Campaign Reflections from the Sidelines

Because we are moving home and I’ve been making full use of the wonderful NHS, I’ve been a spectator rather than an activist but as we move into the final phase of this abnormal election campaign, 4 things stand out for me.

Hypocrisy of media over breaches of Ministerial Codes

I wrote in my last piece of my concerns about how this might have played out to the serious detriment of both the campaign generally and on Nicola in particular. But this has been a dog which did not bark in the night and perhaps the reason lies a few hundred miles to the south. Although the Scottish media, or at least the media in Scotland, were frothing at the mouth over the prospect of claiming a scalp in the Hamilton Inquiry it seems that they have no appetite to pursue real, proven breaches of the Westminster Ministerial Code with the same enthusiasm they had for “he said, she said” allegations at Holyrood.  

While Hancock, and co are found to have acted illegally in Court, while Patel costs the taxpayer over £300,000 to hush up bullying and Johnston, Sunnak and Cameron are up to their necks in attempts to buy favour the fangs of the media in Scotland remain behind a self imposed muzzle. No moral outrage, no demands for public inquisitions and certainly no demands for resignations. Instead the warriors of the fifth estate turn their poison tipped swords into ploughshares and wait for Nanny to wipe their backsides! 

Hypocrisy of media over Salmond

I am someone who was present and active at the Ayr Conference when Sillars, Salmond McAskill and their comrades walked out of the SNP as the 79 Group was proscribed. I was also a delegate at, if my memory serves, the Larbert National Council the following year, when the majority of the delegates including myself voted to readmit them.  In all of the years when Salmond was a leading figure and then the Leader one thing was taken for granted. The media would twist and distort every utterance from his mouth. Nothing he said could be given any credence.

Suddenly, with not an ounce of shame or embarrassment the same people who excoriated him week in week out, now treated his every word as tablets of stone. Why? Because instead of attacking the system which holds Scotland in thrall he had become the weapon they hoped would fatally or at least mortally wound not only the SNP, the Scottish Government but the entire YES movement. 

I do not know the ins or outs of what happened and in truth, I probably don’t even want to any more. Why the relationship broke down so utterly is not really something I lie awake at night worrying or even thinking about. 

I do regret that it came to this pass and had even hoped that after the trials he would slowly make a positive return to the campaign but such hopes were to be dashed. As Salmond flails about desperately seeking some attention, even those “journalists” who sought to use him have cast him aside like a used chip wrapper. I’m just not sure whose hypocrisy sickens me most.

Postal voting

One of the potentially most significant aspects of this campaign could prove to be the use of Postal Ballots (PB).

It’s reported that over 1,000,000 of the 4,000,000 people in the total electorate have applied for a PB. Assuming a normal turn out of about 50%, and the level may well be distorted by PBs, we could well have roughly half of the votes cast before the polling stations open. That’s also roughly 50% of election communications which are wasted. Mary and I completed and posted our ballots the day they came in. Talking to neighbours it seems that most of them did the same within 48 hours. Yet still we receive an almost daily dose of rubbish from various parties. 

Now it doesn’t take a genius to work out how we voted but the fact is that a huge amount of money is being wasted. Not just because we would never vote for anyone but the SNP, but simply because by the time the literature arrived, we had voted. No matter how persuasive a case presented it could make no difference.

This has potentially at least, huge impacts on how we campaign. Much more work will be needed to ensure that for those on PBs, the literature arrives on time. OK, leaflet runs are not going to be able to differentiate but the postal and targeted letters are going to be more important than ever. I’m glad to say that Maree Todd had her leaflets delivered by the postie before the PBs arrived but, as in so many instances, the SNP are way ahead of the rag tag army which opposes them. 

The Unionist Policy Vacuum

It feels very much like a total policy-free zone in the dark recesses of Unionism. All we get is a variety of ever more strident voices claiming to be the only ones who can stop IndyRef2.While this has many advantages for the SNP and YES campaigns, it’s a sad and depressing commentary that after 14 years of SNP Government there is not a single positive idea coming from the “opposition”.