Nicola Sturgeon has told the Scottish National Party’s annual conference that independence makes “case for optimism” in troubled times, promising Scotland “a steady and compassionate hand on the tiller”.
The First Minister spoke of the “massive responsibility of me and my Government” to help Scots through the cost of living crisis as she addressed delegates in Aberdeen at the party’s first in-person conference since the pandemic.
Contrary to the UK government’s plans to “bundle [asylum seekers] on to planes as unwanted cargo”, Sturgeon emphasized Scotland’s international responsibility to stand with those in Iran, Afghanistan, Russia, Belarus and Ukraine.
Sturgeon’s blunt claim that she “loathes” the Tories, made on Laura Kuennsberg’s Sunday morning TV show, drew criticism from opponents and dominated Monday’s front pages, but she did not flinch by describing the tax cut package announced by the British government as “unconscionable ”.
Noting that the last time the party met in October 2019, the Tories had recently elected Boris Johnson as their new leader, she continued: “It took the Tories three years to realize that Boris Johnson was a disaster. With Liz Truss, it only took them three weeks.”
Referring to the chaos unleashed by the UK government’s disastrous mini-budget at the end of September, Sturgeon continued: “[Truss] wreaked havoc on the markets with her decision to borrow billions of pounds to finance tax cuts for the richest. Loans to be repaid by conspicuous savings and a raid on the incomes of the poorest.”
With the Supreme Court set to consider whether the law allows the Scottish Parliament to legislate for a consultative referendum over the next two days, Sturgeon said: “If Westminster had any respect for Scottish democracy at all, this hearing would not be necessary.”
If the court rules against the Scottish Government, which the majority of constitutional experts believe it will, she will respect the decision and reflect, she said.
“But basically it will leave us with a very simple choice. Put our case for independence before the people in an election … or abandon Scottish democracy.”