My fear is that the National Assembly will end up being a stage-managed affair in which the SNP leadership's approach to the constitutional issue - labeled Plan A - is set against the so-called Plan B proposed by Angus Brendan MacNeil MP and Councillor Chris McEleny, to the exclusion of any other arguments.
It all starts with asserting the competence of the Scottish Parliament in all constitutional matters. If you don't start from here you must ultimately come back to it. Whatever 'Plan' you adopt if it doesn't include asserting the primacy of the Scottish Parliament on the basis of its exclusive democratic legitimacy and the sovereignty of the people of Scotland then it barely qualifies as a plan. At some point, establishing the authority of the Scottish Parliament will have to be tacked on.
Both Plan a and Plan B allow that the British political elite somehow has not only the rightful authority to prohibit the full and proper exercise of our sovereignty but the 'right' to be involved in and largely control the process by which the people of Scotland choose the form of government which best serves our needs, priorities and aspirations.
But the Section 30 process won't work. It cannot provide for a free and fair exercise of our right of self-determination. We know that with such a high degree of certainty that we'd be fools not to treat it as established fact. The British don't want to allow a referendum at all. So what makes anybody imagine that they'd be willing to go along with a free and fair referendum? It makes no sense!
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.
It is futile to try to explain to British Nationalists such as Douglas Ross and Willie Rennie that the choice of whether and when we exercise our right of self-determination is a matter entirely and exclusively for the people of Scotland.
Mike Russell may be correct to say that the people of Scotland can vote for a referendum in the Holyrood election. He declines to add, however, that for them to do so the SNP must go into the election on a very explicit and quite unambiguous manifesto commitment to a process which will deliver a free and fair referendum at the earliest possible date. He might further have noted that, as things stand, the party of which he is President has given no such commitment.
Listen to the British parties! Actually listen to what they say! They are not saying they will accept and cooperate with a referendum that they are satisfied is fully democratic. They are saying they will not tolerate any referendum IF it is democratic. Or BECAUSE it is democratic. Or because they fear it MIGHT BE democratic.
Opposition to the Section 30 process has gone from the loony obsession of a handful of zoomers to the stuff of mainstream politics in a matter of months.
From the political perspective, anyone looking to take renewed hope and revived spirit away from this event was bound to feel let down. But few among the more politically aware entertained such ambition. The height of my ambition was that the conference wouldn't be a total disaster. It wasn't. It was only 'nearly hopeless'. But was it dire?