We will only gain the respect of the international community if we demonstrate a willingness to assert for ourselves the attributes of a normal independent nation.
Most importantly, members were regard as a resource. Not merely as labour for election campaigns. Members were valued a source of ideas. Members' participation in the policy development process was so essential as to be taken for granted. It was a good way of running a political party. It was a sensible way of running a political party. Looking at this conference set-up it is difficult to find any trace of that sense.
So! The SNP sets up a 'working group' to study stuff that should have been the subject of constant and intense study for at least the last couple of decades. This, we assume, won't happen until after the party conference at the end of this month. Then we're into December and the holiday season and then the January 1 2021 plunge into the Brexit unknown and then the election campaign and always there is the public health crisis. So, maybe this 'working group' gets grouped and working sometime in the first half of next year. Or maybe, the second half. Or maybe, like so many SNP 'initiatives' which have been launched in response to some clamour from the independence movement, the whole thing just peters out.
That's the whole story. The Scottish Government wants to address a situation in Scotland with measure tailored to the situation in Scotland. The British government doesn't want that. Not that they actively want more people to die. Just that they actively don't care if more people die. It is not a factor in their political calculations. Other than that it suits the British establishment's agenda if a situation worsens under an SNP administration. The situation worsening bit is a factor. The people dying bit isn't.
Why would we empower their deviousness? Why would we pander to their lack of principle? Why would we facilitate interference in our constitutional referendum by what, if we heed Joanna Charry's advice, we must regard as an unfriendly foreign power? Am I missing some impenetrably cryptic irony here?
The issue to be decided in our new constitutional referendum is not what Scotland will be like for future generations of the people who live here, but whether those future generations will be able to decide for themselves what kind of Scotland they want. Or whether those decisions will be made for them by a government they didn't elect in a parliament where they are effectively unrepresented.
There is not now and never was any route to the restoration of Scotland's Independence which does not involve confrontation with the British state. It was always a nonsense to suppose that, in the wake of the 2014 referendum and with a rising wave of democratic dissent in Scotland, there could ever be a viable process that was critically dependent on the full and honest cooperation of the British government.
I was encouraged in my hopes of Joanna Cherry when I read that she was urging the SNP to accept that the anti-Brexit campaign was over and lost. I would have been happier if she were to explicitly acknowledge that the obsession with Brexit should never have been permitted to supersede and supplant the commitment to restoring Scotland's independence which gets top-billing in the party's own constitution. But we take what we can get.
What is left is the Scottish Parliament and a new constitutional and legal framework constructed for the defence of democracy in Scotland. A constitutional and legal framework informed by the distinctive political culture which British Nationalists are seeking to eradicate along with such other distinctiveness as is deemed inimical to the 'Little Britain/Greater England' fantasised about by those British Nationalists. A constitutional and legal framework built on the solid foundation of the sovereignty of Scotland's people and the democratic legitimacy of the Scottish Parliament.
The logic goes thus. The SNP plays a crucial role in the fight to restore Scotland's independence. No viable alternative is available and there is zero possibility of such an alternative becoming available in time to be a viable alternative. The SNP is not fulfilling its role as a component of the apparatus by which independence will be restored. Conclusion! Make the SNP fulfil its role!