I HAD such an incredibly uplifting SNP conference experience, which I hope I can articulate to you in a way which gives it justice. I am firstly so grateful to all those who were unbelievably kind in their feedback to me whether in person or online. To see so many friendly faces in the flesh after having online events for so long, it’s an important reminder that nothing beats the connections which in person meetings bring. From speaking on the stage, to fringe events, stalls, and meetings, I have had so many wonderfully positive interactions.

I kicked off the weekend by attending the Big Night In on the Friday evening organised by Aberdeen Independence Movement. I have been working alongside AIM because I believe in their vision for a civic movement for independence which is based on the principles of respect and inclusion. The campaign for indy has never stopped for AIM or me and we are consistently brainstorming ways our campaign can be one of education which is bespoke to the North East of Scotland. Regional campaigns are going to be key to getting over the line next time. We must speak to people’s hearts and our hearts often lie in our communities.

Whether those communities are a literal place, or a gathering together of like-minded individuals, our culture and connection to the places we call home are what we relate to. Its in our dialects, our common understanding of the nature of behaviour of our neighbourhoods, the local knowledge, the local heroes, local industries and businesses, and our schools and streets. We must be engaging and having conversations on that micro level as to what independence will mean to "little Moira and her ma that bide roon fae Willie's place that does the fine pieces". We cannot underestimate the power of local. If we get that right, we get our campaign right. Its not just what the message is but how we convey it.

I mentioned how we convey our message of independence in my speech when I seconded the resolution on building our civic movement. Mike Russell moved the motion which had such a powerful force behind it. Listening to Mike, I knew he meant every word he said and I knew that he being a man of integrity has the best interests of our movement at heart. As a long-time advocate for independence his experience and will for us to win should be something we take heed of and comfort in.

READ MORE: LIVE from the Supreme Court for the independence referendum legal battle

Our movement should be a place of comfort, if we can give hope of a better future, that surely is a message which can give comfort to many. Hope, security, safety, and comfort. Four words which we certainly cannot attribute to the Union. A hellscape of grim prospects and invalidation to every struggle normal people face. No wonder our First Minister detests everything the Tory party stands for. The contrast we see in the tale of our two governments has never been so stark, and this was surely evident in the First Ministers speech.

Nicola Sturgeon was not holding back in her utter dismay at the newly formed UK Government and rightly so. She spoke up for the people, for her citizens, all of Scotland’s citizens, particularly mentioning those who aren’t and never will be supporters. A word she used which stood out to me was "love", our First Minister mentioned love, and it moved me to my core. Shouldn’t that be at the heart of all we do? Love, a word missing from discourse all too often. A word I could never link to any Tory UK Government policy or manifesto commitment. Isn’t that what we should focus on, a commitment to a guiding principle to love each other. This is something I hope we can incorporate into our code of conduct.

The National:

When I spoke of the code of conduct for our movement, I had completely scrapped my original speech, this is because I had attended a fringe event hosted by AIM in regards to the resolution, and the discourse had my brain ticking. I asked myself the question why, why do I really want a code of conduct, digging deep to the foundational desire for it. The answer unsurprisingly was that I wanted to create a safe space. If we don’t have a safe space for people to gather and debate we have lost the ears of thousands before we even start. A safe space free from judgment and ridicule, harassment, and abuse, is a must before we even start those conversations. We want to showcase what an independent Scotland could look like, and if it’s one which mirrors the obscene harsh critical attitude of the UK Government then what are we doing this for?

I have certainly felt uplifted and moved by conference, and I know exactly what we are doing this for. I hope over the next few articles I can take time to convey more of this past weekend with you. I especially can’t wait to tell you about the National Deaf Children’s Society fringe event, which my dad attended too, my heart was bursting. The rerailing motion passed, and the SNP fully backed carbon capture utilisation and storage. I also had a very interesting fringe with the humanist society in regard to religious reps on education committees, that will surely be a topic which prompts some interesting discourse and debate.

The National:

I hope we can move forward in our independence movement with a real hope that whatever comes our way we can get through it. That whatever debate we do have we can keep it respectful and be understanding to other points of view regardless of agreeing or not. So after my inspiring weekend I hope to focus more on love and less on hate, it’s a no brainer and we could all do with a little more of it. Love Karen.