Follow us

Scotland’s fortnightly political & current affairs magazine


Subscribe to Holyrood
by Staff reporter
13 October 2019
SNP conference: live blog

SNP conference: live blog

Hello and welcome to Holyrood's SNP conference blog, bringing you live updates from our team of journalists in Aberdeen.

Tuesday, 15 October

4.20pm: Well, that's it from the Holyrood team, thanks for joining us!

4.10pm: Nicola Sturgeon ends her speech on independence. 

She said: "It is time to place Scotland’s future in Scotland’s hands. To take our own decisions and chart our own course. It is time to play our part in building a better world.

"Friends, in the immortal words of Robert Burns: “It is comin’ yet for a’ that.”

"The world is waiting for us. Let’s win our nation’s independence." 

3.50pm: Sturgeon has announced a few new policy items, including £27m to support 200 schemes to make it easier for people to walk and cycle, and:

3.40pm: A standing ovation as Sturgeon confirms she intends independence referendum to be held next year and will request Section 30 order by the end of this year


3.28pm: Enormous applause as independence is raised

3.20pm: Nicole Sturgeon has begun her speech

3.05pm: Just announced in the main hall:

3pm: SNP leader Nicola Sturgeon is about to deliver her keynote speech to end the conference, but before we get to that - here is a picture from yesterday, of Sturgeon posing with Sturgeon, in Holyrood magazine's now-infamous front page cut out

1.10pm: Mandy Rhodes is joined by Minister for Older People and Equalities Christina McKelvie

10.55am: An announcement from Shirley-Anne Somerville:

10.40am: Meanwhile, Jenni Davidson is in the main hall live-tweeting Cabinet Secretary for Social Security and Older People Shirley-Anne Somerville's speech

10.30am: We are back for the final day of the conference in Aberdeen, with SNP leader Nicole Sturgeon's keynote address this afternoon in the main hall. In excerpts of the speech released to media, Strugeon will announce that if re-elected as First Minister in 2021 the Scottish Government will move to scrap all non-residential social care charges.

Sturgeon will also use the podium to set out how an independent Scotland will be act as a bridge between the UK and European Union in making the country a “magnet for global investment”. Read the full story here.


Monday, 14 October

7.45pm: Holyrood's final fringe event of the autumn SNP conference, the Economy Hub reception with Cabinet Finance Secretary Derek Mackay, is underway now. Follow our Twitter account for all the updates

7.30pm: Emily Woods has written about an explosive fringe session she just attended, put on by the Scottish Police Federation. In it, the police union's general secretary put to Cabinet Justice Secretary Humza Yousaf: “At this current time, Police Scotland is going to run out of money and not be able to pay wages in February."

Read Yousaf's response, and all that was said at the event, here.

5pm: In case you missed John Swinney's speech earlier, here are a few highlights: 

3.30pm: Here's Holyrood editor Mandy Rhodes talking to MSP George Adam about recent signs of a rise in support for independence.

3.05pm: Cabinet Secretary for Environment, Climate Change and Land Reform Roseanna Cunningham has told SNP conference the Scottish Government will help establish a new office for the Committee on Climate Change in Scotland.

She also outlined plans for a network of ‘climate action towns’ across the country, backed by £1m in funding, while pledging to publish a new climate change plan next year, with details on how Scotland will meet emission reduction targets. Read the fill story from Liam Kirkaldy here.

3pm: Ahead of his conference speech this afternoon, John Swinney has spoken about what he sees as the benefits of offering non-traditional classes to high school pupils.

“If we’re not careful, then we’ll alienate young people by doing things they don’t find interesting.

“So let’s have the curriculum driven by young people and what they’re interested in, rather than by what old duffers like me are interested in."

You can read the full story here

1.30pm: Liam Kirkaldy speaks to Pete Wishart about conference and indyref2

1.20pm: Our fringes are underway



12.45pm: Cabinet Secretary for Finance, Economy and Fair Work Derek Mackay just took the stand in the main hall, giving a speech about how Scotland can afford to be independent from the union.

Mackay spoke about the next Scottish budget, plans for the Scottish national investment bank, and leading the "green industrial revolution":

12.10pm: Cabinet Secreatery for Health and Sport Jeane Freeman was asked at a Holyrood fringe event last night “do you think we will have 14 health boards in the future?” Her response was quite interesting. Read about it in this story from Emily Woods.

11.45am: Holyrood editor Mandy Rhodes had a quick chat with SNP leader Nicola Sturgeon at our exhibition stand about how conference has changed.

11.30am: The Holyrood stall has been buzzing this morning, with visits from MPs Deidre Brock and Marion Fellows who will be hopping on a plane back to Westminster for the Queens speech this afternoon.

11.27am: The second day of the SNP conference kicked off with two Holyrood fringes, one on the future of the of the rural economy and another on social mobility.

The rural economy event covered a wide range of topics, from housing, transport and digital connectivity to encouraging young people to pursue careers in fishing, farming and forestry, the impact of salmon farming, fishing quotas and, of course, issues around leaving the EU. Here are a few of the tweets from that session. You can follow the entire thread on Twitter @holyrooddaily.


The social mobility fringe looked as issues such as financial literacy, qualifications and access to jobs and workplace cultures. You can read the all the tweets on a thread @holyrooddaily.

Sunday 13 October 

8.20pm: That's a wrap, thanks to those who joined us on the blog today, we will be back first thing tomorrow morning to bring you all the action from the SNP autumn conference.

8.10pm: Freeman has just been asked about whether Scotland needs all of its health boards, and the answer was actually quite interesting:


7.40pm: The Health and Social Care reception, featuring Cabinet Secretary for Health and Sport Jeane Freeman, is now underway - Holyrood's final fringe event for the day.

Freeman is being grilled by chair, journalist Pennie Taylor.

7pm: A lively audience participated in the Health and Social Care debate this evening, questioning panel members including Minister for Public Health, Sport and Wellbeing MSP Joe FitzPatrick and representatives from British Medical Association, British Lung Foundation and the Chartered Society of Physiotherapy.

Issues around access to health, particularly GPs and specialists, kicked off the debate. Chartered Society of Physiotherapy Scotland's Kenryck Lloyd-Jones said Scotland must move away from "focusing all services around the GP".

He said other professionals, such as allied health professionals, should be looked at to “provide the right treatment for the right person at the right time”. On the new GP contracts, BMA Scotland chair Dr Lewis Morrison said it was "not the easiest thing" to organise, and "perhaps it's not been as well advertised as it should have been". "The message has to go out there that being a generalist is awesome, as one of them I'd know," Morrison said.

One audience member questioned why “a load of us are falling down the middle” due to the integration of health and social care, to which FitzPatrick said: “folk should not be falling through the cracks, but it’s probably the biggest change in health and social services we’ve had since the NHS came into being.”

And ending the discussion today, the panel was asked “if you could change one thing to improve public health in Scotland, what would you change?"

The British Lung Foundation said there needed to be “more doctors and nurses working in respiratory”, while the BMA’s response was “stop calling it public health, call it your health”.

Lloyd-Jones said he would like to see more integration into the system for allied health professionals like physios, and Fitzpatrick said he would encourage more Scots to be fit and eat healthily. “I want to change how we make people more active and look after their diet better, if we can crack that then I think more people will live healthier, longer lives,” he said.

6.49pm: In his opening speech to the SNP conference, Ian Blackford attacked the UK Government’s move to launch a new parliamentary session, calling it “simple electioneering” and a “charade” to distract from the Brexit process. He told conference that the SNP would vote down the Queen's speech if it got the chance. Read Ailean Beaton's news report here.

6.41pm: Rounding off the public health debate, the BMA calls for an end to using the term 'public health'.

6.10pm: Public health minister Joe FitzPatrick says stigma is one of the barriers to tackling common public health problems




5.33pm: Emily Woods will be live tweeting from the Holyrood Health and Social Care Hub this evening. In the panel for the Big Public Health Debate are public health minister Joe FitzPatrick MSP and representatives from the British Lung Foundation Scotland, BMA Scotland and the Chartered Society of Physiotherapy. Follow the tweets on @holyrooddaily

5.27pm: Holyrood editor Mandy Rhodes has been busy on the stand:

5.14pm: Michael Russell makes his closing remarks of the Q&A, which is the final conference event of the day. Speaking metaphorically about finding the decisive moment to launch into an independence campaign, Russell said: "We have to be ready. Because when that break in the ice comes, we'll be ready for independence". 

5.06pm: You can follow all the updates from the Brexit Q&A session over on Twitter, from @HolyroodDaily


4.35pm: A Q&A session on Brexit, featuring MSPs Mike Russell and Joanna Cherry along with MEP Alyn Smith is underway. Panelists are answering a range of questions on topics such as the future of EU migrants in Scotland; the political moves in Westminster; and the SNP's court challenge relating to a no-deal Brexit.


4.30pm: A slightly late-running session of topical resolutions has just concluded, which included discussion of Baby Loss Awareness week. 

4.02pm: Liam seems to have a great view of proceedings in the main hall

3.45pm: Given the chaos overwhelming UK politics at the moment, it's easy to forget that this hasn't been a particularly easy year for the SNP. But despite U-turns on issues such as Named Person and  Air Passenger Duty (or Air Departure Tax), the party continues to poll very highly, even after 12 years in government.

In the latest issue of Holyrood Liam Kirkaldy takes a look at the state of the party, and of support for independence, finding a party raring for a general election. Read the full feature here.

3.20pm -  MEP Alyn Smith spotted with SNP leader Nicola Sturgeon...

3.10pm: Emily Woods has written about today's Achieving Net-Zero fringe event, where Scotland’s oil industry and the country’s renewable energy commitments were discussed. 

BP’s director of UK government affairs Andrew Mennear spoke about the technologies the company was working on around renewables, including “ultra-fast chargers” which could charge an electric Nissan car “in five minutes”. Read the full story here.

3.02pm: Delegates have just "overwhelmingly" voted down the plan B debate 

3pm: As reported, SNP Councillor Chris McEleny has proposed adding a debate on a 'plan B' route to independence referendum:

2.30pm: Blackford finishes he speech by challenging those in the party pushing for a 'plan-B' to independence:

Read the most recent article written by Staff reporter - International crime group behind SEPA hack

Stay in the know with our fortnightly magazine

Stay in the know with our fortnightly magazine


Popular reads
Back to top