Not doing a Kinnock

  • Brian Taylor
  • 12 Apr 07, 05:22 PM

“All my life”, says Alex Salmond, “I have been determined not to do a Neil Kinnock”.

This rather delphic comment was delivered to eager-snapping photographers as Mr Salmond stood, manifesto in hand and surrounded by a group of smiling candidates.

There are, I think, three interpretations. Firstly, the SNP leader doesn’t want to emulate Neil Kinnock who lost an election after, apparently, leading in the polls.

Secondly, Mr Salmond didn’t want to fall on his backside during a photo shoot. The bold Neil tumbled over while walking, purposefully, along a beach.

After the manifesto launch today, Mr Salmond was perched a little precariously on a grassy slope outside Napier University’s Craiglockart campus.

However, I go for the third interpretation. Alex Salmond is determined to avoid a Sheffield moment.

Come on, you must remember. Raucous noise, cheering supporters? Near the end of the ’92 campaign?

On stage comes NK, punching the air and yelling: “Well, allllllll ri-ight!!”

Legend has it he lost in that moment of unconstrained exuberance. (I am inclined to distrust legend but no matter.)

Anyway, it was a different A. Salmond at the launch today. Deliberately more modest, more constrained.

In the poster leaflet going out to voters, he’s shown with but the faintest hint of a smile. Smirking is so last year.

He remembers 1999 when a powerful Labour onslaught completely destabilised the SNP campaign.

Now, Labour insist he’s avoiding a repetition of ’99 – by avoiding the campaign. They say the SNP has held a minimum of news conferences to reduce exposure to questioning.

Whatever, the manifestos are now out in the open. Inter-party battle can commence, fully, on the ground and over the airwaves.

Expect close scrutiny of the SNP’s financial plans, their oil estimates and, especially, their plans to replace the council tax with a fixed rate 3p on income tax, standard and upper, to fund local services.

Alex Salmond says income tax is fairer and most people would gain – partly because, in office, he’d subsidise the new tax from the centre.

Critics say it’s a disincentive to employment and unfair because it doesn’t cover shares and savings.

All that and much more to come. For today, though, this was a confident and assured launch by Alex Salmond. Not too confident, though. Not these days.

Comments   Post your comment

  • 1.
  • At 06:54 PM on 12 Apr 2007,
  • Peter, Fife wrote:

He certainly will not do a Kinnock; I do not think any other politician will ever do a Kinnock or a Blair for that matter (a Blair = announcing retirement from office months in advance)

In a blog in ‘another place’ I detailed these very observations:

“…Alex Salmond’s position could be best described as fluid, insomuch that he seems no longer operating from a hard and fast list of policies and demands; in my opinion he has become a more difficult politician to counter because of these changes.

I am not suggesting for a moment that he has changed his aims, more correctly a less confrontational route to achieve those aims; this I feel was targeting those undecided voters who in some instances viewed his policies as threatening; it seems to have worked if you believe the polls…”

I think he has concentrated on becoming First Minister; a referendum on independence is a separate although desirable aim which can be voted on by all in Scotland at a later date.
This has clearly removed the fears from the swing voters and those voters who are dissatisfied with other parties; the message is almost clear to all, ‘a vote for the SNP is a vote for the Government of Scotland, not a direct vote for independence’

Alex Salmond seeks the opportunity to show his policies and credentials, then if he is successful and in power he can launch a referendum for independence; the decision will always remain with the Scottish People.

To sum up Alex Salmond approach you could say he was claiming

Vote for the SNP to run Scotland; if you like what you see you may get a vote on independence later.

  • 2.
  • At 09:43 PM on 12 Apr 2007,
  • Harry Shanks wrote:

The transformation in Alex Salmond over the recent past is nothing short of breathtaking. Gone is the smirking, the inability to let anybody else speak and the sometimes snide, waspish personal attacks. These days he subtly exudes the confidence of a Statesman, head and shoulders above the political pygmies challenging him - the stuttering, spluttering one-trick pony that is Jack McConnell, the increasingly irrelevant Nicol Stephen, and of Annabelle Goldie one could only offer that most Scottish of put downs -"She means well" The sight of all three being dwarfed by Alex Salmond is quite remarkable.

  • 3.
  • At 10:21 PM on 12 Apr 2007,
  • Cam wrote:

Brian, Brian, Brian - where's the electoral ticker-tape, razzmatazz, passion, glossy rhetoric and carnival you decided to inject your Labour 'Time for passion' piece with?

Hell of a lot of gusto there for a party that are universally unpopular on both sides of the border - and for good reason.

Did Gordon phone you direct, in order to graft some manner of backbone on Jack's latest gutless education pledges?

'Not doing a Kinnock'?

Shame on you sir.

Here's a starter for ten. In case you want to comment - in any way, shape or form - on the apparent political pulse in - oh, Scotland.

The BBC reader blog on the back of the SNP Manifesto -

The Scotsman poll on the desired first minister -

Or, better still - some solid reason why voting for the SNP is definately worth a try ;o)

Introducing the Labour electoral thesauri that is Cathy Jamieson -

Some irony in those 'education' pledges, eh?

Brian - your journalism head will be lying about somewhere - along with your impartiality.

Don't believe, during this politically transitional time, that people are not focusing on the issues at hand - nor your carefully chosen wording, tone and rhetoric.

Reportage Brian. I'm sure you're up to it...

  • 4.
  • At 02:13 AM on 13 Apr 2007,
  • John wrote:

Salmond is beginning to look like a leader. Perhaps like the leader who will persuade us to vote for independence in a referendum.

I was at the manifesto launch too and despite the barrage of single issue questions from the media over Local Income Tax, and I pleasantly surprised that most commentators have remarked positively on the manifesto.

To give the people of Scotland the biggest tax cut in a generation, not the sleight of hand Gordon Brown thought he had got away with at the Budget, is going to be a vote winner. The principle that the current Council Tax is unfair is exemplified by Cathy Jamieson's car crash TV spot on Newsnight Scotland.

Phase one of the Local Income Tax is an early attempt to create a system to pay for local services based on people's ability to pay something the council tax doesn't really address. LIT is easier and more effective to collect according to the local government finance association, CIPFA, and the SNP's policy has been tested by the Institute of Fiscal Studies.

But the manifesto is more than that and I urge blog readers to delve in a bit more online. Then again, wait for the weekend papers and you'll get your free mini-manifesto and judge for yourselves.

  • 6.
  • At 11:13 AM on 13 Apr 2007,
  • Philip wrote:

Could one of the SNP folk who prowl this site (along with the Scotsman, Herald and seemingly all other Scottish Election blog sites) answer one simple question in relation to the local income tax? Alex says 9 out of 10 people will benefit. Ok, fair enough. Does this mean that the 1 out 10 who are not benefiting will fund the 90% who win? Or is that the 'centre' is also putting money into the package towards ensuring 90% of folk are better off with a local income tax?

I ask this with no political axe to grind - really am interested to know how it is intended to work. That's all - look forward to finding out the answer. Thanks.

  • 7.
  • At 01:25 PM on 13 Apr 2007,
  • Mike wrote:

I'm not one of the SNP folk Philip refers to but my understanding is that the 10% will pay more and the difference (I think the figure given was £450m) will be made up from central coffers. This presumably means that the £450m will have to be found from elsewhere?

Labour's half-hearted plans to change council tax will make no difference I think. Cathy Jamieson said on Newsnight it would only be the very top and lowest bands that would change and it would be revenue neutral. For all those with properties worth over £1m there must be loads of properties in the lowest band (and if there isn't what's the point?). If there are a hundred lowest band properties for each top band property (total guess) then the top band would need to go up £100 to give everyone a reduction of £1.

Hardly going to make any difference at all, I'd say.

  • 8.
  • At 01:37 PM on 13 Apr 2007,
  • Iain MacDonald wrote:

Hi Philip

No. The 10% of the population will pay more as a result of the 3% of income tax being greater than their council tax payments. But not the full burden of the other 90%. The SNP as far as I understand, promised a tax cut, and additional resources will be allocated to the short-fall from elsewhere. Efficiency savings I think. Including reducing the nunber of Government departments.

best regards

  • 9.
  • At 01:52 PM on 13 Apr 2007,
  • Alan wrote:

It is NOT the 1 in 10 who fund all of the 90% who benefit - they will only part fund. The 'centre' (as you call it) (or savings from elswhere) will also go towards funding the package.

  • 10.
  • At 11:55 PM on 13 Apr 2007,
  • derek barker wrote:

A distant ship smoke on the horizon,or has A,Salmond's ship come in,well one thing is for sure; the labour party at this stage is "DRIFT WOOD"about to be washed up on a pebble beach with only peer's? for company.

  • 11.
  • At 11:02 PM on 14 Apr 2007,
  • Mark Sutherland-Fisher wrote:

Alex is no Neil Kinnock and thank goodness for Scotland's sake. He knows that the polls are usually wrong. There is no doubt the SNP are comfortably ahead but certainly not out of sight. He must just pray Tony Blair visits Scotland many more times in the next fortnight. Each visit must be worth thousands of votes to the SNP.
In 1987 and more so in 1997 Scotland voted for anyone who could beat a sitting Tory MP. In 2007 it looks as though Scotland will vote for whoever can unseat a Labour MSP. Alex can celebrate when Wee Jack hands him the keys to St Andrews House. He knows to do so before then might just result in the people of Scotland biting off his outstretched hand!

  • 12.
  • At 07:21 AM on 15 Apr 2007,
  • Fergus, Stirling wrote:

I am beginning to really hate these extremists who dominate these notice boards.

For the record, I think Brian Taylor is the best journalist in Scotland. I read all my news on line - and am enjoying Brian's blog. So why spoil it with all this extremist poison?

  • 13.
  • At 12:59 PM on 16 Apr 2007,
  • Barry wrote:

Fergus, Stirling and Philip are spot on it seems the SNP's new strategy is to Spam every available election blog with pre-prepared statements and attacks on bloggers and opposition alike. I am all for freedom of speech however the fanatics seem hell bent on promulgating their views anywhere they can freely comment.

As for Peter, Fife about "doing a Blair", the only reason why Blair announced he was standing down was to satisfy those in the media and the likes of himself who have been asking the question for the past 10 years.

It seems that even when the answers are provided the derisory comments do not end.

  • 14.
  • At 10:01 AM on 17 Apr 2007,
  • Cam wrote:

Fergus sings the Blues?

What extremist poison is that?!

Merely putting over opinion Fergus - and it seems to be fairly popular at that.

I'm assuming you're another who equates anyone that actually backs the SNP or a secessionist view as an 'extremist'?

Granted, free blogs and reader generated content do somewhat stem the tide of the pro-union mass media in Scotland, but I'd be more inclined to note the difference between what people seem to be 'saying' and what people are consistently 'reading' in this country.

That's pretty 'extreme'.

I aslo enjoy Brian Taylors broadcasts - immensely - but I do believe that 'Not doing a Kinnock' smacks of the usual negativity, which in some small manner supports the truly depressing Labour campaign we've all had to endure these past months - capped in their manifesto.

The 'passionate' one Brian comments on. You know? - the 'inspiring' one other BBC writers mention. '...the weight of history on Jack's shoulders...' and all that nonsense.

I find this extraordinary. The press enjoy every swipe possible at a party that hasn't even had the chance to govern.

Whilst we have a party who fundamentally *cannot* act in Scotland's best interests, next to their London masters.

Iraq? Trident? Cash for honours? Faslane spin? Pension wreck? Al Qaeda attack? Social ties between Scotland and England dissolving? The 'Balkanisation' of the UK? Govan poverty? Decreasing school score cards? Reiterated, tired pledges? Trade Union anger? Phoney party political broadcasts with ex-Labour officials? Boils, rashes and plagues...

Pretty extreme, huh?

  • 15.
  • At 11:03 AM on 18 Apr 2007,
  • Philip wrote:

Thanks to those offering views on the question I posed in relation to whether it will be the 10% funding the apparent 90% who will benefit from the local income tax. If 450m is being used from general tax revenue to make the sums add up, then unless the SNP can prove beyond doubt that none of the 90% of people who will benefit directly from a local income tax are not funding it indirectly through general tax, can I suggest the SNP are coming close to virtually telling lies when saying 90% will be better off. They simply are not in a position to make such a statement and back it up with evidence.

  • 16.
  • At 10:31 PM on 19 Apr 2007,
  • Bedd Gelert wrote:

Brian, It may not have made a huge difference, but Kinnock's exuberance was a small but potent warning sign to the undecided, and may have been enough to swing the pendulum away from him.

Dangerous to let any electorate think you've got it in the bag - they'll either think you're smug [disaster] or supporters will be lazy and stay at home.

As the Good Book says, pride goes before a fall...

  • 17.
  • At 10:23 PM on 21 Apr 2007,
  • Iain More wrote:

Alex will not have a Kinnock moment!The Labour press and media will do there utmost to make the sheepish Scots think that he has had one! Todays twisted pro Labour tirade in the Daily Retard, I mean the Daily Record is just a small example of what is to come between now and the 3rd of May.
After 2 weeks of poisonous anti SNP langauge in the press I woke up this morning thinking that I had eaten someones baby or molested a child! That is the press that Alex has to counter! Even the most die hard political enemy of Salmond should distance themselves from such press coverage but they dont - they add to it with an unhealthy glee!
It is a daily indictment on the moral and intellectual decay of the Scottish press and media!

  • 18.
  • At 10:52 AM on 22 Apr 2007,
  • Phil D'Arcy wrote:

The SNP Budget does not add up. If Gordon Brown makes efficiency savings at a UK level surely this will have a direct knock on effect on the Scottish allocation,The Barnett Formula. This would blow yet another hole in Alex Salmond's financial proposals. The SNP claim one and a half percent savings are achievable. So even if Gordon Brown only achieves this figure Mr Salmond will be find it almost impossible to find savings on top of this.

  • 19.
  • At 11:52 AM on 22 Apr 2007,
  • Archibald McLachlan wrote:

Gordon Brown of all people to mention the SNP sums don't add up has re-introduced the Fuel Duty escalator of Nigel Lawson's budgets which in turn will increase the cost of everything we buy from food,clothing,goods and services not to mention travel. Not saisfied with increasing Air passenger duty by 100 per cent, Mr. Brown is now pioneering
horse and bike travel of the 21st century.But beware there will still be Road Tax,Number plates and MOTs.

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