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26/10/2015

R3 at the Scottish National Party Conference 2015

Reflecting the importance of Scotland’s R3 membership, and of course the Scottish National Party’s success at the general election (winning 56 out of 59 Scottish constituencies), R3 attended the SNP conference in Aberdeen. It was important that we gained a better understanding of the party’s attitude to the business community at both a Scottish and UK level.
 
The out-of-town conference venue hosted the largest ever gathering of the SNP and their massively expanded membership. The choice of Aberdeen, one of the UK’s most economically dynamic cities, was used to highlight the SNP’s new-found strength and vitality. As the third largest party at Westminster, this confidence extends to the point where the party see and talk of themselves as the "real" opposition to the Conservative UK government. 
 
One notable difference to the other party conferences was an absence of any visible security: no police with guns and no airport style security checks. It was a refreshing change, and the accessibility aspect was evident throughout the conference venue.
 
The Corporate Day provided the opportunity to hear from the First Minister Nicola Sturgeon, her predecessor Alex Salmond, now a Westminster MP, John Nicholson MP, as well as Deputy First Minister and Cabinet Secretary for Finance, John Swinney. R3 had the opportunity both in the main meeting and in a one-to-one with Nicola to talk about the work and contribution of insolvency professionals in Scotland and the UK, including the statistics from our Scotland “Why Insolvency Matters - Value of the Profession” report.
 
Sturgeon emphasised that her door is open to approaches from business both individually and collectively, inviting businesspeople to "tell us what we are doing right, but also what you think we may be doing wrong, or could do better.”
 
Consultation, inclusiveness and fairness, were key words in Sturgeon’s remarks on business and a strong point was made about the four pillars of the SNP economic strategy: investment in people and infrastructure, innovation, internationalisation and inclusive growth.
 
In a debate about Europe, Alex Salmond, Michael Keating, Professor of Scottish Politics at the University of Aberdeen, and Laura Cram, Professor of European Politics at the University of Edinburgh, spoke about the importance of Europe to both Scotland and the UK. In making their case, they appealed to the business community to reinforce their position, but struck a cautious and reflective note about the risks of business organisations appearing to ignore the wider concerns of the public.
 
At lunch, John Swinney took questions across a range of topics, but of interest and relevance to the insolvency profession and no doubt others was his reply on "self-regulation". His view was that "self-regulation needs to be seen to be emphatic in its effect…and within the relevant industry there must already be a pre-existing, strongly imbued ethical culture about doing the right thing, without the need for third party enforcement."
 
R3’s first attendance at a SNP conference proved to be an invaluable opportunity to meet and hear leading Scotland and Westminster politicians, and to have the chance to promote the work of the insolvency profession to an important audience.

Notes to editors:

  • R3 is the trade body for Insolvency Professionals and represents the UK’s Insolvency Practitioners.

  • R3 comments on a wide variety of personal and corporate insolvency issues. Contact the press office, or see www.r3.org.uk for further information.

  • R3 promotes best practice for professionals working with financially troubled individuals and businesses; all R3 members are regulated by recognised professional bodies
     
  • R3 stands for 'Rescue, Recovery, and Renewal' and is also known as the Association of Business Recovery Professionals.