Changes in party leadership and emerging policy thinking after the Scottish Independence Referendum were two of the reasons the Builders Merchants Federation (BMF) was in Perth last month.
The BMF met the Scottish National Party at its Annual Conference to hear first-hand from government ministers and party officials about their ideas and policies - and to explain the role of merchants and the Federation itself in the building materials’ supply chain.
Graham Bolton, BMF Scottish regional manager, and Brett Amphlett, BMF policy manager, met representatives from the Scottish, United Kingdom and European Parliaments and spoke to MSPs who serve on the Cross-Party Group on Construction at Holyrood.
Mr Bolton outlined the BMF’s regional activity and explained how membership is steadily growing. He was able to update politicians having canvassed BMF members only a fortnight before, at the Scottish Regional Meeting held in Uddingston, Lanarkshire.
Brett Amphlett talked to MPs and MSPs who represent constituencies in Aberdeenshire, Angus and Edinburgh. The aim was to learn more about the Scottish government’s current objectives and discuss some specific policies - notably differences in public funding of vocational training and skills from that which applies in England.
The main meeting was with Stewart Hosie, MP for Dundee East. Only a few hours’ earlier, Mr Hosie was elected Deputy Leader in succession to Nicola Sturgeon, who took over as Leader and First Minister from Alex Salmond. Mr Hosie has met the BMF before, and confirmed the SNP supports the push for a 5% VAT rate on property RMI work.
Summing up, Mr Bolton, said: “I was delighted to have the chance to discuss some of the issues merchants face. We wanted to know the SNP’s thinking and brief them about our supply chain. It was a day well spent.
“I can share the insight we gained about what existing and new BMF members might expect from the SNP in the months prior to, and beyond, the General Election on 7 May.”
Mr Bolton added his special thanks to Stewart Hosie MP who, despite a hectic round of media interviews, found 20 minutes to sit and talk to Brett and himself.
The gathering was the last one in the autumn party political conference season. The difference in Perth was the backdrop of September’s Referendum voting - and the ongoing talks in London and Edinburgh between all the political parties and governments. In the last few months, SNP membership has more than trebled from 25,000 to 85,000.