Well, thank [insert profanity of choice]. That’s another SNP [insert 2/3/4 day] conference over for [insert time period of perceived frequency of said events – 3/6/12 months].
I did think of blogging a daily conference diary but life is short and how much more relaxing to let it all wash over, or under, me and just do an end-of-event round-up of my highlights.
So here goes.
First and foremost has to be the hoarding that greeted delegates each day at the conference centre:
Did Stuart Campbell, bachelor of Bath and owner of a website called ‘Wings over Scotland,’ have a booth at the conference? He certainly seemed to be having a number of online exchanges with various party luminaries during the event. And he didn’t half get stuck into SIU on his website. I don’t know if it was seeing the hoarding that got his goat or the fact that SIU seemed to be raising some money. Bang on cue, one of the many nationalists who commented on his article asked him when he was having his next fundraiser. Mr C reminded the world that his begging bowl was always available, sorry, that they could make an online donation at any time.
This rather more modest banner erected by local residents also appeared outside the conference centre:
At the bottom left you might just be able to read ‘Q here’ for the ‘Govanhill Ghetto Tour’ they’re offering party delegates. Doubt if they had many takers somehow.
Highlights of the event itself included one hapless delegate who spoke, to a stony silence, in favour of Brexit – 36% of SNP voters apparently did vote for it. You don’t hear much about that. He was followed by two delegates (‘Pensioners causing chaos’ – not my words) who attempted to make points of order but were despatched swiftly by the chair. A video clip of the exchanges should be here. A helpful conference aficianado explained to me that the problem was one of them had voided his speaker card with a double negative. I was none the wiser but it was a rare glimpse of even gentle dissent at an SNP conference.
Dissent of a different order was on display at a fringe meeting where SNP MP Pete Wishart complained that journalists criticised politicians for things they tweet. Disgraceful! Journalists have clearly not realised that their role in Scotland is solely to support the current ruling party or at least remain silent if they disagree with the pronouncements of its elected politicians. Addressing a few journalists present, he said:
You’re getting direct access from politicians in a way and a means that has never been available before. If you try and embarrass us, shame us, get us to apologise for things that we do, you’re not going to get that.
One of the emotional highlights of the conference for delegates seems to have been the appearance on-stage of the immigrant family who overstayed their welcome and whose case was taken up by the SNP. In a harsh and unforgiving world they are no longer to be deported to the relentless tyranny of the regime that terrorises … Australia. Yes, the Brain family from Oz were given a standing ovation, no doubt in part-payment for Mrs Brain’s long-standing support of the SNP. Some reports even had our first minister with a tear in her eye as dad Gregg addressed the conference:
Note the yellow badge with an ‘F’ on it. This it turns out stands for ‘Foreigner’ and is a jibe at the UK government’s immigration policies, or ‘xenophobia’ as it’s glibly dubbed by Nicola Sturgeon at every opportunity. As it happens, my distaste of some of what the UK government is doing around this subject probably matches that of the first minister and, in relation to some other separatists, certainly exceeds it in sincerity.
But what is that ‘F’ supposed to suggest? An allusion to the badges the Nazis made minorities in Germany wear (‘J’ for ‘Juden’ for example) before they set-to exterminating them? Tasteless or what? As Gregg is reported as saying
No one should have to live like this
or as many might prefer ‘First world problem. SNP put-up job. Move on.’
Of course lots of serious things (*puts on serious face*) were discussed at the conference. I noticed a motion in favour of the medical use of cannabis and when I checked the BBC Democracy channel live feed a minute ago (yes, that British Biased Corporation) some councillor from Leith was talking about gays having to abstain from sex for twelve months before, or after, or even for all I know during, giving blood. All very earnest stuff.
Of course, also, there was only one real agenda item underneath the surface, the one they attempt every year to twist current events to fit. This year it was Brexit and how that will drive us on inexorably towards indyref2 and separation (I know, they don’t like the word, it’s why I use it).
I suppose I should make an attempt to review the first minister’s speeches to the assembled delegates. To be honest, I don’t have the will. I did read her opening peroration (‘Conference … friends’) but it seemed so like every other political leader’s exhortations I lost heart. Certainly by the time I reached ‘Scotland’s Parliament is the democratic heartbeat of our nation’ I was flagging. Still, I stuck with it until the end and the self-delusion of ‘In tourism, and in food and drink we are unrivaled’ and the final ‘Let’s make it happen.’
So today as I write she’s not up yet for her final input. I’ll catch up later. Doubt I’ll learn anything new but I’ll let you know.