A message written by John Swinney, First Minister of Scotland

I have believed in, and campaigned for, independence for all my adult life.

I joined the SNP as a teenager and, like many others, worked hard to keep the cause alive throughout the 1980s when independence seemed a very distant dream.

Support for independence is clearly far higher now. It is also more essential and urgent than ever before.

That’s because the UK economic model has failed – it’s led to low and stagnant wages, low living standards, high inequality and an extraordinary and unstable concentration on London as the engine of UK economic growth.

The UK has now decided to leave the European Union, piling on more economic misery.

But it’s not just Brexit, disastrous though that is for living standards, it is the fact that the Tories opted for a hard Brexit, taking the UK and Scotland out of the huge Single Market and Customs Union as well as the EU.

The lost economic output has wiped billions from the economy – and money that would have been available for public services such as the NHS.

Incredibly Keir Starmer’s Labour Party are committed to maintaining that hard Brexit. That means they are fully signed up to low economic growth and further hits to living standards. Rather than offering change they are locking Scotland into that failed economic model.

Labour are hard-core Brexiteers and a hard-core anti-independence party.

In the meantime when we look at comparable independent countries to Scotland, like Ireland and Denmark, we see they are both wealthier and fairer than the UK.

So with all our resources and talents: why not Scotland?

Given the damage of Westminster control we have a duty to offer the people of Scotland a compelling independence alternative. One that offers real hope and optimism and that demonstrates a sense of possibility.

This, then, is how we are going to achieve our independence: we must retain above all our faith in the democratic power of the people of Scotland.

I am as impatient as anyone, but it is through respectful persuasion, evidence-building, and unfailing commitment and focus that we will achieve our goal.

The people of Scotland want to hear substance from us, not just process.

As a party that believes in the rule of law we can’t ignore the decision of the UK Supreme Court. There are no short-cuts here.

But that must not mean we accept in any way Westminster’s undemocratic blocking of the right of people to choose their own future.

So, trusting in the power of democracy, we will demonstrate good government at Holyrood. Using the limited powers of the Scottish Parliament wisely is a win-win for everyone in Scotland. It means we are delivering for people whatever their constitutional views and crucially showing the value of self-government.

And because the Scottish Government believes independence offers the best future for Scotland, all Cabinet Secretaries and ministers – not just one – are responsible for helping to bring about that better future.

As a party we will use every electoral opportunity to advance the cause. The next such opportunity will be the forthcoming UK General Election. The SNP will go into that election on a manifesto which will say on page one, line one: “Vote SNP for Scotland to become an independent country.”

Between now and then there is a crucial job for the SNP: to show the people of Scotland that winning independence is not separate from their top concerns. It is through independence that we can build a stronger economy, higher living standards and a better NHS.

We have achieved so much together: a Scottish Parliament and an independence referendum, both of which looked a long way off to me when I joined the SNP.

They were accomplished by always keeping our eye on the prize, building support, keeping up the pressure, and trusting in democratic power. That’s how we are going to win our country’s independence.

Born in Edinburgh in 1964. John joined the SNP in 1979, and has over his many years of service to the party held a number of posts at both a local and national level. In 2024, John was elected unanimously to be SNP Leader, and then elected by the Scottish Parliament to serve as Scotland’s seventh First Minister.