THE SNP conference is always a good occasion – but this year it was great for so many different reasons! After three years of online speeches, chats and the odd “technical gremlin”, to be back in person seeing familiar faces, exchanging ideas and listening to a variety of perspectives was quite simply brilliant.

It was good to see numerous first-time speakers being passionately persuasive on different resolutions. Political parties live and die by their membership – on the basis of the past weekend, it is clear to see that the passion and fire of our members continues burning as strongly as ever.

And so it should. If the past decade was not enough of a good reason to back independence, events of the past few weeks should show that Scotland’s future is not secure with Westminster.

Since coming into office, Liz Truss has managed to crash the pound, almost cause a financial crisis (twice) and bankrupted whatever was left of the Tory reputation for “economic competence”.

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The cost of living crisis is biting and, with reports of potential blackouts during the winter, spiralling inflation, and potential waves of Covid and the flu threatening to overwhelm the NHS, I and my colleagues are genuinely worried about the impact it will have on our constituents’ lives.

Because it will be the poorest and most vulnerable who will bear the costs of Tory Trussonomics, just as they pay the price for Tory austerity. It will be our communities that need public services the most which will be let down by Tory cuts.

And it is Scotland, as well as many others across these islands, who will suffer for no other reason than Truss’s ideological agenda, pure and simple.

Some think that a red sky dawning across England will be good for all of us. Labour are, after all, the party of workers’ rights are they not? Surely they can do no worse than the Conservatives? No worse perhaps, but any better? Absolutely not.

Labour have become the handmaidens of the ToriesBrexit. Whereas the Tories wanted to get Brexit done, Labour want to make Brexit work. Brexit cannot work unless its aim is isolationism, indifference and insecurity for all. You cannot fix a glass which shatters into a million pieces and the shards of Brexit will continue to cut through all areas of public and private life.

Keir Starmer’s Labour may win the election but aside from one or two policies what do they stand for? The Labour Party has soared in England not because it has inspired but because the Tories have screwed up so badly.

A Labour Party which mimics Conservative policies in a slightly less right-wing way and props the Tories up in Scottish councils is hardly going to change the rotten institutions of the UK.

A Labour government’s failure to address Brexit will only pave the way for further disappointment and disillusionment with Westminster which, as we saw with UKIP, can only end in one way.

The UK Government cannot be trusted at home or abroad. The problem is not the Tories or Labour but Westminster itself. Westminster is incapable of reform, so we must go our own way as an independent nation.

Just prior to conference, a Scottish Social Attitudes Survey poll found that 52% of Scots backed independence. Our case for why we can hold a referendum is being heard in the Supreme Court as I type these words, the outcome of which we will respect as a party which believes in the rule of law.

As we look across the seas, we can see our European neighbours doing what an independent Scotland could – thriving and delivering for their people.

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Our Scottish Government does what it can to mitigate Westminster’s disastrous policies. With independence, we can and will do our own thing and build something better.

The remainder of the forthcoming independence papers will also help to re-assure Scottish voters that we will not embrace Tory economic recklessness or Labour’s timidity. Instead, we will be bold and courageous in delivering a new future for Scotland.

That is why, after this past weekend, I continue to have hope for Scotland’s future. Our membership is enthused and our elected representatives keen to deliver.

After three long years of Covid-enforced distance, our spirits have been renewed as we get closer to our final aim – Scotland’s independence in Europe and building a better Scotland for all.