This article appears as part of the Unspun: Scottish Politics newsletter.

The SNP is having a get-together on Saturday. Activists are being politely goaded towards a “National Campaign Council” in Perth. 

There will be resolutions and debates and Humza Yousaf will give a speech and chat to the media. 

It’s not a conference as such. All the other parties at Holyrood are having those. 

But the SNP, which has its conferences in the autumn, felt it had to have something.

Hence this curious beast. The morning will be closed to snooping journalists to allow for free and frank discussion, with only the afternoon getting any public scrutiny.

The SNP often has national council meetings, but this one has the word ‘campaign’ slipped into the title, indicating a focus on the coming election.

Mr Yousaf has some explaining to do, especially after a throwaway remark he made at the London School of Economics on Tuesday, which may come back to bite him.

The SNP conference last October was supposed to have settled the campaign strategy. 

Delegates agreed that if the SNP won a majority of Scotland’s 57 redrawn seats, it would take that as a mandate to open independence talks with the UK Government.

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In theory, these would either secure independence tout suite, or extract the power for Holyrood to hold another referendum sometime down the line.

Given Tory and Labour opposition to indyref2 and the UK Supreme Court ruling Westminster holds all the trump cards, this was always implausible. 

However there was always a chance that in a hung parliament the SNP might hold the balance of power and use its leverage to wring a concession from Downing Street.

As Alex Salmond was fond of saying when he was boss, the party could make Westminster dance to a Scottish jig.

But, perhaps because it was merely a chance rather than a probability, not even Mr Yousaf seemed terribly bothered about remembering the formula his party had agreed.

He recently said that he’d declare victory if the SNP won the “most” seats of any party at the election, which might not be a majority, and implied him losing lots of his MPs.

Now there’s been another twist.

After making his speech at the LSE, the First Minister was asked whether he could imagine the SNP working with the Labour Party to ensure the Conservatives were no longer in power.

Mr Yousaf gave the standard reply that he would work with virtually any party not on the Right to see the back of the Tories, but then added another thought on the subject.

Labour was set for such a large and decisive victory, he reckoned, that there was no prospect of the two parties working together after the election either.  

The Herald: Humza Yousaf said the SNP would work with any non-right wing partyHumza Yousaf said the SNP would work with any non-right wing party (Image: PA)
He said: “I don't think, necessarily, that there'll be any question of a need for a formal cooperation agreement with the Labour party because I suspect, as polls indicate, Keir Starmer will win and win big.”

However he would be willing to work with Labour “on issues of domestic and international importance.”

He returned to Labour’s dead cert status when asked about the state of the polls.

“Everybody wants to see the back of the Conservatives, of that there’s no doubt – we will see the back of the Conservatives.

“Keir Starmer doesn’t need Scotland to win, but Scotland definitely, I would argue, needs SNP MPs to continue to stand up for Scotland.

“Because the only way that Scotland’s voice is going to be heard is if you have SNP MPs.”

However his starting premise – that Labour will “win big” – undermines the idea that only SNP MPs will be in a position to articulate what Scotland wants, because that big win would surely include new Labour MPs elected north of the border (at the expense of the SNP).

Unless he’s arguing Labour’s red tide rushes in everywhere except Scotland, that is. 

It’s a curiously fatalistic line of argument and hardly likely to gee up Saturday’s crowd.

More than that, it holes his plan to put independence on “page one, line one” of the SNP manifesto, because he’s conceding he won’t have a jot of leverage to deliver it.

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The only hope the SNP has of advancing its cause in this election is that finely-balanced parliamentary arithmetic gives it an outsized influence on a new Labour government.

Mr Yousaf predicting a Labour landslide and no cooperation agreement dashes that. 

Perth should be interesting. I thought SNP leaders were supposed to keep dreams alive, not trample them.