#snp12 snippets

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.


3 thoughts on “#snp12 snippets

  1. Indeed Kate – Alyn was making what should have been a telling point but his choice of language was dreadful and I’m sure his contribution was counter productive in terms of the debate and possibly on a personal level in the future.

    That said, I don’t know where those (and there were several) that labelled supporters of the motion as ‘hypocrites’ go from here either. Surely they can’t continue to work with people they think are hypocritical? Further, haven’t they also insulted the vast majority of NATO members who are currently non-nuclear?

    It was a bad misjudgement (which had the feel of the crib-sheet about it). It added nothing to their argument and will have weakened it in the minds of some but, worst of all, it questioned the sincerity of party colleagues who happened to take a different view and the morals of partners we will have to establish close relationships with post-Independence.

    The only other negative comment I would make on the debate was that I thought Bill Ramsay completely misjudged his pitch by personalising the issue too much and lost the audience he had to persuade early.

    On balance it was a good day for the SNP and the general quality of the debate, especially the contributions from those lesser known speakers, demonstrates what a depth of talent there is in the party.

    The leadership will be happy; they got the result they wanted and have been seen to trust the judgement of the party at large. They knew how important this was for the dynamics of the Referendum campaign. They know that, all of a sudden, it’s not just about what Scots want for themselves but about what others want of Scotland and how political judgements will be being made all across Europe about whether an Independent Scotland will serve their interests better than the current UK offering.

    It could have been different if those who opposed the motion had coalesced around and all argued for the remit back. That would have retained the status quo (the position they were really arguing for) while the policy update was debated at length and in detail in consultative forums. Personally, I’m glad they missed that trick because I am almost certain that position would have carried the day and left the leadership with a position they believe would be disastrous for the Referendum and plunged the party into internal wrangling for months.

  2. Out of curiosity, what Companies had stands/sponsorship there? Any defence-related ones? I always think a barometer of a Party’s standing are those seeking to influence it.

    Bet you there was a big SSE one for starters!

    • There are lots of sponsors and exhbitiors – mainly third sector though. Will check out which companies though and let you know

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