Not doing a Kinnock
- 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.
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