This is a year of challenge for the SNP – a challenge I am ready to take up.
I believe we have been getting the balance of our politics wrong, with too much focus on what happens in Holyrood and not enough on the debate in Scotland as a whole. In particular, we have taken our eye off the ball on the independence argument.
Similarly, we have tilted the party's political profile too far away from our traditional core vision of a socially just Scotland. That vision should be sharing the agenda with our economic case, but it hasn't happened over the last 5 years. Instead, we have allowed the social justice case to slip into the background and people no longer have a clear idea what it is we stand for.
Wealth creation is essential – but wealth must have a purpose. And that purpose is to ensure that we build the kind of Scotland where people do not struggle to find a home, where life expectancy does not drop to 3rd world levels, where poverty is no longer a blight on thousands of lives.
But the power to really put that wealth to work can only come with independence.
Independence is the key to Scotland's future. It cannot be allowed to become an abstract constitutional concept. Instead, we have to make the case for independence as the way out of Scotland's current malaise. It would allow us to bring equality and justice to all Scots and it would also allow us to argue for equality and justice in the rest of the world.
These are the themes I will develop as the leadership campaign unfolds.
Our party needs a leader who can make these arguments with authority, can be combative when necessary but work across all boundaries when that is necessary.
I believe I am that person.
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