Our First Minister has helped us all to grow – in this Parliament, in confidence, in self-belief and in democracy.
At the start of the Referendum campaign, support for independence stood at around 25 per cent and we had a party membership of about 15,000. Now we have approaching 50,000 members, near enough half of them joining since the vote.
That is positive growth and the flood of new members is a clear statement of continuing the energy, enthusiasm, integrity and truth of our new movement.
Yes, First Minister, you have much to be proud of. You have been central in galvanising grass-roots support and in building trust in our future as a nation. People who had never voted in their lives queued up to register and they got engaged in politics in spite of the No campaign’s determination to frighten them into silence and passivity.
Sometimes you’ve been accused of being a bit too serious but I can think of a lot of magical moments where your humour has shone through. Maybe you have a new career on the stage. Just one example, coming up to Breast Cancer Awareness month now, was the picture we did together last year that hit the pages of the Daily Record. Dark glasses and pink beret gave you a definite appeal!
In the week of the Labour Conference, we have yet again seen Mr Miliband’s commitment to promises made melting like snow off a dyke. We shouldn’t be surprised. The panic that brought about the three-in-a-bed No vow to deliver more powers bought them the referendum. According to a poll, one in four voted No on the strength of those vows. I wonder how they feel now?
Elderly people were told by No canvassers that they’d lose their pensions, their taxes would shoot up and were given the old line: too small, too stupid, too poor.
Alongside the lies were, well, some deadly promises that are now spilling over.
One of the worst of these is the revision of Bairns not Bombs. We now have the promise of Bombs not Bairns. In West Dunbartonshire, where Faslane is sited, the people voted for independence.
The nuclear convoys passed through Hamilton in February. Seven times more powerful than the bomb that destroyed Hiroshima.
The obscene announcement by Ed Balls that he will cap Child Benefit at one per cent so as to provide enough money for a replacement of Trident will come as especially bitter news to them.
So Labour, once opposed to weapons of mass destruction, has tumbled gleefully into bed with Messrs Cameron and Clegg to make sure that our largest population centre continues to be threatened by nukes it doesn’t want while they all work out how to make them still bigger, more lethal and ever more destructive.
This reality, one that Labour might have preferred not to mention, tells you a great deal about how Westminster political leaders will behave towards us in Scotland as we see them move into general election mode.
Even if some of you are prepared to grant some benefit of the doubt to folk like William Hague – personally and based on experience, I am not – you need only look to the current crisis in London. Reneging on promises is never a pretty sight – look what reneging on university tuition fees has done for Nick Clegg – but reneging on vows made jointly is a bit like turning up at the Church to get married then telling your new spouse it was all a terrible mistake and you didn’t mean a word of it.
People of Scotland, do not be conned. The promises will not be delivered because the House of Commons will stop them and we have no power there. Even the limited representation we have is made up of Labour politicians who openly back austerity, suggest that we might be able to increase 20 per cent of our tax revenues but not decrease any, and want to promote new weapons of mass destruction n our backyard because they know that none of their own voters will want them in theirs.
But we know that independence is supported by 45 per cent of our population and that includes Glasgow, the Labour heartland. We know that in my own constituency that vote also runs high and why is that? Because the people have wakened up to the reality: What has Labour ever delivered for us?