Economy secretary Keith Brown has made his pitch to become the new SNP depute leader.
He pointed towards the successful delivery of the £1.35 billion Queensferry Crossing as proof of new confidence in Scotland’s future.
Mr Brown wants to succeed Angus Robertson, who resigned as the party’s depute leader last month.
He is so far vying against Glasgow Cathcart MSP James Dornan and well-known activist Julie Hepburn for the prominent role.
Mr Brown said economic arguments would be vital to winning a new independnce referendum.
“We have to make sure our platform is ready for the voters and robust enough to stand scrutiny and show that Scotland can make a success of independence,” Mr Brown wrote in The National today.
“It’s not enough to show how badly we’re doing in the UK. We have to lay out a long-term plan for the future – how we’ll build Scotland’s economy and make sure that everyone gets their fair share.
“Small and medium-sized businesses will be drivers of growth and we need to build on what we’ve already done to encourage them and help them survive and then thrive.
“If someone wants to start their own company or be self-employed I want to make sure that they get all possible help from Scotland’s government.
“Independence will need a Scotland where enterprise is rewarded and hard work pays off.
“Improving Scotland’s economy and shrugging off the sluggishness that the UK has created in it is the key to our future. It’s my day job and it’s going to be an important part of the case for independence.”
Mr Brown stressed the importance of getting the party and its members ready for any new election and to win Indyref2.
“We have to be ready – ready to fight any election and win any referendum,” he said.
“We have to be action-ready now. That means training members as activists and organisers, connecting members to the policy-making process and making sure that party HQ is at full campaigning readiness.”
The party’s national executive committee was due to meet last week to set out the timetable for the race.