Hope. That is this year’s main tagline for 84th Annual National Conference of the Scottish National Party.
Taking place at the SECC by the Clyde in a wet and dreary Glasgow, the three-day event included an array of events, resolutions and speeches. From Shetland to Hawick, delegates from all over Scotland and from all walks of life gather to discuss the future of the party and what it should stand for. Hope, then, is definitely an excellent word to describe the atmosphere of this conference.
Firstly, there is hope for a better Party. Since the 2014 indepdence referendum, the Party has gained over 100,000 members, now sitting at a membership of 125,482 and becoming the second largest party in the UK, passing the Conservatives earlier this year.
This massive surge in membership has brought its difficulties and the leadership of the Party has had the difficult task of bringing the Party’s constitution, code of conduct and HQ team up to scratch for this new, modern and larger party.
At this conference, the task was completed with a new constitution being passed. This included a better code of conduct and disciplinary proceedings, new roles to connect with the membership and new groups to represent minority within the Party.
The SNP has created an atmosphere of friendly debate, interesting discussion and positive activism. This is in sharp contrast to the internal strife of the main parties, like the class-based discrimination of the Conservatives with actions such as swearing about the NHS or Labour and their serious issues with anti-Semitism and Jeremy Corbyn.
The SNP’s new internal structure is leading the way to good campaigning, policy development and party unity.
As well, there is hope for a better Scotland. Many interesting topics were debated and supported at the conference intended for a better Scotland, as well as announcements from Scottish government ministers.
Leader and First Minister Nicola Sturgeon's speech announced a progressive plethora of new policies including an increase in bursaries for nursing trainees and a new 'Fair Work First' strategy of investment in skills and training and payment of the living wage.
Sturgeon's speech sharply highlights the vast differences between Holyrood and Westminster where the Scottish government continues to be progressive and benefit the Scottish people and the British government continues to fail in the tide of Brexit and in their social policies, such as Universal Credit. This conference also highlights one of the interesting advantages the SNP has over all other parties: it’s broad church.
The varying opinions, beliefs and ideas of the Party’s membership comes from a wide range of backgrounds and all sides of the political spectrum which results in interesting debate and policies. And compared to many parties with deep divisions, such as the Conservatives, the SNP broad church is united by the idea of Scottish indepdence. It is the glue that unites such a diverse group of people. It is the hope of a better Scotland that unites the SNP in their policies and their aim achieving their main goal: independence. And distinctly, hope for an independent Scotland in Europe.
Brexit and indepdence were a large part of the discussion of this conference. With Scotland voting a majority of 62% to remain, being dragged into the bottomless pit of Brexit is something that the nation is keen on, especially those who are part of the SNP. This came with the announcement that SNP MPs would support a second Brexit referendum.
But with a 'people’s vote' looking less and less likely, and a hard Brexit looking more and more likely, indepdence is becoming the best option for Scotland to be a part of the European Union. The First Minister’s speech was a rally call to the independence movement that we must prepare and better ourselves as the opportunity grows closer.
The SNP’s conference truly surpassed both the Conservatives and Labour by far in inspiring it’s membership, highlighting its progressive achievements and showing how fit Scotland is. It showed how indepdence is the best option for the nation.
Where other parties are disunited in their own internal squabbles, ignorance and intolerance, the SNP stands united in the hope it has of producing a better future for Scotland.