I got back from SNP Conference last night, and I've not yet had a chance to think about how to blog on this topic. There's just so much to choose from!
The conference was so busy. Each year, I vow to attend more fringe meetings, take part in and listen to more debates, and catch up with more of my friends. Inevitably, there just aren't enough hours in the day.
I did, however, speak to the motion on the SNP Government's 'National Conversation' on Scotland's constitutional future. More on that in a future blog...
I also attended a couple of noteworthy fringe meetings. One was organised by Save the Children and Scottish Refugee Council, which concentrated on the experience of asylum seeking children. The other, was organised by the Scottish Social Enterprise coalition. Again, I will endeavour to share my experiences of those with you soon.
I would like to share a couple of observations right now though. Firstly, like many people, I assumed that we would hardly see the Cabinet Secretaries and Ministers at conference given their immense workload. But, on the contrary, those who run our government took part in a range of debates along with other delegates, they mingled with delegates and observers in the canteen and were generally accessible for anyone who wanted to talk to them. Not that I should be surprised really. I have worked for most of the MSPs who now form our government, and I know what value they place, not just on party members, but on really listening to those at the grassroots.
I was also struck by just how the SNP has grown, not just in terms of membership, but in terms of maturity and quality of debate. The quality of contributions from delegates and politicians alike were a joy to behold. Yes, some people did mention the results in May once or twice, but there was no real sense of triumphalism, but one of sober professionalism. For years, I have appealed to people on the doorsteps to give the SNP a chance to show what we can do. And that is very much the focus of the party. We may have won the election, but we still need to prove ourselves in government and make the case for independence.