The date for the next Scottish independence referendum may not have been set yet but there is little doubt that the Nationalists are already in campaign mode.
This week’s conference is crunch time for the SNP and there is a growing acceptance among party elders that they have reached a crossroads.
Scotland is to get extensive tax raising powers next year, as part of the consolation prize Westminster gave the Nationalists after they lost the independence referendum nearly 18 months ago.
You would think there was an election around the corner, with both the SNP and Scottish Labour rushing out new measures to tackle the country’s education failings. Jim Murphy has vowed to reintroduce chartered teacher status and tackle the poorest performing schools.
There was a photograph in some of Monday’s newspapers of Kezia Dugdale looking even younger than her 34 years. Tough as she must be to have wanted to lead the Scottish Labour Party, there is, nevertheless, a hint of fragility about her.
The campaign for May’s Scottish election started before the holidays, with opinion polls and political charm offensives. However, this week the battle became serious.
Was Scotland damaged by last year’s independence referendum? The answer to this depends on what side of the argument you were (are) on.
With Labour trailing the SNP in the polls, and apparently on course to lose most of its Scottish seats in the general election, it was a relief to learn that the party had a secret weapon, and a rather big gun at that.
Scotland will have one of the most powerful devolved parliaments in the world when measures enshrined in the new Scotland Bill come into force in 2016.
Walking into the Conservative Party conference in Manchester this week, I was accosted by one of a handful of protesters.