SNP begin first conference in government

The SNP’s first conference in power has begun in Aviemore.

Opening the conference, SNP leader Alex Salmond promised the three-day meeting of delegates would produce a slew of government policy.

Mr Salmond said: “This is an historic first in the history of the Scottish National Party and of Scotland – the SNP meeting in conference as a party of government.

“It is not a case of ‘go back to your constituencies and prepare for government’ – delegates have come from their constituencies and we are the government.”

The nationalist executive has come under criticism from opposition politicians over pledges on police numbers and class sizes.

Mr Salmond insisted the SNP would be building on a record of solid achievement.

He said: “Already, in little over 160 days, we have delivered major policies such as restoring free education by abolishing the graduate endowment, scrapping tolls on the Forth and Tay bridges, saving vital A&E units, and establishing the Council of Economic Advisers to help boost growth in Scotland.

“This is a Scottish government with a pace of delivery that has left our opponents struggling to keep up, with more to announce during conference.”

“Our successful policy delivery is an argument for the SNP as the party of government and responsibility in Scotland.”

Mr Salmond launched the conference with a criticism of the financial settlement agreed by Westminster, which he argued ignores rising North Sea oil revenues and points to the need for Scottish independence.

Welcoming delegates, the SNP leader insisted their electoral success was not just a reaction against the Westminster government and showed Labour’s historic dominance of Scotland is over.