Conference season has almost arrived in Scotland. In preparation, PLMR Scotland has put together a brief description of what can be expected at each of the major party conferences.
The SNP conference will take place on the 17th and 18th of March in Aberdeen.
First Minister Nicola Sturgeon will be the main speaker, alongside Deputy Leader of the SNP and leader of the House of Commons, Angus Robertson.
The provisional agenda is available on the SNP website and includes a packed programme of resolutions including the celebration of 10 years of SNP Government in Scotland, action on North Sea jobs, to creating Inclusive Education which embraces LGBT+ students.
Not included on the agenda, but widely expected, is the ramping up of rhetoric surrounding Scottish Independence in the wake of Brexit. There is speculation that this could even include the announcement of a new Independence Referendum date, or it may simply be a promise to pursue the Section 30 order (the mechanism which allows a new vote). Whatever happens, expect widespread condemnation of Brexit and the Conservative Party, and the promise that the SNP are “the only party who will stand up for Scotland”.
The Scottish Labour conference will take place from the 24th to the 26th of February in Perth.
Scottish Labour Leader Kezia Dugdale will be joined by UK Labour Leader Jeremy Corbyn, Deputy Leader Tom Watson and London Mayor Sadiq Khan. The fact that this year’s conference is pulling in ‘big name’ speakers from down South is significant considering that last year Corbyn was conspicuous by his absence.
The agenda is designed to show off Labour’s pro-union credentials – with the first debate entitled ‘Scotland in the UK’. Also included are debates on Growing Scotland’s Economy and creating a sustainable Scotland.
It can also be expected that much of the conference will focus on Kezia Dugdale’s vision for ‘the new Act of the Union’ – proposing the creation of a federal UK. Representatives and delegates are also expected to continue to criticise both the SNP and Conservatives for “endangering the Union”.
The Scottish Conservatives’ Conference will take place on the 3rd and 4th of March in Glasgow.
Scottish Conservative Leader Ruth Davidson will be the key speaker at the conference.
While no agenda has yet been published, we expect to hear lots of talk about how the Scottish Conservatives are the “defenders of the Union” and a general celebration of their new position as the second largest party in Scotland. They will be looking to cement this position in May’s local authority elections so attacks on the SNP Budget will likely feature prominently– with specific focus on Scotland being “the highest taxed part of the UK”.
Scottish Liberal Democrats
The Scottish Liberal Democrats Conference will take place on the 10th and 11th of March in Perth.
Scottish Liberal Democrat leader Willie Rennie will be joined by former UK Liberal Democrat leader Nick Clegg.
The provisional agenda is now available and includes motions on implementing a Gender Balance Policy for the Scottish Parliament elections in 2021, preventing drug-related deaths and Maternal Mental Health.
It is also anticipated that there will be much talk about the disadvantages of Brexit and the need for a “Brexit Deal Referendum”. Expect speakers to chastise other parties for their stances on Brexit while emphasising their own pro-EU stance.
The Scottish Greens Conference will take place on the 11th of March in Glasgow.
The one-day conference will feature party co-conveners Patrick Harvie and Maggie Chapman, alongside MSPs Andy Wightman and Alison Johnstone.
Expect the Scottish Greens to focus on their opposition to Scottish Government plans to cut Air Departure Tax and for them to defend their negotiations with the SNP over the Scottish Budget. It can also be expected that rhetoric surrounding Scottish Independence will increase.