ON FRIDAY, the SNP won the council elections in Scotland. We did so overwhelmingly, achieving our best ever result in a local government election result.

We increased our share of the vote, elected a bigger number of councillors than last time, and became the largest party in more councils than five years ago.

This would have been an outstanding result for any party at any time and in any circumstances - but for the SNP to achieve it after 15 years in government is truly remarkable.

In Glasgow, Dundee, Edinburgh, Stirling, Fife, and many other councils around Scotland - 21 in total - the SNP is once again the largest party, demonstrating that people across the country trust us to lead Scotland forward in these extremely challenging times.

It also demonstrates how unhappy people are with the Tories and sends a very clear message that government at all levels must do more to help with the cost-of-living crisis.

My congratulations go to each and every SNP councillor elected across Scotland - indeed, to all those elected - and to the activists and volunteers of all parties who worked hard to deliver these results result.

But most of all, I want to thank the people of Glasgow, and Scotland, for making their voices heard and putting their faith in the SNP to deliver on our commitments. We don’t take that trust for granted. Instead, we will work tirelessly every day to repay it. 

Every one of the SNP councillors elected in Glasgow will get to work on delivering our commitments to tackle poverty and inequality, improve neighbourhoods and communities, address the climate emergency and create better life chances for those who live here.

Across the country, we will now turn our efforts to constructive cooperation and the task of reaching agreement on forming administrations with other parties who share our progressive principles. And where agreements can be reached, we will work together to do what’s best for communities across the country.

While this result is yet another resounding endorsement of the SNP, it has been a massive rejection of the antics and incompetence of the Tories.

I argued that this election was an opportunity for Scotland to send an unequivocal message to Boris Johnson that he must do more to help families suffering from the crippling cost-of-living crisis that his party has done so much to cause.

The collapse of the Tory vote last week - losing more than 100,000 votes and many councillors - shows that the people of Scotland responded and took that opportunity.  

That must be a wake-up call for a party - and UK Government - that has so far shown itself to be woefully out of touch on the real issues facing people all over Scotland.

Boris Johnson holds the powers and resources needed to help people now. It is vital for the sake of everyone struggling to pay bills that he does so. The SNP will be doing all we can to force him into action.

Behind the overall, headline results, the election also delivered lots of ‘firsts’ to celebrate.

For example, Roza Salih, a new SNP councillor in Pollok, first arrived in Scotland as an asylum seeker.

For her to now be a member of Glasgow City Council is a tribute to her talent and commitment, but it also says something good about Scotland.

Last week also saw the first women elected to the Western Isles council - definitely progress to be celebrated.

Despite all of that welcome progress, there is still much to do to ensure that politics and governance at all levels in Scotland is more diverse and represents modern Scotland more fairly.

Over the course of the campaign, one of the issues I was asked about most often was the sexism, misogyny and abuse that women in public life - indeed, women in all walks of life - still face far too routinely.

On International Women’s Day back in March, I spoke of the strides forward we have made in Scotland when it comes to better gender equality and equal representation.

There is absolutely no doubt that we have made progress, and it should be celebrated – but we mustn’t let it mask the deep inequalities that still exist across society, or distract us from the work still to do.

I don’t think there’s a woman alive in any walk of life who will not have experienced misogyny and sexism in some form.

That kind of unacceptable male behaviour is not reserved to Westminster, nor indeed to politics. It happens to women everywhere, in every walk of life, and we’ve got to make sure there is urgent action to address it. The root of the problem, of course, is the behaviour of some men - and that is what needs to change most of all.

The scale of the task we face if we are to ensure equality for women and girls here at home, and across the globe is stark, but clear. The attitudes and conduct of those who seek to limit the lives of women on a daily basis have absolutely no place in our modern society.