Swinney to address SNP conference in Glasgow

John Swinney.
PA

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John Swinney will tell the conference that “bold and ambitious” policy plans have set the agenda

John Swinney will open the SNP’s annual conference with a pledge that his party will protect Scotland’s interests.

At the conference at the SECC in Glasgow, the deputy first minister will highlight developments since the SNP announced its programme of government.

He will say “bold and ambitious” policy plans have set the agenda.

The three-day conference is the party’s 83rd and the first since June’s general election, when the SNP lost 21 of the 56 seats it won in 2015.

They included those of former leader Alex Salmond and its deputy leader Angus Robertson.

  • What to look out for at the SNP conference

Mr Swinney, who is also education secretary, will highlight the fact that in the past six weeks, the Scottish government has:

  • Set out reforms of business taxes
  • Confirmed a new Social Security Agency to be headquartered in Dundee
  • Confirmed a ban on fracking in Scotland
  • Begun work on a new National Investment Bank
  • Opened the Queensferry Crossing
  • Agreed reform of education with local authorities
  • Delivered over 8,000 baby boxes
  • Introduced new flexibilities for universal credit
  • Confirmed plans to lift the public sector pay cap

Speaking ahead of the conference, Mr Swinney said: “SNP delegates assemble in Glasgow this week knowing that we have an important job to do for the people of Scotland.

“The SNP is the only party delivering progressive government anywhere in the UK. In recent weeks, our bold and ambitious policy plans have set the agenda in Scotland and been heard around the world.

“We are the only party firmly focused on the priorities of the people of Scotland, protecting Scotland’s interests and ensuring Scotland’s voice is heard.”


Analysis

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PA

James Shaw, BBC News Scotland correspondent

This has not been the easiest year for the SNP.

They lost votes and MPs in the general election and party strategists may be concerned about the potential for both the Conservatives and Labour to build on their gains.

Labour might be seen as a particular threat.

Last month, the SNP’s leader, First Minister Nicola Sturgeon, hinted that tax rises for the wealthy were being considered.

It’s not clear whether she’ll want to spell out a new policy during this conference.

The possibility of a second independence referendum is definitely on hold – perhaps until after Scottish elections in 2021.

As for Brexit, Ms Sturgeon said in a recent interview that it was becoming more difficult to resist the logic of a second referendum.


Mr Swinney added that against the backdrop of Brexit, Labour and the Tories had “descended into unprecedented chaos”.

“Amidst the complete abdication of leadership on the key issues of the day, the responsibility on the SNP to deliver strong government has never been greater,” he said.

“At this week’s conference the SNP will build on our new plan for Scotland with a policy programme to address the concerns people care about the most, such as housing, the economy and public services – and we will continue to make the strong case for Scotland to have in our own hands all the powers we need to build an even better country for the future.”

First Minister Nicola Sturgeon will address the conference on Tuesday afternoon.

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