Up To The Task

Watching SNP conference this time from my living room instead of the auditorium offered a fascinating perspective on just how transformational the movement chasing Scotland’s independence has become.
The Alex Salmond appreciation party seemed like a spontaneous eruption of goodwill, and it must have seemed remarkable to our opponents watching. I am not so certain had the result of the referendum been the other way round congratulations would have been dished out to their own campaign leaders.

In many ways of course it brings the SNP to a crossroads. In a space of a few short weeks the party – which could have faced a very stark future indeed – finds itself with almost 90,000 members, a new leader and First Minister, and having to convince what were a cynical media but now must be a perplexed one – what its long term strategy is.

Of course the causes of social justice, freezing the council tax, and preserving the small business rates relief scheme for the foreseeable are the right and proper aims of the national governing party as we look forward.

With a real hunger amongst the new membership to do something – and do something now – on the question of securing full autonomy for Scotland, and the party leadership which knows that question must be parked, at least for a wee while, Nicola Sturgeon has challenges ahead which would make those of a fainter disposition balk, if not run for the hills.

That her speaking tour is bringing people in their thousands to what are essentially motivational rallies, in a period immediately after a very arduous and very long campaign, shows how we are living in a remarkable new age of political activism in Scotland.

Any future referendum in a similar format will need to be a certain win – and will need a campaign behind it which doesn’t let down those people who voted Yes, desperate for change, and desperate now to engage and change things themselves if they have to.

Our outgoing First Minister was right when he stated Scotland has changed utterly. The baton now passed on to Nicola Sturgeon is that much more complex and yet I have the sneaking suspicion our first ever female First Minister is more than up to the task.