The SNP launched their campaign for the Scottish Parliamentary Election on Wednesday. This was done virtually by the party leader on Twitter.

Nicola Sturgeon said: “In normal times, I’d be criss-crossing the country meeting as many people as possible on the campaign trail.

But Covid means that’s not currently possible.

And so, over the coming weeks, I will be touring Scotland virtually to meet people online.

We’ll be holding a series of digital town hall meetings, from Stranraer to Shetland.

Right now, I’m here to mark the official start of the SNP campaign with the launch of
our new poster.

Later today, we’ll be introducing our fabulous team of constituency candidates.

And they are joined by our most diverse list of regional candidates ever, with someone with a disability or someone from one of our BAME communities at the top of each list.

These are, of course, not normal times – but they are the most serious of times.

And that calls for experienced leadership and serious government.

That is what people across Scotland expect and deserve – and that is what I will deliver as First Minister if you re-elect me.

Over the last year I have dedicated the SNP government to one over-riding task – tackling the pandemic to keep Scotland safe.

And I have done my best every day to steer us through.

That will continue to be my number one priority.

But thanks to the incredible efforts and sacrifices of everyone in Scotland and the magnificent success of the vaccine roll-out we are now hopeful that better times lie ahead.

And so there is also a big focus from the SNP on policies to drive recovery.

And we are posing this question for the future too: who should decide the kind of country we will be after the pandemic – should it be the people of Scotland or politicians like Boris Johnson?

I believe Scotland’s future should be Scotland’s choice.

So in this election the SNP’s offer is this.

First and foremost – strong leadership and serious government to lead Scotland through the pandemic. Covid is not yet over. We need an experienced hand at the wheel.

Second, a transformational policy programme to kick-start the recovery with the NHS, jobs and an economy that works for everyone at its core.

The SNP is proposing the most ambitious policy programme any party has ever put before the people of Scotland in a Scottish Parliament election.

The biggest NHS pay increase in the history of devolution to show our appreciation for the heroic work of health workers over the past year.

A new National Care Service.

A cancer recovery plan.

100,000 affordable homes supporting 14,000 jobs a year.

A laptop, chromebook or tablet for every school pupil, so no child misses out on learning.

A doubling of the Scottish Child Payment as part of our mission to end child poverty.

A rural enterprise fund and a Women’s Business Centre to help the next generation of entrepreneurs.

And all that in just week one of the campaign

Over the coming weeks the SNP will continue to set out our policy platform.

These measures will offer practical help but they also tell a story of the kind of Scotland we can be.

A country of compassion and solidarity where we look out for one another and offer a helping hand.

But there is an obstacle in Scotland’s way.

Westminster is taking Scotland in the wrong direction.

Against the will of the people who live here, they’ve imposed years of austerity and forced through a job-destroying hard Brexit.

That is why when the crisis is over – after Covid – we will give you the right to decide whether to become an independent country and take our future into our own hands.

Independence will equip the Scottish Government and people with the powers we need for a long term recovery made in Scotland.

It will mean Scotland’s future will be in Scotland’s hands.

So at this election, vote SNP – for experienced, committed leadership to guide Scotland through the pandemic.

Vote SNP for a government of bold progressive policies to kick-start recovery and
build a fairer society.

Vote SNP for the right to decide your future.

On May the 6 – to build a better Scotland – make it both votes SNP.”