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15 May 2007

The people have spoken

THURSDAY, May 3, will be remembered as a truly momentous day in our national history - it was the day the people of Scotland made their voices resoundingly heard.

Faced with two basic choices – to take Scotland forward to a new era of development with the SNP, or to remain stagnant with Labour, the people chose the SNP. It was an emotional moment for many of us, and one which few of us will forget, as the SNP hailed victory in the North-east and across Scotland.

As the party with the most seats nationally, eight out of 16 members regionally in the North-east and locally the largest number of councillors across Scotland, the people opted for SNP representation at every level of government.

This election was fought over many policy areas – council tax, healthcare and class sizes to name but a few. However, underlying the various debates was the issue of confidence. The contest was between a party that displays confidence and ambition in Scotland and Scottish people and other parties that downplay Scotland's qualities, abilities and potential.

While other parties espoused an image of Scotland as a dependent country unable to survive without the support and direction of Britain, the SNP always maintained that Scotland is an enterprising and dynamic country with the ability to manage its own affairs.

Endowed with a wealth of natural resources, a valuable fishing industry and a skilled workforce, Scotland boasts just as many, if not more, advantages than other small independent nations such as Ireland and Norway.

The SNP recognises these attributes and believes that, given the opportunity, Scotland can and will flourish. This is why the party ran a consistently positive campaign about Scotland and our party's distinctive policies and, unlike Labour, did not resort to defensively attacking other parties – a fact which was not lost on the public.

This election was a clear vote of confidence not only for the SNP but for the future of Scotland. It's time for Scotland to make her own decisions and realise her true potential.

For my part, I was carried to a soaring victory with more than 58% of the votes cast, thanks to the people of Banff and Buchan, 16,031 of whom gave me their backing.

I am honoured to have been given such an overwhelming endorsement by my constituents and grateful to have been granted the opportunity to continue to serve their interests for the next four years, both in Parliament and in Banff and Buchan.

I take this opportunity to sincerely thank each and every one of my supporters and everyone who voted, regardless of who they supported.

In my third term as an MSP I want to extend on my progress in Banff and Buchan. In the last term I utilised every opportunity to promote industry and improve public services in the area. Thanks to our diverse industries such as fishing, oil and gas, farming, food processing and engineering, advanced by SNP parliamentary representation, we have a thriving economy with an average wage higher than the national average and the second highest level of self-employment in the country.

However, we must relentlessly build on these assets. Promotion of industry, investment in infrastructure such as the A90, reduction of crime on our streets and in our communities and local control of healthcare will remain my top priorities in this session.

I look forward, over the next four years, to delivering on my assurances and to representing the many and diverse needs of each of my constituents to the best of my ability.

Stewart Stevenson
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