SAOR Alba. It’s my absolute pleasure to be welcoming you all to the SNP national conference. And what gives me even more pleasure is that this year we have among us a number of visiting delegates from the Scottish Greens. So, I’d like you all to join me in singing a couple of verses of the famous renewables hymn “All Things Bright and Beautiful”.

Lorna, in her new role as Minister for the Circular Economy has circulated some hymn sheets, just in case any of you have forgotten the words. You’ll see that instead of “The Lord God made them all” we’ve substituted “The non-binary universal entity made them all”.

Many of you have been asking for a little more detail on what we can achieve going forward with our new partnership with the Scottish Greens. Much of this is contained in the 50-page memorandum of co-operation. But let me clear about what we want to achieve.

Patrick and Lorna will help make this government the most enlightened, progressive and progressively enlightened administration in the history of UK politics. In return for their valued input, we’ve given them lots of cracking titles, all of which can be downloaded from our website as they would eat up too much time in this speech if I were to describe them in full.

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With them on board we have made a renewed commitment to protecting Scotland’s wild and beautiful spaces by pledging to create another national park. All ideas for holiday chalets, visitors’ centres and adventure playgrounds must be in accordance with our commitment to making Scotland carbon neutral by 2040, or whenever the pandemic is over.

Delegates, my government has been criticised for not being sufficiently serious about holding a second referendum on independence. Nothing could be further from the truth. With this in mind I’m announcing that Joanna Cherry, one of my oldest and dearest political allies, will be tasked with formulating a proper plan to explore the extent of Holyrood’s power to hold a second referendum if Holyrood votes for it. Joanna and me, not unnaturally, have had our differences (what close friends haven’t, I ask you).

But in the event of Boris Johnson refusing our request for a Section 30 order, Joanna will then be asked to set about him in the courts, having already successfully beaten him two years ago when he tried to prorogue Parliament.

Earlier this year, I indicated that we will work towards a second referendum before 2026, provided the worst of the Covid has passed. I’d now like to revise that date and say unequivocally right here; right now that we will move to make this happen before 2023. By then Mike Russell will have visited most of Scotland with his independence drop-in Winnebago.

And can I just say this: we have also been criticised for relying too much on advice from corporate industrialists who sit on our various advisory boards. But these people pay good money to rent space at our conferences and events and have thus earned their right to sit beside me at political dinners. However, today I’m announcing the beginning of a new partnership with our friends in the trade union movement.

The effects of the pandemic have been most keenly felt in our working-class neighbourhoods and it’s only right that we partner with the unions in developing an industrial strategy to attract proper, well-paying jobs and investment to these communities. We will also ensure that the lion’s share of the £1 billion I’ve promised to invest in the NHS will be spent in these neighbourhoods.

And the same with schools. I promised to ensure that the attainment gap in education would reduce on my watch. It hasn’t yet, sufficiently. And so I’m ring-fencing another £1bn to fund well-resourced super-schools in our poorest neighbourhoods which will be staffed by teams of hand-picked teachers and head teachers with proven records of success working in our poorer communities.

ALL of them will be paid a premium salary in return for pledging to work in these communities for a minimum of 20 years. We will also double the Scottish Child Payment as a matter of urgency.

I’m also announcing the disbandment of Police Scotland and replacing it with the old model of local forces. We tried to find a better way of doing policing but have discovered that there is no real substitute for expert local knowledge of a region’s complex pattern of needs built up through earning the trust and co-operation of all sections of the community.

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Where do you intend to source the extra money required to fund these bold initiatives, I hear you ask. Well, for the first time in the devolved era, your government will use the tax-raising powers at its disposal to bring in a radical and progressive suite of tax increases.

These will include an extra 2% on the highest rate of income and an annual windfall tax on those companies which filled their boots during the pandemic. We will review this once the pandemic has been brought under control.

I’m also delighted to announce that we are committed to nationalising all the means of oil and gas production in the North Sea to protect jobs and to bring about a realistic transition – where possible – to more energy-efficient work practices. Thus we will soon be announcing the establishment of the Scottish Energy Company. The most important factor in our North Sea strategy is protecting livelihoods and building real communities with real people. We have established a joint working group with the Norwegian Government who will advise us on getting the best deals with the energy conglomerates.

Finally, it will soon be time to bid farewell to our two new Green ministers as it’s been decided their roles will come to an end at the end of the year. It’s been a blast, Patrick and Lorna but, as I’m sure you’ll both agree, this was only ever a temporary measure and, as has been pointed out elsewhere, the Scottish Government has more ministers than other countries that actually are independent.

But your time in government, no matter how short, will help you secure tidy positions in the renewables sector when the gravy train comes to a halt.

All together now: “Each little flower that opens; each little bird that sings ... ”