Politics

Nicola Sturgeon defiant over SNP dominance in Scotland at Annual Party Conference

Plaid’s Leanne Wood also addresses “failing” Labour government in Wales

Scottish National Party leader Nicola Sturgeon has urged voters that at next May’s Holyrood election they should judge the SNP on its record in government. Speaking at the party’s annual conference in Aberdeen, she also reiterated that a second independence referendum would only come when the time was right. Ms Sturgeon insisted that since 2007, her party had laid “strong foundations” in government, including free university education and modern apprenticeships. Her speech referred to her party’s record in government seven times. “The other parties say they want to fight the election on our record. Well, I say, good, because so do I. Our record in government is one of delivery and achievement. It is a record I am proud of, and you should be proud of it too”.

Ms Sturgeon made a series of promises for when the powers are delivered to Holyrood, including that: by 2018 every nursery in Scotland’s most deprived areas would benefit from having an additional qualified teacher or childcare graduate; the party will increase the flexibility of childcare provision to better suit parents’ working patterns; £200 million will be invested to create a new network of elective treatment centres in Glasgow, Livingston, Edinburgh, Dundee, Inverness and Aberdeen; and that carers’ allowance will be increased so that it is paid at the same level as jobseekers’ allowance. She also warned members of the party that it should not go the same way as Scottish Labour and be “arrogant, lazy and complacent”.

She said she believed that if the SNP did its best “each and every day” it would win the trust of the people it served. Ms Sturgeon also strongly criticised both David Cameron and Jeremy Corbyn. Ms Sturgeon said she had had high hopes for the new UK Labour leader, but she now concluded that Mr Corbyn was not changing Labour, but rather “allowing Labour to change him”. She said she also believed that the Prime Minister had treated Scotland with disdain.

“In fact, the Prime Minister’s attitude to Scotland betrays the worst characteristics of his government, arrogant, patrician and out of touch. Pig-headed some might say”, in what could be interpreted as something of a derogatory aside to the recent scandal involving Mr Cameron in his youth.

Plaid Cymru leader Leanne Wood also took to the stage during the conference, saying that Wales suffered a “double whammy” of a failing Labour government in Cardiff Bay and by weak devolution. She hoped to return to the conference next year as the First Minister of Wales. Unlike the SNP however, Plaid failed to win more seats at May’s general election. In her speech on Saturday, she said: “In Scotland you have broken the Tory-Labour duopoly and it’s our aim to do exactly the same in Wales.” To cheers from SNP members, she added: “It’s my hope therefore to return to your conference next year and to congratulate you on yet another famous election success, but to do so next time as the First Minister of Wales”.

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