Conference Thoughts

I write this the day after S.N.P. conference finished. I saw on Facebook this morning that Douglas Fraser has likened the S.N.P. leadership’s control over the membership as akin to North Korean control. He really must get out of the press box when at these affairs. As in all large groups there will be the sheep that blindly follow the leadership but in the S.N.P. there are many who question and debate, sometimes vote with the leadership, sometimes don’t. I reckon this number is possibly reflected in the numbers in the result on the N.A.T.O. debate.

Talking of which, the N.A.T.O. debate was the first lengthy period of time I had spent in the “debating chamber” of conference since I stopped stewarding. While it was a good natured debate (yes the booing was not of the nasty variety), I felt that there was something missing in the debate. There was passion, there was a good range of views but no-one adequately argued what N.A.T.O. was about and why it would be good for Scotland. I was left feeling that perhaps because good debating like this doesn’t happen too often that the speakers were perhaps a bit rusty. Maybe a good debate should be on the agenda every conference? As for the poll that was vehemently referred to by the leadership side as often as possible, I have heard the person behind this poll state often that you can make polls say anything.

While sitting in on the debate I was also reminded that many people don’t know much about the party background and how it works. As an ex steward can I just say that these people standing around the hall in the S.N.P. tartan waistcoats who hand out paperwork, ask to see your delegates and visitors passes, and generally do all the donkey work in the debating chamber, are party members. These are hard working volunteers who give up their time to ensure smooth running of the conferences. They may not always do it to your liking but please remember in future that they are generous volunteers trying to make conference easier for you. I would also like to point out that stewarding gives you an excellent insight to the running of the party and to the constitution which you learn as you go along. If you think this is something you would like to do please ask S.N.P. headquarters.

The Board of the Scots Independent newspaper would like to thank all the people who stopped by the stall at conference, made a purchase, received good natured cheek and banter from the staff and who returned the same. It’s always a pleasure to meet the subscribers old and new.

The new publication, a collection of articles by the late Ian Goldie, The Case for Independence is now available from the S.I. books store. You can find this at along with many other excellent titles. Ian’s book is a very good source to dip in and out of for those seeking the reasons why we should be independent.

The Donaldson Lecture at conference was delivered by Blair Jenkins of YES Scotland. Blair is becoming a real star and has been magnificent in his leadership of the campaign. He asked conference to imagine if we were debating joining the union…

‘A campaign being run now to persuade Scotland to join the union would be, in my view, an impossible campaign to run. Just imagine some of the leading propositions, the case that would be put to the Scottish people:

‘”Your main parliament will move hundreds of miles away, and your MPs will be in a tiny minority; you will get a government you didn’t vote for; all of your oil and gas revenues will be handed over to the London Treasury; the biggest nuclear weapons arsenal in Western Europe will be built on the River Clyde, 30 miles from your largest city.

‘”You will be joining a country where the health and education services are rapidly being privatised; now and then you will get dragged into an illegal foreign war; an austerity budget will be imposed from London, cutting jobs and threatening the provision of vital public services; weak regulation of the banking sector will bring your economy to the brink of disaster.

‘”And, on top of all that, the most vulnerable people in society, instead of getting protection and support, will be interrogated and humiliated in order to deprive them of the very meagre level of provision to which they are entitled.”

‘I ask this conference – who in Scotland would vote for that package? Who in Scotland would vote for that union?’

You can see the full report on the Yes Scotland site


Remaining on conferences the Labour voters for Scottish Independence are having their conference in Glasgow on the 12th November. We wish them every success in this conference.