Firstly, I want to say that I am absolutely delighted that John Swinney MSP, currently the longest-serving elected parliamentarian in the country has stepped forward to become leader of the SNP and Scotland’s next First Minister.

For SNP supporters and non-aligned people alike, this news brought an immediate lift. That has been instantly apparent speaking to people on the doorsteps and in our community. John is a caring and capable individual who brings a real sense of stability and positivity to the work of the Scottish Government.

It is all too easy to spend too much time looking inwards, focussing on the things that still need fixed. Of course, there are things that are not as good as they should be, but that work is actually achieving some great things for the people of Scotland. For example, SNP policies lift children from poverty, give them a better start in life and enable them to go to university.

Alloa and Hillfoots Advertiser: John Swinney is the new leader of the SNP.John Swinney is the new leader of the SNP. (Image: Andrew Milligan/PA Wire)

Within the limiting confines of Westminster’s utter mishandling of the economy, Scotland is outperforming other parts of the UK in so many ways and, sometimes, we need to take a step back and recognise that.

In housing, new home building in Scotland has been at more than double the rate built per head of population in Labour-controlled Wales and a third higher than Tory England.

A&E departments in Scotland are outperforming those elsewhere. Figures from the Office for National Statistics on patients waiting more than four hours in A&E found that the worst performing was England, followed by Wales, with Scotland faring best.

Only the SNP stand with the majority of people who want their government to deliver real and meaningful change. Labour claim to stand for change but all they really offer is more of the same.

Just recently in Parliament, we debated a report from the Parliamentary and Health Service Ombudsman into the pension injustices on women born in the 1950s. There can be absolutely no more excuses or delays from the UK Government.

I was very disappointed that both the Labour and Tory parties not only brought forward amendments that would have removed the call on the UK Government to pay the compensation in full and without delay; they also abstained on the final vote.

I simply cannot understand that approach, but I am delighted that the Scottish Parliament, nevertheless, passed the motion.

It is frustrating beyond measure that on issues like the WASPI women and another issue I have been raising in parliament recently, the impact of the Horizon scandal on sub-postmasters, the path to justice is made slower and more complicated because of Westminster, the very place where the problems were caused in the first place.

We need to be able to pursue the priorities that will make Scotland the best our country can be as a modern, innovative, dynamic nation and the real change that we need to do that is for Scotland to become independent.