Eighty-seven-year-old Gerry Fisher has been coming to the SNP’s annual gathering every year since 1969. The only year he missed was in 1988 when he was in Perth Royal Infirmary after a car crash.

And every year he is a thorn in the side of the conference arrangements committee who schedule the agenda. This year is no different and he made two appearances within the first hour of the meeting getting underway.

There is a lot of affection for Gerry from the party faithful, if not always a huge amount of support for what he says. For him the SNP stopped backing independence as soon as it advocated independence in Europe. That happened at the conference he missed in 1988.

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“As a member of the party who joined the party for independence, I have watched the Euro Unionists take over the party to the point where someone who started off as a nationalist, my MSP, Michael Russell, now seeks to justify the co-decision making in the EU as adequate where he found no possible good in co-decision making in the UK Union,” Gerry says.

He adds: “It’s not that I’m against the EU or Westminster, it’s just that I’m in favour of independence. And giving up on that would mean, proving to myself that I’ve wasted 40 years of my political life fighting for something which I’m now told wasn’t there.”

He is not entirely convinced that any form of independence is coming soon. “If I thought I was going to see independence in my lifetime I would be putting a belief that I had more than five and perhaps up to 20 years life left.

“I’m not that optimistic.”