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banner Thursday, 21 September, 2000, 19:08 GMT 20:08 UK
Nationalists air their views
Conference hall
Delegates expressed opinions on a number of topics
The election of a new leader may be the headline-grabbing issue at this year's SNP conference but delegates were keen to express their views on a variety of other matters.

News Online talked to the party's rank and file and found a breadth of opinions on a range of issues including the Skye Bridge tolls, student grants and trade unions.

Andy Anderson, treasurer of the Skye and Kyle Against Tolls (Skat), said other parties had let the people of Skye down in refusing to scrap the tolls and it was up to the SNP to turn things around.

Andrew Anderson
Andrew Anderson: "The SNP are our last hope"
He said: "It was the Tories who brought in the tolls and we got an assurance from Labour before the general election that they would abolish the tolls in the shortest possible time.

"They haven't done it yet, indeed they've taken every step to try and enforce the measures for the tolls.

"The Liberals gave an assurance and now they're in coalition with Labour in Scotland.

"The SNP have from the start given a commitment to abolish the tolls so in a sense they are our only hope."

Education is a priority, especially the Scottish Executive stitch-up of the Cubie report

Kirsty Macdonald
Kirsty Macdonald, of the Federation of Student Nationalists, said the Cubie report into student funding was an important issue for her group.

She said: "Education is a priority, especially the Scottish Executive stitch-up of the Cubie report.

"They're not bringing grants into line with what Cubie recommended and the SNP's policy is to bring grants past the level that Cubie recommended and that's very, very important.

Kirsty Macdonald
Kirsty Macdonald: Concerned about the Cubie recommendations
"And also the graduate endowment scheme or as I would rather call it the graduate tax. It's an absolute disgrace. It's moving tuition fees from the front door to the back door."

FSN member Ewan Ferguson said he would be following his student body's line in supporting Alex Neil for the leadership and felt that Europe was another of the major conference issues for delegates.

He said: "Europe is a big issue here. I think the party's line on Europe is quite right. The single currency would be a benefit to us but, to be honest, with the way the exchange rate is, not now.

"We need to wait for the exchange rate to come down before we move into a single European currency."

Andrew Rossiter
Andrew Rossiter: Scots worker getting paid less
Andrew Rossiter, of the Lochaber branch and a member of the SNP Trade Union Group, said his colleagues were fully behind the current industrial action by Unison-affiliated council workers in Scotland.

He said: "We support our members completely. Many members of the SNP Trade Union Group were involved in the strike yesterday and we'll be involved in future action.

"We think it's disgraceful that Scottish workers get paid less than English workers for doing the same job.

Mr Rossiter also felt that the SNP's influence was growing among trade unionists.

"A lot of the trade union leadership are seeking to advance themselves within the Labour Party but a lot of ordinary trade unionists are angry that their issues have not been raised by the leadership," he said.

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See also:

21 Sep 00 | SNP
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19 Jul 00 | Scotland
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13 Jun 00 | Scotland
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