Sunday 24th April 2016
Stewart Hosie, Deputy Leader of the Scottish National Party in the House of Commons and MP for Dundee East
The SNP has a positive, progressive message for the future. We are in government in Scotland and facing elections next month, and we are the only effective opposition to the Tories at Westminster, as Labour continue to lick their wounds in public and talk only to each other, rather than to the electorate.
In a few weeks’ time, the people of Scotland will vote on what party will lead the Scottish Government for the next five years, while on June 23rd we will vote, along with the other nations of the UK, on our future in the European Union.
As a party, the SNP go into that period flying high in the polls – a reality that both motivates and humbles us. Our response to those favourable polls is always to remember that we must never take a single vote for granted – and we do not. Our record in government is a strong one – delivered in tough circumstances – and Scotland is a better place today than it was when we took office.
So we are proud of our record. But the job is far from finished and we will not rest on our laurels. In the weeks to come, we will set out how we will build on the council tax freeze with a reformed, fairer and more progressive system of local taxation. We will detail plans, not just to invest more money in our NHS, but to fundamentally reshape it – alongside social care – so that it is fit for the future.
We will outline how we will use new tax and social security powers to help build a stronger economy and a fairer society, where people are helped out of poverty. We will make clear how we intend to further extend the living wage and advance gender equality. We will set out, in detail, the actions which we will take to close the attainment gap in our schools.
We have a Tory government at Westminster whose signature dish is taking from the poor and vulnerable in order to give to the wealthiest. The assault on the disabled in George Osborne’s Budget was mirrored by the reduction in taxes for the richest few. It is a government that is out of touch and distant from the reality of so many people’s lives – and has failed on all of the economic targets it has set itself.
Labour in Scotland is embarking on a course of raising taxes to pay for Tory austerity. It is no surprise then that Labour has given up on winning in Scotland and is appearing to restrict its ambition to being in second place – and even this may be in jeopardy.
The other electoral event will be the referendum on our membership of the EU. It was disrespectful that David Cameron ignored pleas from the First Ministers of all three devolved administrations in the UK not to hold the vote so close to the May elections. However, with the referendum date having been set, the focus can now shift to the matter of why our continued EU membership is overwhelmingly in the best interests of Scotland and the rest of the UK.
For more than 40 years, individuals, businesses and communities from across Scotland have experienced the many social, economic and cultural benefits of EU membership. Those include jobs, significant investment, opportunities for our businesses to trade across the world’s largest single market, social protections like employment rights and the opportunity to work in solidarity with others across the continent to tackle pressing global challenges, such as the movement of refugees and migrants, energy security and climate change.
It is now more important than ever that those who support Scotland’s continued EU membership make the case as strongly as possible. The Scottish Government and the SNP MPs at Westminster will be at the forefront of making that argument.
So the SNP takes nothing for granted. We will fight for every vote, both to be returned to Government and to ensure that Scotland is not dragged away from the EU against its will.