Scottish Labour Conference 2015 - live blog

Written by on 7 March 2015 in Inside Politics

Follow our updates from the Scottish Labour spring conference from Edinburgh, written by Kate Shannon (KS) and Liam Kirkaldy (LK)

16:39: Ok that is about it for us - the Red Flag has been sung and folded away and the delegates are all heading off. Have a good weekend! (LK)

16:37: Some reaction - 

16:31: Good speech by Curran, who became very passionate talking about the struggle for gender equality. It was an issue that had not been touched on much until Curran and the idea of taxing highest earners to pay for Women's Aid Services seems a clever way to finish conference on a high and remind the party, which is feeling slightly embattled, what it is here for. (LK)

16:26: Curran says "the time is up on gender inequality" and re-iterates demand for equal representation for women in parliament and in pubic life. She says too many women are reliant on services like Scottish Women's Aid for support and the service deserves our thanks. She promises £2.3m fund for Women's Aid, paid for by increasing top rate of tax to 50%, because "no woman should live a life in fear of violence."







16:06: Apparently there was something of a mix up last night, with Sarah Boyack accidentally ringing Mandy Rhodes to get advice on her speech. Would have been interesting to see what Mandy's version would have been... (LK)







16:03: Shadow Scotland Secretary Margaret Curran is coming next to wrap things up. (LK)



15:57: The Labour Party conference has attracted some who would prefer the party to go further back to its roots. (LK)



15:47: Gemma Doyle MP criticises SNP policy of charging for exam appeals. She says an appeal she had in her favour when she was at school might have been what got her into university. Under current system, she says, the poorest schools won't pay to appeal, while private ones do. Doyle says no socialist could support the SNP's policy because 'it stops poor kids getting a second chance'.

Doyle with, "Young people do not have another 5 years to waste under the Tories." (LK)

15:37: Quite a few members of the shadow cabinet milling around the conference centre chatting with delegates, it looks like the party is making a big effort to engage with them. Meanwhile in the Hall we have heard members call on the Party to oppose TTIP outright (it currently supports in principle), do more to help those trying to find affordable housing and to take on the SNP's cuts to Police (LK).

15:26: Five hours later and the answer to Lang Banks' questions (below) appears, sadly, to be no. We have heard about the NHS, inequality, austerity and educational attainment, but nothing about climate change - despite Ed Miliband describing it as a "great threat hanging over humanity" as recently as last December. Will that change with Sarah Boyack's appearance? We will see... (LK)







14.29: This just in: Scottish Labour believes that every young person deserves support in getting on in life, "and Scotland’s best days can be in front of us, not behind us". Therefore Murphy has announced that Scottish Labour will:

  • Reverse SNP cuts to student bursaries and re-instate them to their highest levels for the poorest students.
  • Establish a £1,600 Future Fund for 18 & 19 year olds not in university, college or a modern apprenticeship.
  • Create scholarships in honour of Nelson Mandela’s legacy for students from sub-Saharan Africa.
  • To deliver over £30m of support to Scottish Universities.

14.14:  This is a strong speech from Murphy, he deviated from his planned script while discussing his upbringing in South Africa and his visits to schools in disadvantaged areas to great effect. This has made for an impressive, and at times moving, address. It is also worth saying that Murphy has barely mentioned the SNP. (KS)











13.52: Murphy says: "This is the most important election in Scotland in my lifetime. Not only because of the huge gap in values between us and the Tories, but because it is an election where it is beyond any doubt that Scotland will decide the outcome." (KS)

13.49: A very jazzy film featuring Murphy jogging about the country in a Scotland top is currently being shown. The audience loved it. (KS)

13.41: Jim Murphy's speech is about to begin, delegates are filing back into the hall. (KS)











12.53: Here are some extracts from Ed Miliband's speech. (KS)

"We will not tolerate a country of poverty pay, of hard work not rewarded: so we will raise the minimum wage to more than £8 an hour. We will not tolerate a country with Victorian working conditions in the 21st century: so we will ban the exploitation of zero hours contracts and legislate to say that if you do regular hours you get a regular contract.

"We will not tolerate a country where the vested interests, the energy companies, rip people off: so we will freeze energy bills until 2017 so they can only fall and cannot rise. We will not tolerate a country where banks do not serve our businesses but simply serve themselves. So we will reform our banks to ensure the banks work for our businesses again.

"We will not tolerate a country where young people spend their life on the dole: so we will tax bank bonuses and put young people back to work in every part of the UK. We will not tolerate a country where there is no dignity for the old.

"It is why we will raise the basic state pension and we will do something a Tory government will never do: stand up to the energy companies and the pension fund companies that rip off elderly people. And as we seek to change this country, we do so as a changed Labour party. A changed Labour party that believes in its soul that inequality matters. And that responsibility goes right to the top. People across our country think the economy is rigged against them and they are right. Let me tell you how we will change it."

12.51: Conference is on lunch but will reconvene at 1.30 pm.


















11:35: Interesting tension on display over course of the morning over the place of patriotism in Scottish Labour's message. Some, like Vince Mills, who approached from a trade union perspective, spoke passionately against thinking in those terms - arguing Keir Hardie was always strongly opposed to the use of patriotism, because it was a means of distracting the working class from their true interests. He pointed to how patriotism had been used to exploit the poor in the past, saying: 'Let's not talk of patriotic interests, let's talk of class interests.'

Others however are keen to wrap the party in patriotism as a means of countering the SNP, with many members obviously worried that the SNP has managed to appropriate idea of being for Scotland. (LK)



11.19: A run down of what's been happening at conference so far: people are very fired up and even though it's only 11 am, there have been some very impassioned speeches which received lots of applause and cheering from the audience. Labour is often accused of defining itself against what the SNP are doing and while the SNP have been mentioned (most prominently by outgoing MP David Hamilton and his "stick it to the SNP" speech), there has also been a lot of references to beating inequality and improving the economy. (KS)





11.12: I misread the programme, this section is a Q&A session led by Murphy and Dugdale. Their main speeches are later on. (KS)





10.53: Leader Jim Murphy is giving his speech shortly (at 11 am to be exact). He will be followed by deputy Kezia Dugdale. (KS)

10.43: Will Liam be able to find as much material for his sketch at Labour's conference as he did at the Tories? Time will tell... (KS)





10.36: We're currently hearing from delegates on the topic of 'Changing Scottish Labour, Changing Scotland'. Anne McGuire MP (who is standing down in May), echoes what leader Jim Murphy told Mandy Rhodes by saying that she is not Westminster's representative in Scotland, she's Scotland's representative in Westminster. (KS)







10.16: City of Edinburgh Council leader Andrew Burns is giving his welcome address. Read my recent interview with him here. (KS)

10.11: Labour Party chairman Jamie Glackin is addressing conference, he tells delegates until Labour is in government they can't change the inequalities which exist. He says the Labour Party is going to be "working its socks off" in the run up to May. (KS)

10.01: Conference is about to start and the EICC is packed! (KS)



08.34: While waiting for conference to begin, why not read Mandy Rhodes' latest interview with Jim Murphy? He said: "My approach to it is to genuinely be passionate, have high energy, high impact, try and set the terms of the political debate without doing what the nationalists do, which is an undeserved perpetual lap of honour." (KS)



08.32: Conference kicks off at 9.45 am with a short address from chairman Jamie Glackin, followed by leader of City of Edinburgh Council leader Cllr Andrew Burns. The day starts in earnest at 10 am when Scottish Labour leader Jim Murphy opens a debate entitled 'Changing Scottish Labour, Changing Scotland'. We'll be updating this blog throughout the day and also tweeting from @HolyroodDaily, so keep checking back for the latest news. (KS)




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