The SNP have insisted that Scottish families should not be expected to shoulder the blame for Labour’s mismanagement of the UK economy.
The party are drawing attention to Labour’s planned council tax rises ahead of today’s four day conference in Perth that will see them fire the opening salvo in the campaign for Holyrood 2011.
The SNP are seeking a historic second term after the party won power for the first time in 2007. The council tax freeze was a major initiative that underpinned the historic concordat with Scotland’s 32 local authorities.
However Labour in Scotland have confirmed they will end the freeze and raise the tax if they win power and Iain Gray becomes First Minister. A BBC poll has suggested that Scottish families are strongly against council tax rises.
The SNP conference will focus on the party’s achievements since 2007 including 1000 new police officers, NHS waiting times at record lows and a successful school building programme that is moving away from the costly PFI funding model.
The SNP have also revealed a new website, http://bepartofbetter.net, dedicated to the Holyrood 2011 election. Fronted by First Minister Alex Salmond, the website will ask ordinary voters for their views on the party’s policies and how they think the financial crisis can be tackled.
The party recently confirmed that Westminster Defence Spokesman Angus Robertson will front their 2011 election campaign which will feature new technology and a drive to reach out to 1 million voters.
Party strategists believe that key to repeating the SNP’s election success of 2007 will be a contrast between Labour’s Iain Gray and First Minister Alex Salmond. Gray has struggled to maintain any sort of profile since taking over the Holyrood Labour group from Wendy Alexander, a recent poll showed his personal ratings amongst Scots to be amongst the lowest ever for a Labour leader and well behind Mr Salmond.
The Deputy First Minister Nicola Sturgeon said that voters would be faced with a straight choice between the First Minister and Iain Gray.
Ms Sturgeon said:
“As the election approaches the focus will be on our record in government and it will be a choice between Iain Gray and the alternative vision Alex Salmond and the SNP are putting forward.
“I’m hopeful that people will want to give the SNP a second term in office and that they will make this decision in the best interests of Scotland.
“I believe that people view Alex Salmond as someone who speaks up for Scotland, who is a statesman-like figure who’s shown that he is a good and effective First Minister.
“Alex Salmond is a very big asset for the SNP and is a popular figure with voters.
“At the moment I’m not sure that everyone would even know who Iain Gray is.”
First Minister Alex Salmond will get the Perth conference underway with a video message from the Commonwealth Games in Delhi. Mr Salmond is there on official business and for the finishing ceremony which will feature the official handover to Glasgow and a performance from over 300 young Scots marking the handover.
SNP conference day one – key highlights
- 1400 – Welcome address
- 1420 – Resolution on independence
- 1500 – Emergency resolutions
- 1515 – Keynote speech by Education Secretary Mike Russell