There’s nothing like being back at an SNP conference to remind you that we really are one big family. Or at least, are capable of proving the six degrees of separation in theory, usually in three.
So, last night I discovered that Duncan Hamilton has a brother (yes, I know, sometimes I can be a bit slow). Even better than that, he happened to be at yooni along with our Minister for Schools and Skills (or similar) Dr Alasdair Allan and Aamer Anwar. Funnily enough, they all got to know each other over some form of office occupation and demand for free buses to a London protest. Do you really need me to tell you who was doing the occupying?
[UPDATE: Yes I really am a bit slow on the uptake. Colin Fleming, who is a war studies academic, and who made an excellent contribution to that debate yesterday, just happens to be the brother of Malcolm Fleming, longstanding activist and now Special Advisor. And someone I have known for years and thought I knew quite well. I did think Colin had a vague familiarity when I saw him on stage…. ]
Elsewhere, one of the SNP’s many golden couples, Minister for Transport Keith Brown and Christina McKelvie MSP, are insisting this morning that they are better together, after creating a household split on the great NATO debate (as it will be known forever in SNP circles) with Keith speaking in favour of the updated policy ie us remaining in NATO and Christina speaking against it all.
Coffee is the essential accompaniment to conference’s early starts. Sadly, the coffee shops in Perth don’t seem to agree. Yesterday, the search for a LARGE skinny latte – with an extra shot please – took me to three contenders at 9am before I found one that was open. And it happened to be a newsagent. Very good his coffee was too – and I’d be happy to recommend him but of course, it being a Saturday he’s closed. Despite his prime position opposite the conference hall and Saturday, of course, being the busiest day.
I have realised over the last couple of days, that with with this blogging and twitter lark, I have created a monster with this burdz eye view persona. People no longer know me as Kate but as the burd. Less helpfully, some are happy to point out that I look a lot less “big” in real life. Others are surprised at my youthfulness – or as one put it, that I look younger than I clearly am. Though youthful is not a concept I am feeling this morning. Conference 2 Sleep 0. 48 hours at conference, only 7 of them spent asleep.
Finally, the heroes and zeroes. I could pick an obvious hero but let’s not. I had the great pleasure on Thursday evening to be re-acquainted with Isabelle Smith. Anyone who has ever been to an SNP conference in the last 20 years might not recognise the name but they would surely recognise her. Especially in a steward’s T shirt. For Isabelle is one of the party’s unsung heroes who spends her conference in the dimly lit hall scurrying to and fro with speakers’ cards, escorting delegates to seats and generally keeping us all in line.
Or she did, for last year, at the age of 80 – yes 80 – Isabelle decided to trade in her stewarding T shirt for something altogether more fetching. It was, after all, 17 years old and getting rather threadbare. Leaving her much more time to blether and chat, and pass on her tips for flirting in the National Library of Scotland. Yes really.
As for zeroes? Step forward Alyn Smith MEP. Apparently, he was a last minute addition to the speaker platform in the great NATO debate. That will be decision he might well live to regret. He achieved the remarkable feat of being heckled and boo-ed during his contribution, something I’ve never heard before at an SNP conference. Why? Because the gist of what he had to say was that important decisions on weighty matters like defence needed to be taken by “professionals” like him and that effectively, we delegates were too wee and too stoopit to know what we were doing. He also managed to give the meeja their quote of the day: apparently, the policy we had on defence, which had served us very well as a party since 2002 was “hopelessly naive and idealistic and showed that Scotland wasn’t ready for the big league” . Not a good move for someone seeking re-selection as one of the party’s European candidates in the near future.