Column for 13 October

Column for 13 October

Published date : 13 October, 2022

The Party Conference season has just ended and it’s probable that we have never seen or heard such a diverse set of conferences across the three main parties represented at Westminster, leaving aside the obvious political differences which separate them.  

First up was the Labour Party Conference.  By all accounts, Labour seems to have enjoyed a good conference, mainly due to the fact that they are not the Conservative Party.  The fallout from Chancellor Kwasi Kwarteng’s mini-budget unfolded in real-time across several days of the conference, keeping Shadow Ministers on their toes in a constantly changing fiscal landscape as the effects of the Chancellor’s plans rippled through the stock exchange, pension funds and mortgage lenders.  

By the time the next weekend came around, it was the turn of the Conservatives to hold their Conference.  Prime Minister Liz Truss could have been forgiven for thinking that at the end of a very bad week for both herself, her Chancellor, and the reputation of her Party, things could only get better as her Conference kicked-off.    

Instead, things went from abysmal to terrible to awful, depending on which commentator you were listening to.  The Prime Minister had to row back on one of the highly reckless policies announced by her Chancellor just days previously, cancelling the planned cut in the higher rate of income tax.  

While I fully approve of the decision to cancel handing tax cuts to people at the highest end of the income scale during a cost-of-living crisis - and at the expense of those at the other end of the scale - it beggars belief that anyone thought this was a good idea in the first place.  Secondly, the dust this has thrown up masks all sorts of other regressive measures which were outlined in the very same budget.  

You could be forgiven for gaining the impression the Conservatives were mightily relieved simply to have got to the end of their Conference without having to hold another leadership election.  

Finally, just last weekend, we had the SNP Conference which I am pleased to say was held right here in Gordon Constituency at The Exhibition Centre Aberdeen.  You would expect me to say that it went well and all the attendees were united in their objective of securing a better future for our country.  However, rather than use this column for a shameless political plug I want to focus on an important announcement by the First Minister which will benefit the North-east.  

Nicola Sturgeon announced the first projects – 22 of them – to benefit from the North-east’s Just Transition Fund.  These projects have been awarded over £50million of funding, which means we still have around 90 per cent of the £500million budget to benefit future projects in the drive to establish a just transition to a net zero future.  

As we move into a new age for Scottish renewables, we have a duty to the workers in the established energy industries.  It’s vital we focus on developing and enhancing the skills our existing workforce need to take advantage of the renewables revolution.  

There is incredible Scottish ingenuity here in the North-east, being supported by the Scottish Government to developing the skills and technologies necessary to tackle the global climate emergency. 

It is exciting, inspiring stuff. And it is a shining example of what a Scottish Government can do when the powers lie in our hands. 

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