One of the things I love about conference, is the opportunity to meet SNP members and activists from across Scotland. When you represent half the landmass of Scotland as I do, it can be a challenge to get along to branch meetings and meet folk.
These two days of meetings, speeches and resolutions from the membership represent real democracy at work, and newcomers and SNP veterans all have opportunity to contribute.
It was a novelty and a privilege to be up on stage with other members of the government during the key speeches, I don’t doubt that much of the work that went on in the background will be highly important to the party, and in turn Scotland as a whole. With party membership having grown to almost 120,000 since 2014, we are now reorganising internally with the aim of allowing more full and effective participation
I believe it is crucial to effectively harness the positive energy of our growing membership at this time, so I am happy that we’re striving for inclusiveness and engagement, which in turn will surely strengthen our ability to lead the country more effectively.
There were many resolutions to be debated over Friday and Saturday. Having experienced being a first-time speaker not long ago, I enjoy the passionate and reasoned arguments of party activists. These debates help shape party policy and allow the wider membership to challenge the leadership.
Of course it is also important to hear from those leaders. John Swinney spoke passionately about his aspirations for Scotland’s education system.
Nicola Sturgeon’s speech perfectly reflected the party’s dual role of being in government, but also in presenting the case for an independent Scotland.
Against a background of continuing Tory austerity, it is heartening to be reminded of the progress made by the government I’m now a part of.
As a former NHS Scotland employee, the immediate and backdated 3% pay rise for NHS Scotland staff was particularly welcome among strong policy announcements. I would urge folk to read Nicola Sturgeon’s full speech for a flavour of SNP achievements that don’t always hit the headlines.
Away from conference, it was great to see research by RBS indicate the Scottish economy is growing faster than the UK as a whole.
The report for May recorded the fastest pace of growth in Scotland’s private sector since July 2017 and also found the sharpest expansion in order book volumes for 46 months.
This came on the back of a survey from the National Centre for Social Research that revealed confidence in an independent Scotland’s economic prospects has soared – showing that the SNP is winning the economic debate.
The survey found that 41% of people view independence as a positive for Scotland’s economy, up from 26% in 2014 – and now outnumber those who believe the economic prospects would be worse.
With Nicola Sturgeon emphasising that the case for independence needs to focus on ‘why’ rather than ‘when’ such figures may prove key.
This is a regular column by local MSP Maree Todd, SNP. Labour, Conservative and Scottish Green local MSPs have also been offered space to share their personal views.