By Bob Duncan

On this day, the fifteenth anniversary of the reconvening of the Scottish Parliament in Edinburgh, Nicola Sturgeon will mark the occasion by saying:  "Scotland can be well governed in all areas by completing the home-rule journey."

The SNP's Depute Leader and Deputy First Minister Nicola Sturgeon will today [Tuesday] mark the fifteenth anniversary of the Scottish Parliament referendum on 11 September 1997 by outlining what has been achieved in the years since the Parliament was reconvened in 1999 - and by describing what more Scotland can achieve by completing the home rule journey to independence in the 2014 referendum.

One week ago, First Minister Alex Salmond announced that Ms Sturgeon, who had served as Health Minister for over 5 years, was to be given a new role as cabinet secretary for infrastructure and capital spending.  This is seen as a key government role in the lead up to the referendum on independence in 2014, as it allows real distinctions to be made between the administrations in Holyrood and Westminster.

Additionally, Nicola was given "lead responsibility for government strategy and the constitution, including preparations for the referendum".  In this new constitutional role, she has today issued the following statement as her first public pronouncement since taking up the post:

"Fifteen years ago today, the people of Scotland made the historic decision to reconvene the Scottish Parliament, meaning that some key decisions affecting our daily lives would be made in Scotland for the first time in three hundred years.

"With this degree of independence, Scotland has achieved so much that we can all be proud of - right across the parliament and across the country.

"Scotland has led the way in the UK by introducing the smoking ban, we passed world-leading climate change legislation, we reintroduced free higher education in Scotland and have a record number of Scottish students at Scottish universities for the coming year, we have delivered 1,000 additional police officers, and our National Health Service is being protected and promoted.

"If Scotland had voted No in 1997, none of these things would have been achieved.

"When we look at what is happening south of the Border, where tuition fees are the highest in the EU, with a decline of 25,000 in English students able to go to English universities, police numbers are plummeting and the NHS is being steadily dismantled by a Tory Government, we can see just how much better Scotland is as a result of that Yes vote.

"Scotland is governed well in devolved areas thanks to the Yes vote 15 years ago - and we can only make sure that we are governed well in all areas by completing our home rule journey and voting Yes to independence in autumn 2014.

"Only an independent Parliament will have the economic powers to pursue a different policy from George Osborne's failed austerity programme, which has delivered a disastrous double-dip recession; only an independent Scotland can get rid of Trident nuclear weapons from Scottish waters; only with independence can we tailor a welfare policy suited to Scottish circumstances; and only independence can ensure that never again does Scotland get dragged into illegal wars such as Iraq.

"The alternative is to continue with the wrong economic policies for Scotland, a new generation of Trident missiles on the Clyde, the removal of Disability Living Allowance from some of our most vulnerable citizens, and no say for Scotland's Parliament over whether or when our service men and women are put in harm's way.

"Given the positive record of the Scottish Parliament in the areas currently devolved - compared to the policy disarray at Westminster - it's no wonder that the most recent Social Attitudes Survey shows that 71 per cent of people trust the Scottish Government to act in Scotland's best interests, compared to just 18 per cent who trust the UK Government.

"Fifteen years on from the Scottish Parliament referendum, there is no doubt that we can achieve so much more if we take all of the decisions here in Scotland - because the people best placed take the right decisions are the people who live here."

In her new constitutional role, Nicola Sturgeon has already met with Scotland Office minister David Mundel, the sole Conservative MP in Scotland, in a summit on the referendum which she described as having been "constructive" and "productive".

Ms Sturgeon will now meet with LibDem Scottish Secretary Michael Moore, over the coming weeks, to continue those discussions and has said that she hopes further progress will be made in this meeting. She said that she wanted key principles agreed so the debate on Scotland's future could properly begin.

Ms Sturgeon told BBC Scotland's Newsnight Scotland: "The principles of the Scottish government are that we want to make progress, we want to resolve the issues, but we must ensure that the Scottish referendum is built here in Scotland and that is the key principle.

"If we agree that, then we can move on and agree the other issues in fairly short order as well, and then we can have that debate, that very exciting debate, about why it would be better for Scotland and for people in Scotland if we were independent with all the powers that come with that."


# JRTomlin 2012-09-10 23:33
An amazing woman! She is such a wee thing (if you'll forgive the phrase), I think some underestimate her. Obviously, Alex Salmond doesn't.

I wouldn't be surprised if she were the first Prime Minister of an independent Scotland!
# Adrian B 2012-09-10 23:56
"I wouldn't be surprised if she were the first Prime Minister of an independent Scotland!"

I think you are spot on there JRTomlin.

Not only do some underestimate her, some also have it in their tiny minds that "Salmond has just orcherstrated her demise"? Needless to say these people are unionists and probably don't have a clue as to how they have consistently been outplayed by the man taking it all their accusations of dictatorship on his chin.
# oldnat 2012-09-11 00:00
True - but we might decide to stick to the term "First Minister" - means much the same thing, but without the suggestion of supremacy.
# Alibi 2012-09-11 06:42
Prime and First mean exactly the same in that context. Prime comes from the Latin for first....
# Mad Jock McMad 2012-09-11 16:47
Oldnat - I agree the problem with the use of 'Prime' in this case is it is short for Primus inter pares, (first among equals) which was the Claudian Emperors' big political spin for kicking the Roman Republic into touch and is reflected in the grandstanding of the current and past UK Prime Ministers in an almost 'presidential manner'.

One may say the antics of recent 'Prime' Ministers of the UK has many parrallels with Seutonius' description of the Claudian Emperors from Augustus onwards - self agrandising, war mongers, corrupt, venal, bad tempered, violent and open to being bought by the highest bidder.

Personally I think 'first' does the job quite nicely when it comes to Scotland's chief government minister.
# Am Fògarrach 2012-09-10 23:54
Excellent article. The reconvening of the Scottish Parliament changed Scotland forever.
# cjmasta 2012-09-11 00:23
Here`s what we have done with the limited amount of powers available to us, none of these things would have been done under westminster rule. Now here`s what we could do with independence.

Hammer it home Nicola, without full powers Scotlands economy will be run into the ground by westminster who care not a bit for us and why should they? We only elected one tory.

Looking forward to the 22nd!
# oldnat 2012-09-11 00:28
I like the current strategy.

Look what we have done with the current powers - Unionists, do you want to return these powers to Westminster?

Look at what Westminster does with the "reserved" powers - Unionists, how are you going to defend Westminster handling them better than Holyrood would?
# call me dave 2012-09-11 01:08


Murray Wins!

Great Match.
# The_Duke 2012-09-11 01:19
Cant type... greetin too much!!

C,mon Andy!!
# oldnat 2012-09-11 01:24
It was - but sod all to do with politics (despite the BitterTogether campaign desperately trying to tweet a political message).

Murray was playing as an individual but anyone seeing a link with him will be delighted that he has won a Grand Slam.

Particularly good for Scotland (where he came from) and Catalunya (where he trained and developed his skills) - but no problem if others in the British isles, or Europe celebrate his success too.

Just as we all hope Europe will win the Ryder Cup.

Narrow nationalism, we should leave to the Brits.
# forrabest 2012-09-11 01:28
Well said, Nicola, keep the statements coming. Positive and honest and obviously straight from the heart, I am certain more women are listening to you than ever before. Just what is needed at this point in the Independence dabate.
# UpSpake 2012-09-11 06:20
The real journey began in 1999. We reach the Rubicon late 2014. We must have the will to cross to the other side.
# EphemeralDeception 2012-09-11 06:50
The use of the term 'journey' and previous general alignment that devolution is a process, is a real thorn in the unionists side.

That is where we where,
This is what we did for ourselves in the meantime.
Look at what would have happened without devolution compared to where we are now.
And look and consider: the Unionists want this far and no further.

The unionist no campaign want the journey and process to stop here. It is also a "no further forward" campaign, certainly no fiscal control. Not an easy sell.
# Willie Hogg 2012-09-11 11:03
Thank you for this easily understood summary. It so warms my heart to understand the way that the "NO" campaign have painted themselves into a corner.
# Fungus 2012-09-11 07:06
I think we are so lucky to have such consummate people as Sturgeon, Swinney and Salmond, and the rest to represent us at this pivotal time in our history. If I believed in it I'd call it fate.
# Annickburn 2012-09-11 07:35
"Scotland is governed well in devolved areas thanks to the Yes vote 15 years ago - and we can only make sure that we are governed well in all areas by completing our home rule journey and voting Yes to independence in autumn 2014."
Nicola Sturgeon

And so say all of us!
Brilliant strategy !
# velofello 2012-09-11 09:18
A unionist and the establishment strategy was to demonize Alex Salmon and so undermine the key figure in the campaign for independence. Oops! A highly capable Nicola Sturgeon steps forward to assume the leading role. What next? What negative personal comments will the Better Together nihilists seek against her?
# J Wil 2012-09-11 12:04
If you listened to Lamont then we would have to believe that Labour have the highest regard for Nicola because, on the face of it, they wanted her to remain in the NHS job as she was doing such a good job.

Of course that could be just an excuse to have a go at Salmond for moving her to the new job.
# Leswil 2012-09-11 10:23
Placing Nicola in her new position is a good move.She is committed and determined in her attitude and is well liked to boot.

This move also takes some of the heat from A/S, and allows him some time to oversee and accumulate the facts and advice he requires to make Independence a fact.

Negotiating tactics for example for which facts and skills will seriously be required.

There is no doubt he is an excellent strategist and has played a blinder up to now, leaving the Unionists in disarray.

So go Nicola, go A/S , lead us into a better Scotland, for us, our children and, our grandchildren.
# Marga B 2012-09-11 22:23
As the Scotsman surprisingly points out, Salmond is admired by Jordi Pujol, 23 years president of Catalonia and a wily but most admit brilliant old fox and statesman. Doesn't know Salmond but likes his style!
# brusque 2012-09-11 12:17
A wonderful day for Andy Murray, he makes us all proud.

I hope that the Scottish Government do not sit back and enjoy the moment though, we need to make it easier for our children (and Grandchildren) to take part in Sporting activities. There is probably a mountain of talent in Scotland, who have just never had the opportunity to train and take part in competative sport...........let's try to ensure we can do the best for all our young people.
# Andy Anderson 2012-09-11 13:26
Yes a very historic date for Scotland, I think also the date of the Scottish Army's victory at Stirling bridge under Murray and Wallace.
# IXL 2012-09-11 13:32
Quoting Andy Anderson:
...I think also the date of the Scottish Army's victory at Stirling bridge under Murray and Wallace.

"Moray" I believe - not "Murray"
# Gaavster 2012-09-11 14:19
De Bruis, Bruce, Bryce....

Same same
# sneckedagain 2012-09-11 14:13
It's the same name.

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