DAVID Cameron is running scared of the prospect of Nicola Sturgeon being returned as First Minister in May’s Holyrood election, SNP delegates at the party’s conference today.
Deputy First Minister John Swinney also said that Scotland is still destined to become independent after the referendum “invigorated” a whole new generation of supporters to the Nationalist cause.
Mr Swinney made the welcome address to about 3,000 delegates at the party’s Spring conference at Glasgow’s SECC this morning.
The party is currently riding high in the opinion polls and looks certain to secure a second successive Holyrood majority in May. Ms Sturgeon’s leadership will be a key weapon for SNP strategists over the next two months of campaigning.
Mr Swinney said today: “When Nicola took over, all of us were still hurting from the disappointment of the referendum result.
“She picked us all up when we needed it.
“Over the last 16 months I’ve been immensely proud to work alongside her every day in government – and her relentless drive never ceases to amaze me.”
It will be the first time Ms Sturgeon has stood for First Minister after inheriting the role when Alex Salmond stood down after the referendum defeat.
Mr Swinney added: “A couple of weeks ago the Prime Minister came up to Scotland and talked about how much he feared an SNP victory in May. It seems that the Tories don’t like having a government in Scotland which stands up to them.
“Now I think that’s good reason enough for us to get out there and campaign for a strong SNP victory.
“But more importantly, this just shows what a formidable First Minister Scotland has in Nicola Sturgeon. Can anybody seriously imagine the other party leaders in Scotland so effectively standing up for Scotland?
“We know who fights for Scotland. We know who is stronger for Scotland. And so does David Cameron.”
Scotland would have become formally independent later this month if Scots had voted Yes in the referendum. But despite the No vote Mr Swinney insisted Scotland remains destined to leave the UK.
“With the historic independence referendum we led the most invigorating process of democratic engagement and renewal this country has seen in generations - indeed perhaps which it has ever seen,” Mr Swinney added.
“We brought hundreds of thousands of people into political debate for the first time - and fought a campaign of which we can all be proud.
“And we won over so many of our fellow citizens to the cause of independence – a cause which today remains un-won, but a cause which we all know will be won.”