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Sun and sandwiches

Brian Taylor | 16:50 UK time, Friday, 16 October 2009

Plenty happening here at the Eden Court for the SNP conference.

The sun shone and the sandwiches held out longer than on the opening day - no doubt contributing to an air of general bonhomie among the delegates.

There was a comradely dispute as to whether an independent Scotland would require a referendum before opting to join the Euro.

Alyn Smith MEP was among those arguing that a referendum would be a conditional step too far. Better to get on and join.

But most delegates sided with John Swinney who said: join but only when the economic conditions are right and there's been a referendum.

In a webcast interview with me, Alex Salmond argued the case for an independence referendum - but demurred at the suggestion that there should be a popular poll on whether to maintain the monarchy, post independence.

Her Majesty, it seems, would stay.

Looking for money

Mr Salmond also offered a few more pointers as to the concessions he would seek to prize from Westminster in the event of a hung Parliament after the UK General Election.

He'd be looking, in essence, for money: protecting public spending and capital investment in Scotland.

I asked him whether he'd seek to oblige his UK counterparts to abandon Trident. Mr Salmond thought not.

This, it seems, would be a demand too far - likely to deter positive gains for Scotland rather than promote them.

To be quite clear, the SNP leader also reiterated his complete opposition to Trident and to the cost of upgrading it.

In his keynote speech, John Swinney argued the case for fiscal autonomy.

I was most intrigued by his efforts to contrast that position with the reforms advanced by the Calman Commission.

You'll remember that Calman advocated devolving a proportion of income tax to Scotland, with concomitant varying powers.

But Mr Swinney argued that "would expose the Scottish budget to a significant degree of volatility and vulnerability without giving us the levers of economic control to counter these effects."

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