Parliament may have returned, but there is crucially one final conference to go – that of the Scottish National Party. Now is the time in the calendar when (some) of the Westminster bubble heads north to the SNP’s annual shindig.
Scotland’s First Minister Nicola Sturgeon certainly warmed the cockles of the party faithful kicking off the conference on Thursday with a commitment to a second independence referendum. Indeed, one of Field’s mice in the conference hall told of hugging and tears amongst delegates as this was announced.
As always with wily Sturgeon, the clues are in the language. Next week will see the launch of a consultation on a second Scottish independence referendum. Quite frankly, a consultation that will not guarantee a second vote before Brexit.
Sturgeon’s game here is to keep her band of supporters on board, whilst securing as much of the European single market without being in the EU. Sturgeon knows Scotland will exit the EU alongside the rest of the UK long before it becomes an independent country.
The Britain that Scots voted to remain in barely two years ago is no longer the same country argue the nationalists. But neither is the Scotland that existed in 2014. With oil prices sharply down, and still no answer to the currency question, the SNP are still as far away from the winning post as ever.
Next year marks the SNP’s decade in power. Nothing in politics lasts forever. And Sturgeon knows this. Rhetoric has always been a strong point of the SNP, and the First Minister will continue with her strongly worded threats of a second referendum. But with rumblings of a Momentum-style break in the party, and the daily battles of domestic governance, there may yet be more tears to come.