SNP Conference 2017: Being Scotland’s voice

Day three of #SNP17 and the walk down from Garnethill to the SECC is taking longer each time. My right hip is making it known that there bloody well better not be a day four. It’s growing noticeably colder too. Especially the otherwise very pleasant stretch along the riverside.

I’m seated in the media room today. Ken McDonald from iScot Magazine persuaded me that, as one of his publication’s regular contributors, I was entitled to make use of the marginally better facilities. I tried to point out to him that this was not really the issue. But his gracious insistence was such that I felt it would be churlish to refuse. So it is, dear reader, that I find myself sharing a room with a pack of professional journalists. Fortunately, it is a very large room. Nonetheless, I trust you appreciate the sacrifices I make on behalf of alternative media.

On the subject of the media, I caught the BBC’s report on Derek Mackay’s speech to Conference yesterday. There is no way anybody would recognise the speech from the report. According to the BBC, it was all about raising taxes for middle-earners. I don’t recall hearing any of that. What I heard was a frank, factual appraisal of the SNP administrations management of the economy, and an forthright, realistic assessment of how things might progress on the economic front. What I heard was almost entirely positive without being at all complacent.

What I heard was the honest counter to the grotesque distortions of British Nationalist propaganda.

The ‘hot’ debates on day two of the SNP Conference concerned, firstly, the British state’s contemptuous and contemptible seizing of powers as part of the increasingly chaotic Brexit process; particularly in relation to agriculture and fisheries. And, secondly, a call for immigration policy to be restored to the Scottish Parliament, where such powers obviously belong.

But the highlight of the day must have been the topical resolution on Catalonia and the moment when Douglas Chapman MP introduced two members of Assemblea Nacional Catalana (Catalan National Assembly) who were then given a standing ovation such as is usually reserved for Nicola Sturgeon. If there had been any lingering doubts about where the SNP stands on the issue of Catalonia’s right of self determination, those doubts were thoroughly dispelled at that moment.

Back to today, and this morning we have speeches from Humza Yousaf MSP and Mhairi Black MP – two of the party’s most popular and charismatic figures – on the topic of ‘Making Scotland’s Voice Heard’. In the afternoon, it’s the turn of Depute Leader, Angus Robertson, before the closing set-piece address by Nicola Sturgeon.

This last is, of course, the main event. At least as far as the media are concerned. It’s also a chance for the delegates to demonstrate their support for the party’s leader and Scotland’s First Minister. For Nicola Sturgeon herself, it’s an opportunity to address the big issues and to make the big announcement.

What the big announcement will be on this occasion is a bit of a puzzle. I know that many in the party and the wider Yes movement want to hear her declare the date of a new independence referendum. That, as I said on the first day of Conference, is very unlikely. It’s just too early to fire the starting pistol on the new Yes campaign. In my view, a long campaign favours the grinding negativity of the British Nationalists. A short, sharp campaign will suit the independence movement better.

But Nicola Sturgeon will have to say something on the constitutional issue, short of pressing the #ScotRef button. What might this be? Perhaps she might use the Catalonia issue to emphasise and reassert Scotland’s right of self-determination. It’s not difficult to imagine how that speech might sound.

Alternatively, or even additionally, she could issue a hard warning to Theresa May that the SNP will not stand idly by while the British state seeks to disregard the Scottish Government, delegitimise the Scottish Parliament and deny the democratic choices of the Scottish people.

But Nicola Sturgeon must also heed a warning. Neither the party nor the Yes movement want to hear talk of waiting to see the precise nature of the catastrophe that Brexit will bring to Scotland. When someone is threatening to push you off a tall building, you don’t have to wait until you land to know that it isn’t going to turn out well. Nicola Sturgeon must make it clear that she and her government will put Scotland’s interests first. There must be no doubt in anyone’s mind that she will preempt the constitutional implications and economic consequences of Brexit.

The people of Scotland have an alternative to the British establishment’s economic vandalism, political ineptitude and constitutional machinations. We have the right to choose independence instead. We will not tolerate being denied the opportunity to exercise our democratic right of self-determination.


About Peter A Bell

Thinker. Listener. Talker. Reader. Writer. No attitude immutable. No conclusion final. No opinion humble. Lifelong campaigner for the restoration of Scotland's independence.
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6 Responses to SNP Conference 2017: Being Scotland’s voice

  1. Tom Carroll says:

    Good piece. Thanks, it is becoming increasing difficult to get anything approaching honest reporting these days. Thanks once again.


  2. I would add my thanks too, Peter, for your “daily diary” reporting this week. It was good to get an insiders view of what was happening.


  3. Hugh Wallace says:

    Thank you Peter; a great review for those of us who couldn’t make the conference for some reason or another. I hope NS is listening to your warning!


  4. mucklefaucht says:

    Good article.
    Ref “no way anybody would recognise the speech from the report. According to the BBC … ” : this highlights the biggest problem facing the SNP and the whole Indy movement. You can talk till you’re blue in the face, but if the BBC ignores it, you might as well save your breath. The SNP and/or the Scottish Government must address this issue if they want to make any progress on anything.


  5. davidmccann24 says:

    Thanks again Peter for giving a decent review of what ACTUALLY goes on at an SNP conference, which I was fortunate to attend.
    For me the undoubted highlight was Marie Black’s speech, which got a standing ovation for its sheer unadulterated passion, unencumbered by the restrictions of diplomatic language or conventions.
    I’m looking for a link to a video of her full speech, but so far can’t find it.
    Do you by any chance have it so that I can share it?


  6. Derek Ball says:

    Good man Peter! There were several new announcements on Nicola’s speech (which of course was as rousing as ever) but she didn’t fire the starting gun. But… we know it won’t be long. And we also know that campaigning must start again as of now! Those of us who are already convinced must engage on the doorsteps with those who aren’t yet. And when the time comes — soon — we’ll be ready for the final onslaught!

    Liked by 1 person

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