18/03/2017 Scottish National Party Conference

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Andrew Kerr presents live coverage of the Scottish National Party Conference from the Aberdeen Exhibition and Conference Centre, including the keynote speech by Nicola Sturgeon.

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Welcome to our coverage of the SNP's spring conference in Aberdeen.


At 3:30, we'll hear from the party leader, Nicola Sturgeon,


We'll have that live, as conference gears


Conference, this challenge comes down to Scotland against the Tories,


and this time, Scotland is going to win. Thank you.


APPLAUSE And I will bring you all of the news


and analysis from the conference centre in Aberdeen.


The SNP conference is rounding off quite


The First Minister called for a second referendum.


This afternoon, we wait to hear Nicola Sturgeon's next steps.


Our political editor Brian Taylor is standing


by at the Aberdeen Exhibition and Conference Centre.


Good afternoon, Brian. What a week in politics. Good afternoon. It's


been quite something, hasn't it? From the First Minister's


declaration that she was demanding a transfer of powers to bring about a


referendum, to the Prime Minister saying: certainly not happening


during the period of Brexit. What do we expect from Nicola Sturgeon? I


think she reach out beyond the conference hall to those who are


watching at home who perhaps just feel a little bit weary about the


idea of a second referendum at this stage. I think she will say she


understands that point, she empathises with it to some degree,


but I think she will try and turn the argument around, purely from the


European Union, to say it is about the sort of country that Scotland


is, or rather, can be. She has made the argument before, but I think she


would try to argue that, on the one hand, you have the option of a hard


right concept of Brexit. On the other hand, she will say that you


have the option of an independent Scotland with a progressive


standpoint. I don't think she will neglect the day job, a phrase which


has been used by several ministers, in which they say the independent


argument is central to the wider interests of Scotland. I expect some


policy announcements on health, education and the economic sector,


but the biggest issue, Andrew, will be the issue of a referendum. Had


evening delegates are viewing this? Would hesitantly optimistic be a


good phrase? -- how do you think delegates are viewing this? I think


there is a determination in the audience, but I think there is also


a point that John Swinney made at the end of his speech. His speech


was primarily about policy, about education and their education


record, defending it vigorously, but at the end he turned to independents


and he for cool heads on this. In other words, he said it was not a


time to be vigorous ranting raving or whatever. It was a time to argue


the case with the Prime Minister, and the point you are hearing from


SNP leaders, from the leader of the Scottish Government is that they


believe the Prime Minister's case is unsustainable. But she believes that


now is not the time, the phrase she used, leading up to and beyond the


period of Brexit, but she is not prepared to sanction discussions at


all at the moment on the question of independence. She isn't even


prepared to talk about it. She says, get Brexit out of the way, let it


settle down, and then maybe perhaps, presumably at a time of the Prime


Minister's choosing. Of course, that is unacceptable to Nicola Sturgeon.


We have got a complete stand-off. Much more from Brian later.


I'm now joined by Professor John Curtice of Strathclyde University.


Good afternoon, John. Thank you for being with us again. Quite a week in


politics. What is your reading of the situation, and how do you think


Nicola Sturgeon might perhaps try and move things on from the current


impasse? I think the situation is clear, in that certainly Nicola


Sturgeon's opening gambit is, I would like to hold a referendum. As


the Brexit negotiations are coming to a conclusion, but before Scotland


has left the UK. Why does she want to do that? In truth, probably


because she reckons that is the point in the process where there


might be thought to be greatest uncertainty about the status quo.


Given that one of the things that was disadvantageous to the argued


that the referendum was the bidding for some but, well, at least we know


what Great Britain is about and we can hang on to the status quo


whereas, if we go for independence, there is a of uncertainty. When she


talks about there being a choice, she is saying that she wants people


to choose between two uncertainties, without it all on my side of the


argument. Theresa May, in contrast, is saying that she doesn't want it


on that time frame on the other hand, she clearly doesn't feel able


to say no, even though many a Conservative politician in Scotland


has said that people in Scotland don't want this, and why are we for


a generation which she seems to be saying, we should now wait to see


how Brexit falls out before making a choice. I think the subtext is


clear, which is that she would like to be able to delay this referendum


until after May 2021, when we are due to having another election in


Scotland for the Scottish parliament and maybe the SNP will their


majority. The difficulty with her position is, can she really string


out delaying the referendum for yet another two years? I think the fact


that Nicola Sturgeon at the back end up yesterday, said she is willing to


negotiate over the date may well mean that Theresa May fans Belize


find in the end it is quite difficult to say, well, maybe it


shouldn't be in September 2019 or 710 -- or September 20 20. John,


thank you. Much more from you later. The SNP deputy leader is with Brian.


Thank you. I am joined by Angus Robertson. Mr Robertson, an issue


that we think the First Minister is going to address and others have


addressed is just offering understanding that some people,


perhaps even including those in the independence Yes camp, are a bit


weary about a referendum in this stage, or in the timescale set out


by the Prime Minister. I think there is definitely a feeling of people


being unsettled because there is a lot going on, not just with Brexit


but internationally. I think people have concerns, and we have to


recognise that, but I think what the First Minister is going to be


reflecting on is that doing nothing is really not an option. Otherwise,


things will just happen to us and we will not be the masters of our own


destiny. That is why we need to understand that we have options. We


should have a say, we should be able to determine our future and not have


the hardest, most dangerous and damaging form of Brexit foisted on


us in Scotland, given that we didn't even vote for it. Ward is there any


way you can envisage of ending this impasse between the governments? I


think so, because the timescale is all-important. We understand, when


the negotiations start, the Article 50 process, it will take about two


years and one will be negotiating for most of that I agree that one


should be able to concentrate on the negotiations, and one would only


choose on one would accept or reject what has been negotiated after that.


It's important to understand that, in the last months of this two-year


process, there will be a process of approval in Britain, in the House of


Commons and House of Lords, which isn't even elected, and the European


Parliament across 27 member states. When we get to that stage, I think


it will be totally unsustainable for UK Government to suggest that


everybody else, in London, Brussels, across Europe, that they will have a


choice about Scotland's future but the only place we will not be able


to determine that is in our own country. So I think in that period


is the optimal one when we could have a referendum, and I think it is


an inevitability that the Prime Minister will have to agree with


one. But you want talks with the Prime Minister now about the section


30 transfer of powers to Hollywood. That means in practice that the


referendum campaign would be underway, and the Prime Minister


would say that is the wrong thing to be doing while you are trying to


focus on Britain's departure from the EU. -- transfer of powers to


Holyrood. We should bear in mind there will be a debate in the


Scottish Parliament next week. I think the anticipation is that a


majority in our Parliament will vote for there to be a referendum. Given


that we are supposed to be in a democracy, when our parliament voted


in favour of something, the UK Government shouldn't take that


likely, so I would appeal to the Prime Minister to reflect carefully


on what she is saying. She has not said never. I agree that now is not


the time, but at some stage we will need to get the ball rolling on the


technicalities of how a referendum would work. The good news is that we


have had one, so we know how to do it, so it doesn't need to be long


and drawn out. Is the Scottish government willing as a government


to extend autumn 18 to spring 19? She suggested there might be


discussions with the Prime Minister. Are you willing to look at 2019?


People in Scotland should be able to determine our future before we are


taken out of the EU. If we are taken out of the EU, that is obviously


disregarding the 62% of people in our country voted to remain. There


is a sweet spot, but it could move, because we don't know exactly when


the would end, we know that there will be a hard backstop on the


two-year period. Some people are saying that there may be extensions


from the negotiations agreed with the EU... So 2019 is probably the


last date. We don't know. Between the end of the and the period where


the UK would formally leave. You have said that Scotland will have


its say. Does that mean, if the Prime Minister doesn't budge, that


you go ahead with some form of unofficial, unsanctioned referendum?


I am focused on persuading the Prime Minister. ... Is that a possibility?


I understand that he wanted to ask questions from ten different angles


but I think, given that we have a referendum on our country's future,


we know the format and how it works, I think that is what will happen. We


need to persuade the Prime Minister that, as a democrat, she should


understand that Scots should be able to determine their own future and


have a choice once the negotiations are underway. I appreciate that is


your objective, but is it feasible to hold an unsanctioned referendum?


It isn't the route we are looking to go down. We are looking to secure


agreement with the UK Government. After all, if the UK Government was


simply to say, it's impossible, you can never choose about your future,


it starts getting very difficult for the Prime Minister to sustain an


argument that the United Kingdom is based on respect and a partnership


of equals, and she herself will do more to undermine the UK than


anybody else. But if the grandest said that she will consult, she was


keen to have engagement with the Scottish Government, but she didn't


say that you have to agree before she proceeded with Article 50. She


said she wanted a UK wide approach before triggering Article 50 but


that would be in agreement. She said she wouldn't be triggering Article


50 until she thought we had a UK approach and objectives for


negotiations, but couldn't that just be that she has formulated policy in


Downing Street? No doubt she is arguing that, but the idea that the


Prime Minister in London with only one MP in Scotland, that she


understands the views of people in Scotland, it isn't credible. If you


want to work with Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland, you have to do


it. She doesn't have agreement. There are still some days and weeks


to do it and I would encourage her to do it. Angus Robertson, thank


you. Now, the youngest MP in the Commons,


Mhairi Black, received a standing ovation when she told


delegates she's "going nowhere There's been speculation


about whether she would want The MP for Paisley and Renfrewshire


South was speaking in a debate I should start by making clear the


conference and to party members and also to my constituents that,


despite recent media reports from various outlets, I am going nowhere


until the job's done. CHEERING


Now, while my disdain for Westminster is no secret, and my


desire for there to be no need for me to have to be there should be no


surprise, I have to say that the Tory in a fit sanctions regime has


to be one of the worst things to ever come out of that place. -- the


Tory benefit sanctions regime. I have heard truly harrowing stories


from people throughout the UK who have struggled to feed themselves,


to clothe themselves and to keep a roof over their head, because the UK


Government has left them with absolutely nothing. There is a new


MP -- as a new MP, I said I would try to make some small but


effective, common-sense changes to benefit sanctions, so last year I


secured a private members bill, a rare opportunity for backbench MPs


to create a law, and I wanted to ensure that a person's mental and


physical health, the care and responsibilities and risk of


homelessness had to be taken into account before any sanction could be


applied. Of course, the bill was shot down. Very few Labour MPs


showed up to support the bill and the Tory minister proceeded to talk


it out. Tory MPs didn't believe and couldn't imagine how anyone could


suffer under their amazing system. I told them that they should watch the


incredibly powerful and absolutely gut-wrenching film by the very


talented Ken Loach, I Daniel Blake. And I would still urge anyone who


wants to understand what is actually happening to people in our society


to watch it, but again, this fell on deaf ears and was coldly dismissed


as purely fiction. If I had the power to do so, I would scrap the


sanctions regime immediately, and that is why I am proud, and I think


we should all be proud, that the SNP government in Scotland have chosen


to take a different approach when it comes to social security. We know


that benefit sanctions actually cause the vulnerable to fall into


hardship. We know it makes it harder for people to find work, and we know


that sanctions cost ministers more than they save, and the government


must know that this contradicts their arguments. I have told them


often enough! So that begs the question, what is the real reason


they like to impose sanctions? Once you remove common-sense, the only


argument left is ideology. The Conservative Party have always


sought to cause division between groups of society in order to


prevent that very same society from uniting and holding those in


positions of power to account, so someone can't make a Jobcentre


meeting in order to receive the incredibly small and only income


that they can get. Surely it is our duty to understand why, not simply


to take the life in a way? Fundamentally, any government should


not be making its own citizens destitute, and that is exactly what


this Tory government is doing. APPLAUSE


So let me be clear, it is not fiction, it is not exaggerated and


it is a reality for far too many people. If Westminster refuses to


use the powers it has to end this cruelty, I have an idea, let's bring


those very powers back up the road and let the Scottish Government do


the job right. Thank you. APPLAUSE


Let's go back to the conference where Brian has some


Yes, indeed. Well this business of a referendum, it is causing a lot of


interest here. It is about two Parliament, the Scottish Parliament


and the Westminster Parliament.. Am delighted to say I am joined by an


MP and MSP: Thank you for joining us. Looking forward to the First


Minister's, I am in my Westminster mode, First Minister speeches. What


are you anticipating from her? I am looking for her to talk about the


choice that Scotland is facing. I imagine she will talk about the


independence referendum and the section 30 that will be going


through the Scottish Parliament she will talk about domestic policy and


things happening in Holyrood. She wants to use the phrase forget about


the day job, there will be a bit on that as well. On this business of


the referendum. We expect she will try and make a contrast between what


Britain would be under Conservative rule and what Scotland could be


under what she will say will be progressive governance, is that a


genuine choice? Is it it not between the European Union and the UK? This


is an important choice the people of Scotland have. We didn't want to be


in this position as a country. Scotland voted to remain in the


European Union, but we are where we are, and we have now the choice


between right-wing Tory hard Brexit, leaving the single market, or making


our own decisions is about our own future, that is what the First


Minister will be talking about today, what we will be voting on in


the Scottish Parliament next week, and that is a significant choice for


the Parliament to make next week, then for the country. Is that not a


bogus choice in even if you characterise the Conservative


Government in the way you do, it is the current Government, not


necessarily the Government for all time of the United Kingdom. It could


be argued you would lose the United Kingdom links in protest as a


contemporaneous government? It is not a bogus choice. I see


constituents that are suffering from Tory austerity, the level of people


that are going to good banks for example. That is not a bogus choice


they face, on a daily basis. It is very important choice about our


future and it is about the type of country that we want. Do you want a


right-wing Tory, and yes, they will be in power for some time, you know,


you have senior members in the Labour Party that know that under


Jeremy Corbyn there is no opportunity for Labour to be


elected, until 2030, so when we look at that and we are looking at not


just this Tory Government but more Tory Governments to come, with no


change to Tory austerity, that is why Scotland needs to choose its own


destiny. Say Scotland is offered that choice, you are saying go down


the road of independence, particularly in protest as the


policy of the incumbent Government. It could be arguing that as I put to


Shirley Anne you lose the connections with the United Kingdom


which your importants would argue are vital The thing is the problem


we have got. One of the biggest problems is this Tory government is


the one that, it is taking decisions that will shape the future of the


whole of the United Kingdom, for ever more, so the decisions they


make today cannot be rolled back on, if you think about things like


single market membership, freedom of movement of people, those will set


the future of the whole of the UK, now we want Scotland to have a


choice to not go down that route, and that is why we are looking at


the independence referendum. It could be said you had a referendum


in 2014 that determined Scotland's attitude to independence. This is


only three years on from that point. You talked about a generational


vote. I don't think anyone thinks that the goalposts haven't shifted


significantly. We weren't looking at the EU referendum coming up. We were


told if we wanted to stay we would vote to stay in the United Kingdom.


Things have change since then, we need to give Scottish people a


chance for future. The Prime Minister is saying no, she is saying


no within 2 timescale, if she continues to say no, would you think


it is feasible to hold if you like an unauthorised unsanctioned


non-cons is you'll referendum? The The him Prime Minister has made one


screeching you feel turn round the National Insurance and left a gaping


hole in the budget doing that. That is a policy matter in the budget,


admittedly a very large one, but it is a policy matter in the budget.


This would be about the nature of the governance of the United


Kingdom, and she says she ain't going to shift on that in terms of


the timetable. This is about democracy and whether you are going


to allow the will of the Scottish Parliament and people to decide our


own future. Would you contemplate a sort of unauthorised referendum on


none consensual referendum? We have the vote in the Scottish Parliament


coming up on Wednesday, I think it would be exceptionally ill-judged of


the Prime Minister to ignore the will of the Scottish Parliament, if


we win that majority which I expect we will. The Prime Minister needs to


look seriously then at her relationship. She talked about a


partnership of equals, if she remotely believes any of that


rhetoric, which herself and David Cameron came out with, the time is


to listen to the Scottish Parliament, listen to the Scottish


people, and let Scotland decides its future. The Prime Minister might say


that matters of the constitution, matters affecting a referendum are


deliberately reserved to Westminster, in the Scotland act


1998, and that she has the mandate at Westminster. The Prime Minister


was elected, in fact the Prime Minister has not been elected Prime


Minister, the Prime Minister was elected with a smaller share of the


constituency vote than the First Minister was elected with. This is


going to go through the Scottish Parliament we imagine on Wednesday


and it will go through the Scottish Parliament with a majority now, the


Prime Minister would be very unwise to go against the will of the


Scottish people in this regard. Would it be going against the will


of the Scottish people? Are they yearn foger a referendum? If you


look round here. Here they are! If you speak to people here. I will


give you that one, here they would be in favour of it. People in the


street are saying I didn't want a hard Brexit, I want tot have a


choice. OK, thanks both. Very you very much indeed.


Education is their number one priority ,


John Swinney, the Education Secretary, made a surprisingly


He warned the Prime Minister must not trample on Scottish


sovereignty, but first he focussed on how he was improving Scotland's


For all the progress we have made, we know there is still more we have


to do. That sometimes requires making tough choices and not shying


away from difficult choice, the easy choice to make as the First Minister


said on Monday would be to wait to see how things pan out. That applies


equally to education as it does to our constitutional future. But I am


not prepared to wait and see if the current way of doing things will be


enough to deliver an education system that is world class, a system


that can provide equity and excellence for all of our children.


To achieve our. A Biggses, means making change happen. That means


creating a different way of delivering education, creating


better structure that empower teacher, schools communities and


families so I am choosing to change our approach to school education. It


means listening to teachers and not being afraid to tackle workload to


football team up to teach and our children freed up to learn. So I


choose... APPLAUSE


So I choose to declutter the curriculum and reduce the amount of


assessment, it means targeting resources to where the need is


greatest, so we have chosen to make more funding available to Local


Authorities and schools with the greatest level of deprivation, with


more money directly into the hands of head teachers who are best


placed, best placed to know what their school and children need to


succeed. It means apse plying a consistent approach to improvement


and assessment, so we can see where we might need to do more or to do


things differently. And it means ensuring that we have the right


people with the right skills in our classrooms and schools, so we will


continue to expect Local Authorities, to maintain teacher


number, and pupil-teacher ratio, all of these measures are required, to


ensure we can deliver our ambition of a world class education system in


Scotland. APPLAUSE


Friends, democratic sovereignty is not a gift to be given or with held


at the whim of a Tory Prime Minister. Sovereignty does not


belong to Theresa May. It rests First Ladily with the people of


Scotland. APPLAUSE


And it is people's right and their right alone to exercise it as they


choose, through the Government they elect, and the Parliament it serves.


The sights of a Tory Prime Minister trampling over the rights of the


Scottish people, the right to choose the form of Government they wish to


have, is an outrage to every Democrat, yes or no in the land, it


will not, it cannot stand as an approach.




Friends, I share the outrage that every Democrat feels that the action


of the Westminster Tory Government, but I say to you, this is a time for


cool heads. Cool, clear heads, that must now stand up for Scotland's


sovereignty. That is what the choice ahead of us amounts to. The chance


to choose our future, to determine what kind of future we want for our


children, and young people, and the kind of country we want to hand on,


to future generations. That is the straightforward choice, we will be


asking Scotland to make. So let us work to persuade our fellow Scots,


to choose independence, and achieve the future that all of us want to


achieve for our children. Thank you very much.


Let's join Brian Taylor, who's with Fiona Hyslop -


You have been in discussion with other European nations and other


European Governments, do you accept that at the point of there being the


referendum under the timetable set out by the First Minister, do you


accept that Scotland would be either part of the UK on her way out of the


European Union, at that point, out? At the point we are now, there is no


indication or wise that the UK is leaving and there are, if we don't


do anything, Scotland will be out. So there is a period of time we are


not having the referendum now, the referendum is obviously in 18


months' time to two years, by which time there will be will be more


certainty of other thing, what the shape of the negotiation from the UK


is in terms of Brexit but what any transition might be, either for the


UK on its own or perhaps for an independent Scotland. You accept


that Scotland would be out and going back in, you wouldn't have the idea


you had previously of automatic membership being assumed by an


independent Scottish state? In terms of what we will be, we will have to


have negotiation with the member states and the European Commission,


we don't know what situation we might be in in two years' time, that


is what the space and time, the dialogue I have been having since


June with other European countries was won, to set out what we were


trying to do as part of the United Kingdom, they were sympathetic,


understand our dilemma, recognised if the UK were to support Scotland


we were in a good place, but with the intransigence of the UK


Government, we found ourself new a different position. You accept


Scotland would be out and you hope back in? You intend back in? Out


first? The mechanics of where we will be will come clear once we know


what the UK's negotiating position is in terms of Brexit, but as of


now, we can anticipate not only will the UK be out of the EU, so would


Scotland, so therefore we have to allow ourselves some opportunity to


take a different path, and the different path is what we will set


out in advance of the referendum. Do you think there would be European


widespread European welcome for that or would some be concerned about a


member state fragmenting perhaps Spain being an example? We have


spoken to a number of country, I spoke to the Spanish over a number


of months in different circumstances, with the Spanish


ambassador, the previous one, the current one, and also, in terms of


other Governments as well. They understand this is a unique


situation, there has never been a situation where anybody has left


before, so anything should be seen within the context of the UK


leaving, that is quite, complex, yes, it is difficult but it is for


the UK as a whole, so therefore they understand we are trying to forge a


way that is sensible, that is pragmatic, that is pro European in


terms of support. But you accept would have to negotiate terms,


discuss and negotiate terms with the other member states We have said


that previously. What would be the currency Scotland would adopt? We


don't know the situation we would be in terms of the Ukraine, in terms of


Brexit, the timescale and we will make sure all the information that


is required, both for the negotiations and for the economic


situation will be set out, in advance for the referendum, most


important thing now is Scotland's democracy and our rights to hold


that referendum is respected politically and morally by the UK


Government and that is why the medium situation has to be about the


rights of the Scottish Parliament, to exercise its democratic, it is


elected democratic power this week as we go forward to get the powers


to allow us to embark what is an 18-two-year job. I will ask this, is


it feasible to hold a referendum without a section 30 transfer of


powers, unauthorised referendum? It is essential that Theresa May


respects the democracy of the Scottish Parliament it would be


outrage if the UK Government were not to agree what is an elected


position in terms of mandate, it is in our manifesto we were elected on


that, it is not about one party or one Government, the Scottish


Parliament has to be respected, and Theresa May will be in very


dangerous grounds if she does not respect the Scottish Parliament.


Thank you very much for joining us here.


Delegates passed a resolution yesterday demanding that the UK


Government does more to help support the North Sea oil and gas industry.


Gillian Martin, the MSP for Aberdeenshire East, said


"the Treasury simply has not done enough".


What was the industry promised last week? They promised a panel of


experts, a discussion paper, a talking shop, a kick into the long


grass. As the Deputy First Minister pointed out last week, at FAQs, the


Scottish oil and gas has been a massive bonus to the UK. Over the


life of North Sea oil and gas, over ?330 billion have been generated to


the UK Treasury. Brought ashore in people who are now being betrayed.


APPLAUSE It is time to get a return on that


bonus. Where are the broad shoulders of the UK? Tory minister, energy


Minister Greg Clarke is on record as saying, the oil and gas industry is,


quote, a huge priority for the UK. Well, Mr Clark and Mr Hammond, prove




When is that action going to happen? Today, tomorrow or too late to make


any impact? Or, to coin a phrase, is now not the right time? Support the


revolution. CHEERING


We welcome the fact that latterly there has been a discussion paper


and a panel, but operators and supply chain companies have had a


tough period. Today, there are still 125,000 jobs still involved in the


industry in Scotland. As a government, we are taking forward


the energy jobs task force, which has set aside four job events, 3500


people affected by redundancy have attended those. We have set up 64


new businesses. Scottish enterprise engaged directly with 800 oil and


gas companies, via 36 events, providing targeted resilient


support. We have helped 1700 individuals through the transition


training fund to get training into new jobs, within the industry or


outside it. ?12.5 million has been provided for innovation and business


resilience funding. 78 innovation projects worth ?16 million, with ?7


million Scottish Government funding. I was born and brought up in the


north-east and one of the things that became clear to me, living


here, the powers to prioritise the industry should not be in the


south-east of England. They should be here in Scotland. Because,


conference, the situation at the moment is not only untenable, it is


outrageous. Every week in Holyrood and Westminster, the Tory benches


celebrate the challenges to our industry, which has so long made up


for Westminster economic shock. One of our nation's prized industries


has not been used to tackle social issues, it has not been used to


create a fund for the future. It is being used by UK Government for one


thing only, making political points, and that with this clueless -- that


is ridiculous. That was some of the debate on oil. Now back to Brian in


the conference centre. He has some more guests.


I'm joined by three delegates from the party. Thank you, all. We have


talked policy that conference. It is independence that is the subject the


referendum. Ross Aitchison, why is it referendum required at this


stage, and it is only a couple of years since the last one? It is


clear that the circumstances have changed substantially since last


June's EU referendum. The terms that Scotland voted on our fundamental


different to the existing situation. You promised a referendum once in a


generation, indeed, once in a lifetime. This is the generation of


Brexit and the situation is fundamentally different to 2014. You


believe that the nature of political discourse has changed a consequence


of Brexit. Absolutely. Lots of things have changed since 2014, not


least of which the vowels which were promised to us. Within 48 hours,


they were Reinecke Don. But those would say that they were delivered


in full. The Smith commission was watered down so much. People who


were staunch No supporters came out in force, they were so disgusted


with the situation. These people joined the SNP. That is where the


surge came from, we went from 20,000 members to 120,000 members. You


can't ignore that. The people who voted No voted to stay. I believe


you joined the party on the day of the Brexit referendum. Tell me about


that. Was on holiday in Jamaica and I arrived back on Friday morning to


find I had arrived in Brexit Britain, with a planeload of shocked


Jamaicans and visitors. That day, that was my last straw. That


country, which sadly as you can see I am from, it is... You are from


London. Yes, it's a different planet to the country here in Scotland. We


need the right to choose a different destiny. Let them go off on their


Brexit island, but we don't want to go there with them. You say the last


straw. What prompted that change in your mind? The EU referendum


essentially was a referendum based on the frankly racist debate of


politics down there against migrants, generally, and


Islamophobia. A terrible atmosphere. We don't have the same in Scotland.


In Scotland, we talk about welcoming. Our leadership is all


about including people from abroad, welcoming their contributions,


wanting to recognise their equal citizenship. We had the exact


opposite debate during our EU referendum, which is why 67% of


people voted to remain. I can see you have been nodding. Absolutely.


Scotland is an inclusive country. Is that universally true? I think it is


to a large extent. Not absolutely 100%, but what country is? We will


always have those who disagree. In terms of the EU workers, we have had


that going on for a very long time. This is not something new. They


contribute immensely to our economy. They pay their taxes and work so


hard. I think they have a right to stay. Isn't it reasonable for the


Prime Minister to say that that would be settled once the situation


is settled with regard to Britons living in the European Union? I am


not convinced by that. I don't think she will keep to it. You want a


fully fledged referendum, with section 30 powers transferred to


Holyrood, sanctioned and agreed, but is it feasible you could have one


that isn't authorised? That is not the situation anybody wants to find


themselves in. We went through the previous referendum, getting the


Edinburgh agreement. There was mutual understanding as to the


terms. I think that is the road we have to try to aim to travel down.


The UK Government will talk to the Scottish parliament, clearly after


the Scottish Parliament has at its vote this week. Could you do that? I


think there has to be some sort of negotiations start. But if the Prime


Minister won't talk, if she says she will get back later after Brexit? If


she continues to ignore Scotland's voice, she does it at her parole.


Every time she speaks, she is adding 5000 votes to the pro-independence


camp. To see the evil in Parliament, where Scottish MPs, supposedly


equal, can't speak and vote on English matters, but 150 Tory MPs


will turn up to Scottish questions to make sure that Scottish MPs can't


put real questions to David Mundell, that is the kind of equal


partnership you are dealing with. It is democratic travesty. We need


independence. You mentioned that if the PM says no, at her peril. What


are the sanctions that can be applied? She retains the reserved


power over the constitution, or Westminster does. I agree with some


of the comments that have been made by the odd Unionist politician. One


of them even said it would be impossible, with a democratic


mandate from the Scottish on it, for the Westminster government to stand


the way. Civitas the vote on Wednesday that matters. Absolutely,


and I can't see us not winning that. Best so it is the vote. What if the


Prime Minister says no? She is effectively shutting the door to any


kind of democratic discussion. We will have to forge ahead, whether


she likes it or not. It's inconceivable that the Prime


Minister would ignore the vote of the Scottish Parliament, on an issue


that is so fundamental. She could say it is a reserved matter. She


could, but the Scottish Parliament will vote this week and she will


have to come round the table and negotiate. That is the only way


forward for the Prime Minister or she heads towards another referendum


that she is going to lose. The only way she can win another Scottish


referendum is by dealing with the Scottish Government on the matter.


Thank you, all three of you. Before the keynote address


from the SNP leader, I'm joined once again by Professor


Curtice. John, what do the polls suggest


about public opinion when it comes to any appetite for a fresh


referendum? They certainly indicate there isn't wild enthusiasm. Those


polls that have asked people whether or not they think they should be a


referendum in the next couple of years or so, before the Brexit


negotiations are over, they have ranged between about 46% and 54%


saying no, and only about 35% to 41% saying that there should be. So I


think that, .1, one of the things that has been going on in this week


in truth is Nicola Sturgeon trying to persuade particularly Yes


supporters to going slightly earlier than what people thought was a good


idea. Equally, the claim on the Unionist side that Scotland is,


quote, overwhelmingly, unquote, opposed to a referendum is clearly


too strong. Certainly what is also true, as we saw in another pole,


when people are asked, should it be during Brexit, long after Brexit or


should never happen? Then you discover that the country splits


pretty much 50-50. In a sense, a post Brexit but still relatively


early referendum is probably where the modal Scottish voter is, and


therefore might be the ground for compromise. As it were, certainly


Nicola Sturgeon... But virtually all those polling figures were done


before she announced on Monday, and I think we are now looking to see


whether or not, in the wake of the announcement, she begins to turn


party opinion round. That is the crucial point, but each side is


trying to swing public opinion. As Graham Campbell was saying, each


time the Prime Minister speaks, he was saying that she adds 5000 votes


to the Yes side. Each side will have to be careful. I hate to disappoint


people but, in the backdrop to all this excitement is an


extraordinarily stable position in opinion polls, when it comes to the


central issue as to which way people would vote. If you take all of the


polls published this year, 53% for No, 47% for Yes, so No are ahead but


not by a long way. If you look at the dozen or so polls conducted


before June the 21st, the first of last year, it was 53 for No and 47


or Yes. Brexit might have changed circumstances but so far it has


changed... -- it has failed to change minds. Some people have gone


from No to Yes, some the other way, but the problem for the SNP is it


looks like there are just not enough people in Scotland who are


sufficiently upset about Scotland, along with the UK leaving the


European Union, that this will prove fruitful ground upon which to


eventually fight the referendum campaign, and I think that is why in


the course of the last few days, you have heard all of this discussion


about whether Scotland wants to remain under a Tory government


trying to impose austerity on Scotland. The SNP are trying to


widen the argument beyond simply a question on Brexit. The trouble is,


once you start doing that, inevitably questions turn up, as we


had with Fiona Hyslop, which currency might an independent


Scotland use, for example? There is that crucial growth commission,


under the former SNP, and it has still not been published, apparently


not even be made into a report, and I think the truth is, if the SNP are


wanting to widen the debate, they need to make sure they are prepared


for that debate. In effect, on Monday, whenever this referendum is


mentioned, Nicola Sturgeon started the referendum campaign and she


needs to make sure her side as the argument is not just on Brexit but


on the much wider terrain of the independence debate. Just looking at


some of other options, before we hear from the SNP leader, there has


been talk about one of the delegates saying that Mrs May's coming round


the table for some more talks... Just on holding a wildcat


referendum, all of the leading lights were putting that at arms


length. Yes, but this is an old debate. Those who have been


following this in detail for far too long have remembered what papers


produced by the first SNP minority administration which said, actually,


we think we can hold a legal referendum on independence but we


have to be careful how to work it. Paraphrasing, the question that they


thought of was, the Scottish Government enter into negotiations


with the UK Government with a view to achieving Scottish independence?


Their argument was that, because the civil convention means that changing


the powers of the Scottish Parliament can only be done with the


consent of the parliament, if we are talking about negotiations to change


the path of the parliament, that would be legal.


Let's cross live to the hall at the Aberdeen Exhibition


and Conference Centre, where the SNP leader


There is Angus Robertson, the party deputy leader introducing the First


Minister, mounting the steps at the Conference centre, to a standing


ovation. APPLAUSE


Let us hear from the First Minister and SNP leader now, as she gives her


key note Spring Conference address to the Conference, in Aberdeen.


Conference, I am aware this is not the only important event happening


in Scotland today. And no, I'm not talking about Gordon Brown


delivering the same speech again. I am, of course, referring to our


magnificent rugby team. Let's congratulate them on an outstanding


Six Nations performance. APPLAUSE


Friends, it is great to be here, in the granite city. To look out at a


conference hall packed with so many people, from all walks of life, and


from every corner of our country. You reflect the strength and depth


of the SNP. You are a reminder that other parties might appeal to one


section of our community, or one part of our country, not the SNP. We


are a national party. A national party with a truly international


list outlook. APPLAUSE


Our priority now, and for the generations who come after us, is to


build a better Scotland, for everyone who lives here. No matter


where you come from. Often... APPLAUSE


Often, in these times, I am reminded of our dear friend, the late Bashir,


Ahmed: Bashir came to work as a bus driver from Pakistan in 1941. 46


years later he became Scotland's first Asian member of our national


Parliament. The very fist time he addressed an


SNP conference Barbie articulated the simple message... It is not


where we come from that is important he said, it is where we are going


together. APPLAUSE


And today, with the forces of intolerance and xenophobia seemingly


on the rise, Bashir's words have never seemed more appropriate. Let


us rededicate ourselves today to the spirit of that message. Inclusion,


tolerance, diversity. Let's make these the foundation stones of the


better Scotland we are seeking to build.


APPLAUSE Frends, it is great to see so many


of you here today. But I hope you will forgive me, because my speech


this afternoon is not really aimed at you.


LAUGHTER . Of course, of course I could be


going out on a limb here. But I am assuming I already have your


support. APPLAUSE


I am assuming that you need no persuading that Scotland should not


be dragged out of Europe by a Tory Government intent on a disastrous


hard Brexit. APPLAUSE


And I am guessing, that you are already convinced that Scotland has


what it takes to join the family of independent nations.


APPLAUSE Well, that's a relief! Relief!


Friends, our job is not to talk to each other. It is to reach out to


those not persuaded, to put ourselves in their shoes. To


understand the hopes, fears, and ambitions of all our fellow citizen,


and to do what we can to establish common ground. Always remember


Bashir's words. Carry them with you, in your heart. What matters is where


we are going together. These words don't just apply to how we treat


those who come from other countries. They must apply to how we treat each


other, all of us who live here, and call Scotland home. We all want the


best for our country. We just have different views on how to achieve


it. As Scotland's Government we bear a special responsibility to offer a


hand across these differences, to build consensus where we can. So let


us resolve, to argue our case, with passion, and commitment, yes. But at


all times, with courtesy, understanding, and respect.


APPLAUSE In that, as in everything else, it


is my job to lead you by example. That is why I speak today, not just


as SNP leader, to our party conference, but as the First


Minister to all of Scotland. I know that the plan I set out on Monday


was music to the ears of SNP member, and independence supporters up and


down the country. Let me set out again what that plan is. After the


terms of Brexit are clear, but while there is still an opportunity to


change course, the people of Scotland will have a choice. There


will be an independence referendum. APPLAUSE


For I will know that for every one of us who is full of excitement, and


anticipation, there will be someone else feeling nervous and anxious,


perhaps even resentful. In the last few years it has been one big


decision after another. You have been bombarded with statistics,


claim, and counter claims. You might have had heated discussion with


friends and family. Even though you may feel like we do, that 2014 was a


positive and vibrant exercise of democracy, you might not relish


going through it all over again. I understand that. So I want you to


know they did not reach the decision lightly. Indeed, for months I have


strived to find compromise and agreement, with the Prime Minister.


Despite our overwhelming vote for remain, the Scottish Government


accepted that Scotland within the UK would leave the EU. But that we


should seek to retain our place in the single market. We proposed


substantial new powers for the Scottish Parliament, short of


independence, that would help protect Scotland's interests in a


post-Brexit UK. But instead of meeting us half way, or frankly any


of the way, Westminster chose to dig its heels in. Our efforts at


compromise with the Prime Minister met with a brick wall of


intransigence, and do you know, that is a concern that should resonate


far beyond Scotland. The Prime Minister's attitude should worry all


of us, hoping that negotiations with Europe will not be a disaster.


Because, and let me put this bluntly, if she shows the same


co-den seven shall be and inflexibility. The same tin ear to


other EU countries as she has to Scotland, then the Brexit process


will hit the rocks. APPLAUSE


-- conzenion. -- condescension.


Of course, the outcome. That hard line Brexiteers are agitating for.


But it would be in no-one's interests, so as Article 50 is about


to be triggered, let me say this to the Prime Minister. Stop putting the


interests of the right-wing of your party ahead of the interests of the


people of our country. APPLAUSE


For me though, the Prime Minister's refusal to bundle an inch meant that


I had to make a decision. I could have taken the easy option. I could


let Scotland drift through the next two years, hoping for the best but


knowing that the worst is far more likely. Waiting For me though, the


Prime Minister's refusal to bundle an inch meant that I had to make a


decision. I could have taken the easy option. I could let Scotland


drift through the next two years, hoping for the best but knowing that


the worst is far more likely. Waiting for the chance to say "I


told you so." Knowing that by then, it might be too late to avoid the


damage of a hard Brexit. Or, I could make a plan now, to put


the Scottish people in charge of our own future. I choose to put the




The fact is, our country stands at a crossroads. The future of the UK


looks very different today than it did two years ago. We know change is


coming. The only question is, what kind of change? And on that, we are


not powerless. We can still decide which path we take. Whatever our


different opinions on independence, we can all unite around this simple


principle. Scotland's future must be Scotland's choice.


APPLAUSE Which brings me to the Prime


Minister's statement on Thursday. To stand in the way of a referendum


would deny us that choice. It would mean that the path of our country


was determined not by us for us. Decided by an increasingly


right-wing, exit obsessed Tory government, a government that some


predict will be in power now until 2030 and beyond. -- Brexit obsessed.


Thanks in no small part to the embarrassing shambles of an


opposition that Labour has become. A Tory government dominated by the


likes of Boris Johnson and Liam Fox, eluding themselves about rebuilding


the Empire and refloating the royal yacht Britannia. It seems they want


to go back in time. But it's not just nostalgia for Empire that they


are keen on. They clearly long for the days before we had a Scottish


parliament. The days when Tory governments could do anything they


wanted to Scotland, no matter how often they were rejected by the


voters, the days when they could impose the poll-tax, destroyed


Scottish industry and deny all demands for constitutional change.


The Prime Minister should understand this point and understand it well.


Those days are gone and they are not coming back.


CHEERING Next week, in line with the mandate


secured at last May's election, we will ask the Scottish Parliament to


agree that the Scottish people should have the right to choose our


own future. We will ask parliament to agree that this choice should be


exercised at a time when we know the terms Brexit but before it is too


late to take a different path. And we will ask parliament's permission


to seek the legal authority that will allow the people of Scotland to


have that choice. If a majority in the Scottish Parliament endorses


that position, the Prime Minister should be clear about this. At that


point, a fair, legal and agreed referendum on a timescale that will


allow Scotland and informed choice ceases to be just my proposal or


that of the SNP. It becomes the will of the democratically elected


parliament of Scotland. CHEERING


To stand in defiance of that would be for the Prime Minister to shatter


beyond repair any notion of the UK as a respectful partnership of


equals. She has time to think again, and I hope she does. If her concern


is timing, then within reason I am happy to have that discussion, but


let the Prime Minister be in no doubt. The will of our Parliament


must and will prevail. CHEERING


Of course, the Tories' reluctance to allow Scotland a choice isn't really


hard to fathom. They are now terrified of the verdict of the


Scottish people. APPLAUSE


They know as well as we do that what is at stake in the years ahead is


not just our place in Europe, important although that is, what is


at stake is the kind of country that we are going to be. With


independence, the country we become is up to us, all of us who live


here. We can choose to be a compassionate country, with a big


heart and a helping hand for those in need. In open country that


doesn't pull up the drawbridge and look inwards, but one that


encourages the best and brightest from around Europe to make Scotland


their home. And not just from the goodness of


our hearts, but for reasons of hard-headed self-interest as well.


Scotland needs people to want to work here, in our businesses, our


universities and public services. Of course, people have concerns about


immigration that needs to be addressed. I know that from my own


constituency. But, as we decide the kind of country we want to be, we


must be clear about the choice on offer. For the current UK


Government, ending free movement comes before everything else,


including the health of our economy. It is their number one priority.


And, make no mistake, for Scotland, the result will be lower living


standards and a hit our prosperity. So not just for the stake of our


values, but for our economic future as well, it's time to take a


different course. It's time to stand against the demonisation of


migrants, and to stand up for those who choose to join us in building a


better Scotland. Of course, we don't yet know exactly


what the Tories want a post-Brexit UK to be like. But there are two


recent developments that point the way. Last year, under pressure,


David Cameron accepted what was called the Dubs amendment. It


committed the UK to providing a safe haven for unaccompanied child


refugees, some of the most helpless and vulnerable people on our planet.


Last month, the UK Government called a halt to the Dubs scheme. We said


that their new approach to refugees was absolutely right. -- they said.


Well, I beg to differ. I think it is absolutely wrong. It is inhumane and


it must be reversed. The second issue is the status of EU


nationals. Men and women who have built lives, families and careers


here, people who, overnight, in June last year, lost all certainty about


their futures. You know, it is a depressing commentary on the state


of British democracy that it took the House of Lords to do the right


thing. But fair play to them, they did. They secured an amendment to


the Brexit Bill guaranteeing the right of EU citizens to stay in the


UK. It is even more depressing that the Westminster government then


whipped its MPs in the House of Commons to overturn that guarantee.


It is indefensible. You cannot lecture others about politics not


being a game when you are using the lives of human beings as pawns.


CHEERING Let me make this clear to everyone


across our country today. In an independent Scotland, the SNP would


guarantee unequivocally the right to stay here for all EU citizens who do


us the honour of making our country their home.


Compassionate, open-hearted and hard-headed. That's the kind of


country I want Scotland to be. We must be resourceful and enterprising


as well. No one owes Scotland a living, but we are more than capable


of learning our own success. -- earning our own success. In the


debate about our future, you, the people of Scotland, deserve to hear


us speaking frankly about the challenges facing the Scottish


economy, the challenges of independence and the challenges we


will face under an austerity obsessed Tory government pursuing a


hard Brexit. We should embrace that scrutiny. Opponents of Independence,


as is their right, will make their case by highlighting what they see


as the difficulties. It will be up to us to demonstrate how these


difficulties can be overcome. But, as we do so, let's never, ever


forget this. We have the strongest foundations on which to build.


Advantages that few nations can match. Unrivalled energy resources,


some of the world's best universities, strength in finance


and business services, cutting edge expertise in life sciences and


advanced manufacturing, a truly world-class food and industry, and


the best tourist attractions anywhere in the world.


CHEERING Well, almost the best. According to


Rough Guide, we are the second best country in the world to visit this


year, but we are aiming for the top spot.


The point I'm making is this. As we debate our future, let's do so


openly and honestly, but let no one, for or against independence, ever


seek to rundown Scotland's strengths and our nation's great potential.


What we must all do is strive to make our country even better. So,


when we look at a fiscal deficit, created an Westminster's watch,


let's decide that allowing Westminster to keep making the same


mistakes over and over again is not the best way to deal with it.


Instead, let us be a country that works out how to build, to grow and


innovate our way to a stronger and more sustainable future, in a way


that keeps faith with our own values of social justice, a country that


makes its own choices, like choosing to invest in public services and a


brighter future for our young people, not in a new generation of


nuclear weapons. Our growth commission is currently


working on a clear plan for Scotland's economic future. The


commission will conclude its work over the next few months, and we


will then present it outcome for public scrutiny and debate. It will


address the challenges that we face in a hard-headed and realistic way,


but it will also set out the massive opportunities that we have a


country, if we choose to grasp them. You know, since the Brexit vote, I


have had loads of messages from people in other parts of the UK


asking if they can move to Scotland. LAUGHTER


Now, I am sure many of them are joking, but if any of you are


listening today, there is a serious point. The UK is about to turn its


back on membership of the world's biggest single market. Imagine what


will happen if Scotland chooses to stay. We will become a magnet for


talent and investment from all across the UK.


so let me issue this open invitation today. Scotland isn't full up. If


you are as appalled as we are, at the path this Westminster Government


is taking, come and join us. APPLAUSE


Come... Come here, to live, work, invest, or study. Come to Scotland.


And be part of building a modern progressive outward looking


compassionate country. APPLAUSE


It is down to us, to make the economic case for independence. To


answer clearly the questions that people ask and we will, but we


should also be clear about this. Those who a Gus for Scotland to stay


in the UK, have big economic questions to answer too. We know


that down that path lies austerity, cuts and the impact of leaving the


single market. The Westminster Government is now even openly


threatening a race to the bottom in tax, wages and working conditions.


That is no basis for a modern economy. The kind of economy we are


seeking to build is founded on a different vision, not a race to the


bottom, but investment to lift people up. That...


APPLAUSE That is our plan, not just with


independence, but in the here and now. Since we took office,


Scotland's productivity, so crucial to our economic prospects has grown


by almost 10%. Productive in the rest of the UK has grown by just one


tenth of one percent. So we have a good record but we have more to do.


Key to our success will be digital skill, you know it is estimated if


we make better use of cloud technology and big data the benefits


to our economy could be over ?5 billion a year.


Recent studies estimate we need more than 12,000 new workers with digital


skills every year. And yet only a quarter of businesses report they


are doing anything at all to develop the technology skills of that


current workforces, we need to change that, Scotland can't afford


to lose out on the digital revolution. So I can announce today


we will establish a new three year ?36 million support fund, to


immediate meet the up front cost of digital skills training. Helping


businesses to invest in staff and build our country's future.


APPLAUSE A strong economy is the basis for


strong public services. In a few weeks' time people across the


country will make the upon who should run local service, the Tories


have based their entire campaign for the council elections on denying the


people of Scotland the right the choose our own future. Our campaign


is all about improving Scotland's communities.


APPLAUSE And here we have a very clear choice


too. Last month our budget invested in local service, the Tories voted


against that budget, because it didn't deliver a tax cut for the


highest earners. Same old Tories. Tax cuts for the richest, and just


cuts for the rest. So my... My message today is clear. Don't let


the Tories get their hands on your local service, on May 4th vote SNP.




We work to build a better Scotland every single day, in May as well as


contesting these council elections, we will mark ten years of our SNP


Government. I am proud of the work we have done, but I know we have


much, much more to do. Today, I want to thank everyone up and down the


country who works in public service, I want to thank particularly those


who work in our National Health Service.


APPLAUSE And today, there are more people


working in our health service than ever before. You know, the


additional staff employed since we took office would fill this


auditorium six times over. APPLAUSE


And that is necessary, with populations getting older, pressures


on Health Services across the world, are intense. Nowhere perhaps do we


see that more clearlily than in our A service, but there we see the


commitment of our NHS professionals. In Scotland, 90.8% of patients are


seen within the four hour haar get. That is still not as good as we want


it to be. But it is better by a significant distance than any other


part of the UK. In England. ... In England the figure is just 77.6%.


More than 13 points behind Scotland. Perhaps someone should have informed


the Prime Minister of that fact before she had the brass neck to


lecture us about governance. APPLAUSE


But we have more to do. One of the challenges that our NHS faces is the


increasing number of people seeking support from mental Health Service,


actually that is is a welcome development. It show that's the


stigma that stopped people asking for help in years gone by is now


fading, but it places an obligation on us to invest more in services to


meet that need. Over the next few weeks we will publish our new ten


year mental health strategy. That strategy will know Cups not just on


traditional mental Health Service, it will look at what we immediate to


do across the NHS and in wider society too.


For example, we know that GP surgeries are and A services are


often the front line for mental health. And outside the NHS, we know


that too many who end up in our prisons, and our police cells, have


mental health issues that go untreated. We want to change that.


So let me outline today just some the action we will take. We will


increase the mental health workforce, giving access to


dedicated mental health professionals, to all of our A


departments 24 hours a day, to all of our GP practises, to every


custody suite in every police station and to our prisons. In total


we will increase the budget by ?35 million over the next five years, to


support the employment of 800 additional mental health workers in


our hospitals, GP surgeries, prisons and police stations.


APPLAUSE Providing health care to those who


need it is one of our most important responsibilities. But I have made


clear that the defining mission of our Government is education. I


believe Scotland as a country has the right to choose our own future.


But we must also make sure that the people who live here have the means


and opportunity to make choices about their own lives. That means


building a country where every child can make the most of their talents.


We are determined to close the attainment gap in our schools. But


we know that life chances are far too often determined before a child


even starts school. Doubling the provision of high quality


state-funded childcare as we intend to do in this Parliament, is


therefore a key part of our plans. Rightly...


APPLAUSE Rightly, when we talk about the


childcare revolution, we focus on the benefits for children, and


parents. But there is another benefit. Delivering our pledge will


involve the recruitment of thousands more people to work in our nursery,


we need to demonstrate how much we value this work. I am very proud of


the steps our Government has already taken, to extend payment of the


living wage. We have led by exam in the public sector, and we have


encouraged businesses to see the benefit, not just for staff but for


their bottom line. I can confirm today we intend to apply that


approach to our expansion of childcare. In public sector


nurseries, staff already receive the living wage. But there are currently


around 1,000 private nurseries, helping to deliver our free


childcare policy and currently round 80% of the childcare staff who work


in them don't earn the living wage. That is 8,000 people in total. There


are few more important jobs than caring for our youngest children. So


I can announce today that by the end of this Parliament, we will invest


?50 million to ensure that all staff, working in private nurseries,


delivering our childcare pledge, are paid the real living wage.


APPLAUSE Friends, we can do all these things


to improve the lives of the people of Scotland, because we are in


Government. And it is a privilege to serve. That privilege to serve is


something we should never take for granted. We must earn and reearn the


trust of the people each and every day. The opportunity to serve our


country in Government was something that past generations of SNP members


could only dream about. For it is down to their efforts that I stand


here before you, as First Minister. When the story of our party and of


Scotland's independence is written, it will be those who worked so hard


against seemingly impossible odds who will take centre stage.




And there is little doubt that one person and one date will stand out.


Winning Ewing, 1967. -- Winnie.


Exactly 50 years ago, this year, Winnie won the Hamilton by-election,


and made this famous declaration. Stop the world, Scotland wants to


get on. APPLAUSE


Let those words resonate today. We are a European, international list


party, leading a European international list country. We will


make sure that our voice is heard here at home and we will stand up


for Scotland's values abroad. And one of those values is self


determination. An unshakeable... APPLAUSE


An unshakeable belief in the sovereign right of the people of


Scotland, to determine our own future. Last week, I had the very


sad honour of speaking at a memorial service for one of the greatest


advocates of that principle. The late canon Kenyon Wright. When he


chaired the convention he posed this question of the then Tory


Government's opposition to devolution. What happened, he asked,


if the other voice we know so well responds by saying we say no, and we


are the state. His answer to that question, so relevant again today


was this. Well, we say yes and we are the people.


APPLAUSE Friends, as we go forward, we must


work to win the support of the people in the communities we serve.


We must always work to build a better Scotland for everyone who


lives here. We must stand up to our country and always trust the people.


As we an poach this crossroads in our national life, let us resolve to


give Scotland a choice. Choice. Let this message ring out today.


Scotland's future will be in Scotland's hands. Thank you very




The SNP leader and First Minister Nicola Sturgeon, taking the applause


after her spring conference speech in Aberdeen, a national party with a


truly internationalist outlook, she said, appealing to those outside the


hall who might be resentful about another referendum, but she said one


would happen, and the vote in parliament next week comes the will


of the Parliament of Scotland. She focused on being pro-immigration,


saying, come to Scotland, but she recognised people would have


concerns and she said it was useful for economic reasons. She said that


Scotland's future is in Scotland's hands. John Curtice, Jerry Fisher,


one of the well-known delegates. John, your reaction. The crucial


message was Nicola Sturgeon trying again to persuade the people of


Scotland that indeed the country should have another referendum on


independence, and in particular she was trying to come up against that


charge from the Prime Minister that the SNP have tunnel vision and say,


no, we are offering choice. You heard the word choice time after


time. She is trying to say, look, we are willing to put the country's


future in your hands, unlike the Prime Minister, and hoping to win


the moral argument. At the same time, we began to see the developer


of the SNP case for independence. Strong passages about immigration,


perhaps quite bold, because the polling evidence would suggest quite


a lot of people are still concerned about immigration, but a crucial


passage in which she acknowledged that making the economic case for


independence would be important and might not be easy. I think that if


the other aspect of the SNP arguments we need to look forward


to. Thank you for that. That brings an end to live coverage of the SNP


conference, and the end of the four-week spring party conference


season. There is more on the Sunday politics tomorrow at 11am. From all


of us, goodbye for now. Scotland is coming out


of the European Union