So, the SNP have had their biggest Conference ever to round off their most successful year ever.
Congratulations to them
But the really big thing that happened was what happened at the Conference's start. Nicola ruled out having a commitment to a second referendum in next year's SNP manifesto. That means, for the avoidance of doubt, before 2023 at the earliest.
The last referendum took so long that you forget how it started. With a lengthy negotiation between the Scottish and British Government over the terms on which Holyrood would be given the legal competence to hold a referendum. That power was ultimately ceded only for a time limited period, now expired, so this process would require to be repeated even if the SNP won in 2021 with a clear commitment to re-run the vote. And, for the avoidance of any doubt, that legal competence is critical. Anybody who thinks otherwise should ask the Catalans. And even if consent was given, there would then need to be another Referendum Bill passed.
So, eight years at the least. Which is a lot of conference time to occupy in some way.
For some it appears they think they'll be able to pass it with an annual hate fest. The hatred of all things English is never far from the surface within much of the SNP but other hates don't even need to be concealed. Hatred of the press in general and the BBC in particular. Hatred of the Tories, which might at least have some logic, were it not that it is accompanied by hatred for the Labour Party as well, just because. At some points during the debate over fracking it even appeared to extend to hatred of the entire modern world.
Who knows, maybe it's possible this will do for the next eight years but somehow I doubt it. However in attempting to find something else to talk about the Nats would have to actually do something about their increasingly obvious failure to use the powers of the existing Scottish Parliament to address the developing crises in our public services.
Yet reform requires change and change always makes enemies. And in maintaining their fragile coalition which delivers them their electoral successes the SNP can't afford to make enemies. So the easy solution is to avoid reform.
Which kind of gets you back to where I started. With not having much to talk about. For eight years.
And to the second emotion which wasn't far away in Aberdeen.
What have the SNP got to fear, I hear you ask? They are commonly believed to have more or less already won next year's Scottish General Election. The Labour Party is currently in disarray and while the Scottish Tories may be experiencing a modest revival the adjective modest remains well justified.
Well here's what they have to fear. If now, with a uniquely popular leader, with no effective opposition, with virtually every Westminster MP and a more or less nailed on return to Government at Holyrood. With the army of the 45 defeated but still far from demobilised and with a UK Government virtually closed to Scottish influence. If with all these advantages they still can't risk a second referendum then when are they ever going to be in a position to do so?
Maybe 2023? Who knows.
Which kind of brings me back to hatred. The hatred the Nats are only slowly realising that even they possess. Hatred for the people of Scotland for failing to rise to the historic challenge fate had offered them last year
I suspect this won't end well. Hatred and fear together rarely do.