It's fast becoming a social media cliche, but the Random List still pulls in the page-hitters. My last one on the Papal Visit was well read, and the biog bullet points proved strangely popular. In that spirit I give you Day Two of the SNP Conference in Perth. It's a particularly attractive blogging option because (a) there's a lot of material to get through and this is a fun way to summarise the best bits, and (b) The time is now 2am.
Viral video. The new SNP viral video features a young rock band - Jakil - playing a version of the old Canned Heat number Let's Work Together. It shows Scots from all walks of life doing just that. Someone suggested I might wish to share it on my social media networks "if you like it". I do, and so here it is. I'm particularly looking forward to the classic soul version featuring my hero Al Green....
Smouldering John Swinney no, really.... I don't want to damage his reputation for frugal moderaton, but John Swinney's speech was - whisper it - somewhat passionate. At the end he suggested that Scotland could no longer afford to remain in the UK Union. We have been in surplus for four years while UK was in deficit. You can read the whole speech here.http://www.snp.org/node/17386
I always thought the Fair Maid of Perth was invented by Sir Walter Scott to add romantic interest to an extremely complicated plot line in his novel. But I see that her house is being restored right opposite the multi-storey car park I am using. Historical dramatisation is all the rage again so who cares if Sir Walter took a few liberties with the fair maid? Cultural tourists don't..
While waiting for coffee I meet the leading soprano Alicia Hayes, who has just started working for Bruce Crawford MSP, the parliamentary business manager. Alicia has sung with opera companies all over the world, often playing the romantic lead. She's staying closer to home on account of her baby daughter these days, we will surely see her on the political stage before too long.
Good debate on PFI this morning. For more on the ever mounting price tag go to Jim and Margaret Cuthbert
I meet Liberal Democrat Andy Myles, a facebook friend who's fair scunnered with some of the compromises made by his party leaders in coalition at Westminster. He's here in his professional capacity as a lobbyist for Scottish Environment Link which represents dozens of individual groups. I am particularly interested in the human ecology of the countryside - eg preserving its people as well as flora and fauna. Turns out he is very keen on repopulating the highlands and breaking up sporting estates. He offers examples of mixed use tenure. Environmentalists encourage cattle being wintered outside when possible, especially in woodland. Would love to taste some of the beef that spends months grazing in pine forests around Abernethy. Is it aromatic?
Lunchtime fringe meeting. But which one? The SNP conference has grown considerably in recent years with lots of groups like the charity mentioned above keen to influence policy makers. One of the downsides is that a lot of interesting fringe meetings are scheduled for the same time. At 12.30 today you could chose to learn more about Victim Support, Scotland's Colleges, the challenges of Foster Care, the difficulties older women have in accessing the right breast cancer care and a Scottish Social Enterprise seminar on how communities can buy their assets. I was tempted by a Reform Scotland/NESTA discussion on reforming public services but went instead for...
Dragons' Den. Sponsored by the Centre for Public Policy Research, Stewart Stevenson the Transport, Infrastructure and Climate Change Minister lead a team of dragons listening to pitches for a new Forth Crossing, upgrading the Glasgow Subway and introducing a smartcard for all public transport. All three had merit. Was particularly impressed with Jonathan Findlay the Labour councillor who chairs SPT, who was brave enough to come before the nationalist audience. He was applauded too. It is surely something of a scandal that the Glasgow Subway (rebuilt in 1970) and the Forth Road Bridge, are major postwar engineering projects that have scandalously failed to pass the test of time. If we must invest billions to replace or renew, let's take a tip from those sustainable Victorians and make our bridges and tunnels last longer than a few decades.
Angus Brendan MacNeil, the MP for the Western Isles and hard-working Barra crofter, has sacrificed the Mod to attend conference. He directs me to this funny exchange from Hansard on the Arc of Prosperity. How many times do you hear that Ireland and Iceland still enjoy standards of living far higher than our own...?
Fantastic fringe meeting on the creative industries with Jim Mather, minister for Enterprise, Andrew Dixon, of Creative Scotland, Jackie MacKenzie, Head of Innovation Programmes Scotland at NESTA and Rob Woodward at STV. One of these meetings that you really wish had been webcast. Andrew Dixon has had a few knocks but I was very heartened by his presentation. He seems genuinely enthused by what he has found here - and keen to grow audiences for artists in Scotland. The more local something is, the more compelling it can be to a global audience. Is the word glocal? He has identified music as a vibrant cultural resource that doesn't get enough attention. Jackie had interesting things to say on education - the divide between art and science, in both school and university, is damaging our competitiveness in computer games. Artistic kids need the maths skills to programme as well, say developers. Breadth is supposed to be the rock on which our educational system stands, so Scotland should be able to find a way around this. On a positive note it's a shame Jim Mather is retiring, though he will be 68 at the close of the next parliament and has many other plans. Until next May we should celebrate having as Enterprise Minister a highly successful entreprenuer who quotes Hugh Macdiarmid And Richard Florida. It doesn't get better really...
Chat to representatives of The Police Federation who say they have more access to government since the SNP took power than under any previous Scottish administration. They are not the first group to say this. I wonder why previous ministers were so remote - did they fear contradicting London policy by accidently promising what they could not deliver?
Media reception in the evening, hosted by Scottish Power. Deputy First Minister Nicola Sturgeon is in good humour. She gives the diarists a nice story about her own social networking slip. Recently married, she tried to change her relationship status to reflect this and link to her husband Peter Murrell. Unfortunately the predictive language married her off the party press officer Paul Togneri. It took a few desperate phone calls to undo her cyber-bigamy, without a puzzling broken heart appearing on the profile...
Alex Salmond arrives at conference today (Saturday) fresh from Dehli where he joined Glasgow Provost for the "handover" ceremony fo the Commonwealth Games. The question on everyone's lips is: "Will he bring the hat?"