‘WE will not allow Scotland’s future to be limited” by Unionist parties, Keith Brown will tell the SNP conference today.

Scotland’s party of government begins its 87th annual conference this weekend, with decisions once again made online as a result of Covid conditions. In recent days, The National has revealed how the programme includes motions on the creation of an independent Scottish civil service, an import ban on products manufactured using fossil fuels and calls for a rise in councillor pay.

The first session begins this afternoon, with Brown, the party’s depute leader, set to address delegates.

He is expected to deliver a rally cry to the party faithful, stating that the organisation is in “great shape” after spring’s ballot box success in the Scottish Parliament elections – which saw it return a record vote share – and has “great resolve” despite difficult circumstances.

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Laying the ground for future campaigning, Brown is expected to say: “The last couple of years have been challenging for all of us, and they have made us all think about what really matters in our lives. As a responsible government, the SNP’s first priority has been – and remains – steering Scotland safely through the pandemic.

“While the whole Westminster system is quite clearly broken beyond repair, we are focussed on delivering for the people in every corner of Scotland.

“And as we look to the future, we will urge the people of Scotland to think about what kind of country they want to live in when the pandemic is over.

“Who is best placed to make decisions affecting their lives. Who is most committed to making Scotland a fairer, more prosperous nation and tackling key issues like the climate emergency.

“We will not allow Scotland’s future to be limited by the relentless negativity, the can’t-do attitude and the complete lack of vision from the Unionist parties.

“Our case for Scotland’s future is one based on optimism and ambition.

“A belief that our nation has what it takes to be a successful independent nation.

“And a belief that the people who live here can take better decisions about their lives rather than leaving Westminster in control.

“That is the case we will make in the months ahead – and that is the case which will lead us to independence.”

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The conference runs until Monday, when party leader and First Minister Nicola Sturgeon is scheduled to speak just after noon. Brown’s welcome speech begins at 2pm today, kicking off a four-hour session covering subjects including women’s safety and continued links with European institutions. Deputy First Minister John Swinney will deliver his address to the conference tomorrow afternoon before delegates discuss the civil service resolution.

The National: Deputy First Minister John Swinney MSP, at his home in Woodside, East Perthshire speaking to SNP conference today..

As revealed in The National, it seeks to ensure that “ensure that all areas of Scotland get a fair share of the benefits of independence then conference proposes that an SNP Scottish Government should ensure that all core civil service jobs are distributed across the 32 council areas in proportion to the populations of those areas”.

It proposes that “rural, remote or disadvantaged” areas be allocated a higher proportion per capita of such jobs to boost their economies and avoid centralisation. This could mean a jobs hike for Dumfries & Galloway, Inverclyde, Highlands, Scottish Borders and An Na h-Eileanan nan Siar.

Ian Blackford MP, the party’s Westminster leader, will give his speech on Sunday afternoon.


The conference takes place after polling by YouGov for the Times found that though Sturgeon’s approval rating has fallen by almost 40 points since its peak last year, she remains by far the most popular political leader in Scotland.

In August last year Sturgeon’s rating was +50, with 72% of voters agreeing that she was doing well as FM, compared with 22% who said she was doing badly.

This month that’s changed to a rating of +12, with 53% saying she is doing well and 41% taking the contrary position.

However, that popularity rating is still way ahead of other Scottish leaders – Tory Douglas Ross went down to -38, Labour’s Anas Sarwar slipped 21 points to -1, Scottish Greens co-leaders Patrick Harvie and Lorna Slater are on -38 and LibDem head Alex Cole-Hamilton is on -16.

Boris Johnson’s popularity rating was down 17 at -62, with Keir Starmer of Labour also down at -35.