POLITICAL Party conferences often require the suspension of disbelief.

The party leaders parade before the faithful and mostly tell them what they want to hear. I often wonder whether the leaders know they are talking nonsense at these events or whether they believe it themselves - I am not sure which is worse.

Take the recent SNP conference and its shrieking certainty that the Scottish Government has a cast iron mandate to hold another independence referendum in 2020. This is nonsense, just wishful thinking which the Nationalists hope, if they say it often enough and with enough outrage in their voice, people will start to believe.

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What if the people of Shetland vote into power a council whose central policy is to hold a Referendum to make Shetland an Independent country. Do they have a mandate to do it? They would have a right to ask if they can do it but they would have no mandate actually to hold a legally binding vote because that is not a power they have.

The Scottish Government is in exactly the same position. Different layers of government do different things.

The Nationalists point to the fact that another Referendum was in their last Scottish election manifesto. That too is not good enough.

Say you were thinking of voting SNP in an election and you read every word of the manifesto, you like it except that on page 82 you come across a rather strange promise.

This is that if Scotland win the Football World Cup the First Minister will loose off a Trident missile at somebody. Could be Donald Trump, could be anybody, a big event needs to be marked properly.

You are slightly surprised and worried but then you think about it and conclude nobody would listen to the First Minister if she gave the order to fire and, sadly, the chances of that glorious victory are nil.

So, even though an alarmingly stupid promise is in the manifesto you vote SNP.

Have you given considered consent to a nuclear missile being fired? Plainly you have not.

The vote to leave the EU was a surprise to most people in Scotland. An SNP manifesto, with a conditional intention, tucked away inside it to hold another Scottish independence referendum, which was issued before the Brexit referendum and with the re-run of the former depending on a Leave vote in the latter is a cast-iron mandate for nothing.

What Nicola should have told the faithful, complete with clichés, is something like the following:

“Friends, I believe in Independence for Scotland because I just do - but, I have to tell you, it will be a difficult road.

"If we want to join the EU we will have to commit to take the Euro - to say otherwise is just pretending. 

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"Let me be clear, if we want to join the EU there will have be some sort of customs border between England and Scotland which will severely damage our economy.

"I have to tell you also that the subsidy we receive from the UK Treasury which helps to pay for our public services will stop. Our hospitals and schools will have less money not more.

"In order to meet the entry requirements to the EU we will have to cut our budget deficit, jobs will be lost, taxation will rise, some of our most talented people will leave.

"So I say to you, the shipyard worker who will lose your job because there will be no more orders from the Royal Navy, sorry.

"Sorry I didn’t really try to make devolution work, sorry that you are collateral damage in our great quest for separation, sorry that the future for your family will be diminished.”

Would they still have cheered?

Guy Stenhouse is a Scottish financial sector veteran who wrote formerly as Pinstripe