Keith Brown offers new deal to council groups in SNP Depute Leader contest

Keith Brown is the first of the SNP Depute Leader candidates to start laying out changes he would want to make to the party if he is elected to the post. He has already said he wants a rule change to let all of the new members of the party have a say in selecting SNP candidates for the UK General Election but has now started laying out a more in-depth vision of how he would like to see the party change, offering central support for SNP councillors and a direct line into the party leadership for them.

Mr Brown said:

"Councillors are often the ones who are at the sharp end of the delivery of services to people across the country. I know - I ran an award-winning council in the years before I was elected to Parliament.

"The support offered by the Scottish Government to councils is increasing year on year and John Swinney's management of Scotland's public finances has ensured that they get an increasing share of a diminishing cake. I'd like to see additional support offered to SNP councillors, though.

"While Government Ministers have the Civil Service and other Parliamentarians have plenty of resources to support them in their political work, councillors get no support in the political decisions they have to make - with a very few notable exceptions.

"With the increased resources available to the SNP I think we can provide central support in the form of staff at party headquarters to support our council groups in the valuable work they do. We have tens of thousands of new members coming in which provides us with an enormous pool of talent to draw from but it also provides us with more resources to employ staff and make councillors jobs just a little easier so they can serve their communities a little better.

"I want to do more, as well; we work together in the SNP in all forms of elected representation and I want to make that arrangement work better. In addition to providing a central resource for our councillors I want to make sure that they are connected to the party leadership. I'm proposing regular meetings between our councillors and the cabinet so that we understand the issues that we face together and we seize the opportunities to make government work better for the people of Scotland.

"This will be in addition to the work that the Scottish Government already does in connecting with councillors and councils. We're working together towards a better Scotland and if we can make the connections between councillors and MSPs work more effectively our efforts to make Scotland better will have more impact."

Councillor Deidre Brock, Depute Lord Provost of Edinburgh, supported the move, saying;

"Keith has experience as a councillor and council leader as well as being an MSP and a Minister in the Scottish Government. His door has always been open to us when we have something we need to talk to him about and this plan is an excellent development of that.

"We have to deliver for the people in our council areas and having dedicated staff at party HQ we can call on is a great idea. Even better is the plan to let us have direct access to the party leadership and I'd relish the opportunity to get round the table with senior members of the party to discuss the issues we're facing.

"Keith's right that we have to work together to make Scotland a better place and I'm right behind him. I'm giving my support to Keith in his bid for Depute Leader and I look forward to working more closely with him when he's in that post - he has my vote."