You should have had this post yesterday but I made the rookie mistake of going for a drink last night. I’d forgotten how much a drink can stretch especially when mixed with good people and political conversation.
This resulted in me staggering home at 8 pm with my hangover kicking in at midnight – on the plus side I slept through most of it and was relatively human this morning. I’ve been much better behaved today which has nothing to do with the fact I’m going out again tomorrow night.
So first time ever at a party conference; I’ve been trying to be a more active member so I thought this would be a good way to see how policy is made. I’ve watched other conferences on TV before – through my fingers when it’s the Tory one – and had come to the conclusion they can be a bit boring. Although to be fair the Tory delegates are usually getting on a bit and they need their afternoon naps.
Some resolutions are obviously going to pass by acclaim such as the very first one “Welcoming international citizens” others however did attract a more heated debate. At one point I thought there was going to be a sit in on the platform during “Scotland’s place in Europe.” As it has been commented in Twitter:
Those guys have been campaigning for a very long time, they still have the fire to see it through and are determined to hold their party to account.
I am impressed at how diverse the range of delegates are. The youth branch of the party is very active and there have been many speakers under 25 who have expressed their opinions articulately but with feeling – in fact the number of first-time speakers of any age was very surprising to me.
I’ve haven’t been keeping count but the gender balance appears good as does the number of New Scots speaking. Yes there are some walking around in suits that look a bit SPAD-like but they are in the minority. There are lots of indy t-shirts and badge wearers.
The increased size of membership and being third party at Westminster has made it more attractive to sponsors and I imagine this has meant conference is now more “corporate.” It’s definitely bigger, that’s one thing I know. This event isn’t just the largest the SNP have had, it’s the biggest conference in the UK. Not bad for a party that stands in only 9% of the seats.
There is also a fringe to the official Fringe – IdeaSpace – over the river at the Science Centre. It’s hosted by The Common Weal and has had some really good contributors. I find it positive that there has been such a good attendance there. In light of the lack of a decent opposition in Holyrood it is essential that the members keep the pressure on the leadership. I think Scotland is a better place because of the SNP government but there is always room for improvement and the leadership cannot be allowed to become complacent.
The main thing that has struck me is how friendly people are. Not just the people I’ve met via Twitter (quick wave to Mike who has been a star seat saver for me) but others too. This is probably just the “Scottish bus stop” effect, but I can’t imagine people chatting at a Labour conference – too busy watching their backs.
Obviously the highlight for me (and many others) was Nicola announcing the launch next week of a consultation on a draft Referendum Bill. Legislation is a slow process and we may need his in a hurry.
Other good bits for me were the speeches by John Swinney, Angus Robertson and the section on the Brain family (yes I did cry) – their Lachlan is the same age my daughter was when we moved here – Gregg’s speech was very powerful.
In truth, I could do with about 3 of me to get to see everything I want to, and I can’t get over how quickly the time passes there. I’m looking forward to tomorrow – don’t expect a post until Sunday – and whilst this may be my first time, it won’t be my last.