By Campaign Agent Matthew Waterfield
Much like the Conservatives, the SNP entered the conference season feeling dejected, following their performance in the general election, in which they lost 21 seats. As a result of their electoral frustration, the SNP has had to drop its plan for a second independence referendum, this being the first conference in a while focussed on issues other than Scottish independence.
Instead, a raft of interesting new policy proposals were announced, the most striking being that the Scottish government is soon to establish a publicly owned energy company, to offer cheaper energy to consumers. This policy had been pinched from Labour, who are regaining popularity in Scotland, thus threatening the SNP’s current position as the go-to party for left wing Scots.
Other prominent policies announced by Nicola Sturgeon include paying residency fees for EU citizens working for the public sector, establishing Scotland’s first low-emissions zone in Glasgow and the creation of a £6m rural tourism fund.
When Nicola Sturgeon walked onto the stage, she received a far more muted reception than has been common for the past few years, following a recent decline in her personal popularity. Her joke about Strepsils, a crude and predictable attempt to mock May’s mishap, didn’t earn too many laughs, and the conference hall was noticeably emptier than previous years.
For the first time in a while, SNP members seemed resigned to the need to ‘focus on the day job’, with independence now taking a backseat even in the minds of Scots who support it. What the people of Scotland are now looking for appears to be a period of stable governance, which is what Sturgeon is planning to offer, in order to revive the fortunes of her and her party.
Sources and Further Reading
- Nicola Sturgeon’s Conference Speech, what you need to know
- Labour Party Conference, Put Simply
- Conservative Party Conference, Put Simply
- Liberal Democrat Party Conference, Put Simply
Image: First Minister of Scotland @ Flickr