In his warm-up for Alex Salmond's speech yesterday, Kenny MacAskill said that it was taking place early because there were more highlights than usual to come later on in the conference. Within 30 or 40 minutes it became clear that one of those highlights was the dramatic announcement of Ash Regan's defection, but I did wonder if his use of the plural meant there might be more of the same to come on Day 2. And in a sense there was - although Angus MacNeil didn't join Alba, it was announced that he and Alba would be cooperating under a joint banner.
One of my concerns about Mr MacNeil's departure from the SNP was that even if he held his seat at the next election, it would be an ephemeral achievement without any wider national legacy because of his decision to run as an independent and not join Alba. This new arrangement may be a neat way of squaring the circle because he'll still have the local advantages of independent status, while any win will now be seen as a victory for a "Greater Alba" electoral alliance and may contribute to a snowball effect in Alba's favour. It also helpfully creates a bigger tent that other SNP parliamentarians might consider joining even if they have reservations about defecting direct to Alba.
The media reporting of this development was strangely vague, and I couldn't work out whether Alba and Mr MacNeil were setting up a formal joint parliamentary group at Westminster, or whether the arrangement is looser than that. On the face of it a joint group would make perfect sense, because I seem to vaguely recall three MPs is the minimum threshold to form an official group in the Commons.