As SNP politicians and activists gather in Aberdeen tomorrow for their party’s annual conference The National has compiled a list of some of the things that members and observers might watch out for during the three-day event...

1. The conference opening

THIS is normally a routine affair when delegates approve the conference agenda but this year some members could try to disrupt proceedings by challenging the document. Rebels Chris McEleny and Angus MacNeil have come up with a Plan B route to independence if the UK Government does not agree to transfer the necessary powers to Holyrood as was done for the 2014 vote. Their proposal would mean if that plan doesn’t work then the party should back an alternative, meaning a General Election win for the SNP in Scotland would mandate negotiations with the UK Government to bring about independence. McEleny has failed to get Plan B onto the agenda so far and is expected to have another go tomorrow by putting forward a supportive amendment to the agenda on the condition it includes a debate on Plan B. Could McEleny be bundled off the stage? Will he make it that far? Will the party allow a Plan B debate?

2. Future leadership contenders

EXCITEMENT – or not – of the opening session over, another interesting thing to look out for will be which senior politicians are being discussed among the party faithful as possible leadership candidates when the time comes – eventually – for Nicola Sturgeon to step down.

Fresh from her Court of Session and Supreme Court triumphs over Boris Johnson’s unlawful prorogation of Parliament the MP Joanna Cherry is a grassroots favourite noted for her sharp legal mind and determination to win. Derek Mackay is another possible contender when the time comes.

A popular figure during his spell as business convener Mackay is also regarded as a safe pair of hands in his current Scottish Government role as Finance Secretary.

Others to watch include Tommy Sheppard, Justice Secretary Humza Yousaf and former Depute Angus Robertson who is planning a return to frontline politics at the Holyrood 2021 elections.

3. Resolutions

SOME 24 policy motions have been put forward for delegates to consider, debate and vote on making for wide ranging discussions over the three days. They include: demands to stop the detention of children and pregnant women at Dungavel Immigration Removal Centre in South Lanarkshire amid revelations at least 21 under 18s have been held there despite a ban introduced in 2010; pension levels in an independent Scotland and cutting down on plastic pollutions.

4. Nicola Sturgeon’s speech

THE First Minister will be speaking on Tuesday. We may have a better idea of what’s happening in the Brexit negotiations by then. We may not. The speech itself comes the day after the Tory government’s Queen’s speech a day ahead of the crunch European Council summit. There’s always a little something about independence in the First Minister’s conference address, but with Sturgeon already indicating that she would like to hold indyref2 next year, delegates could be expecting a little bit more. Could she confirm that she has sent a new request for Section 30 order to No 10? Here’s hoping!

5. Meet the candidates

BY the start of conference the party should have all 59 of its candidates selected for the snap election. At the time of going to print we know who all but four are. The venue itself has moved from the old AECC to the brand new P&J conference centre. While the old hall used to be in SNP-held Aberdeen North, the new building is in Tory-held Gordon. Expect big cheers for local boy Richard Thomson who’ll be looking to take it back off Scotland Office minister Colin Clark.

6. Fringe events

As always with all party conferences, some of the most interesting developments will happen away from the main hall. This year’s Fringe programme is dominated by the climate emergency, with interesting looking events organised by WWF, Friends of the Earth, the IPPR and others. Monday evening’s “Addressing the climate emergency – a moral obligation and an economic opportunity” could be one of the more lively.

There’s also more than few discussions on Brexit and what it means for Scotland. The Law Society’s “Brexit: Independence in the EU?” includes Mike Russell and Joanna Cherry on the panel.

For those who want to know how to win the next indyref, Angus Robertson’s fringe event on “Understanding Open-minded Voters in Scotland” will be a must-catch event.