THE row within the SNP over Nato will finally come to a head when the party’s rank and file debate the issue at their annual conference in October.
But before the conference in Perth between 18 and 21 October, those planning to oppose the leadership face a series of procedural hurdles.
SNP branches, politicians and other affiliates have until 10 August to submit amendments to the 34 resolutions on policy areas already published in a provisional agenda.
Although opponents of the Nato U-turn are unlikely to struggle with the deadline, any amendment will have to be ruled as competent by the powerful standing orders and agenda committee, which could rule a rebel amendment out of order if its members felt it represented a potential fundamental change to the original resolution.
The anti-Nato rebels in the SNP trade union group and MSP Dave Thompson would then have just one attempt to get their amendment on the agenda by putting the issue to the SOAC session on the first morning of the conference in Perth, where they would need to win a majority vote among delegates.
Given the fact that Alex Salmond has talked about how he was looking forward to the debate on Nato, any attempt to rule a rebel amendment out of order appears very unlikely.
What may disadvantage the anti-Nato SNP faction is the fact that defence spokesman Angus Robertson’s resolution is listed as the 28th out of the 34 lodged, with Nationalist sources saying the vote could be on the final day of conference – the day after the party leader traditionally addresses delegates.
However, the SNP has insisted the provisional agenda is not in “chronological order”.