This is probably not what my party press office wants me to say on the eve of the opening of the SNP conference, but I will let you in on a secret: I don’t like party conferences.
I have been attending my own party’s annual conferences for nearly two decades now, but the prospect of spending three days in a windowless auditorium, endlessly applauding speeches with which you deeply agree and echoing thoughts widely and similar ideas with colleagues doesn’t strike me as being a great use of time.
Besides being a kind of petri dish for autumnal colds and a terrible backpacking vacation for political journalists, the conferences have three main objectives: to raise funds for the party coffers, to encourage activists to go out and to campaign and, finally, to capitalize on the media. coverage by spreading your party’s message.
If you’re a politician like me, party conference season can be very consuming. Who is standing? Who’s down? Whose speech has it collapsed? Who said something outrageous to a reporter after too many glasses of wine at a late-night sideline meeting?
Conference season is basically like Glastonbury for politicians, but the toilets aren’t that bad.
However, conferences can only be considered a success if your party’s main message reaches voters.
It would be fair to say that the Conservative Party Conference in Birmingham this week was a total car accident. I lost count of the number of blunders, squabbles and U-turns that occurred in Brum.
In reality, the Tory conference was always going to be tough after the UK government served up a not-so-mini budget, which turned out to be as popular as a pickle on a McDonald’s cheeseburger.
If you’ve been following the media coverage of the budget statement, the most criticized decision was to cut the top tax rate from 45p a pound to 40p. This would have resulted in a millionaire receiving a £55,000 income tax cut. Such a move would have cost the UK Treasury around £2bn in total.
My own opposition to the tax cut for the highest earners was not just the fact that the Treasury could have spent the £2billion to help fund hospitals, schools and councils better.
Basically, it was the political symbolism of Tories doing what Tories do best – packing the nests of their wealthy friends and donors while Joe Public here at home in Glasgow tries to get by on just two hot meals each day instead of three.
After a rather disastrous press tour on Sunday morning, the Prime Minister and the Chancellor finally decided to abandon their plan to reduce income tax for the wealthiest in society. They concluded that the 45p tax cut diverted attention from their conference message to all the other wonderful things in their tax plan.
So what were they? Lift the cap on bankers’ bonuses, cut corporation tax for big business and reduce stamp duty on properties by up to nearly half a million pounds. Hardly the big answers to the cost of living crisis we face as Glasgowians.
Bundling the tax cut at the higher rate was the right thing to do. However, this only saves £2 billion.
What concerns me the most is the plan to reduce corporate tax from 25% to 19%. It would cost around £18bn, which is far more than the Scottish government spends on the National Health Service in a single year.
The UK government says the reduction in corporation tax will help encourage businesses to set up shop here in the British Isles.
The big problem is that our close neighbour, the Republic of Ireland, already has a corporate tax rate of 12.5%, so there is no point in racing to the bottom on corporate tax cuts. businesses.
Of course, the other attraction for businesses locating in Ireland is that it is a full member of the European Union.
The UK government’s disastrous mini-budget has highlighted why so many have given up on Westminster and are now looking to Scottish independence as the only way to create a fair, just and more equal economy.
So if party conferences are an opportunity to get a message across to the electorate, then the message from the Tories this week comes through loud and clear: Scotland, you need independence because Truss and the Tories are determined to destroy the economy.