Nicola Sturgeon: Scotland has had enough of the cosy consensus

From a speech by the deputy leader of the Scottish National Party at its annual conference in Inverness

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I've been asked on countless occasions what made me join the Scottish National Party. Was it an act of rebellion? Well, perhaps, up to a point. Rebellion, certainly, against the assumption of so many people where I came from that a working-class kid with an interest in politics and in the world around her would only ever consider joining the Labour Party; rebellion against the Labour Party itself and its inability - or, more accurately, its unwillingness - to protect Scotland from Thatcher's relentless attacks on our values, our communities, our industries and our very sense of ourselves; rebellion against the feeling of despair that had become a way of life in Scotland back then - the hopelessness of so many of the people I went to school with, people with talent and ability but people who would go straight from school to the dole queue.

I've been asked on countless occasions what made me join the Scottish National Party. Was it an act of rebellion? Well, perhaps, up to a point. Rebellion, certainly, against the assumption of so many people where I came from that a working-class kid with an interest in politics and in the world around her would only ever consider joining the Labour Party; rebellion against the Labour Party itself and its inability - or, more accurately, its unwillingness - to protect Scotland from Thatcher's relentless attacks on our values, our communities, our industries and our very sense of ourselves; rebellion against the feeling of despair that had become a way of life in Scotland back then - the hopelessness of so many of the people I went to school with, people with talent and ability but people who would go straight from school to the dole queue.

What brought me into politics, into the SNP, was a desire to make a difference, to stand up for what I believed in: independence for my country. And standing up for what I believe in, for the right of my country to be normal and hold its head high in the world, is what I'll continue to do. And if that means getting shouted down, so be it. If it means breaking the cosy consensus that stifles Scotland's potential, so be it. Scotland doesn't need more of the mind-numbing mediocrity that has been the stamp of the Labour-Liberal Scottish Executive for five long years. Scotland needs strong leadership and a clear vision for a better Scotland.

Scotland is fed up of politicians who look and sound the same. What they want is honesty, principle, passion, vision. We have all these things. So, let's go out there and show it, as we go forward, together, to win our country's freedom.

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