THE local election results last week brought a best-ever showing for the SNP and a decent one for the Greens as well. The Tory vote, as I predicted last week, decreased, though, if I’m honest, not by as much as I had expected (or perhaps hoped). Despite all the talk of a resurgent Labour or the detoxification of the LibDems, both would be silly to pretend they had a good day at the office, continuing to be squeezed out over the constitutional question.

The SNP won the most Stirling we won the most seats votes and highest vote share. Nationwide, we won the most seats and had the most gains out of any party. We are the largest party in the highest number of councils. In Dundee, we are not only the largest party but have also secured an outright majority (no mean feat under a proportional system). And despite Labour throwing the kitchen sink at the city, the SNP still won in Glasgow. Oh, and our best result came about despite being the party of government for 15 years.

The roots of our success lie with you, the activists. The SNP is more than a party. It is also the spine and central nervous system of the wider Yes movement towards Scotland’s independence.

Our members have continued to pound the doors and rack up tens of thousands of steps a day towards achieving this goal. Without the SNP membership, there is no independence movement. So from all of us and our newly elected councillors, thank you for your continued hard work and faith in the cause of independence.

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Speaking from my own experience, I am particularly proud of the work of Team Stirling. This campaign saw us put together a great team which saw us once again become the largest party on Stirling Council. We had folks from all over the constituency (and some coming from outside too) working together chapping on the doors, distributing leaflets and engaging in conversations with neighbours, colleagues and their communities.

I met with our newly elected councillors yesterday to chair their inaugural meeting and I am confident they will continue to deliver for Stirling and the area. I am very much looking forward to continuing to work together with them!

After two years of Covid, I loved being back on the campaign trail and I’ll be back out again soon. Much as we love elections, the big prize – independence in Europe – is as yet unwon and that now needs to be our focus. As both Nicola Sturgeon and Ian Blackford have pointed out, the Scottish Government will be publishing a series of papers over the summer making the case for independence as we gear up.

We’ve had eight years to reflect on what we did not get right in 2014 and I’m convinced the case has only got stronger, with the mess of Brexit becoming clearer and clearer every day.

But there are still plenty folk unpersuaded, even though there are some in the Yes movement who give every appearance of taking a referendum victory for granted, a sure fire way to lose the big prize forever if ever there was one.

Yes, last week was an excellent one for the party but we did not sweep all before us. Each of the unconvinced will have their own reasons but while there will likely always be a small part of the electorate that will never change, there are many who are there to be won.

With a perfect storm of Brexit barriers, the legacy of Covid as well as a crushing cost of living crisis, it is clearer now more than ever that the UK does not work for Scotland. But it is not good enough to say in frustration, “I don’t understand how anyone can still vote Tory!”, because plenty did and the election proves they still have support. We need to work harder, and understand and persuade them to the cause.

Independence is not the be-all and end-all cure to our problems; it is, though, the way towards building a fairer, resilient and more equitable Scotland than we’ll ever see in the UK.

By putting power back into the people of Scotland’s hands we can chart a different course to that of the UK’s austerity and unfair Tory policies. Instead of shrugging shoulders, an independent Scotland will enact the policies needed to face the challenges of poverty, inequality and climate change. Combined with independence in Europe, we will be in a strong position to power our own recovery.

Thankfully we are not being complacent. The case continues to be made day after day by our politicians and our members to Scottish society.

Only on Monday we launched “10 Reasons Why” Scotland should be in the EU and we’ll be doing more still. Through sound governance and competence, successive SNP governments have shown that Scotland is not too wee, too poor or too stupid to run its own affairs.

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The forthcoming papers will also help equip our activists with further arguments in favour of independence as well as persuading undecided voters. Meanwhile, down the road in Westminster, we will continue holding the UK to account and demonstrating how Scotland will be a good neighbour as an independent country.

Last week’s elections were good but now is not the time to stop and rest on our laurels.

As we celebrated Europe Day earlier this week, it was a painful reminder of what Brexit has now cost us. Yet, having once again seen the powerful work of our members deliver another landslide election result, I remain confident that soon we will be celebrating that day as an independent country in Europe.

The job of convincing the undecideds remains unfinished. Now is the time to crack on with the case for independence.