AN investigation by The National has revealed just how glaring the omission of the “i word” from the SNP conference agenda is.

We managed to get our hands on a copy of the final agenda for the SNP conference in 2013.

That was a year out from the 2014 referendum.

With First Minister Nicola Sturgeon aiming to hold an independence referendum by the end of next year, we compared the 2013 schedule to this year’s.

The contrast is stark, and comes amid fears that the subject of indyref2 is featuring far too little.

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The final agenda of the October 2013 SNP conference in Perth featured a total of 26 motions. Of those motions, 18 made reference to an independent Scotland.

In fact, motion one was titled “A Choice of Two Futures”, setting out a position on the “historic independence referendum” that was on the horizon.

Motions on Royal Mail privatisation, health and safety and the arts and culture also all spoke about the potential rewards of breaking free of the Union.

The conference agenda for 2019 has not yet been whittled down, and so, as of now, has far fewer motions on the paper – a total of 48.

Despite being roughly the same amount of time out from a potential indyref, and having just under double the total number of motions, only three of them mention independence.

That’s 15 fewer than in 2013, and could be cut down still.

The National:

In fact, in 2013, three motions had “independent Scotland” in their names – this year, the figure is one.

“State pensions in an independent Scotland” is that lone 2019 motion to use the “i word” in the title.

The National: A motion from SNP MP Drew Hendry is one of the few to mention independenceA motion from SNP MP Drew Hendry is one of the few to mention independence

A motion from Drew Hendry MP on developing maritime trade also references the potential of an independent Scotland in this policy area. And the final line of a motion on 20 years of the Scottish Parliament, from MSPs John Swinney and Maree Todd, reads: “Reflecting on this, conference looks forward to the Scottish Parliament continuing to improve the lives of this and those of future generations with the full powers of independence.”

On the make-up of this year’s agenda, an SNP spokesperson said: “The process of producing the provisional agenda is the internal business of the Scottish National Party, with motions shortlisted by a democratically elected internal body.

“The SNP already has a cast-iron mandate for holding an independence referendum before the 2021 election and the First Minister has made clear that she believes this should take place in the second half of next year.

“Given the way Scotland’s interests have been completely ignored in the Brexit process, and given the increasing likelihood that we will be dragged off a no-deal economic cliff-edge, it’s little wonder that support for independence is on the rise.”

A motion on a “Plan B” route to Scottish independence from MP Angus MacNeil and councillor Chris McEleny did not make it on to the agenda.

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It would have called on the party to commit to policy that a vote on independence take place by autumn 2020, and if the UK Government failed to grant a Section 30 order to enable this to happen, voters returning a majority of independence-supporting MSPs or Scottish MPs would give a mandate to the Scottish Government to start independence negotiations.

Common Weal’s Robin McAlpine criticised the SNP for the lack of focus on independence.

He wrote: “The First Minister’s ‘referendum announcement’ and ‘climate change emergency’ are PR charades I’m no longer willing to go along with. This agenda shows what the pa rty is really about – control of its own members. “