When Shona Robison took to the stage, she delivered a gushing introduction to the keynote speaker. He was ‘a true statesman’. He had shown ‘calm, measured leadership’ during the Israel-Gaza conflict.
Goodness, I gasped. How did they manage to swing Henry Kissinger at such short notice?
But no, it was Humza, which was a pity. Kissinger might have cracked a few jokes. The First Minister’s speech was almost as empty as the hall he addressed.
They no longer need the really big auditorium like they did during that strange, mercifully brief episode in which Nicola Sturgeon was bigger than Beyoncé and one more sold-out Hydro performance away from a Grammy nomination.
A deficit of bums on seats is a better indication than any opinion poll that a party is in trouble, and there was a definite lack of oomph.
Humza Yousaf doesn’t have the Sturgeon magic
Humza Yousaf’s address was limp, earnest, over-rehearsed, and, while going for inspirational, managed only insipid.
No matter how hard he tries to recreate the Sturgeon magic, he just doesn’t have it. She might have turned the SNP into a personality cult, but he’s turned it into a lack-of-personality cult.
Sturgeon was a master at saying nothing in an attention-grabbing manner, but even when Yousaf says something attention-worthy, he struggles to rouse interest.
Take his announcement that the Scottish Government will begin issuing bonds on the international market. This is absolutely nutso (technical term).
Just last week, the IMF issued a heightened risk warning over the vicissitudes of government bonds.
I’m all for ambition. It’s just that this is Humza Yousaf.
Flogging financial products. On the international bond market. It’s like your mate announcing that he’s floating his two-man window-cleaning firm on the FTSE 100.
The delegates applauded on cue, though how many understood the proposition is open to question.
When Humza described this as ‘Scotland’s first ever bond’, there had to be a fair few upset that he’d forgotten about Sean Connery.
Mind you, we’re going to need all the cash we can get.
Yousaf also announced £300million for the NHS and a council tax freeze.
You remember the council tax. That’s the thing they were going to abolish but never got round to it because they’ve only been in government since Methuselah was in short trousers.
These people give shamelessness a bad name.
You know how politicians do that thing where they emphasise certain words in their speech to make it sound very meaningful?
Yousaf does that too but it comes out weirdly, as though he’s not sure which words he ought to be underscoring and so he just pitches his voice up at random.
Nicola Sturgeon was the centre of attention at the SNP conference on Monday
Thus, he proclaimed: ‘Delegates, politics is about CHOICES. I CHOOSE to ensure that Scotland’s ARTS and culture are supported to GROW AT HOME and to be SEEN right across the world.’
(The arts, he announced, were to get a £100million boost over the next five years. You can trust him because his government didn’t just restore previously cancelled budget cuts to Creative Scotland. I mean, that would render any promise they made now entirely worthless.)
Halloween is two weeks away but Keith Brown was getting into the spirit early. He spent much of the conference channelling Margaret Thatcher and announcing her support for Indyref2 from the spirit world.
I’m not sure when Maggie went from SNP bogeywoman to constitutional oracle. Unfortunately Brown’s time was limited, otherwise he could have got out the ouija board and told us what Shakespeare thinks about Holly Willoughby leaving This Morning.
I hope you’re sitting down for this: independence is going to be ‘page one, line one’ of the next SNP manifesto.
There was ‘no greater gift we can leave our children than a country which is theirs to shape in their own image’.
Oh, I don’t know. Schools that teach them how to read and write would be pretty good, too.