Scotland politics

SNP conference 2015: Leader Sturgeon says 'judge us on our record'

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Media captionNicola Sturgeon said she intends to prove that the SNP are the "best government with the best people, and the best ideas"

Voters at next May's Holyrood election should judge the SNP on its record in government, party leader Nicola Sturgeon has told her conference.

She also reiterated that a second independence referendum would only come when the time was right.

The SNP has been in power north of the border since 2007.

Ms Sturgeon insisted that over the past nine years her party had laid "strong foundations" including free university education and modern apprenticeships.

The politician's speech referred to her party's record in government seven times.

She said: "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's not perfect - of course it's not - the recession and Westminster austerity have created a financial climate much tougher than anything we could have contemplated back in 2007.

"But, make no mistake, it is a record I am proud of. And you should be proud of it too."

Ms Sturgeon made a series of promises, including;

  • By 2018, every nursery in Scotland's most deprived areas would have an additional qualified teacher or childcare graduate
  • Increasing the flexibility of childcare provision to better suit parents' working patterns
  • £200m to create a new network of elective treatment centres at Glasgow's Golden Jubilee; St John's in Livingston; Edinburgh Royal Infirmary; Ninewells in Dundee; Raigmore in Inverness and Aberdeen Royal Infirmary
  • And increase to carers' allowance so that it is paid at the same level as jobseekers' allowance, when the powers are delivered to Holyrood

ANALYSIS

By Brian Taylor, BBC Scotland political editor

Image copyright PA
Image caption SNP leader Nicola Sturgeon was on the stage with her Scottish ministers after her speech

The speech had only a minimal reference to indyref2. That was dealt with in Nicola Sturgeon's opening remarks on Thursday. The focus now, and for the period up to the elections in May, will be on existing powers.

That is driven by strategy. But it is also motivated by necessity. Yes, independence remains of fundamental importance - the fault line in Scottish politics.

But fretful families want to hear competing offers from the various parties on the NHS, education and the economy.

Read more from Brian

Ms Sturgeon warned 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.

The politician used her speech to criticise 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 believed the prime minister and Tory leader had treated Scotland with disdain.

Ms Sturgeon added: "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."

What else has been happening at the SNP conference?

Renewed call for a BBC 'Scottish six'

Call to exempt Scotland from union bill

Who are the SNP's new members?

A tour of the SNP's conference venue

Brian Taylor: Some disquiet, but SNP still decidedly united

SNP conference: Passion and pragmatism

Salmond warns against UK military action in Syria

Finance minister John Swinney answers your questions

While her party is for the moment focused on the Holyrood elections, there were cheers from the audience when the first minister said: "Independence is the best future for Scotland."

Ms Sturgeon, who has been first minister of Scotland for almost a year, said the time for another Scottish independence referendum would be "when there is clear evidence" that opinion had changed and the majority of people in Scotland wanted it.

She continued: "Independence matters and we will never waver in our commitment to it. But what we say about jobs, schools and hospitals matters just as much to people across Scotland."

Ms Sturgeon said that the new devolved powers, detailed in the Scotland Bill, did "not even come close to honouring the vow that was made to the Scottish people," ahead of last year's independence referendum.

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