25 Apr 2015

Other parties struggle to top the SNP’s fervent supporters

Once again the “Sturgeon effect” is in evidence at the top of Buchanan Street – Glasgow’s Oxford Street minus the tat.

Huge crowds gathered to hear the SNP leader launch the party’s policy in gender equality.

Picture this: no cops visible. No heckling. Not a situation any PR bod could do much to control. And all that in this plastic election? Shurley, indeed, shome mishtake?

What was also obvious was the large number of punters – beyond the usual set-dressing party activists – who had stopped and waited to hear here.

This I have not seen in the Scottish election battle on the streets on this scale, and wherever you stand with the SNP it is undeniably impressive.

Even a gender equality launch bang opposite Topman cannot stick to Teflon Nicola. Even the bizarre appearance of ultra-short-skirted cheerleaders cannot stick to Teflon Nicola.

Suddenly the ever-broken specs on the Donald Dewar statue overlooking this event look more poignant. What would he have made of the SNP political behemoth roaring across this land when all he wanted was to make independence go away with Devo-Min?

Grave? Spinning?

It took Ms Sturgeon more than 45 minutes to walk the 80 metres from Buchanan Steps to the interview position. The selfie-surge engulfed her as it might a film-star – except you get to doughnut/selfie/blether with Nicola Sturgeon.

Some news just in: there are unconfirmed reports from a forest outside Crieff that a voter has not yet got a selfie with Ms sturgeon. We’ll bring you more later in this blog if we get it…

It is something close to adoration and this cannot be faked – that is the point, and as a seasoned correspondent you report what you see and I have never seen this in a UK election.


A few hundred metres away and huge numbers of people are at a rally in support for her party – not organised by her party – which she won’t even visit, much less speak at.

The Tommy Sheridan bandwagon has pitched tent in George Square. For the “socialist firebrand” of tabloid shorthand, today’s “Hope over Fear” rally is going full throttle in the sunshine.

Saltires in the breeze, kilts, Kurds, socialists, toddlers with painted faces – all getting in the mood for Tommy S.

Read more: Election 2015 live blog

It seems largely ignored by the mainstream media in Scotland. But I am intrigued by it all.

Strive as I might I cannot see crowds of NHS workers filling Trafalgar Square for Labour – or the Countryside Alliance (remember them?) donning the Barbours for the Tories – or the something-or-other for the Lib Dems.

Couldn’t happen somehow, could it?

That is why George Square matters today. It speaks to a shift of mood in the country.

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