Friday, 28 November 2014

Our Future Free from Racism

It’s a pleasure and a privilege to be able to share some of my thoughts with you so early in my tenure as First Minister.

Scotland has just lived through the most extraordinary flowering of democracy and political engagement any of us have seen in our lifetime.

The referendum campaign was an empowering, energising phenomenon which saw the revival of the town hall meeting and which took political debate into every home, workplace and community across Scotland.

And it proved that – despite the cynicism about politics which so often prevails nowadays – people can, and do, become politically engaged when faced with issues which really matter to them.

The Yes campaign which I was proud to play my part in may not have prevailed – but that huge political engagement has continued, not least with the massive surge in SNP membership which now makes ours the third largest party in the whole of the UK.

That is the spirit of democratic engagement which I will be looking to build on, as SNP leader and First Minister, in the days to come.

And I very much look forward to working with the STUC in those days ahead.

Our country remains on a constitutional journey, but I am determined that the Scottish Government pursues an agenda of social and economic progress in tandem with that focus on the constitution.

And, as the STUC marks our national day with this year’s theme of a Scotland free from racism, I want to reiterate just how important it is that we make Scotland a welcoming country for everyone who has chosen to make this nation their home.

Scotland’s civic ethos is an inclusive and progressive one, which helps ensure that welcome is extended to all who come here. But we must always be on our guard against racism and prejudice when it does rear its head, and the STUC is to be commended on sending out that unequivocal message.

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