Wednesday, November 27, 2013

In Perth with the SNP

The clock at the Scottish National Party (SNP) conference in Perth is what made this event so different from previous political conferences this year.  Every speech by the party leadership and each resolution proposed by the membership was delivered in front of a countdown to the day, hour and second until the polls open for a referendum asking, “Should Scotland be an independent country?”

Every issue and sector was being assessed:  was it important enough, will it help the SNP win next year?

Stewart Hosie MP, SNP spokesman on the Treasury and Economic matters and a member of the Commons Treasury Select Committee, spoke on Scotland’s resilient economy and the role of the private sector in delivering economic growth.  The value of financial and related professional services to the Scottish economy was understood and appreciated, he told the businesses present.

John Swinney MSP, Cabinet Secretary for Finance & Sustainable Growth in the Scottish Government, used his meetings to emphasise how the SNP was ready to listen to business about the right framework for the future.  Fergus Ewing MSP, Minister for Energy Enterprise and Tourism, was keen to portray the SNP as the listening party, “Tell us and we will try to help”. 

The power of a bold infographic to illustrate the sector’s contribution to jobs and growth was also confirmed; with TheCityUK’s own artwork winning praise from Alec Salmond’s staff. 
So, “yes”, the sector is taken seriously.  It is one that can move the debate.

TheCityUK’s current role is to seek the answers to questions concerning our industry’s future in Scotland and the implications for the single market of the United Kingdom.  TheCityUK will provide facts for the debate, where we can, and use them to show the value of the financial and related professional services to the prosperity of Scotland.  With the clock ticking, business wanted answers to questions about what an SNP Scotland would look like.  The roll call of questions about the currency, EU membership, the lender of last resort, new regulations and regulators, a bank levy and the future of the UK’s Pension Protection Fund. 

There is hope that some issues will be clarified when the Scottish Government publishes its White Paper, a blueprint for independence, on Tuesday 26th November.  Others will have to be pursued into next year, maybe up to polling day itself on 18 September 2014.

The SNP activists did not have Perth to themselves.  Walking to the conference from the railway station a small shop caught the eye with a simple poster: “Say No to Separatism”.   Every step in this campaign will be contested.