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Tory Donors drink champagne while the £ crashed.

It was a great pleasure to be able to attend the SNP’s first “in person” annual conference since before lockdown. The SNP Conference is one of the few remaining where ordinary party members still have a big say in what gets decided. Not surprisingly the formal agenda this week had a lot about the need for urgent action to deal with the cost-of-living emergency. Other debates continued the process of setting out the kind of fairer, greener, and wealthier Scotland we can build after a Yes vote for Independence. For me the highlight of the conference was a visit from Lesia Vasylenko, an MP from Ukraine. She gave a measured but harrowing account of the atrocities being committed in her country by Putin’s forces. She also warmly thanked the people of Scotland who to date have provided homes for 20,000 Ukrainian refugees, 25% of the UK total.

The UK Government refused to recall Parliament to discuss the growing crisis they have created in the economy. The “mini budget” the Government announced on the last day of Parliament sent a clear signal that the Government has no idea how to run the economy and it caused full scale panic in the financial markets. There was a real danger that some very well-known pensions funds would become insolvent until the Bank of England committed to spending £65 billion of our money to bail them out. Without this we could have been heading for the kind of “domino” effect that caused the crash in 2008 and led to thousands of businesses going under. It was shocking, though not surprising, to read later that some wealthy Tory donors stood to make millions when the economy crashed; they even hosted a champagne party for the Chancellor while the pound was plummeting.

Parliament finally returns this week and there’s no doubt there will need to be an emergency debate on the cost of living and especially on fuel prices. Most people will be paying twice as much for their household gas and electricity as they did last winter. This is ridiculous when you remember that Scotland already produces more electricity than we use, and 85% of it comes from sources other than gas – so why do we have to pay more when the global price of gas goes up? By contrast a report out last week showed that Scotland can guarantee permanently lower prices for households and businesses while creating up to 385,000 jobs in green energy technologies. We need Independence to make sure the benefits of this are felt by the people of Scotland, not siphoned off to billionaires in the way our oil and gas fortune has been wasted.

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