'LAST week, Nicola Sturgeon addressed the SNP Conference in Glasgow to give her annual set-piece speech to party members and the watching public at home.

Conference season is as much about playing to the band and geeing up your own troops as it is about launching new policies, but last Tuesday’s effort was an all-time low when it came to substantive policy making.

In an hour-long speech, the First Minister reeled off the SNP's greatest hits, with the most notable coming in their first spell in Government- over ten years ago. But rather than convince the voting public of what a good job the SNP is doing, it served to underline what little has been achieved in the past four years. Like an old band playing their favourites instead of new material, the public know their best days are behind them. After 11 years in St Andrews House the SNP Government looks tired and out of ideas.

When Nicola Sturgeon became First Minister in 2014 she promised that education would be her number one priority, yet it managed just one mention compared to the 13 on independence. And herein lies the problem.

Since, 2014, pupils, teachers and parents have taken hit after hit. Our collective performance in the PISA rankings has fallen, teaching vacancies are up and the Government has scrapped its flagship Education Bill. This is a sorry record and perhaps all the more reason the First Minister side-lined it. Even if you can forgive her for avoiding this tricky subject, education is something parents at home want to hear about. They want to know what is being done to reduce the attainment gap and class sizes but they don’t want to hear about the constitution.

Unfortunately, it’s not just education where performance is slipping. Every week, there seems to be new statistics showing a rise in waiting times or an increase in clinical staffing vacancies. Fundamentally, our NHS needs a pick-me-up, whether that is fresh funding or new ideas. Unfortunately, none of this was to be found in Glasgow last Tuesday.

What we got instead was independence. Whilst she stayed clear of calling for a new referendum, there was enough subtext to suggest that this is still her raison d’etre. Rather than viewing Brexit as a hurdle to negotiate or an opportunity to be had it was seen as a vehicle for a future vote on secession.

Voters will not appreciate this cynicism.

The public at home would rather the SNP spent time improving education, schools and public services rather than navel gazing over a second independence vote and it is here where I would urge the First Minister to concentrate her focus'.

As ever Liz appreciates the feedback of constituents and can be contacted at 31 Canmore Street, Dunfermline, KY12 7NU or via email at Elizabeth.Smith.msp@parliament.scot or via telephone at 01383 720 530.