The backstage view from Chief Exec Peter Murrell

As conference closes SNP Chief Executive Peter Murrell writes our final blog - before he packs up some boxes

Conferences are always great opportunities for people in the party to get together - it's about far more than sitting in the hall listening to debates. There's a full programme from breakfast time through to late at night and it's part of my job to make sure that everyone has a great time.


There are a whole series of elements. Great fringe meetings, enjoyable speeches, lively discussions and resolutions, more fringes at the end of the day with a chance to relax over some food and wine, perhaps a meal, getting to bed late - it's all part of the experience.


Of course, this is our first party conference since our election victory in May. The hall started full to capacity and that's just continued throughout. There's been a particular demand for the keynote speeches - not just for Alex and Nicola, but for all the cabinet secretaries, so it's been very busy – even today, the last day of conference we had to open the overflow halls.


This is a big event, and it needs a huge amount of organisation. It's like spinning plates, really. I don't involve myself in everything that happens at conference, but just with the bits that require particular focus. I suppose I give the wobbly plates a shake and get them moving again.


In the election campaign, we had some terrifically talented people - my job was to bring them to the table and to allow their talents to flourish and conference organisation really isn't any different. We have three or four people working on it at headquarters for about four months before the event, liaising with all the relevant people.


There's lot to do and a lot of people involved, particularly behind the scenes - I'd say about 200 people altogether.  The headquarters staff who welcome delegates and the stewards are highly visible, but we also have our own technical teams for sound and vision and there's our big media team working in the background. Plus we have security, the Eden Court staff, and the catering people. They all work hard to keep everything well serviced.


I don't tend to go into the hall unless a keynote speech is taking place, when I need to ensure everything goes to plan. I'm busy doing a lot of things, working from an early staff meeting at about 7.30am through to perhaps 9 at night. If I can, I'll chat to people for as long as I can - which is usually until someone from HQ staff needs to speak to me. If I have to then break off a conversation, I try to be as civil as possible about it!


There's not much chance to rest afterwards. At the close of conference, five or six of us have to pack the van with our HQ equipment and drive it back to Edinburgh. Then we unpack it on the Monday, and it's back to normal working on the Tuesday.


It's hard work, but it's great fun, and there's no question I enjoy it. And we'll soon have to think about doing it all again next year.....

liz.lloyd's picture
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