Sunday 6 December 2009

Reporting from SNP National Council

Yesterday was SNP National Council in Perth. It's like a mini-conference, with some reports, presentations and resolutions for debate. I would have liked to have been at the Wave demo, but it's another of those occasions where I can't be in two places at once!

The presentation given on the Your Scotland, Your Voice by Nicola Sturgeon was interesting, and I particularly liked the video presentation which put the referendum into a historical context, tracing the key moments in Scotland's history. There's a slightly different version of this on the National Conversation website. Nicola opined that, instead of using Labour's recession as an excuse for delaying the referendum, we should use it as another example of why the Union is not working for Scotland. If we want to really change Scotland for the better, for the benefit of our people, we need access to all of the powers to allow us to do this.

Nicola's presentation was followed by a longer-than-scheduled speech by Alex Salmond. His speeches at National Council tend to be less formal than those at Conference - the size and layout of the hall at the venue also means that if you're foutering about with your blackberry, you're more apt to be spotted! The speech touched on quite a few different areas; the historical context of the struggle for Scottish independence, the respect the SNP government is gaining worldwide, the hypocrisy of other parties' positions on referenda, the importance of the Westminster elections next year, and, as covered in some press today, he mentioned bloggers.

The international context was interesting - on Climate Change, there's obviously the controversy about the Scottish Government not being allowed to go to Copenhagen. We have something important to say, but don't have the ability to debate on equal terms with other nations. Alex made the point that while plenty of politicians and governments are prepared to negotiate for dates in twenty, thirty, fifty years time, to legislate for reductions in 2020 (when a good number of our politicians will still be around and with any luck still in office) is pretty brave. Recognition is also there in our wealth of opportunity in renewable energy, but the UK Government's rules on grid transmission charges mean that we are constrained in developing these technoligies. Our stance on nuclear weapons is also internationally recognised, but without independence we are unable to prevent their presence on our shores.

The support Gordon Brown has given for a referendum on the Alternative Vote was noted (well done on picking a system experts such as the Electoral Reform Society don't want!) as well as their support for a referendum in Wales. The Lib Dems have variously called for and rejected referenda on a range of issues, and the tories found they had to change their mind. Given all of this background, it seems odd that these parties would line up in opposition to giving Scotland's people a choice. What always gets me is that these parties claim that no one supports independence - if they truly believed that, then why are they so scared to test it?

As for the Westminster elections... as I've said before, we have a wonderful slate of candidates. I can vouch for the ones I know personally, and know that they are people with strong social conscience, and a belief in helping to make Scotland a better place. When elected, they will represent their constituents with dilligence and compassion. They are working very hard to get known and get elected next year. They want to make a difference and make Scotland's voice heard.

Moving on to being heard, and what didn't get reported from Alex's speech. He expressed a disappointment with Scotland's media, and predicted that the number of publications would reduce by half in the ten years ahead. He noted that the commerical interests of our press at present did not allow them a distinctive Scottish voice; this was resulting in a decline in circulation and influence in society. I often wonder why, when we have an SNP government and the largest number of Councillors in Scotland, we fail to get fair coverage. You would think it would be in the interests of the press to reflect the changes brought about by their readers since 2007...

I suppose this is where responsible bloggers come in. Salmond did comment on bloggers, but the purpose of blogging and it's place in the media of our nation was his main point, not telling us off. SNP-supporting bloggers have a duty to make the positive case for independence, the one our media fails to make, and "leap over" the dead tree press. We must make the case they are failing to print.

Independence is all about positivity and ambition for our country and our people. It's a compelling case, and I will continue to get it out there in every way I can.


Anonymous said...

Surely only blogs who's authors have a responsibility to present a 'positive message', those of thus are not members withhold the right to be both pro-independence and speak our minds.

What's certain is that the SNP had better leanr quick smart that repeating a 'positive message' isn't enough in today's media.

They must be ready with cast iron arguments about negative campaigning and smears.

And whilst they might not like it, the SNP also need to learn that being pro-independence isn't their property. It's not their members that will deliver it, it's us, the unaligned that will.

Cruachan said...

Thanks for the summary of the National Council and the links. Very useful for us many miles away.

BellgroveBelle said...

Anonymous - I agree, as does the party, that independence is not our cause alone. I support the work of the Independence Convention in reaching that wider audience. I'm more than happy to work with people from other parties and none who support the independence cause.

We should have the strongest possible arguments in whatever we do, and I believe independence should be at the forefront of that. We shouldn't, however, lower ourselves to the level that some other parties may wish to fight at.

joe90 kane said...

It's not their members that will deliver it, it's us, the unaligned that will.
- As you seem keen to tell others what reality is all about brave Anonymous, maybe you could take the time off from your preaching to tell the rest of us how you, the unaligned, are going to carry this out?

What's certain is that the SNP had better leanr quick smart that repeating a 'positive message' isn't enough in today's media.

They must be ready with cast iron arguments about negative campaigning and smears.

- For a political party, such as the SNP, which has no support in the foreign-owned Scottish corporate media, it's foregone conclusion they know exactly how the smear merchants of corporate journalism and the pro-brit blatts operate.

This 'positive' blog article by BB being an example of that. It isn't allowed to stand on its own without some anonymous pro-Brit New Labour spin doctor coming along, only 3 hours after posting, to cast aspersions at it.

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