A Day in Aberdeen 38

I thought I would give you the high and low points of the SNP Conference for me on Thursday. The high point was the debate on nuclear weapons, and the unanimous vote on show of cards for unilateral nuclear disarmament. That was all heartwarming enough. But what really made my day was watching at close quarters the facial expression of arch Blairite Andrew Rawnsley of the Observer during the debate. He went from incomprehension, as though everyone were speaking Gaelic, to a kind of rictus of disgust, and then his corded neck and cheek muscles started positively twitching in hatred. I feared for a moment it was apoplexy. Priceless, and well worth the cost of the rail ticket.

To say something nice about the media for a change, after that debate I saw Jon Snow helping his crew by carrying some of their very heavy equipment the considerable distance from the hall. Can’t imagine Gavin Esler, Laura Kuenssberg or any of the “stars” at the BBC doing that.

My next highlight was listening to Phillippa Whitford talking about the NHS. She radiates confidence and competence, and it is sadly unusual to hear a politician who really does know the subject on which they are talking.

I greatly enjoyed a chat over a Guinness with the new Ecuadorean Ambassador, Carlos Abad. We discussed the prospects for Scottish Independence and, both being diplomats by profession, agreed heartily with each other that the key to eventually achieving Independence is recognition by other states.

The SNP really could and should do more in promoting the cause to the wider international community. The group of broadly socialist countries of Latin America (Ecuador, Venezuela, Cuba, Bolivia and Nicaragua) is called ALBA, an acronym of the Spanish name of the group. We should definitely cooperate with ALBA!

Which brings me to the low points of the day. The Ambassador had never been to Scotland before, and he had come straight from Aberdeen airport to the conference centre. I was ashamed and desperate to convince him what a lovely country Scotland is. The AECC is the ugliest building in Scotland – genuinely world class in the ugly buildings league. It is even more horrible inside than out. Whoever designed a conference centre with no bar is exceeded in stupidity only by whoever decided to hold the SNP conference in a centre with no bar. There is a bar in the adjoining Holiday Inn, itself as drab and dispiriting as a cheaply built hotel can be, but the hotel bar is far too small to serve as a social hub for the conference. And as the conference centre is outside the city in the middle of nowhere, there are no nearby bars to pile into – the conference lacks any kind of social heart.

Equally annoying, the rooms available for fringe meetings are too small. I tried to attend fringe meetings on TTIP and on excessive executive pay, but simply could not get into either.

The fringe meeting on the timing of a second referendum was cancelled, without explanation. There can be no doubt whatsoever that Nicola Sturgeon has moved decisively in the last 48 hours to kick the next referendum further into the long grass. She was ten minutes ago on BBC Breakfast doing precisely that and positioning the SNP as a party of governance within the Union. Delegates here including me, have no opportunity at all to express our opinions on this. That is not a good feeling, and I suspect in the long term not good party management, however smart it may feel to the leadership at the moment.

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38 thoughts on “A Day in Aberdeen

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  • Robert Crawford

    “If the truth had been known Scotland would have been Independent years ago, with a £220billion oil fund”.


  • Ken2

    ‘Buckie’ It was a toss up Somerset or Devon. Couldn’t be bother looking it up. Scotland still drinks too much. The Scandanivan countries did something about it, to improve health. Finland now has one of the best diets in the world.

    Scotland is half empty because of Unionist governance. In 1707 Scotland was 1/4 of the British population. Now it is 1/12. It would be 15Million not 5Million. Clearances and Westminster centralist policies. I.e. jobs and prosperity in the south were a price worth paying for unemployment in the North. Thatcher secretly and illegally took all Scotland’s Oil revenues and invested in Canary Wharf, Tilbury Docks etc. The Oil industry was taxed at 70%+ while banks and. (foreign) multinationals tax evaded through the City of London.

    Thatcher demutualised the Building Societies owned by their members. Thatcher had unemployment at 3Million and interest rates at 15% and devastated manufacturing. Sold off utilities now run by foreign State run companies. Labour ‘the winter of discontent’ buried the McCrone Report for thirty years. Spent the Oil revenues on illegal war, tax evasion and banking fraud.

    The population and inward investment in Scotland has increased under Devolution. Total taxes raised in Scotland £54Billion. Scotland gets £50Billion? back. Total taxes raised in the UK £466Billion. £9Billion is borrowed and spent in the rest of the UK. Take £54Billion from £466Billion = £412 divided by 11 (11/12) =
    £39Billion. Scotland raises £54Billion – (pro rata) the rest of the UK raises £39Billion.

    The Steel industry is now in trouble but Osbourne is going to China for rail development. The NHS is being underfunded and Doctors are tthreatening to strike. The Tories are cutting tax £20 a week but are trying to make people pay for health insurance and elderly care. Cutting funds from the most vulnerable and giving the wealthiest tax breaks.

  • N_

    The SNP leadership is most interested in what pundits in the US refer to as “pork”. The call for independence is a way of pushing for pork, but it is not the only way. However much marketing the party may direct towards youth, it is an established political party – and for all such parties, politics is essentially PR. What policy has most chance of bringing in the most pork in the next few years? Whatever the answer is, that’ll be what the leadership wants.

    I’m not saying like a youngster that everything is bullshit. Unilateral nuclear disarmament is an admirable policy. Strategic nuclear weapons are terror weapons designed for use against cities, to murder millions of civilians, and when a major party such as the SNP makes the holding of these weapons an issue then that is to be welcomed.

    Unfortunately there is a lot of spin in the use of the term “unilateral disarmament”. Should we really count carting nuclear warheads to the country next door as “unilateral disarmament”?

    Scotland is part of the Union, and whilst I am in favour of the Union (but I’m an opponent of the UK – there is a big difference), no-one would be happier than I if the government of an independent Scotland declared that British military installations in Scotland were its responsibility, not anyone else’s, and that it was taking steps to put all nuclear weapons on Scottish soil or in Scottish waters permanently out of use.

    That is different from passing them to the country next door, as Kazakhstan did with 1400 strategic nuclear warheads in the 1990s.

    Pushing for the permanent putting out of use of all of Britain’s nuclear weapons would be better still.

    Another thing: does the SNP have a mandate for demanding another referendum? No! The fact is that Scottish turnout for Westminster elections is higher than for Holyrood elections, and turnout in the referendum was higher than for both. It is true that support for the SNP is support for independence, and vice versa, but that does not mean that opposition to independence is support for one of the Unionist parties.

    Nor does it make a general election into a referendum on whether to hold another referendum. A sizeable percentage of NO supporters abstained in the general election who would not abstain in a second referendum. Many YES supporters were still fired up – that’s why the SNP did so well, in a vote that the Scottish people as a whole viewed as less important than the referendum.

    A YES to independence would be far harder to reverse than a NO (this is why as a policy it’s such a useful bargaining counter), for the simple reason that reversing a YES would require a majority in an rUK referendum as well as a majority in Scotland. A country can divorce another country unilaterally, but it can’t marry it unilaterally. The SNP – not just the leadership but also many of the members – are bad losers. An independence referendum is a serious matter and it is good that there were years of debate in the run-up. Scottish nationalism plays to the “England stops us doing what we want” meme, and I wish people would give it a rest. It was the Scottish people who said NO to a referendum.

  • N_

    Oops – typo! Last sentence: I mean of course that it was the Scottish people who said NO to independence!

  • Ba'al Zevul

    Ba’al Zevul

    There’s more buckie drunk in Edinburgh than Glasgow.

    Source, please. But at least you concede the beverage has its Glasqow admirers.

    For those struggling with this, Buckfast Tonic Wine is the archetypal pisshead’s tipple, predating even Carlsberg Special, and less idiosyncratic than Crabbie’s Ginger Wine. It is made in Devon, by monks with a sense of humour and few scruples. At least it ensures some of God’s children meet Him sooner rather than later. Its popularity in Scotland, like that of Glayva ( https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Glayva ), tablet and the Peoples’ Friend, probably has something to do with its sickly sweetness.

  • Catherine

    I agree with you on the lack of international reach of the SNP. I for one would love to see the Scottish Government initiate closer relation with Tunisia, and perhaps help out a little too.

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