George Kerevan MP defies party instruction to speak at SNP conference fringe festival

MP to speak on the subject of a national investment bank at festival of radical ideas adjacent to SNP conference

GEORGE KEREVAN has become the first SNP politician to break with the party leadership’s embargo on its elected representatives attending a festival organised to coincide with its party conference in October.

The SNP MP for East Lothian, who was formerly an economics academic and a columnist in the National, will speak at IdeaSpace, a festival of radical ideas organised by campaigners and charities who say they have been priced out of the SNP conference. The event will take place at the Glasgow Science Centre (GSC) directly across the river Clyde from the Scottish Exhibition and Conference Centre (SECC), where the SNP is holding its conference.

He will speak at an event organised by two think tanks, Common Weal and the New Economics Foundation, addressing their work on the policy of a national investment bank for Scotland.

Welcoming the news, Ben Wray, head of research and policy for Common Weal, said: “The SNP faces a number of challenges, but right near the top of the list must be how to boost investment in a flatlining Scottish economy. We know the UK Government isn't going to rise to the challenge, so the Scottish Government has to.

Campaigners unveil 'Festival of Ideas' to coincide with SNP party conference in Glasgow

“In that vein, we're delighted to be launching a new report at IdeaSpace with the New Economics Foundation outlining the detail of how a Scottish National Investment Bank (Snib) could be created in order to provide billions of pounds for investment in things like infrastructure, green energy and public transport. We really believe this proposal is credible and of sufficient scale to be a gamechanger.

“We're pleased George Kerevan MP, an important voice on economic strategy in the SNP, will be speaking at that launch, and we think SNP delegates, as well as others, will be excited to attend this fringe event.”

A version of the Snib policy was launched by Labour leader Jeremy Corbyn in his trip to Scotland in August. He said that the policy could “unlock the potential” of Scottish small businesses, and end the tendency of business investment to be concentrated in the south-east of England.

CommonSpace revealed in August that prices for fringe stalls and meetings at the SNP’s annual conference had increased dramatically since the party’s 2015 national gathering in Aberdeen. The cheapest stall available for charities in initial pricing was over £3,000 for a space of just 3x2 metres. The least expensive fringe meeting for a charity was over £1,000. Prices for corporate events at the conference range into the tens of thousands of pounds.

Exclusive: SNP HQ instructs politicians not to attend unofficial conference event amid price row

The SNP sent an email to its elected representatives asking them not to attend non-official fringe events.

IdeaSpace was organised to allow campaigners to reach the SNP’s conference delegates and will host a range of meetings and workshops on radical policy themes, including the possibility of an independent Scottish currency and the idea of a progressive alliance between parties at Westminster, as well as discussion on contemporary Scottish society from the state of the nations communities to the direction of Scottish foreign policy.

Speakers at the event will include historian Gerry Hassan, Common Weal director Robin McAlpine and author and commentator Lesley Riddoch among many others.

Picture: CommonSpace

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