The SNP the conference has become like a stage rock concert in recent years.
Huge crowds lining up to enter, signs with messages of support for the performers on stage and an impatient impatience for the headline: Nicola Sturgeon’s Big Speech.
This year’s conference is less glamorous. It is hosted online.
It’s also just days after the SNP already announced its plans for the next 12 months in the agenda for the government, and we already know what Ms Sturgeon is likely to focus on.
On Friday we had the chance to sit down with the Scottish Prime Minister to deepen her plans for Scotland and Indyref2, as well as other developments in Scottish politics.
Three things we learned:
1. Scottish independence remains Ms Sturgeon’s top priority
Independence is still at the top of Ms Sturgeon’s to-do list after ‘Covid recovery’.
This is his big idea – and the raison d’être of the SNP. She told us about her intention to hold a referendum before the end of 2023.
This will likely get online attendees at her conference to cheer in their own living room when she makes the announcement again this weekend.The Prime Minister will reaffirm how it is definitely this time around, support her, she will not let you down.
But that still doesn’t answer in substance exactly how Mrs Sturgeon intends to give them this chance to vote when the UK government keeps saying ‘no’.
2. The courts could decide if a referendum is called – not Boris Johnson or Nicola Sturgeon
Boris Johnson’s rejection will not stop the pressure from Ms Sturgeon to hold this referendum.
The precedent for having an independence vote tells us that the Scottish Prime Minister must write to the British Prime Minister asking for permission to hold the vote.
It’s called a section 30 – and, if granted, would temporarily transfer legal powers to allow Ms Sturgeon to issue Indyref2.
Sturgeon: “Will Boris Johnson launch a legal challenge to stop another referendum?” It’s up to him to decide … ‘
But she repeated that she would continue whether Mr Johnson agreed or not – and she told us ‘it will be up to him’ to stop her with legal action.
It seems increasingly that Scotland’s holding an independence referendum is not decided by politicians but by the courts.
3. Ms Sturgeon could open up to controversy by teaming up with the Greens
The SNP’s new partnership (don’t call it a coalition by all means) the deal with the Scottish Greens leaves Ms Sturgeon exposed to controversies she has been careful to avoid.
She gave the Scottish Greens two ministerial posts in her government.
The problem for her is that these two ministers, Patrick Harvie and Lorna Slater, are co-leaders of a party that has not endorsed and still refuses to endorse the International Holocaust definition of anti-Semitism. Remembrance Alliance (IHRA).
The party voted in favor of a motion that describes Israel as a “racist state” based on “Jewish supremacy” and calls Zionism a racist enterprise.
Ms Sturgeon told us that she was aware of these concerns, but did not actually speak directly to the Scottish Greens.
“I hope everyone will register for the [IHRA] definition, ”she said, and“ the Scottish government’s position on anti-Semitism is clear and it is what all ministers are expected to adopt and accept ”.
When asked if the Scottish Greens could continue in his government if they did not accept the IHRA’s definition of anti-Semitism, his response was clear: “They are in my government.It does not go well with the leaders of the Jewish community.
Sammy Stein, president of Glasgow Friends of Israel, said: “It is of great concern that they are allowing the Greens to join the government when they have such extremist views towards the State of Israel and Zionism. “
He added: “This question of the Scottish Greens joining the government has been raised with the FM by the Jewish community.
“So I am surprised to hear her admit that she does not know what the Scottish Greens’ position is on the IHRA definition and that she did not ‘specifically’ discuss it with them.
“If not ‘specifically raised’ how was it raised if and if not at all, why was she willing to offer them a role in the Scottish government.
“She confirms the Scottish Government’s position and expects all ministers to engage and agree.
Sturgeon: “I’m not quite sure where the Greens stand on this …”
“It would be important to know how long the FM will give the two Greens to adopt and accept the Scottish government’s position on the definition of anti-Semitism.”
Scottish Council of Jewish Communities president Nicola Livingston told ITV News that she has twice raised concerns about the Scottish Greens to the Prime Minister.
She said: “When we issued a manifesto raising concerns for the Jewish community in Scotland, it was endorsed by all four of Holyrood’s main parties except one: the Scottish Greens.
“They didn’t even answer us. So it’s not just about the definition of anti-Semitism, it’s about this one party – the Scottish Greens – apparently not interested in engaging with us on the issues. of concern to the Jewish people in Scotland. “
A Scottish Green Party spokesperson said: “The Scottish Green Party hates anti-Semitism.“There is absolutely no place for anti-Jewish prejudice in society. Green policy is rooted in environmentalism, peace, social justice and democracy.“Our party’s position on international affairs, including Palestine and Israel, is guided by these pillars. We will continue to make our voices heard for a human rights-based outcome that enables everyone in the region to live in peace, free from oppression or occupation.“We are happy to discuss this with anyone who has concerns. “
Premier Sturgeon may accept this offer.
Scottish Conservative Eastwood MSP Jackson Carlaw said: “This is a total dereliction of duty on the part of Nicola Sturgeon. Scottish Jewish communities will be dismayed that she did not challenge her new Green Ministers on their extreme views.
“They communicated these concerns to him directly before the SNP-Green deal was announced.
“They should have been asked to clarify these views before entering government, but it is clear that this is just not a priority for the Prime Minister.
“The Greens’ views are not worthy of a post and Nicola Sturgeon should have condemned them at the first opportunity. Instead, it seems it hasn’t even crossed her mind to do so.
“I wrote to him earlier this week to express the serious concerns of our Jewish communities that the Greens are now at the heart of government.
“I will continue to seek urgent assurances that the SNP remains committed to internationally recognized definitions of anti-Semitism, and that Nicola Sturgeon belatedly will unequivocally distance herself from the views of her nationalist allies.”