Tag Archives: Holyrood

Nicola Sturgeon announces candidacy for leadership

As the membership of the SNP rises to 60,000 Nicola Sturgeon MSP made a speech today confirming her candidacy for the leadership of the party and thus to be the next First Minister. This is the text of the speech:

I am announcing today my candidacy to be the next leader of the SNP and the next First Minister of Scotland. I have also notified the SNP National Secretary of my intention to stand down as Depute Leader at the Party conference – thereby allowing a contest for that post to take place in parallel with the election for leader.

To be the First Minister of my country, especially at this exciting and optimistic time, would be both a great honour – without doubt, the greatest honour – and an immense responsibility. 

I am putting myself forward for two simple reasons: I want to serve my Party and my country. And I believe I am the best person for the job. 

I also hope that my candidacy, should it succeed, will send a strong message to every girl and young woman in Scotland – no matter your background or what you want to achieve in life, in Scotland in 2014 there is no glass ceiling on ambition. 

When I joined the SNP back in the mid 1980s, there was no Scottish Parliament. 

Our standing in the polls was barely in double figures.

An SNP membership card back then was no passport to high political office – in fact it was often a basis for severe criticism

Listening to the No campaign over the last few weeks, it seemed that some things never change!

But what has changed is that today we are Scotland’s largest political party – we have doubled in size in the last week alone.

We hold a majority in the Scottish Parliament

We are – and for the last 7 years have been – Scotland’s government.

This is a party, and we are a nation, on the rise.

That I stand here today seeking to be the second SNP incumbent of the office of First Minister is testament to how far we have come and a tribute to the extraordinary achievements and leadership of the man I aim to succeed.

Alex Salmond transformed the SNP and as First Minister he has made Scotland a better place. He also helped to make me the person and politician I am today. 

The personal debt I owe him is immeasurable. 

I will be proud – if given the opportunity – to build on his remarkable legacy. 

However, at risk of stating the obvious, I am not Alex Salmond. 

His are big boots to fill, but if given the opportunity to lead, I will wear my own shoes – and they will certainly have higher heels! 

I will be my own person and set my own course.

We would not have come so far as a nation without Alex’ vision, tenacity and statesmanship.

But the challenges and opportunities of tomorrow require a different approach. They will demand the ability, not just to argue a case with determination and conviction, but also to reach out, to work with others and seek common cause on the issues that unite us.

I believe as strongly today as I did last week that independence is the best future for Scotland. And I am more convinced than ever that we will became an independent country. But that will happen only when the people of Scotland choose that course in the polling booth.

I accept that last week the majority did not choose that future at this time. 1.6 million people is a remarkable number – but it wasn’t enough.

So my task will be to lead Scotland into an exciting new chapter in our national story. To unite our nation around a common purpose so that we can write that story together – and do so in a way that lives up to the hopes, aspirations and expectations of a country that is, on both sides, engaged, inspired and empowered by the referendum experience. 

As a candidate for First Minister of all of Scotland – not just for those who voted Yes – my responsibility is to look at the result of the referendum and find, not the dividing line, but the interests that unite us.

To reach out and make common cause, not just with those in the Yes coalition of which I was so proud to be part, but with all those who want progressive change in our country, even if they are not yet persuaded of the case for independence.

The fact is that those who voted Yes, combined with those who voted No on the promise of substantial extra powers, form a powerful majority for real and meaningful change in this country. 

It is that change that must now be defined and then delivered.

If I am elected to lead, I pledge today that the SNP and the Scottish Government will be full, active, genuine and constructive participants in that process of change, wherever it happens – in Holyrood, in meeting rooms and, most importantly of all, in discussions across Scotland.

There will be no sitting on the sidelines. 

But let me be equally clear what I believe Scotland expects of that process in return. 

First, that it is open and participative – in short, that it lives up to the democratic example of the referendum. It cannot be left to the Westminster establishment. The role of the Scottish Parliament must be respected and the voice of the Scottish people listened to. The days of back room deals are over.

An early statement of good faith would be a commitment to immediately pass control of its own elections to the Scottish Parliament – so that we can ensure that 16/17 year olds, whose participation so enhanced our referendum, retain their right to vote in all subsequent elections. I will today write to the Prime Minister asking him to agree this change.

Second, that it delivers new powers for Scotland capable of making a real difference to people’s lives. We must seize the opportunity to design a comprehensive and coherent package that will allow us to create jobs, ensure proper fiscal accountability, protect our public services, deliver fair social security and tackle the inequality that scars our nation.

It must be a package that maximises devolution in substance not just in rhetoric. That is what I believe the majority of people of this country now want. 

Through Gordon Brown – speaking we were told with the authority of each of the parties in the Better Together campaign – the promise was clear and unmistakable.

This package would be ‘home rule’ and ‘something near to federalism’.

Well let me say this to Westminster on behalf of Scotland – it had better be. 

If the UK parties move forward in that spirit, they will have, in me, a willing partner for progress.

If not, they will pay a heavy political price – not because I say so but because the people of Scotland will make it so.

So the process of strengthening and empowering the Scottish Parliament must now get underway in earnest.

But let me also make this clear – as that process unfolds, as First Minister it will also be my job to govern wisely and creatively using the powers we already have.

The people of Scotland have made clear that the need for new powers is urgent and irresistible.

But as First Minister, my responsibility will also be to use those powers we already have to make life better – now – for those we serve. 

Any Government I lead will always take seriously its responsibility to make the very best of the limited powers at Holyrood, whilst also arguing Scotland’s case for greater authority and the tools capable of transforming our nation. Those positions are not mutually exclusive – rather they are the essence of responsible national leadership.

My guiding ethos is a social democratic one and that will be the ethos of any government I lead. I believe that a strong, sustainable economy with a vibrant business community, and a fair society with strong public services are two sides of the same coin. We cannot succeed and flourish as a society without advancing both. 

My Scottish nationalism is one of aspiration and hope. If elected, I will see it as my job to help Scottish business grow, to champion Scotland as a place to invest and to support well paid sustainable employment as the central plank of our future prosperity. 

Only with a strong economy can we tackle, effectively and for the long term, the deep rooted social ills which drove me into politics in the first place and which came to light so starkly in the recent campaign.

I have emerged from that campaign with a sense of two over-riding priorities.

First, we must find new ways to harness the democratic energy unleashed by the referendum, not just in our big constitutional debates, but in our day to day decision-making as a nation. It was clear to me on my travels around the country that for many people – particularly those in our island and rural communities – the decisions that shape their lives feel too distant. We must find ways of bringing them closer and handing them back.

It is time to make genuine participative democracy a reality.

And secondly, with whatever powers and resources we have, we must renew and recharge our efforts to tackle the poverty and inequality that blights the lives of too many of our people. So many people who have been so let down by society voted Yes last week because for the first time in their lives it gave them hope of something better. Yes didn’t win but their hope must not die. 

They need to know that there remains a purpose in politics, a point in voting – that it can and will lead to a better future for them and their children.

If the SNP chooses me as its leader and the Scottish Parliament then elects me as First Minister of our country, these priorities of democracy and equality will be at the heart of all that I do.

It is hard to overstate the sense of opportunity that I feel as I contemplate what will be – if my Party and Parliament so decides – the biggest challenge and greatest privilege of my life. If elected, I will bring to this job seven years of experience in government but also a real sense of new and different possibilities. I can’t wait to get to work. 

For now, though, I look forward to subjecting myself to the democratic process of my Party – a process enhanced by the more than 30,000 new members who have joined us in the last few days – and asking them to do me the honour of electing me to be their leader. 

Subtitles on Scottish Parliament YouTube videos to make FMQs more accessible


New subtitling service makes FMQs more accessible

A new service aimed at making First Minister’s Questions (FMQs) more accessible is now available on the Scottish Parliament’s You Tube channel.  From today, subtitles will be available on the video archive of FMQs footage to improve accessibility and allow a wider audience to watch questions being put to the First Minister the same afternoon it is broadcast.

Running for an initial trial period, the new service will use the text from the Official Report and will be available on Thursday afternoon after First Ministers Question Time takes places and usually by 4.30 pm.

Speaking about the new service, Scottish Parliamentary Corporate Body member David Stewart MSP said:

“Openness and accessibility have always been at the heart of the work of the Scottish Parliament. I am delighted to announce that we will be trialling this new service as a way of bringing First Minister’s Question Time to as wide an audience as possible. Being able to see subtitled archived coverage so quickly is a significant step forward.”

The new service is the latest addition to the range of services available to those wishing to engage in Parliamentary business. These include providing information about the Scottish Parliament and its work in a range of different formats including Braille, audio, large print and British Sign Language.

In addition, where visitors are attending parliamentary business or going on a guided tour, BSL / English interpreters are available if booked in advance through Visitor Services.

Report suggests high confidence in police

A report on the work of police forces across Scotland before they joined together to form Police Scotland suggests that confidence and satisfaction in police is high, detection rates are up and crime continued to fall sharply in 2012-13.

The Scottish Policing Performance Framework Annual Report, 2012-13 covers all aspects of policing in Scotland over the year to 31 March 2013. While the government admit that comparisons over time depend on the data available, they say that main findings show:


  • Detected youth crime is down by 52 per cent since 2008-09
  • Confidence in police is high and public satisfaction levels are at 84 per cent
  • Detection rates are up 3 percentage points since the report began in 2007-08
  • Police complaints are down 8.3 per cent since 2009-10
  • The number of 999 calls answered within 10 seconds are up 5 percentage points since 2007-08


Commenting on the report, Justice Secretary Kenny MacAskill said:-“This report shows that police are continuing to exceed expectations while working hard to cut crime and keep our communities safe.

“Public confidence and satisfaction in police is high and the number of emergency calls answered promptly is continuing to rise, while detection rates are up and complaints are down. It is especially encouraging to see significant decreases in crimes which can have a negative impact on communities such as youth offending – down by over half since 2008-09.

“This is backed by the lowest rates of recorded crime in almost 40 years and over 1,000 extra officers in communities, coming at a time of the biggest changes to policing for a generation.

“I would like to thank the police service, including officers, staff and organisations for their continued dedication to keeping communities safe and for providing an even better service to our people while making efficiencies in the face of significant financial challenges we continue to face due to budget cuts imposed by Westminster. These are strong foundations for Police Scotland and the Scottish Police Authority to build on in the future.”

Vic Emery, Chair of the Scottish Police Authority, said:-“It was a top priority for the SPA to ensure that there was a smooth transition to the new police structures and this report adds to the weight of evidence that the public continued to receive a quality policing service through the merger. Our focus now is on the next phase of reforms. Scrutinising the results of how police time and resources are used is vital so that we can ensure that police priorities and performance are aligned, and that we continue to test the quality of policing outcomes against the necessary reductions in cost that must be made.”

Deputy Chief Constable Rose Fitzpatrick of Police Scotland said: -“We want communities to gain the maximum level of service and benefit from effective and efficient policing. That’s why Police Scotland has a robust focus on strong performance – to keep people safe.

“Through consultation across the country, Police Scotland has identified national and local priorities which recognise the differing needs and issue of communities across Scotland and we are committed to delivering on those priorities through the 14 Local Divisions.

“The service is already performing well at a national level in its first year, with violent crime down, and robust action against organised crime groups. This strong performance can also be seen at a local level, with reductions in anti-social behaviour and disorder.

“The performance framework enables us to be confident that each individual division is making good progress against those all those priorities and to report back to communities at a local level. This is a year of changing processes and new ways of working against a backdrop of financial savings, so the performance to date is encouraging.”

Scottish Energy Secretary warns about threat to renewables

Minister raises grave concerns in letter to Ed Davey.

Scotland’s Energy Minister, Fergus Ewing, has warned that the UK Government’s Electricity Market Reform proposals could undermine Scotland’s renewables sector and supply chain, while threatening security of supply across the UK, and further price increases on consumers bills as a result.

In a letter to Secretary of State Ed Davey, Mr Ewing has highlighted the threat which the current proposals pose to Scotland and the UK’s shared renewables ambitions. This warning extends to concerns – also raised by Ofgem and the National Grid – about the ever tightening gap between maximum generating capacity and peak electricity demand across the UK, and the need to preserve thermal generation in Scotland to help keep the UK’s lights on.

Mr Ewing has also challenged Mr Davey to explain a last minute amendment to the UK Energy Bill that will remove the Scottish Government’s existing powers and discretion over support for renewable technologies across Scotland. The UK Government’s amendment is to be debated by the House of Lords on Monday November 4, 2013.

Mr Ewing said:

“We have examined the UK Government’s proposals carefully, discussing them in detail with the industry and other stakeholders. I believe beyond doubt that the current proposals risk failing Scotland and the UK in a number of vital areas, and present a huge risk to UK security of supply as well as to investor confidence and our low carbon ambitions.

“The Scottish Government will not support an outcome which sacrifices our renewable ambitions in preference to discredited, expensive and imported nuclear technology.

“Nor should thermal generation in Scotland – vital to maintaining grid stability here, and to providing security of supply across the UK – be placed at risk through a failure to take Scottish issues properly into account.

“Both Ofgem and National Grid have expressed deep concern regarding the risks that the UK faces both this winter and in the years ahead due to tightening capacity margins. It would be extremely unwise to ignore the vital and combined contribution of Scotland’s renewable and thermal generation to keeping the lights on across the UK.

“Unless serious and considered steps are taken to address these matters, and which supports investment in thermal generation across the whole of the UK, then the threat of blackouts will crystallise rapidly. The failure to secure a proper margin of capacity over peak demand will inevitably see further price rises on energy bills – resultant from UK energy policy failure over the past decade, as a result of the laws of supply and demand.

“We now know that the UK Government has also proposed a last ditch amendment to the Energy Bill, which will allow UK ministers to close the Renewables Obligation in Scotland. I find it extraordinary that the UK Government has chosen to act in this way, and to strip Scottish Ministers and the Scottish Parliament of their powers and discretion in an area of such vital importance.

“The UK Government has produced this amendment with no consultation or explanation. We are deeply concerned about this summary removal of the Scottish Government’s discretion in an area of such vital importance to our people and economy.

“As a matter of urgency the UK Government must provide a detailed justification for its action.”

SNP Conference Condemns ‘Shambolic’ Remploy Worker Treatment

In response to the previous day’s ‘A Future That Works’ protest by the STUC, the SNP Conference in Perth called Westminster treatment of former Remploy workers, who led the protest, ‘shambolic’.

Remploy employees are currently under threat due to a UK government decision to withdraw funding. Remploy works with disabled citizens to encourage equality and inclusion in the workplace. It believes work is important for having a fulfilling life and aims to provide sustainable employment opportunities for those who may face barriers due to their disabilities.

The SNP conference condemned to proposed cuts to Remploy funding, accusing Westminster of treating employees unfairly. These cuts come alongside other austerity measures which plan to reduce welfare benefits.

Glasgow SNP MSP Bob Doris believes the UK government should be prioritising terms and conditions of Remploy employment above austerity cuts. He said:- “The top priority of the Westminster Government when it comes to the workers at Remploy should have been ensuring that they remain in employment, with their terms and conditions fully protected.

“My experience with the factory in Springburn convinces me that they have failed to look after the workers in both of these respects, through their own utter incompetence.

“The treatment of Remploy workers has been shambolic and comes at the same time that the UK Government is carrying out a widespread attack on the welfare provision available to disabled people more generally.

“It’s no wonder that confidence in this process – and in the Westminster Government more generally – is at rock bottom.”

After the last Remploy closures in 2009, only 26% of those made redundant found new employment, a survey by the GMB said. Remploy have estimated that in 2010/11, it found jobs in mainstream employment for 20,000 disabled people.

Holyrood to examine The Scotland Bill

The Scottish Government has moved quickly to enable scrutiny of the Scotland Bill by the Scottish Parliament.

In a Ministerial Statement to the Scottish Parliament, External Affairs Minister Fiona Hyslop announced that a legislative consent memorandum has been lodged today, giving Parliament the maximum amount of time to consider the Bill.

Detailed work will be undertaken by a Parliamentary Committee, but the whole Parliament will have the opportunity to debate the changes proposed.

The memorandum sets out the Scottish Government’s analysis and position on the Bill and its recommendations for making improvements.

Ms Hyslop said:-“The Bill requires consent of the Scottish Parliament, so we have moved quickly to enable full scrutiny to commence without delay.

“As we have made clear, we welcome many aspects of the Scotland Bill and the further devolution of powers it provides. However, overall, this is a missed opportunity that does not meet the ambitions this Government – nor indeed the majority of the people of Scotland – have for this country.

“The key test for this Bill should be whether it delivers the priorities of the people of Scotland – to grow the economy, to protect jobs and to ensure proper investment in public services. We do not believe the Bill as it stands will deliver on those priorities, and indeed may hinder them. Careful scrutiny is vital to achieve the improvements that we believe should be made.

“We are particularly concerned about the unanswered questions on the financial proposals which would reduce the resources available for public services in Scotland. Unfortunately, the UK Government has so far failed to give the information that will allow proper consideration of this vital element of the Bill.

“The UK Government expects the Scottish Parliament to foot the bill for implementation of the measures in the Bill. The UK Government’s partial Regulatory Impact Assessment, published today, confirmed that Holyrood will be expected to pay these costs, but provides only indicative costs of £45 million to set up HMRC systems and another £4.2 million per year to operate the flawed income tax proposals. The people of Scotland already pay for the costs of running HMRC through their taxes levied by the Treasury, now the UK Government wants them to pay a second time through the money provided in the Scottish Budget for vital public services.

“We urge the Scottish Parliament to consider the proposals very carefully and to ensure the final Bill is one which everyone can say with confidence will be better for Scotland. We will support the Parliament’s process fully and work to ensure the Scotland Bill evolves into a package of measures that delivers for Scotland.”

In the Scottish Social Attitudes Survey (January 2010), 69 per cent of respondents favoured significantly more powers for the Scottish Parliament. On tax (59 per cent) and welfare benefits (60 per cent), a majority want the Scottish Parliament to make the decisions for Scotland.