IT is easy to be loyal to a party when times are good and the party is ahead in the polls.

But you find out what real leadership is – and what real loyalty looks like – when times are tougher and that is why I will back the SNP and the First Minister through next week’s fight and I urge everyone in our party and everyone who cares about Scotland to do the same.

How we ended up here should be a matter of embarrassment for every parliamentarian in every party. Yes, the Government and the nation missed climate change targets which, if anything, have been criticised for being over-ambitious. We put our hands up as a SNP government with our partners the Scottish Greens. Right now we should all be sitting down to agree a workable plan to achieve them.

But instead of working a way forward, the Tories reach for the grubby political cliche of a confidence vote and, as ever, when the Tories build a bandwagon the Scottish Labour Party runs alongside to hop on.

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Instead of this frenzy of political folly that leaves the people we serve cold, it is time to pause and reflect. I cannot think of one of us who has earned the respect of the public this week. It is time we started to do that.

We do that by getting back to the people’s priorities. The lives of the people who cast votes are more important than the careers of the people they cast them for.

So I am backing the SNP to build the economy that will create the wealth we can use to make Scotland a better place.

A nation where, once again, education is the best in the world. A place where our health care is a global leader again. A community dedicated to lifting everyone out of poverty and embracing equality. A Scotland of opportunity, where the talent of every one of us is cherished and given the support to flourish in all our diversity.

Geographically perhaps Scotland is small, but our ideas can make it one of the biggest places on earth.

The National: First Minister Humza Yousaf speaks during a press conference at Bute House, Edinburgh, after the First Minister terminated the Bute House agreement with immediate effect. Picture date: Thursday April 25, 2024. PA Photo. See PA story POLITICS ButeHouse.

I am glad that Humza Yousaf (above) has responded to this week’s “inside baseball” parliamentary machinations to get on with the day job with his £80 million announcement for affordable housing in Dundee, yesterday.

Holyrood – and Westminster – should realise that a plot is somewhere you build a house, not a stratagem to remove a First Minister.

The First Minister is turning these difficulties into an opportunity to reset our government, to reassert our values and refocus on what the people need us to be doing.

And it is not just the party that should follow his lead, it is the whole Scottish Parliament. It was designed to be a parliament of minorities where every voice is given equal weight and heard.

It is interesting to reflect that it was perhaps the minority government between 2007 and 2011, where there was no majority and the parliamentary arithmetic was at its most precarious, that has been devolution’s most productive administration.

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Cabinet ministers were able to work with all parties and the public rewarded the SNP with a majority in 2011.

That should not dissuade minority parties from working with the SNP but instead they should learn the lesson that the public is best served when we all work together and that is when the political class is most respected.

And let us get away from the language of who is and who is not acceptable to work with.

For example, well before and during the Bute House Agreement, Patrick Harvie (below) and I worked together – that is no secret.

The National: Patrick Harvie has said the SNP should consider a new leader (Andrew Milligan/PA)

The question therefore isn’t whether my world is big enough to embrace the Greens – it is. The question is whether their world is big enough to embrace me. I hope and believe it is.

The reason we are all in the Scottish Parliament is because we asked for the opportunity to serve and the people of Scotland gave us that opportunity. That is honour enough and they did not ask us who we would serve with.

Every day I am grateful that I have been lucky enough to have had the chance to get a university education, a well-paid job and have a loving family. I know that many people from the same background as me did not get any of those chances.

I want to change that. No-one in this country should want for the means to feed themselves and clothe themselves. To afford a home and to afford to heat it.

Everyone should have the chance to make the best of themselves.

I know that is what I care about. I know it is what most Scots care about. Crucially it is also what I believe our party cares about and that must be our focus.

Scotland is a place of many voices. When, with nuance and understanding we blend them all together Scotland speaks with one voice and the world listens.

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When we are discordant – when we bicker – no-one listens to the noise we make. Especially, the people whose voices we are supposed to amplify – the voters.

I believe in the SNP’s vision for Scotland because it is one where every voice must be heard and understood. No orthodoxies imposed. No restrictions on the paints of the palate we will use to decorate the living portrait of this nation.

The right to be yourself. The resources to develop yourself. The responsibility to share your talents with us all.

A Scotland that uses its own resources to create its own wealth to share with its own people and beyond.

I joined the SNP because I want Scotland to be free. To stand up on our own two feet and proudly present ourselves to the rest of the world.

That should be true for all of us as individuals in our own land, as it is of Scotland as one nation on the world stage.

That is the project we are all embarked upon and it should embrace not just the SNP but all people of all parties and none who believe in it.

It is too important a mission for us to allow petty divisions to deflect us.

As Humza Yousaf has sought to do, we should turn these difficult days into an opportunity to show that we in the SNP understand three things.

Leadership. Loyalty. And the humility to work with all who put Scotland first.

That is why I urge everybody in the SNP and the wider independence movement to approach this week not with trepidation but with the guts and enthusiasm I know we have, and to refocus on the task we have in the days, months and years ahead to serve the people – not ourselves.