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Trumpets and raspberries

Brian Taylor | 14:52 UK time, Sunday, 20 April 2008

In advance, Annabel Goldie had forecast that the SNP conference would be a love-in.

Not sure what they all got up to last night: I headed off to the Lyceum to see a splendidly anarchic Dario Fo production.

But collective romancing has certainly been to the fore in the conference hall: a hall bulging with delegates, including to my world-weary eye a fair smattering of new faces.

The Dario Fo play is called "Trumpets and Raspberries". At the SNP conference, the trumpets have been sounding loudly - for themselves.

The target for raspberries? Guess.


So, Bella, you called it right. A political love-in, indeed.

Remarkably, much more overtly jolly than even the autumn annual conference, the SNP's first since Holyrood victory.

Then, there was still a tentative touch, a sense of unreality, a feeling of staying relatively quiet for fear of upsetting the atmosphere.

This time, it has been universally upbeat. They believe, they really believe, that they are making serious progress towards their objective of independence.

Now, one must be pragmatic, one must be cautious.

One must point out that the SNP is in minority government at Holyrood, that it is outvoted by parties which support the Union, that a referendum on independence has yet to be tabled, let alone debated, let alone settled.

But one must also report, fully and fairly, that the Nationalists here in conference in Edinburgh are remarkably optimistic, remarkably confident.


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  • 1. At 4:32pm on 20 Apr 2008, johnhancock76 wrote:

    If popular support for the SNP and independence is growing steadily, as it seems to be, optimism and confidence at the SNP conference is hardly to be wondered at.

    Optimism and confidence seem to be spreading all over the place, except in the unionist parties, of course.

    No wonder the unionists do not want an independence referendum. They are running scared.

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  • 2. At 5:24pm on 20 Apr 2008, northy wrote:

    I was very impressed by Salmond's speech today. The public support that the SNP are enjoying at the moment might make a less ambitious party complacent. But what we heard today was an innovative program for change within Scotland, for our (hopefully temporary) place in the Union and, most inspiringly, our place in the world.

    The joined up policies show a real desire to make Scotland quite simply work better. I was particularly impressed with promoting increased consumption of fresh Scottish produce with the resultant environmentally-friendly reduction in food miles and improvement in public health. The use of seized criminal funds to directly benefit youth projects, those who are often most affected by drugs and gang violence, is an inspired move and will hopefully show youngsters that, not only can we win the war against crime, but exactly how we all stand to benefit from it. This is clearly a government firing on all cylinders, seeing the ills and inefficiencies caused by past neglect and attacking them head on one by one. Not just to win votes but because of the simple desire to see our country work better.

    Personally, when it comes to Westminster, politics I have mixed feelings. The complexity (Barnett, West Lothian Question, etc.) are intriguing but deep down I just wish were no longer part of it. I suspect that in our future history of independence internal politics won't be quite so interesting but, apart from political commentators like yourself Brian, I think that's not necessarily a bad thing. I don't think I'm as convinced as Salmond is that even with a bloc of 20 MPs we're going to have a huge influence of Westminster politics. There's too much bitterness there (even the Scottish Lib Dems won't work with us!) to be easily overcome. That said, the Tories have managed to punch above their voting weight in the Scottish parliament so maybe there's hope. But even with a full quota of 60 Scottish MPs we're never going to change the Union from inside so I think real constitutional change will come from Holyrood showing the citizens of Scotland how much better we can run things ourselves.

    Salmond ended by talking about Scotland's place in the world and I think it's this which presently makes me most angry. Opponents argue that we'd have less influence in organisations like the UN and EU but these are fallacies. Can anyone actually point out a single thing that the UK's place on the UN Security Council has achieve directly and particularly for Scotland? I seriously doubt there is one and the diversion of public opinion on world affairs between the citizens of Scotland and England mean that our "voice" in the UN is effectively being used to promote polices that Scotland's citizens are diametrically opposed to. Nuclear weapons, nuclear power and unilateral invasions most immediately spring to mind.

    Most people will be aware by now of the massive increase in the number of European Parliament seats would receive with independence. But this is also in England's benefit as well because a bloc of 4 or 5 (depending upon the Irish situation) British Isles' nations would have a massive influence over European politics. In a time of EU expansion, this would offset the loss of influence experienced as the % of the British Isles population falls as part of the EU's overall population.

    Finally, on my travels over the last couple of years I've spoken to many people from New Zealand and Scandinavian countries (most comparable to our own) who react with disbelief at the how powerless Scotland is over world affairs and our ability to present ourselves to the world. Yes, we'll always be proud of being Scottish regardless of our place in the world, but an independent Scotland could have a positive influence on the world and enrich the prospects of our citizens at the same time.

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  • 3. At 7:13pm on 20 Apr 2008, kaybraes wrote:

    I'd voted Tory all my life until the last Election when I voted SNP because I was sickened by what was happening to this country and it's people under both the Scottish and Westminster administration over the last ten years. So far the SNP have given me no reason to regret this decision, I find, rightly or wrongly that Salmond and his executive have performed admirably and with the welfare of the Scottish people in mind.I sense a new confidence in Scotland which was being eroded by the politically correct and blind socialist dogma of the Labour party, aided and abetted by the Lib/Dems who have learned nothing since they kept the Callahgan government in business, to the detriment of of this nation.The blind grasping for a taste of power displayed by David Steel and Co. then is still evident and I suspect Nicol Stephen and his cohorts would get into bed with anyone who promised a sniff of power.

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  • 4. At 7:24pm on 20 Apr 2008, dubbieside wrote:


    You know when I take time to think about it, Bella is correct it will be a celebration, but think about it Bella the SNP have plenty to celebrate.

    I think poor old Bella is just so used to Tory party conferences where they never celebrated anything. She must have missed the five more years chants. Maybe there was no room for her in the taxi taking all the Scottish tory MPs to conference.

    Thought that you might have had something to say about the mood of this conference and compare it to the recent wake that was held in Aviemore.

    I thought that I was watching the Glums family reunion, particularly when number one glum Broon, and the perfect ten were trying to persuade fellow glums they were socialists.

    P.S. must go I hear David Cairns is about to say something sensible.

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  • 5. At 09:18am on 21 Apr 2008, Sheneval wrote:

    I get a little worried when I see comments saying how much influence we can have on world affairs when we are independent - surely we should be satisfied with looking after our own affairs, before interfering in other peoples, bearing in mind that most of our current MSPs are ex local government stock - I suggest we learn to walk before we start running!

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  • 6. At 09:57am on 21 Apr 2008, GordonBroon wrote:

    Fun and Frivolity from Mr. Brian Taylor, Labours Latest Spin Merchant.

    You are beginning to show your slip Brian. Could it be that you secretly want to scream your BBC rants from the top of Arthurs Seat. Well Brian, put on your ruby slippers and keep up the good work. The SNP Scottish Government are here to stay. The few years they have as part of a discredited Union, and the rest of our lives as free Scottish People who run their own race by working hard at turning their country into the place it should be for all Scots.

    Personally Brian I certainly hope the Scottish Broadcaster, that was formar voice of the colonial BBC, keeps relics of the past like you, as a gentle reminder of what crimes the Westminster Parliament played on the Scottish Nation.

    Besides all of the above Brian, I actually hope you have thrown off the effects of the nasty cold you described. A nice toddy will do you more good than bad, so why stop at one. All the best.

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  • 7. At 11:10am on 21 Apr 2008, Glenbisset wrote:

    Confidence is all important in politics and the SNP have it in spades and probably deserve to feel the way they do. I suspect however that this confidence is going to be tested over the next few days and weeks, what with the potential fuel crisis at Grangemouth and todays announcement over the wind farm monstrosity on Lewis, events are going to become quite testing. Will our Scottish Government be able to handle the big guns that will now be trained on them over these issues? I suspect they will but it won't be easy.

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  • 8. At 11:40am on 21 Apr 2008, thegazhay wrote:

    I cannot believe there would be any good reason for denying a referendum.

    It would be undemocratic.
    At the very least it would give the pro-unionists a chance to prove their so-called mandate to reject independence?

    Get on with the referendum, and let the people of Scotland have a democratic say in their future.

    (Which, incidentally, is not going to mean suddenly cutting all ties with England and the Union, and would not prevent collaboration after the fact, as some pro-unionists would have you believe)

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  • 9. At 12:31pm on 21 Apr 2008, brigadierjohn wrote:

    People who call for referenda tend to be those who also want to word the questions, and, crucually, those who are confident that there is sufficient ignorance of the real issues to allow their own views to prevail on a tide of emotion and sloganising rhetoric

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  • 10. At 4:15pm on 21 Apr 2008, Dougie MacDuibh wrote:

    #9 Brigadierjohn provides another clear illustration of the glaring gulf between unionist diatribe and reality.

    If, as he blusters, the drive for independence is reliant upon public ignorance of the real issues, why has it taken as SNP government to set up a National Conversation which seeks to engage all of society, and every institution of public life, in informative debate about our constitutional future, while Labour counters with a 'Commission' specifically intended to discuss everything except independence - just as the Constitutional Convention did before it?

    Why has any previous national debate on the subject been so distinctly muted –or notably sanctioned so that, whatever else, independence was precluded as an area of discussion?

    And why, while our unionist MSPs remain opposed to our right to a referendum – and even to the informative discussion which must necessarily preclude it – have there been calls from the unionist camp to hold a 'snap' referendum in order to 'shoot the nationalist fox'??

    Could it be that, in fact, the mythology lies firmly in the unionist argument, and that they fear the growth in confidence which can only arise from a fully-enlightened Scottish public making an informed decision on their destiny?

    The unionist rump cannot help but betray themselves through the desperation of their argument, and they deserve no sympathy.

    More power to honest, open democracy.

    Alba gu Brath!

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  • 11. At 5:43pm on 21 Apr 2008, invisibleGordon wrote:

    SNP have had a great year and despite the future difficulties we all face they are the only party in Scotland that will keep the best interest of Scotland as their priority.
    I personally feel less worried knowing that labour are not in control of Scotland during this time.

    The next year will be more difficult for SNP but i think they will do well and i believe the people of Scotland will generally be glad of their leadership. Lets hope the other partys at holyrood are less obstructive for their own prides sake and where possible work with SNP so that they can finally have a chance to contribute to Scotlands success.

    Well done SNP and Alex Salmond and especially well done the people of Scotland.



    Former Labour voter.

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  • 12. At 4:11pm on 22 Apr 2008, MissSephy wrote:

    What is wrong in Scotland being confident in itself and her people? I can't wait until we can have the SBC (Scottish Broadcasting Corporation) and prove to Scotland and the rest of the world we have a lot to be proud and confident about!

    Penicillin, the steam engine and television. I think that is something we should be proud about!

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  • 13. At 1:30pm on 23 Apr 2008, livipunter wrote:

    The basic fact is that Labour cannot win a majority of Westminster seat without Scottish MPs. They will fight tooth and nail to prevent and English parliament or Scottish independence.

    This is not principal or unionism or Scotlands place in the world, it is self preservation

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  • 14. At 11:10am on 25 Apr 2008, KarenJU wrote:

    #3 Kay Braes

    " Isuspect Nicol and his cohorts would get into bed withanyone who offered a sniff of power"

    The thing is they didn't.
    Immediately post the election there was endless coverage / speculation on this issue , but it didn't happen.

    And in case you missed it the offer was made, frequently and publicly

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