The moment

Despite being barely able to walk, I am determined that I will attend the SNP Conference in Aberdeen as a Branch Delegate. I opted out of Spring Conference because, to be frank, I didn’t feel I could cope with the crushing disappointment of another rousing speech from Nicola Sturgeon that offered absolutely nothing to the Yes movement. Not hope. Not encouragement. Perhaps not even acknowledgement.

Given all that’s going on, I should be anticipating a lively event. But I’m not. All party conferences are tightly stage-managed these days and, as in so many ways, the SNP is rather better at this than the others. I’m not complaining. I understand that conferences put political parties under such an intense media spotlight that control is necessary. I also understand that the SNP’s conferences are now such huge occasions, with upwards of 2,000 delegates, that they simply couldn’t happen were they not quite strictly regimented.

That doesn’t stop me regretting the lack of vigour this entails. Where these events used to have vitality and political electricity, they now have video and disco lighting. The latter can be switched on and off at will. The former have to be generated in the moment. What if the generator fails?

For the past week or so, I’ve been having this recurring nightmare in which Nicola Sturgeon delivers her main address to conference with all her customary professionalism and practised panache, only to be met with total silence. Rather than the expected standing ovation, her speech provokes only some muted grumbling and uncomfortable fidgeting around the packed auditorium.

It’s only a bad dream. Nicola Sturgeon will get her standing ovation. Depending on what she says, that standing ovation may be more dutiful than delirious. But I doubt if that will be picked up by the cameras. The dream is not real. But the worry which may have prompted it is quite genuine and valid. The concern that this could all go so very, very wrong so very, very easily.

Lesley Riddoch is right. This is the perfect time for Nicola Sturgeon to do something bold and decisive. But it is far from being the first such occasion. The difference now is that, where previously she had considerable leeway – people across the independence movement were prepared to cut her some slack and trust her judgement – this is no longer the case. or, at least, it is no longer as true as it once was.

If it is fair for Lesley to speculate about what Nicola Sturgeon might do in terms of seizing the moment, then it is surely legitimate to consider the consequences of failing to do so. One would certainly hope that she and her advisers are looking at things from all angles. My own sense of the the mood within the Yes movement is that, should Nicola Sturgeon fail to deliver something meaningful in terms of progressing Scotland’s cause, she stands to lose more than just her audience.

It is the perfect time for Nicola Sturgeon to seize the initiative and become the leader that the independence movement urgently requires. As with all such critical moments resting on the capability and courage of one person, it could all go horribly wrong.

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11 thoughts on “The moment

    1. Reject the Section 30 process. Declare the intention to put before the Scottish Parliament a proposal to dissolve the Union subject only to a referendum. Others have different ideas. The point is that none of these have been discussed or even looked at. The commitment to the Section 30 process has been made without considering either the downsides or the alternatives.

      Liked by 1 person

  1. Just heard her interview on radio.

    She repeated that there will be no plan B. Commenting on Angus McNeil she said: ” I am the leader”

    Sorry Peter this is now a dictatorship on strategy.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Sorry to say, as with others, the SNP leader’s plan for getting Independence, is just not good enough.
    She has not answered what will be done, if Westminster continually refuse to give her, that much fabled Section 30,thing.
    It is not good enough, because, Legally, Scotland can indeed end the Union, by revoking the Union of Treaty.
    Scotland need the “permission” of no one!.
    Also, I was not impressed with the dismisive attitude regards the number of SNP MPs.
    True, we would want a majority vote, rather than just the majority of MPs, but the greatest number of MPs is still a valid enough way of gonjg about things.
    The First Minister might well be the SNP Leader, but she isn’t leading to Independence.
    Also, this wait, and wait, and wait approach, will see Scotland outside of EU.
    That is totally unacceptable.
    We need another pro Independence political groping in this country.


  3. Scotland having to spend one day outside the EU, due to England. Is totally unnaceptable.

    Listening to Nicola. I got the impression she will go to the courts if Section 30 rejected. That will take a year of wrangling . She could have used the last 3 years to sort that out. Also why is she only now getting the legislation ready for Indy ref 2?

    I am scunnered, totally scunnered.


    1. Going to the Courts can take days / weeks, as per recent events, NOT a year.

      You’re depressing people Peter and doing your utmost to undermine Nicola Sturgeon. Chicken and egg. Maybe time for you to put your feet up, don’t go to the Conference, and focus on just leading some kind of a naturally positive life. We’ll be Independent in the very near future, thanks to Nicola Sturgeon, and will need Scots, who are optimistic and focused on taking us forward. Maybe you should take a break and conserve your energies for that day that’s surely in the offing.


  4. I’ll be interested in your comments on Robin McAlpine’s critique of the SG and especially NS. It doesn’t make comfortable reading, even if he exaggerates. A lot of what he says rings true. Quite depressing. Boris in No10 – a mini-Trump – and a floundering SG more concerned with saving us from Brexit than achieving Independence.


    1. I haven’t been able to take Robin seriously since he insisted the independence campaign should get over its “emotional attachment” to the Yes ‘brand’.


      1. OK, but he has raised serious issues about governance, strategy, direction or lack of – some of which you’ve raised yourself.


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