status at Westminster.

But this election is not about who rules in London. It is about who is chosen to serve Scotland. Labour expects that Scotland will do its duty, to move slavishly back into line. They don’t even think they have to present any ideas. They don’t speak for Scotland. They have nothing of significance to say about Scotland. That was true in their long years of Government.

Did Labour speak for Scotland when they took us into the Iraq war? Did Labour speak for Scotland when they raise the Council tax by 60 per cent? Did Labour speak for Scotland when they signed the PFI deals that now cost the public purse £800 million a year?

Did Labour speak for Scotland when Alistair Darling promised cuts which were to be “deeper and tougher” than those of Margaret Thatcher?

Did Labour speak for Scotland when they backed the obscenity of nuclear weapons – including £100 billion to be wasted on a new Trident system?

Labour didn’t stand up for Scotland when they had their chance. Why would they do any better now?

A noted Scottish journalist recently asked what Labour stood for apart from cheap booze and higher council tax.

Cheap booze and higher council taxes. Keir Hardie will be birlin in his grave in Cumnock cemetery – the Labour Party in Scotland – cheap booze and higher taxes. Has there ever been a more miserable and depressing prospectus ever proffered to the people of this nation?

Of course we all know they stand for more jobs – their own. They refused to back the SNP on 25,000 more apprentices. But even as they opposed supporting young people they wanted plenty of jobs for the boys.

I don’t think that Scotland want to go back to Labour’s crony state, where helping out your pals came before helping the poor. Where a party card was a passport to the cushiest numbers.

Remember Strathclyde Passenger Transport – whose Labour-connected officials had to leave in disgrace after an expenses scandal? They were meant to run the trains, but they were too busy operating the gravy train – like so much of Labour in Government.

Labour speaks for vested interest. The Scottish National Party speak for all of Scotland.

We speak for the poorest Scots the low-paid families and pensioners who have benefited most from our freeze on the council tax and our ending of prescription charges.

We speak for the young delivering the 25,000 apprenticeships that Labour voted against, lowering class sizes and keeping education free.

We speak for the vulnerable – we are protecting them with 1,000 extra police officers who have led crime to a 32-year low.

We speak for the aspirational. The millions of Scots who want a better future for themselves, their children and their grandchildren.

We speak for those who want to start their own business. The small business bonus has cut or abolished rates for 80,000 small businesses. Labour voted against that as well.

We speak for the communities of Lossie and Leuchars who have served this country well and expect loyalty not betrayal in return.

Delegates, we speak for all of Scotland and all of Scotland needs the Scottish National Party.

Let me tell you about Nancy. I met her on Kilmarnock High Street three weeks ago. I meet a lot of folk. It’s real politics – listening to real concerns from real people.

Nancy’s concern was that her disability living allowance would be taken away. That’s the thing that allows her to be in a job, to feel useful, wanted worthwhile.

And Nancy was worried – is worried – that her disability allowance will be taken away by the Tory-led coalition. And she understands that these were hard times, and that everyone had to cut their cloth.

But she wanted to know why she had to pay so much, for a crisis that had nothing to do with her.

Now when I talk real politics, I talk of Nancy – of the need for the ordinary people to be given a fair shout and a decent chance.

And as she told me her worries Nancy started to cry, not tears for herself but tears of worry, of uncertainty. And I felt concern and then sympathy and then anger – anger at the idea that a group of rich men in a London cabinet could cause such hurt to a women who overcomes adversity every single day of her life.

You see I’m all for a big society, but I’ m also for a fair society. The late Jimmy Reid didn’t learn about a big society on the playing fields of Eton. He learned about a fair society on the shipyards of the Clyde.

I know who received the better education in humanity, and to that concept we shall remain true.

In a sense that society should try to be as equal as it can be – as in our attitude to education. The widening of the mind is the greatest gift.

To learn of the universe and the atoms. Of the poets and philosophers. It is the one real luxury available to all according to their appetite to learn.

And this nation pioneered free education for all, which resulted in Scots inventing and explaining much of the modern world. We called this the Scottish Enlightenment. And out of educational access came social mobility as we reached all the talents of a nation to change the world for the better.

We can do so again.

Some of our university Principals say that we will fall behind England. We will not. We do not intend to withdraw the state from higher education. Any funding gap will be closed.

We would only fail if we were to betray our traditions and mortgage the future. So when it comes to the question of university fees or graduate taxes, I know where I stand.

The rocks will melt with the sun before I allow tuition fees to be imposed on Scottish students – upfront, or backdoor. This party restored free education to Scotland in our first term. We will protect it in the next.

This is part of the Scottish Settlement our social contract with the people. In the course of this coming week the Scottish Government intends to move forward again with that contract.

The cuts promised by Alistair Darling – remember, “deeper and tougher” than those of Margaret Thatcher – are upon us and now under the other Tories.

Across the public sector we face adversity. So let us face it together. As we are duty bound to do. We decided to protect the health service when Labour didn’t know what to do.

We have protected local government as best we could because they deliver some of the most vital services.

That has meant that the cuts being faced by our own administration are the most serious of all – 10 per cent this year and three per cent each year after that.

And yet this coming week we are committed to agreeing with our staff unions in the civil service the continuation of our no compulsory redundancy agreement.

And that comes with the pay-freeze that is inevitable and flexibility in the workforce which is necessary. But the prize in return is great.

I believe that such an agreement could and should be extended across the public sector through local government, through our schools and also into our colleges, as well as throughout our health service.

It will not be easy, but let me tell you why it is important. It is important to individuals to be relieved of economic uncertainty. It is important to have valuable staff properly valued. But it is also important to the economy.

For eight months now, thanks to the work of John Swinney, we have had rising employment in Scotland even in the most difficult of circumstances.

For three months we have had falling unemployment even as it has risen across the rest of the UK.

This is the direct result of our capital acceleration in building houses and stimulating capital projects.

In the first three quarters of last year, construction employment was up 16 per cent in Scotland – even as it fell across the UK.

Now the Tories are implementing the savage capital spending cuts planned by Labour.

We will respond by a £2.5 billion non-profit distribution programme. By moving ahead with the Southern General in Glasgow – a new bridge will span the River Forth, a new road around Aberdeen.

However, we will still be under pressure. One further response is through the economics of security.

If people have the fear of compulsory redundancy removed, then they are able to plan and to spend for the future of themselves and their families – that preserves jobs and helps the wider economy.

That is why as First Minister I will spend every day securing our agreement with the Scottish Government unions and then seeking to see it expanded across the public sector.

As a candidate I will campaign for it and if the people return me as First Minister then I will secure that prize – of no compulsory redundancies and economic security – that it brings.

Delegates, we have a rich land, but too many of our people live in poverty. We have a 21st century vision, but are held back by 19th century prejudices and structures. We are ready to play our part in the world, to help from the personal to the universal.

If we are to become a crucible of the new society, then we need the power of independence – we must have these powers. And there is only way of getting those, of making further advance.

To vote for Scotland, not because we are better than anywhere else, but because we are the same people as people all over the world. We seek fairness and justice and responsibility.

And we are the lucky nation, rich enough to deliver it all, yet we cannot without power. Our sense of the common weal is strong and should not be denied by the rich elites of elsewhere.

A Scotland caught between the universality of hope, and the parochialism of power for power’s sake. And as Labour peddle fear, we have led hope.

We live in tough times, but when the decision came to protect family budgets, it was straightforward – the council tax freeze stays because it’s worth more than £300 to the average family since 2007.

The NHS budget could have been cut, but for us it was a clear decision – the health service protects Scots young and old. Its budget is safe with the SNP.

We have made Scotland secure not by the kneejerk nonsense of locking people up for short sentences, but by putting 1,000 extra police on the street and taking crime to a 32-year low.

We have the best team on the park and we govern for the whole of Scotland.

But politics is nothing without a bigger vision. In government, much is in the day-to-day, but you must still keep an eye on the horizon, on the big prize.

For us, that prize is independence – but independence is a means to an end. That end is a society safe, happy, healthy, confident in its skin. A global citizen acting to help the world where it can.

Because the mapmakers’ ink is becoming smudged on every border. Globalism, the rise of the knowledge economy, the big economic changes, the great environmental challenges – all point to a world where the responsibility of the nation is to raise people who are responsible to the world.

And the definition of a nation is a community of people with a shared commitment to their culture and to their children. By having a strong sense of ourselves.

That allows our new communities from Asia to know what it meant to be Scottish and to give them something to join, to be part of. And that sense of self is built on community, on the shared value of helping each other out, lending a hand, on a sense that society should try to be as equal as it can be.

That is what we value and what we think is the purpose of government. To the rights of the ordinary to triumph over vested interests.

In our capital city of Edinburgh there stands a monument to Thomas Muir and his fellow friends of the people. His memory should cast a beam across the work of every civil servant in the Scottish Government and every Minister – because the monument to Muir and his fellows revolutionaries spikes out of Calton graveyard like a shaft of stony light across from St Andrew’s House.

And this monument contains Muir’s own vision: “I have devoted myself to the cause of The People. It is a good cause – it shall ultimately prevail – it shall finally triumph.”

And his message was not just for this place, but for every place. For his spirit, for Robert Burn’s spirit, Jimmy Reid’s spirit, our spirit, it is for the common weal.

The rights of man – and of women. And the legitimacy of the ordinary over the powerful.

This party has travelled a similar path. This movement, this nation, has been patronised, talked down, told it wasn’t good enough. And yet this party has risen from a few MPs and a land without a parliament, to a Scotland with a parliament, and an SNP government.

We never lost the strength of hope – and we fought on to triumph. But we, in our mix of the national and the international, of the personal and the political, we fought not to govern over people, but for the people to govern over themselves.

It is for that reason and that reason above all that we are the Friends of the People of Scotland, and for that reason we shall prevail.

Donate to us: support independent, intelligent, in-depth Scottish journalism from just 3p a day