Front: Nicola Sturgeon & John Swinney. 1st. row l-r:-- Jeane Freeman, Humza Yousaf, Shirley-Anne Somerville, Aileen Campbell. 2nd. row l-r:-- Michael Russell, Roseanna Cunningham, Derek Mackay, Michael Matheson, Fiona Hyslop, Fergus Ewing. At Bute House, Edinburgh. 26 June 2018.


First Minister:   NICOLA STURGEON                                                                                       

Deputy First Minister.  Sec. for Education & Skills  --  JOHN SWINNEY

Sec. for Finance, Economy & Fair Work  --  DEREK MACKAY

Sec. for Government Business & Constitutional Relations  --  MICHAEL RUSSELL

Sec. for Health & Sport  --  JEANE FREEMAN 

Sec. for Justice  --  HUMZA YOUSAF

Sec. for Communities & Local Government  --  AILEEN CAMPBELL

Sec. for Social Security & Older People  --  SHIRLEY-ANNE SOMERVILLE

Sec. for Transport, Infrastructure & Connectivity  --  MICHAEL MATHESON

Sec. for Rural Economy   --  FERGUS EWING  

Sec. for the Environment, Climate Change & Land Reform  --  ROSEANNA CUNNINGHAM

Sec. for Culture, Tourism & External Affairs  --  FIONA HYSLOP


See below for:   Progress towards Independence  *  Government programme 2019-20  *  Our new powers  *  Full list of Cabinet Secretaries & Ministers  *  MSPs elected on 5 May 2016   




                                               Our 2020 Vision


In her address on the final day of the SNP Annual National Conference, First Minister NICOLA STURGEON pledged that the Independence Referendum will take place next year. The announcement led to a standing ovation by the thousands of delegates and visitors in the cavernous main arena of Aberdeen's TECA conference centre on 15 Oct. 2019.

Conference. For Scotland, the hope lies in becoming an independent nation. Be in no doubt about this. We are winning the case for independence. It is time to take charge of our own future. It is time for independence. We will win our independence -- but not the Brexit way. We will win by inspiring and persuading. So let us resolve today that how we campaign for independence will always reflect the open, tolerant, inclusive and democratic nation we are determined to build.

Those who led that No campaign in 2014 will never be trusted by the people of Scotland ever again. They told us to Vote No to stay in the EU. They told us that we would lead the UK. They said we would enjoy "a Union dividend." But instead we’ve suffered years of Tory austerity. We face job losses and a Brexit recession. We’re even having to plan for shortages of food and medicine. 

Brexit is a disaster. Boris Johnson's plans would take Scotland out of the EU, out of the single market and out of the customs union. Let me make this absolutely clear today – SNP MPs will not vote for that – not now, not ever. It would leave us facing a future relationship with the EU that is even more distant than that envisaged by Theresa May. Scotland will be the only country in the UK to be taken out of the EU against its will, and with no say over its future relationship with Europe.

We have a cast-iron mandate for an independence ReferendumBut let me be clear about this. The process by which we choose Scotland’s future must be capable of actually achieving independence. It must allow majority support to be expressed clearly and unambiguously. It must be legal. And it must have the recognition of the international community. Why? Because our job is not just to deliver a Referendum.  Our job is to deliver independence.

Conference. My call is that the Referendum must happen next year. (Standing ovation by delegates) And we are getting ready. By the New Year, we will have completed our legislative preparations. We are already working to update the independence prospectus. And I can confirm today that before the end of this year, I will demand the transfer of power that puts the legality of a Referendum beyond any doubt. 

And when I do, the question should not be to the SNP: What will we do if Westminster refuses? The question should be demanded of the Westminster parties: What gives you any right to deny people in Scotland our ability to choose our own future? A Westminster refusal is not sustainable. We can already see the cracks appearing. The Labour leaderships in London and Wales have recognised our right to choose. They make Scottish Labour look even more ridiculous than normal. The other parties are so lacking in confidence that a Referendum can be blocked that they’re now trying to rig the question. Just like us, they know there is going to be a Referendum. And they know that when there is, Scotland will choose independence. Support is rising. Our task is to build it even further and make the demand irresistible. 

And soon we will have the chance to show the strength of public opinion. A UK General Election is imminent. And it cannot come soon enough. When it does, our message will be clear, simple and unambiguous: Vote SNP to demand independence and secure Scotland’s right to choose. Some polls suggest that an election might result in a hung Parliament. The SNP will never put the Tories into power. But I have a message for any Westminster party that wants SNP support. If you don’t respect Scotland’s right to choose our own future at a time of our own choosing, don’t even bother picking up the phone.

It is time for independence, to build a better society. In these turbulent times, our job is to bring hope. To be the confidence -builders. And the best place to start is always with the facts. Scotland’s national income is higher per-head than countries like France, Japan and New Zealand. So do not ever let anyone tell you that Scotland is not rich enough to be independent, because we most certainly are. We have extraordinary strengths in energy, science and research, food and drink, tourism, financial services, creative industries, manufacturing and digital technology. 

So don’t let them tell you that Scotland’s economy is not strong enough to be independent either. Or that we’re not big enough. Seven out of the ten wealthiest developed countries are of a size similar to or smaller than Scotland. From Luxembourg to Ireland, and from Austria to Switzerland and Norway, countries of our size lead the world. And they tend to be happier as well. Eight out of ten of the world’s happiest countries have populations similar to or smaller than ours. Now, I’m not aware of the Unionist parties trying to tell us that we’re too miserable to be independent –- yet. But when that day inevitably comes, you now know the answer!

In Government, we put our ideals and our values into practice. And we do so for everyone who lives in Scotland, no matter where they come fromWe believe in equal rights. That’s why we have introduced a new law to extend the right to vote in Scottish elections to citizens of all nationalities legally resident here. To everyone who chooses to make our country their home, my message is this. You are welcome here. We value you. With all out hearts we want you to stay. And you have as much right to vote in our country’s elections as anyone else. That is a demonstration of the kind of country we are seeking to build. An independent Scotland will be a voice that celebrates and champions diversity. There will be no hostile environment for migrants in an independent Scotland.

It is time for Scotland to choose our own future. It is time to reclaim our independence. I don’t know about you, but I’m utterly sick of Westminster. I’m sick of Brexit. The people of Scotland are seeing all of this for what it is. A broken political system. A so-called union that imposes on Scotland, time and again, Governments we don’t vote for. That system is unsustainable and its time is coming to an end.

And what will we build in its place? Take a moment to remember those heady, invigorating, life-affirming days in the late summer of 2014. Days when anything seemed possible. When the dream of working as if we lived "in the early days of a better nation " was more than the words of a poet. And now capture that spirit as we look forward to the future. Scotland’s contribution to human progress down the ages is immeasurable. But perhaps our greatest contribution will be this –- a new country founded on hope, and a vision of shared humanity and compassion. A light in a world that seems dark.

These are turbulent times. None of us have known anything like it. But we have guiding lights to chart our way. Our spirit, our values. our vision, our commitment to empowerment and democracy, and our unshakable belief in the abilities and the wisdom of the Scottish people. It is time to place Scotland’s future in Scotland’s hands. To take our own decisions and chart our own course. It is time to play our part in building a better world.

Friends. In the immortal words of Robert Burns: “It is comin’ yet for a’ that.” The world is waiting for us. Let’s win our nation’s independence.


### These are edited extracts from Nicola Sturgeon's address. To view the whole speech, click on:--                                                        



Several writers, actors, musicians, singers, broadcasters and academics have declared their support for Scotland to achieve its goal of self-government. Their Declaration of Independence was published on 9 October 2019, a few days before the SNP Annual National Conference in Aberdeen.

The 12-point Declaration set out the “guiding principles” for a new state, including a written constitution, and the expulsion of the Trident nuclear deterrent. Scotland should refuse to “maintain, stock or use, for itself or on behalf of any other power or government, chemical, biological or nuclear weapons."

The group also called for Central and Local Government to be “more accountable to the people and more beneficial to their needs”, and said “profit and economic growth should not be pursued at the expense of the wellbeing of the people.” The 501-word manifesto concluded: “It is our belief that the best option now open to the Scottish people is for Scotland to become an independent country."  The signatories were:--

Iain Anderson, broadcaster;  Peter Arnott, playwright;  Neal Ascherson, journalist and writer;  Aly Bain, musician;  Margaret Bennett, folklorist & singer;  Robert Black QC, Professor Emeritus of Scots Law;  Christine Borland, visual artist;  Stuart Braithwaite, musician;  Calum Colvin, visual artist;  Roddy Buchanan, visual artist;  Stuart Cosgrove, writer & broadcaster;  Brian Cox, actor;  Robert Crawford, writer;  Sir Tom Devine, Professor Emeritus of Scottish History;  Lari Don, writer; Jenni Fagan, writer;  Rt. Rev. Richard Holloway, writer & broadcaster;  Robert Hodgens, musician;  Kathleen Jamie, poet & writer;  Jamie Jauncey, writer;  A.L. Kennedy, writer;  Liz Lochhead, poet, playwright & former Makar;  Val McDermid, writer;  Jamie MacDougall, singer & broadcaster;  Lorraine Mackintosh, actress & singer;  Dr. Dolina MacLennan, writer & broadcaster; Aonghas MacNeacail, poet & broadcaster;  Dr. Ann Matheson, literary historian;  Karen Matheson, singer;  Alexander Moffat, artist;  Jemma Neville, writer;  Andrew O’Hagan, writer;  Aidan O’Rourke, musician & composer;  Don Paterson, poet;  Karine Polwart, musician & writer;  Eddi Reader, singer;  Alan Riach, poet & Professor of Scottish Literature;  James Robertson, writer;  Donald Shaw, musician, composer & producer;  Ross Sinclair, visual artist; Donald Smith, storyteller;  Elaine C. Smith, actress, comedian & political activist;  Alan Spence, writer;  Will Storrar, minister & academic;  Gerda Stevenson, writer & actress;  Sheena Wellington, singer: Dr. Gary West, musician, broadcaster & Professor of Scottish Ethnology;  Ruth Wishart, journalist &  broadcaster.   


Our SUCCESSFUL record                                                        

11 Sept. 1997 -- Scots vote to have their national Parliament restored.  

3 May 2007 --  the SNP is first elected as Scotland's Government. 

Re-elected in 2011 and 2016, we continue to govern our country with ambition, flair and competence.

Check out our achievements over the past 12 years -- with only limited powers. Just think what we could do with the full powers of INDEPENDENCE !

### Click on:--                

See below for Using our new POWERS and GOVERNING SCOTLAND. 


Independence REFERENDUM :  We'll vote next year

The SNP's success in winning a third term at Holyrood -- and 35 of Scotland's 59 Westminster MPs -- must be acknowledged as an ongoing mandate to step up its campaign to achieve our nation's self-government.   

The party's manifesto for the 2016 Scottish Parliamentary election said:  "The Scottish Parliament should have the right to hold another referendum.....if there is a significant and material change in the circumstances that prevailed in 2014, such as Scotland being taken out the EU against our will.”  It is therefore a statement of the obvious that the option of a second referendum must be a serious consideration. However, the Government judged that it would be tactically disadvantageous to move too quickly. When the EU's Article 50 process is triggered, the UK will be on a two-year path to Europe's exit door. In the interim, a decisive "Yes" for independence would undoubtedly be the best -- possibly only -- way to protect our place in Europe.                                

Since then, the EU Referendum result, together with other political developments, have inevitably propelled the nation into seeking another referendum on independence. The prospect of a second national poll on the constitution is causing considerable concern to the unionist parties. It is patently obvious that they desperately wanted the vote in September 2014 to be a "once in a lifetime decision" -- as though the opinions and ambitions of the Scottish people could somehow be frozen in time!  But another referendum is going to happen whether they like it or not. The SNP's massive election successes since the ground-breaking, status-quo-busting poll have understandably boosted widespread enthusiasm for another plebiscite. But when will it be held? On 23 June 2016, every one of Scotland's 32 local authority areas (see map) voted to remain in the European Union -- in stark contrast to the leave result in most of England and Wales.                                                                                                           Map: Yellow = remain.  Blue = leave ►      

A draft Scottish Independence Referendum Bill, giving our country the ability to consider the option of national independence -- before the UK leaves the EU -- was published on 20 October 2016. The consultation, which ran for three months, invited views on how the referendum would be run. It is likely that the plebiscite will be organised in a similar way to the first, with technical adjustments to reflect recent changes in election law and procedures, such as individual registration. First Minister Nicola Sturgeon put the nation on high alert on 13 March 2017, at a press conference in Bute House. She said: "If the UK leaves the EU without Scotland indicating beforehand -- or at least within a short time after it -- that we want a different relationship with Europe, we could face a lengthy period outside not just the EU but also the single market. That could make the task of negotiating a different future much more difficult. These considerations lead me to the conclusion that if Scotland is to have a real choice -- when the terms of Brexit are known, but before it is too late to choose our own course."

The draft Bill is set out as an appendix to the consultation document, and was comfortably passed by the Scottish Parliament, by 69 votes to 59, on 28 March 2017. Derek Mackay, the Cabinet Secretary for Finance & the Constitution, commented: “It is important that a referendum on independence, like that in 2014, meets the 'gold standard' in terms of fairness, transparency and propriety. The franchise will be the same as that for the Scottish Parliament. That will mean two important groups of people would have a voice which had been denied to them in the recent EU Referendum, i.e. 16 and 17 year-olds, and citizens of EU countries who have made Scotland their home. As in 2014, voters will be asked to answer 'Yes' or 'No' to the question "Do you think Scotland should be an independent country?"

On May 29, the Referendum (Scotland) Bill was published. This primary legislation would not require Westminster's approval through a Section 30 Order, and should be passed before the end of 2019. Our Government would seek agreement to a transfer of power at an appropriate point during or shortly after the Bill’s passage. At the SNP's 2019 Annual National Conference, First Minister Nicola Sturgeon announced that the Referendum will be held in 2020, probably in the latter part of the year. 

Choosing the best time to ask the Scottish people again will depend on various factors. These include the outcome of the UK's decision to leave the EU and the pressure the SNP is able to put on the Westminster Government. It also obviously depends on a healthy lead for 'Yes' in opinion polls -- if their accuracy can be verified and trusted. When the stakes are so high, it is essential we get this right. Impatience is perfectly understandable, but surely it is better to wait and win, than rush and crash!  When it comes, we will have the benefit of hindsight. Because many valuable lessons were learned from the previous exercise, it would not be a re-run of the 2014 plebiscite. In all probability, Labour, Tories and what's left of the Liberals can count on another relentless stream of anti-Scottish propaganda (blatant or subtle), primarily from the state broadcaster and most of the mainstream media, to assist them in their desire to quash Scotland's political will. But the unionists know that they can't rely on the same old lies, distortions, misrepresentations, dodgy statistics and scare stories to deliver a No majority the next time. As the old saying goes: "Fool me once, shame on you.  Fool me twice, shame on me."

###  To pledge your support.  Click on:                    

###  Scottish Independence Referendum Bill.  Click on the SCOTTISH GOVERNMENT link on this page.

###  Your questions answered on Scottish self-government.  Go to the INDEPENDENCE page.


Using our new POWERS

Obviously, the limited powers devolved to our Parliament in 2017 don't go nearly far enough to satisfy the people of Scotland.

However, the SNP will make full use of these, and any future devolved powers, to make Scotland a fairer and more prosperous country. The party's manifesto for the May 2016 election set out how the new powers will be implemented. 

The main provisions of the SCOTLAND BILL cover:--

The status of and arrangements for the Scottish Parliament, including elections. Ability to set rates and bands for a 29% proportion of Income Tax. Receipt of 50% of VAT revenues. Control over about 15% of existing social security benefits --11 in all -- including Disability Living Allowance, Personal Independence Payment, Carer's Allowance, funeral payments, Sure Start maternity grants and cold weather & winter fuel payments.

Adjustments to Employment Support and Universal Credit, including the housing element. Control over Work Programme and Work Choice, and some employment services and tribunals.

Setting the level of Air Passenger Duty, administration of the Crown Estate and control of the Transport Police. Powers over other matters such as equal opportunities, abortion, road signs, speed limits, onshore oil & gas extraction  and consumer advocacy & advice.

### Further information is available in the Citizens' Guide to Scottish Devolution, produced by the Devolution (Further Powers) Committee of the Scottish Parliament.  Click on the SCOTTISH PARLIAMENT website.                                                                                                                                                                                  

The Scottish Government's Social Security Bill, introduced on 20 June 2017, met with unanimous Parliamentary approval on 25 April 2018.

It laid the groundwork for the establishment of Social Security Scotland, to oversee the administration of eleven welfare benefits, worth £2.7billion. The agency will also have the power to top-up and create new benefits, and will be able to exercise flexibility in deciding how Universal Credit is paid by the UK Dept for Work & Pensions. The SNP Government has already confirmed it will use its new powers to:--

Increase Carer’s Allowance to the same level as Jobseekers Allowance; abolish the Bedroom Tax;  allow benefits claimants to be paid fortnightly rather than monthly; scrap the 84-day rule which removes income from the families of disabled children; abolish fees for employment tribunals; replace the Sure Start Maternity Grant with an expanded Maternity & Early Years Allowance -- restoring payments for second and subsequent children, and providing additional funding for children in low-income families when they start nursery and school.

2018 -- Carer's Allowance Supplement and Best Start Grant pregnancy & baby payment were introduced.
2019 -- Best Start Grant nursery age payment; Best Start Grant school payment; Funeral Expenses assistance and the Young Carer Grant will be introduced.                                                                                                             
2021 -- Scottish Child Payment for children aged under six introduced. By early 2022, all families with children under 16 will be eligible.

The SNP Government will ensure that social security delivery is accessible, and commands the confidence of users by being cost-effective and well-managed. There will be a 'phased transition' of the administration of powers over the next few years. This will be overseen by Shirley-Anne Somerville, the Secretary for Social Security & Older People. The immediate priority is to make sure there is a smooth transfer of these benefits, and that households continue to receive them on time and in the right amount. The Government has already carried out extensive consultation and discussions with service users and stakeholders, and will continue that work as it develops its policy approach to the delivery of the new benefits. 

Longer term, Social Security Scotland will also ensure that services are aligned, and work together for the benefit of the Scottish people. In Sept. 2017, it was announced that the agency would be headquartered in Dundee, together with a further site in Glasgow. When fully operational, the number of agency employees is expected to be in excess of 1,900. There will be a local team in each of the 32 council areas, with a total staff of 400.

This "non-ministerial" department was established on 1 January 2015, and is the authority responsible for the administration and collection of Scotland’s devolved taxes. Presently, these consist of the Land & Buildings Transaction Tax (LBTT) and the Scottish Landfill Tax (SLfT), which both came into effect on 1 April 2015. The department's administration of Air Departure Tax has been postponed.

► The Scottish Government has confirmed it will also use its new powers to:-- Bring forward legislation on gender balance in public sector boards in the first year of the next Parliament; enable the public sector to run Scotland’s railways; reduce Air Passenger Duty by half over the course of the next Parliament – further boosting the country's tourist industry and wider economy; assist communities to benefit from the revenues generated off our shores by the Crown Estate; and ensure money from court fines paid in Scotland stays in Scotland.



Because of the continuing restrictions imposed by devolution, our Government is not permitted to utilise all of the nation's resources for the benefit of the people, and has no overall control of Scotland's economy.  Currently, Holyrood is almost wholly dependent on block grants or "pocket money" from London.

This means that the ambitions of the Government are necessarily constrained by British recessions and the ever-decreasing funds being made available by the Westminster Treasury. However, astute and careful budgeting by Secretary for Finance, Economy & Fair Work Derek Mackay enabled key legislation to be enacted.

The Programme for Government is published every year at the beginning of September, and sets out the actions we will take in the coming year and beyond. It includes the legislative programme for the next Parliamentary year, to drive forward change across all levels of society. Protecting Scotland’s Futurethe Government’s Programme for 2019-20, sets out the progressive actions we will take to make our country the best place in the world to grow up, learn, work and live in.

Legislative priorities for 2019-2020 will be as set out in the following BILLS:--

Animal Health & Welfare (Amendment). Will increase the maximum penalties for the most serious animal welfare offences to five years imprisonment and/or an unlimited fine and also make changes to the maximum penalties for various wildlife offences.

Budget. This annual Bill provides Parliamentary approval for the Scottish Government's spending plans, allocation of resources to our strategic objectives and supporting progress towards our vision of a more successful country, through increasing inclusive and sustainable economic growth and improving wellbeing.

Circular Economy.  Will continue to advance Scotland's ambitions for the circular economy through measures which will encourage the re-use of products and reduce waste. It will enable further action to tackle our reliance on single use products.

Civil Partnership.  Will make civil partnership available to mixed sex couples. This is in line with equality and human rights principles. It also reflects the UK Supreme Court judgement made last year on civil partnership in England and Wales.

Continuity.  Will provide for the ability to maintain alignment with EU law in devolved areas after EU exit, in particular by providing a 'keeping pace' power and will replace, where necessary, powers in connection with existing EU law lost in consequence of the repeal of the European Communities Act 1972. 

Defamation & Malicious Publication.  Will take forward the recommendations of the Scottish Law Commission and will simplify and modernise the law of defamation. The reforms will ensure that a more appropriate balance is struck between protecting reputation and freedom of expression. 

UEFA European Championship.  Will prohibit ticket touting and make provisions to protect commercial interests in connection with Glasgow's participation as one of 12 host cities of the 2020 UEFA European Football Championships.

Forensic Medical Services (Victims of Sexual Offences)Will underpin the ongoing work of the Chief Medical Officer for Scotland's Rape and Sexual Assault Taskforce. Amongst other things the Bill will establish a national self-referral model for victims of sexual crime who wish to have a forensic medical examination without first reporting to the police.

Good Food Nation.  Will enhance the significant work already being done – or planned – to deliver the Good Food Nation ambition in Scotland. It places responsibilities on Scottish Ministers and selected public bodies to set out statements of policy on food and to have regard to these statements in the exercise of relevant functions.

Hate Crime.  Following on from Lord Bracadale's independent review of hate crime legislation in Scotland and our consultation, this will take forward the consolidation and updating of hate crime legislation. It will extend the characteristics to which hate crime statutory aggravations apply and will also introduce 'stirring up' offences for all relevant characteristics.

Heat Networks.  Will introduce regulation of the heat network sector to support, facilitate and create controls in respect of the development of district and communal heating infrastructure in Scotland. Accelerating the deployment of heat networks will help Scotland to decarbonise its heat supply and will contribute to our climate change targets.

Redress (Survivors of In-Care Abuse)Will establish a financial redress scheme for survivors of historical child abuse whilst in care in Scotland. It will provide for the detailed aspects of the scheme such as eligibility, how decisions are made and the making of payments.

Rural Support.  Will create regulation-making powers for Scottish Ministers to amend or replace the EU Common Agricultural Policy elements of retained EU law and provide new powers for the collection of agricultural data. The retained EU law powers are needed if Scotland has to leave the EU, when we would seek to simplify and improve CAP legislation for its operation beyond 2020.

Transient Visitor Levy.   Will create a discretionary power for local authorities to apply a tax or levy on overnight visitor stays. The decision to implement any tax or levy created will be entirely at the discretion of individual local authorities and receipts will be to fund local authority expenditure on tourism.


Bills already in Parliament                                                       Bills passed since 2018-19 Programme for Government          

Children & Young People (Information Sharing)                           Age of Criminal Responsibility
Children                                                                                  Budget
Climate Change (Emissions Reduction Targets)                            Census (Amendment)
Consumer Scotland                                                                   Damages (Investment Returns & Periodical Payments)
Disclosure                                                                                Fuel Poverty (Targets,Definition & Strategy)
Female Genital Mutilation (Protection and Guidance)                    Health & Care (Staffing)
Non-Domestic Rates                                                                  Human Tissue (Authorisation)
Referendums                                                                            Management of Offenders
Scottish Biometrics Commissioner                                               Planning
Scottish Elections (Franchise & Representation)                            Prescription
Scottish Elections (Reform)                                                        Scottish Crown Estate
Scottish National Investment Bank                                              South of Scotland Enterprise
Transport                                                                                 Vulnerable Witnesses (Criminal Evidence)


###  Full details, including the First Minister's statement:--    click on the Scottish Government link on this page.                  ###  A list of the SNP Government's principal achievements is at:-- 


The SALTIRE Bridge

On the evening of 28 August 2017, First Minister NICOLA STURGEON presided at a ceremony to mark the official handover from the contractors to the Scottish Government.

After a short speech under the bridge’s north tower, Ms. Sturgeon switched on a spectacular Saltire-themed light display on the £1.35billion crossing, which connects Edinburgh to Fife. She shook the hands of workers and took "selfies", before a procession of around 20 vintage, modern and electric vehicles drove over to the south shore. Other guests at the handover ceremony included veteran workers who helped build the nearby 1964 bridge, local schoolchildren and contractors.

Addressing the workers, the First Minister said: “I can’t tell you how emotional it feels to be standing on this stunning Queensferry Crossing. It is here to do a job and keep our country connected, but it is much more than that. This bridge will be one of the greatest bridges in the world. No -- scrub that -- this bridge is the greatest bridge in the world! What you have done here is something very special. It is in every way an amazing achievement and I want to congratulate everyone involved. The weather in the middle of the Forth has made sure it was a challenge. But you have made history, and this bridge will serve Scotland for 150 years and more.”

The new crossing is a three-tower cable-stayed bridge, with an overall length of 1.7 miles. Around 2.5 miles of new connecting roads were built, including new and upgraded junctions at South Queensferry, Ferrytoll in Fife and Junction 1A of the M9. It opened for general traffic on 30 August 2017. Shortly before 2am, vehicles heading north were diverted from the Forth Road Bridge to the new crossing. A long procession followed police vehicles, with many of those behind the wheel honking their horns and blowing whistles as they travelled over to Fife. The original suspension bridge will now only be used by buses, taxis, cyclists and pedestrians.      


Taking control of our RAILWAYS                                                                                                       

ScotRail, the national railway network, could come under public ownership.

During First Minister's Questions in the Scottish Parliament on 20 Dec. 2018, Nicola Sturgeon stated that the country's trains and track should both be brought under Holyrood’s control, through greater devolution to make nationalisation possible. She said the SNP Government would “argue for full devolution of all powers over the railways, so that we are responsible for Network Rail as well as ScotRail, and so that this Parliament has the opportunity to nationalise our railways."

This is a welcome shift in policy since Jul. 2017, when the Government said it wanted there to be a "public sector bidder" when the Dutch-owned Abellio's franchise expires in 2025.  Several options were being considered. They included the creation of a Government-owned company or a public-private sector partnership to take over the service. Other possible publicly-owned candidates for the franchise were Calmac Ferries, the Transport for Edinburgh group and Strathclyde Partnership for Transport.

The SNP's original proposals met with considerable approval from the transport unions. Sam Tarry of TSSA said: "The Scottish Government has recognised that the sole beneficiaries of ScotRail, and any profits it makes, should be the Scottish people. Now there is the exciting prospect of breaking with decades of privatisation dogma -- and instead looking at modern publicly-owned and operated ways of running Scotland's railways. We are looking forward to working with the Scottish Government every step of the way." Mick Hogg, the Scottish organiser of RMT, said: "We want to see the renationalisation of the railways. We have a strong sense that Humza Yousaf (Transport Minister) is speaking our language and is ticking the right boxes."  ASLEF also welcomed the plans.

For three years, the cross-border InterCity East Coast service was run by Virgin Trains East Coast, in which the Perth-based Stagecoach had a 90% stake. However, the UK Government "temporarily re-nationalised"  the operation on 24 June 2018, and rebranded it as the London & North-Eastern Railway. On 17 May 2018, Humza Yousaf said: "Given the importance of East Coast services to Scotland, we will press the UK Government for involvement in the new LNER board. We will also require assurance that there will be no reduction in service levels for Scottish passengers, and that promised improvements to Scottish East Coast services will still be delivered without further delay." InterCity West Coast trains will be operated by FirstGroup, in partnership with Italy’s state rail company Trenitalia, from December 2019 until 2031. The service was previously provided by the Virgin Rail Group, which is 49% owned by Stagecoach.



Working to stay in the EUROPEAN UNION

The Scottish Government is striving to deliver what Scotland voted for --  to stay in the European family of nations.

Our Government is engaged in discussions with EU countries and institutions to explore all options to protect Scotland’s place in Europe.  An advisory panel, made up of a range of experts who can advise the Scottish Government on legal, financial and diplomatic matters, has been established. The cultural and economic contribution of 127,000 citizens of EU countries resident in Scotland is valued and, despite the negative UK vote, are obviously very welcome to stay with us. The consuls-general of all EU member states attended a summit meeting at Bute House in 2016, to reassure them that their citizens living in Scotland remain welcome.  Scottish Government Ministers are talking to businesses, to reassure them that as of now Scotland remains firmly in the European Union. All trade and business with the EU should continue as normal. 

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said: "Our nation is being taken out of the EU against its will. I regard that as democratically unacceptable. And, of course, we face that prospect less than two years after being told that it was our own referendum on independence that would end our membership of the European Union, and that only a rejection of independence could protect it. Indeed, for many people the supposed guarantee of remaining in the EU was a driver in their decision to vote to stay within the UK. So there is no doubt that this represents a significant and a material change of the circumstances in which Scotland voted against independence in 2014." The Scottish Government has had direct discussions with European Union institutions and its member states. The First Minister has met with Jean-Claude Junckerthe President of the European Commission, and with other leading politicians. All of the 27 EU nations have been informed that Scotland wants to stay in the EU, and that its Government intends to explore all possible avenues for doing so.

On 25 August 2016, Michael Russell was appointed as Minister for UK Negotiations on Scotland’s Place in Europe. 


Support from STUC

On 12 July 2016, the First Minister met with the STUC General Council to discuss fair work and progressive workplace practices in light of the immediate and long-term implications for the Scottish economy of the referendum result. 

Ms. Sturgeon said:  “I want to stress that this Government will work with the STUC and trade unions to share information, and listen to and understand priorities and concerns. Scotland has a fundamentally strong economy, and we will continue to work with employers and trade unions to boost productivity, innovative work-places and inclusive growth. We will pursue every option to protect Scotland’s position in Europe and, by extension, the interests of EU citizens who live and work here."

“The European Union has been instrumental in strengthening and protecting workers’ rights, and enshrining key employment rights relating to pay, safe working conditions and the right to unionise. I firmly believe that EU membership delivers many social, economic and cultural benefits for individuals, business and communities across Scotland. We will pursue every option to protect Scotland’s position in Europe, and all the many benefits which that brings in terms of workers’ rights and social protections. That includes our place in the single market and the free movement of people.”

Grahame Smith, the STUC General Secretary, said: “We share the view of the First Minister that the best place for Scotland is firmly within the European Union. We are further assured that the FM is exploring every available option to retain Scotland’s membership within the EU, and is moving to positively address some of the challenges that have arisen in respect of the attitude of the Westminster Government. We look forward to continuing to work closely with the Scottish Government to ensure that our shared commitments to inclusive sustainable economic growth continues.”

###  Go to the EUROPEAN UNION page for more information and updates.




The people of Scotland decided that the referendum in Sept. 2014 was merely a milestone on our road to independence.


Video: Allan Patterson.  Music: "Tu-Bardh" by Clanadonia


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                   THE NEXT STAGE OF OUR JOURNEY

On 5 May and 23 June 2016, we grasped the opportunity to take decisive steps to statehood -- to put Scotland on a par with other European nations

         Video: Allan Patterson


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Cabinet Secretaries & Ministers                

First Minister.............................................................................................................................NICOLA STURGEON

Deputy First Minister.  Secretary for Education & Skills................................................................JOHN SWINNEY

    Minister for Childcare & Young People:                         Maree Todd                         

    Minister for Further & Higher Education & Science:        Richard Lochhead       

Secretary for the Economy, Jobs & Fair Work................................................................................DEREK MACKAY

    Minister for Business, Fair Work & Skills:                      Jamie Hepburn           

    Minister for Public Finance & the Digital Economy:         Kate Forbes

    Minister for Trade, Investment & Innovation:                Ivan McKee    

Secretary for Government Business & Constitutional Relations...............................................MICHAEL RUSSELL

    Minister for Parliamentary Business & Veterans:            Graeme Dey

Secretary for Health & Sport........................................................................................................JEANE FREEMAN 

    Minister for Public Health, Sport & Wellbeing:               Joe FitzPatrick                          

    Minister for Mental Health:                                         Clare Haughey       

Secretary for Justice.......................................................................................................................HUMZA YOUSAF

    Minister for Community Safety:                                   Ash Denham        

Secretary for Communities & Local Government.......................................................................AILEEN CAMPBELL

    Minister for Local Government, Housing & Planning:      Kevin Stewart                         

Secretary for Social Security & Older People............................................................SHIRLEY-ANNE SOMERVILLE

    Minister for Older People & Equalities:                         Christina McKelvie

Secretary for Transport, Infrastructure & Connectivity........................................................MICHAEL MATHESON

    Minister for Energy, Connectivity & the Islands:            Paul Wheelhouse

Secretary for Rural Economy..........................................................................................................FERGUS EWING

    Minister for Rural Affairs & Natural Environment:          Mairi Gougeon

Secretary for Environment, Climate Change & Land Reform........................................ROSEANNA CUNNINGHAM

Secretary for Culture, Tourism & External Affairs...........................................................................FIONA HYSLOP

    Minister for Europe, Migration & Intern'l. Develop't.:     Ben Macpherson 


LAW OFFICERS                                                                                                                                                                  

Lord Advocate:   James Wolffe QC                                                                    

Solicitor General:   Alison Di Rollo


*** To see responsibilities of Cabinet Secretaries and Ministers click on:


                                       MSPs elected on 5 May 2016                                        

73 candidates (46.5%) and 59 Constituency MSPs:-- 

Kevin Stewart (Aberdeen Central), Mark McDonald (Aberdeen Donside), Maureen Watt (Aberdeen South & North Kincardine), Gillian Martin (Aberdeenshire East), Alex Neil (Airdrie & Shotts), Angela Constance (Almond Valley), Mairi Gougeon (Angus North & Mearns), Graeme Dey (Angus South), Michael Russell (Argyll & Bute), Stewart Stevenson (Banffshire & Buchan Coast), Gail Ross (Caithness, Sutherland & Ross), Jeane Freeman (Carrick, Cumnock & Doon Valley), Keith Brown (Clackmannanshire & Dunblane), Gil Paterson (Clydebank & Milngavie), Aileen Campbell (Clydesdale), Fulton MacGregor* (Coatbridge & Chryston), Annabelle Ewing* (Cowdenbeath), Jamie Hepburn (Cumbernauld & Kilsyth), Kenneth Gibson (Cunninghame North), Ruth Maguire (Cunninghame South), Shona Robison (Dundee City East), Joe Fitzpatrick (Dundee City West), Shirley-Anne Somerville* (Dunfermline), Linda Fabiani (East Kilbride), Ash Denham (Edinburgh Eastern), Ben Macpherson* (Edinburgh North & Leith), Gordon MacDonald (Edinburgh Pentlands),  Angus MacDonald (Falkirk East), Michael Matheson (Falkirk West), Jenny Gilruth (Fife,Mid & Glenrothes), Bill Kidd (Glasgow Anniesland), James Dornan (Glasgow Cathcart), Sandra White (Glasgow Kelvin), Bob Doris* (Glasgow Maryhill & Springburn), Humza Yousaf* (Glasgow Pollok), Ivan McKee* (Glasgow Provan), John Mason (Glasgow Shettleston), Nicola Sturgeon (Glasgow Southside), Stuart McMillan* (Greenock & Inverclyde), Christina McKelvie (Hamilton, Larkhall & Stonehouse), Fergus Ewing (Inverness & Nairn), Willie Coffey (Kilmarnock & Irvine Valley), David Torrance (Kirkcaldy), Fiona Hyslop (Linlithgow), Colin Beattie (Midlothian North & Musselburgh), Christine Grahame (Midlothian South, Tweeddale & Lauderdale), Richard Lochhead (Moray), Clare Adamson*(Motherwell & Wishaw), Alasdair Allan (Na h-Eileanan an Iar), George Adam (Paisley), John Swinney (Perthshire North), Roseanna Cunningham (Perthshire South & Kinross-shire), Derek Mackay (Renfrewshire North & West), Tom Arthur* (Renfrewshire South), Clare Haughey* (Rutherglen), Kate Forbes (Skye, Lochaber & Badenoch), Bruce Crawford (Stirling), Rona Mackay (Strathkelvin & Bearsden), Richard Lyle* (Uddingston & Bellshill).      *= gains from Labour.

4 Regional List MSPs (41.7%):--

Highlands & Islands -- Maree ToddSouth -- Emma Harper, Joan McAlpine and Paul Wheelhouse.  Total 59+4 =63.   NICOLA STURGEON is First Minister and John Swinney Deputy First Minister at head of minority Government.    Leader of the Opposition: Ruth Davidson (Conservative).   Presiding Officer: Ken Macintosh. 


                                          SNP MSPs in the Garden Lobby of the Scottish Parliament, on 12 May 2016