ONE of the defining moments of this year’s conference came – perhaps unsurprisingly – during the big debate on independence.

It should have been a stooshie. An epic stooshie. A stooshie for the history books.

Instead, it really was only very barely a stooshie.

The party machine moved in to delay any possible rumblings, postponing the rammy until next month, when members gather at a National Assembly to discuss future strategies and tactics.

Instead for the conference, the committee responsible for deciding what delegates can debate came back with a resolution that didn’t commit the party to anything.

“It’s hard to speak against such a long-winded anodising list of platitudes,” said activist Morgwn Davies.

Despite talk of protests and remit backs, it passed overwhelmingly, with just 17% of those who voted voting against.

That defining moment, however, came during a speech in favour of the motion, from Anne McLaughlin the party’s MP for Glasgow North East.

Her plea for patience certainly seemed to resonate with a number of other veteran members.

“Those of us who’ve committed our entire lives to campaigning for independence have more reason than most to be impatient, I would argue.”

She added: “For people like myself who’ve been elected, mostly our commitment to independence has had an adverse impact on our lives over those decades.

“We lost out on jobs, promotions, family life, social life – we were happy to do so, I’m not complaining because it was the right thing for our country – but we were also in a hurry to get our lives back.

“So for those people independence can’t come soon enough. But because we’ve been part of this movement for years and decades – in my case 32 years – we know that getting it fast is not the priority. Whatever we feel in our hearts, getting it right and winning is all that matters.”

“We’ve never been in a stronger position. Let’s not ruin it now by falling out over a date when all that matters is that as soon as we possibly can win it, we do win it,” she added.

McLaughlin’s speech encapsulates some of the frustrations in the SNP.

The loudest voices of late, have been those demanding action now. Those who look at the 14 consecutive polls showing majority support for independence and wonder why Nicola Sturgeon seems so cautious.

And then there are those, like McLaughlin, who want independence now but who fear what losing another referendum or another vote might mean.

Mostly they don’t want the party fighting like rats in a lunchbox, scaring off voters ahead of an upcoming general election in 2021.

Because right now, the worst result for the SNP is not winning a majority in May.