In a speech to the SNP National Council in Glasgow, the First Minister said that a clear contrast had opened up in competing visions for Scotland’s future – and said that the SNP had a ‘renewed mission’ to deliver a fairer Scotland in the face of Tory attacks on Scotland’s budget, on the welfare state and the very powers of the Scottish Parliament itself.
She said:“We know that Scotland’s full potential will only be realised when we have the normal powers of an independent country - but not being independent yet has not stopped us doing our best to improve the lives of the people of Scotland.
“With the new powers of the Parliament, won after the independence referendum, we are renewing our mission as a party of government and a movement for change.
“The Scottish Government budget, passed last month, has reignited a debate about the kind of country we want to be.
“On one side of the argument are the Tories. They want to give tax cuts to the richest – instead of investing in the NHS.
“They are dismantling the post-war welfare state. Benefit cuts which will push hundreds of thousands of children into poverty. The rape clause, the benefit cap, the bedroom tax, and the pensions scandal which means WASPI women have been robbed of their entitlement.
“The SNP has a renewed mission in government: to use Scotland’s new powers to show we can follow a new path – better than the old Westminster way of cuts and austerity, to meet the challenges of the future.
“The decisions we have taken will mean that for the majority of tax-payers, Scotland will be the lowest taxed part of the UK this year. And we have asked those with the most money to contribute a bit more.
She also took further shots at the Conservative party in her speech adding: “The Tories promised Scotland would be an ‘equal partner’.
“They promised that power lay with the Scottish people to decide how they are governed. That there would be no going back to the old ways.
“But they have gone back to thinking they can do what they want to Scotland and get away with it.
“Well, they can’t. They are a party, after all, that hasn’t won a democratic mandate from the people of Scotland for over 60 years. A party that struggles to even get the levels of support they got under Margaret Thatcher.
“So let this message go to the Tories today. You have no mandate for your hard Brexit. No mandate for your cuts. And no mandate for your attacks on the welfare state.”