27 October 2007

Aviemore: Pride, Practicalities and Parties

I'm trying to put my finger on the right word to describe the mood here. 'Pride', 'Excitement' and 'Optimism' seem to cut it. It is, as you may imagine, absolutely impossible to forget just who is forming the Scottish Government now, yet there's still a sense of disbelief, that things, or at least people, haven't changed: whether it's Linda Fabiani - the External Affairs Minister - and Alyn Smith MEP exchanging banter at a fringe event attended by diplomats, or as reported at ASWaS - and I can confirm this, along with a thousand other people - a Cabinet Secretary and senior figure within the Holyrood group proceeding through Aviemore on what looked like an interesting night out already in progress.

But the welcome from the Deputy Leader of Highland Council - Jean Urquhart - showed that it's not just about the Government: both at Holyrood and in Council Chambers around Scotland, there has been a big increase in the number of SNP elected officials, and in Council terms, not only are there more Councillors, but more of them are forming administrations. Highland is just one example of that, and the speech by the Independent Convener of the Council, Sandy Park, shows that a good working relationship seems to be developing there. The fact that John Finnie, the SNP PPC in Inverness, Nairn, Badenoch & Strathspey, was willing to congratulate Cllr Park after it was announced that a LibDem Councillor was crossing the floor to join the Independent Group, and that the delegates applauded this, is further evidence that tribalism isn't everywhere in Scottish political life, and the 'new politics' may be taking hold, only not where we thought it would.

But this situation - more Councillors, and more of them running things - has given rise to something else. A proposal was objected to by one of those very same Councillors on the grounds that it wouldn't result in any effect other than money spent that could be used elsewhere. Before, Conferences could call for anything - the Party was in Opposition in most Councils, and in Holyrood, and there is never any chance of the SNP forming a UK Government. Now, SNP policy can be put into practice, and those who have to do that have an understanding of the task ahead. While that will make Conference far less controversial in the long run, more and more of what comes out of Conference will be practical, and do-able. That has got to be positive.

Though given the situation that the SNP now finds itself in, there is a celebratory mood creeping in as well, and no more so than at last night's karaoke, run by Young Scots for Independence and the Federation of Student Nationalists. A certain Glasgow MSP shrieked a lot into the microphone, while two other grandes dames of the Party had a brave attempt at Blue Suede Shoes. And for our amusement, one unfortunate Parliamentarian found himself forced to sing Wannabe by the Spice Girls.

But your blogger is fearless, and admits that yes, he himself took to the stage. He is also painfully aware that other bloggers are considering publishing the evidence.


Louise said...

Mmm. Would the crowd have been so appreciative of an Independent Councillor crossing the floor to the Lib Dems?

Will said...

Admittedly not, I suspect it wouldn't even have been brought up - though it was on the front page of that day's Press & Journal so there might have been some chatter - but still, people cheering the switch of a Councillor from one Group to another that isn't the SNP? I wouldn't have expected that, even if it is a Group the SNP is in Coalition with.

After all, I don't suppose Labour would have done too much cheering if, before 2007, an MSP from an Opposition party had defected to the LibDems, or indeed, that the LibDems would have cheered if an Opposition MSP switched to Labour, but that never happened, obviously, so I can't say for sure.