The verdict: Here’s what delegates thought about the SNP conference


Student journalist Ryan McDougall spoke to attendees at the SNP conference

INDEPENDENCE, Brexit, Catalonia, drug reform and military recruitment are just some of the issues delegates at the SNP conference in Glasgow were firmly focused on.

The resolutions passed at conference inform official SNP policy, and delegates often speak passionately on behalf of their chosen issues.

So what did attendees make of this year’s event? We spoke to some to gather their verdicts.

Susann McGilvray, Kilmarnock and Loudon

I think Brexit’s the big one, there are other issues that are very important and need attention, though. For me, it has to be Brexit, as it doesn’t just affect one person, it affects all of us.

We are very fortunate in my constituency that our MP, MSP and the council are all SNP led, it’s very much the dovetail of a lot of things. Our constituency makes sure that everyone gets the help they need.

Aileen Campbell, Clydesdale, minister for public health and sport

There are a range of different issues that are particularly important. I find some of the health—related topics particularly interesting, but I’m also really interested as an SNP member in some of the issues around Brexit, because it’s so important that we get a Scottish voice to influence how Brexit looks, and to make sure we get the clarity that Scotland needs.

The SNP won the council elections in South Lanarkshire for the first time ever in the history of that area, so that brought down the Labour administration who had run that area for generations. What really impressed me with the SNP manifesto was that they were looking into empowering local communities, and I think as somebody who has been in that area for many years, I really see that as being fundamental to transforming our part of the world.

Ian Grant, Edinburgh West

On the agenda, the most important thing for me is the independence of Scotland, but we’re all agreed on the independence of Scotland, we all agree that the country would benefit, but I personally believe there is too much uncertainty at the moment, and to propose another uncertainty like a referendum is not a great idea at this moment.

I’m from the rural part of Edinburgh West, it’s a very nice community. The national movement is quite strong there and we generally have a good vote: We generally do elect good councilors. There’s a good variety of people from different backgrounds, and that makes campaigning interesting. You know, to address the Conservative, Lib Dem, middle class areas, then there’s the working class areas and such, it’s quite interesting. We’ve had a hard time, because we lost our MP, Michelle Thomson.

Barry Jarvis, Moray (ex councillor)

I’d say the most important thing is the drug reform issue, I think that’s a massive issue all across Scotland.

I think looking at the social aspect, trying to find way to approach the cause, the root cause being why people take drugs in the first place, I’d say that’s a thing of importance now, because arresting people and throwing them in jail doesn’t help.

It’s almost like a place where they’re surrounded by fellow folk with the same issues, drug dealers etc. It might as well be a university for drug dealers. Then they come out of jail, they’re stuck with this tag of being a junkie or a ‘jakey’ and they’re not able to get a job, so that pretty much puts them back in the cycle again, because in order to live they start to steal and commit petty crimes and such again.

I think our local MP [Douglas Ross, Conservative] really needs to get his finger out now and actually start delivering. He spent 10 years as a councilor before he became an MSP and he’s now an MP. He’s great with words, he’s great with talking, he’s great at sounding like he’s representing the people, but there’s not much coming out of it. He’s making big headlines for all the wrong reasons.

Deneka MacDonald, Kelvin

I’m still struggling to decide what’s most important to me, but I’m interested in more action being taken against Trident, that’s a big one for me.

Our constituency produces Lord Provosts, what more can I say? Glasgow’s new Lord Provost, an immigrant from Sweden, a woman (which is great) plays the bagpipes, she was a convener, which she’s had to give up obviously. Kelvin is just full of great people.”

Sandra Scott, Garnock

Indyref 2, that’s still at the forefront for me. Hopefully the issue will be addressed.

My constituency has room for improvement. Especially seeing as we’ve now got a Labour MP, it seems to be getting worse and worse.

Jack O’Neil, SNP Youth, Aberdeenshire East

At this conference, military recruitment was something I’ve been quite passionate about.

I just feel that if people can vote vote at 16 and 17, they can pay taxes, they can get married, have children and all these things, then they are smart enough and clever enough to decide their own futures. I don’t understand why, particularly, the youth movement of the party put forward a motion to take away rights from 16 and 17 year olds, it just seems pretty absurd to me. These are the same people who are hoping to gain votes and such for young people. 

If you give someone the right to vote then they’re obviously seen as smart enough to decide the future of their country, and it’s the exact same thing as joining the army, which is a big decision to make, but it’s their decision.

I live in Aberdeenshire East at the moment, it was Alex Salmond’s seat until 2017 when the Tories won it. Before that, I was a student in Aberdeen South, and that was an SNP seat until it went to the Tories as well.

I think the SNP campaigning for the election was fantastic, but there was nothing we could do against the Tories giving it all “independence this, independence that”. If you look at our manifesto, there was nothing really mentioned about independence at all. 

I can understand how the Tories utilised that. They turned it into a weapon, and it worked for them.

Jennifer Dunn, Ayr

From my own point of view, I spoke about drugs reform earlier at the conference, and I think that’s a really important issue, it certainly touches thousands of families across Scotland and I’m really pleased that the resolution and amendment were passed.

The main issue is obviously independence, but it’s about building up credible policies that will persuade voters.

I’m from the Ayr constituency, so obviously if I were to change anything I’d change it from being Tory to an SNP constituency. It needs a more socially just party to represent the area.

Bill Ramsay, Glasgow Southside

Removing the pay cap is the most important issue I think for both the conference as well as for all the working folk. We’ve had years and years of one per cent pay rises. I’m a public sector worker, but even across lower paid workers, we’ve had one per cent pay rises for many years which means, because of inflation, there’s very clearly been a pay cut. 

And so, there is a movement within the wider trade union to go for a pay rise that would be above inflation.

I live in the centre of Glasgow, which happens to be where the seat of the first minister is. On a constituency level, it’s maybe a bit different for that reason. I don’t mean to sound complacent, I don’t mean it that way, the activists work hard, and don’t take things for granted.

Grant Thoms, editor of Scots Independent, Stirling

I think the number one issue for me was around how the Scottish independence movement, through the SNP, tackles the ineffectiveness of the EU in dealing with the Catalonia independence referendum. 

There are many worthy topics being debated in conference this week, but frankly a lot of them I feel have been done before.

Read more from the SNP conference

John Swinney opens conference by announcing £20,000 bursaries for new STEM teachers

Ban on military recruitment of under 18s passed overwhelmingly at SNP conference

Alyn Smith: “The Kurds deserve more support than they’ve had.”

SNP stands with Catalonia as resolution of support passes without opposition

SNP members back creation of new law against “sex for rent”

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