Honoured to speak at SNP conference
The Scottish National Party annual conference last weekend marked the end of the major party conferences this year.
Our party has continued to grow, even since the rapid rise in membership that followed the independence referendum, and as a result this was our largest conference yet.
The first three days contained the main business of conference: the passing of resolutions.
The SNP is a true social democratic party and this is truly exemplified by the way members decide on policy at conference.
Almost 30 different motions were put forward by different branches, affiliated groups and elected members, with the 3000 delegates from right across Scotland then voting on them.
I was privileged to be able to speak on the resolution calling for tougher action to deal with fixed-odds betting terminals, which passed overwhelmingly.
Another motion on the agenda which went through called for firmer legislation on the use of CCTV in abattoirs to ensure that we have the highest animal welfare standards possible.
Other important resolutions that passed included one supporting a review of the guidelines covering blood donation, calling for them to be based on an individual’s assessment and not on a blanket assumption based on sexuality, and another highlighting the massive problems people have obtaining a slot at a driving licence test centre and demanding the devolution of the relevant legislation to Scotland.
The variety of motions, from dementia care to international tax justice, ensured that a wide variety of issues were tackled and properly debated.
I’m proud to be a member of a party that puts its members frontand-centre of the policy-making process like this.
Conference is also a great time to catch up with charities and other organisations and learn about the work they’re doing in Rutherglen and Cambuslang and right across Scotland.
All manner of organisations host stalls or come along as observers to conference.
It’s a great opportunity for politicians like myself to learn more about some of the campaigns that many of my constituents have contacted me about recently, such as the talking buses campaign being run by Guide Dogs UK or the International Fund for Animal Welfare campaign to end the ivory trade.
Some of these issues may not be important to everyone but some could make a massive difference to some people.
The talking buses campaign, for example, could give those with visual impairments a much greater level of independence and it has my full support.
It is hugely important that the SNP represent all of Scotland. Equality and inclusion need to be at the very heart of everything we do.
That’s why I was hugely proud that the final day of conference was entirely dedicated to equalities issues.
A whole host of members gathered together to discuss gender, race, sexuality and disability issues in an open and inclusive way.
In these turbulent political times, when hate crime has dramatically risen south of the border, this celebration of difference couldn’t be more important.
It is hugely important that the SNP represent all of Scotland
Seeing the bigger picture Campaigning groups visit the party conference