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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56 reader comments

  1. Vera finlayson says:

    Fantastic to see and read your reports. There are thousands more of us too up and down Scotland who can’t make it but are watching in awe of this Scottish revolution.

  2. James Turbert (JLT) says:

    A nice piece actually telling what the mood is like in Scotland. There is a sense that politics can be one of hope and of better days. What is happening is not just democracy…

    …it is advanced democracy.

    And it is something that has been missed from British politics for a very long time, if ever! What people want is fairness and equality as never before. There is nothing wrong with people being rich, but for as long as we don’t leave the poorest with no hope, and that a sense of equality is felt by all. This is what British politics has failed in all its time within the Mother of all Parliaments. This is what scares the Westminster elite.

    Personally, if the Union ends tomorrow, I wouldn’t weep for it. But I sure hope that England, Wales and NI take a leaf from Scotland’s book, and look beyond the pale, and see that there can be more than just this. If the English electorate was to awaken as Scotland has, then by God …Westminster will be shaken to the core.

  3. Valerie says:

    The media never covered these events during the referendum either. We have our own sources of live streaming now, so even Scots abroad watch these entirely peaceful, happy events. The support for Nicola is entirely spontaneous, in recognition of how hard she works for our country. Enjoy the day!

  4. Dorothy Devine says:

    So glad you have noticed events in Glasgow – you are absolutely correct about the MSM in Scotland, it is truly atrocious.
    The BBC even managed to interview Ms Sturgeon in front of a huge demonstration in George square against Trident over ” frenchgate” without even a mention of the 3,000 demonstrators eager to hear her speak on WMDs.
    They are disgustingly shocking and impartiality is a word only in the dictionary not in their practice.

  5. Nigel Mace says:

    Not for the first time – well said Alex. A straightforward record of what is so remarkable about this election in Scotland. It is impossible not to be impressed and moved by the genuine sense of engagement and belief that is surging through Scotland at the moment – but it is rarely reported as plainly as this. Well done – and thanks.

  6. chris says:

    As always, thanks for actually getting in amongst people, rather than your metropolitan colleagues’ habit of pronouncing without understanding.

    Please could you consider highlighting the preposterous nature of the.media’s attempts to find a stick with which to beat Nicola? #dollgate being the latest. Consistent with anti-SNP media bias (despite notable exceptions) on a massive scale, as well as depressing ongoing sexism in Westminster political/media bubble.

  7. manandboy says:

    Welcome back to Scotland, Alex – and welcome to the real world, the one the media are not connected to, ‘cos they’ve all got tickets to the Theatre of Spin, Westminster’s very own dining room for hacks, where Succulent Lamb is served every day.
    As you must very well know.
    Enjoy your visit – you sound halfway there already!

  8. Henry Bruce says:

    Heart is pumping with shock an impartial report on what is actually happening in Scotland shame you haven’t had time to expose the shocking deline at “Scottish Labour” Takes me back to the effect first JFK then Clinton and Obama had in galvanising people, where this ends? I’d guess first of all there will be. Review of FPTP and secondly if Westminster don’t change their attitude to devolving powers the end of what is already a disintegrating union

  9. manandboy says:

    “Donald Dewar’s specs are bust – did he not like what he sees?”

    Dewar is totally discredited in Scotland, Alex, ever since we all found out he facilitated the transfer of 6000 square miles of Scottish waters to England. So now you don’t have to go to Berwick-on-Tweed to look onto English waters, you can go to Arbroath.

    That’ll test your knowledge of Scottish geography, Alex!

  10. Nellymosser says:

    ” the bizarre appearance of ultra-short-skirted cheerleaders cannot stick to Teflon Nicola.”
    Why are the skirts bizarre? Surely gender equality allows women to wear what they want without judgment?
    Or are you judging as a male who feels that short skirts incite sexual violence? We all know they don’t – it takes violent people to incite sexual violence.

  11. Mutton Noir says:

    The London based media fail to grasp that what is happening in Scotland is from the grass roots, it’s real. A massive paradigm shift is taking place – the tectonic plates of Scottish politics are shifting. Tory & Labour dirty tricks during the Indy Referendum was the last straw for many Scots. The broken promises were only 6 months ago, still fresh in Scots minds. Many trusted Cameron & Brown but they were hoodwinked. They will not forgive. The surge of support for the SNP since September’s vote is electrifying.
    The ridiculous negative campaigning and vilification of Nicola and the SNP by Cameron, Boris, Farage and John Major finally pushed me over the edge. I joined the SNP on Tuesday afternoon thanks to their bile and anti Scots rhetoric. “Better Together”? AYE RIGHT PAL! Refuse to work with the SNP? How can any Westminster based Party Leader unlikely to gain more than 35% of the national vote and less than 20% (being generous here!) of Scottish poll on 7/5 arrogantly dismiss the democratic will of Scots electorate? Approx 50% of whom look likely to support the SNP?
    Cameron has added fuel to the flames of the Scottish Independence movement in the past fortnight. He’s playing a dangerous game. Thank you Dave. I now know what you really think of me, and my fellow Scots.
    I don’t think HM will be purring on the 8th May.

  12. susan says:

    omg actual honest reporting for a change

  13. Jim Bennett says:

    Thanks for writing like this, Alex. It’s seldom that this remarkable shift in Scotland’s politics is accurately covered. Thank you.

  14. Don says:

    Alex, as a 60 year old SNP member (joined this year) living in Kent you have almost moved me to tears with this.
    I have watched, listened and witnessed the most vitriolic and hateful campaign waged by the establishment against the SNP their supporters and Nicola Sturgeon in particular.
    I served in Northern Ireland as an EOD specialist for two and a half years in the late 70s and early 80s and I hope that the establishment is not pushing Scotland in this direction although I fear that they have too much to lose to not push the ‘nuclear’ button.
    Apologies for the rant, I feel strongly on this…and feel helpless as I watch it unfold.
    Democracy? My arse!

  15. Reverd says:

    Happy to see someone is reporting the truth. Do you as a reporter not find it rather odd that the main stream media aren’t interested?

  16. Julie M says:

    A huge turn out and gathering of people today in support of Nicola and the SNP yet nothing on the media news channels covering it at all. Yesterday Jim Murphy was repeatedly shown on Sky news with a dozen supporters around him….whats going on with the media? It really does seem that there is absolute bias against the SNP and the people that support them, which happens to be much of Scotland.

  17. Ken MacColl says:

    As you state it would appear that what you call the “mainstream” media will pretend that this event did not happen.
    They do not seem to realise yet that with the available social media they are becoming increasingly superfluous and that every lie and smear can be recalled and revisited. Shameful to see how the press and broadcast media distort what is taking place but the retribution that is on the way will be all the better for that.
    The buzz within the crowd sounds great.

  18. William Pollock says:

    As usual the huge crowds are described as a gatherring. No mention of it on BBC just a quick flash! Their time is coming. They will beg for info.

  19. Gerry Strain says:

    It is my honest belief that the anomalies in the Referendum turnouts for Glasgow & Dundee were actually the works of the Security Services. Why would these two Landslide areas not turn out the numbers who had registered to vote yet the rest of Scotland had done? I genuinely believe this was the case. 4 Fire Alarms during a live count in Dundee? Strange. Anyway, this was Operation Protect the Union at all costs – and it succeeded. The massive, fervent support for the SNP is no coincidence, it’s the culmination of most Scots being sick of being lap dogs to Westminster. There’s a great buzz around Glasgow, the SNP give the ordinary man & woman hope. They actually represent the people. In my lifetime, I think George Square will be our Freedom Square, the Union as they desire iit, is finished. Saor Alba

  20. Robert Peffers says:

    “But will it last”?

    You bet your life it will last. I’ve been SNP my entire adult life and I’m very, very close to 80. When people join the party the do not often leave. The reason is that the SNP is a real democratically run party and it flows from the bottom up. When the World looks in, at the TV broadcast National Conference, The World sees something quite unique. All party policy is set at conference and every delegate there, including the Leadership, have exactly the same number of votes – one.

  21. Johnny says:

    SNP are going to take majority again there is no doubt and to be fair if England could they would have her as well. Another shining example of why Scottish politics are more in tune with the people than down the road :)

  22. dave McGrath says:

    Its goods ee a journalist reporting it as they see it and honestly. England needs some of this mood sweeping Scotland. To our English cousins this is not Scotland against England it is the people of Scotland agains the corrupt self serving establishment elitists who are robbing every citizen of this disunited kingdom blind.

    1. Nellymosser says:

      You summed up the real mood well there. Nothing anti-English in most people’s minds. Lots of anti-political establishment. The difference between Scotland and England is that we have a party with which to register our disgust.
      Oh, I forgot, England has UKIP!

  23. brianmca says:

    I did not plan to attend but am glad I made the detour…loved it!!!

  24. Caroline Morrow says:

    We need unbiased views. Scotland has had enough of the BBC. Well done Channel 4

  25. LJ says:

    I’m one of the card carrying political activists, a 40 something mum who has never so much as put a poster up, let alone canvas. For me the sturgeon effect comes down to how I have seen her operate as my elected representative, I’ve emailed her about minimum alcohol pricing and got a reply the next day. Years ago, before I voted for her, I had a long chat with her in my garden when she was out and about in the constituency about some despicable dawn raid practices against asylum seekers. While she could not change Home Office practices, she listened, REALLY listened, and empathised. To me, this is what is so badly needed in politics, a caring and listening ear, no false promises, shining integrity and eminent approachability. The Scottish people seem to be rising up looking for greater accountability in our elected representatives and for these representatives in turn have genuine concern and care towards those they serve, for serve they do! If that’s what the ‘Nicole affect’ is, long may it continue.

  26. Allan Dobbs says:

    Scotland has changed forever the Labour party is history,the Scottish people will never forget their betrayal in siding with the tories,no more of their lies will be tolerated and it is only a matter of time until Scotland gets her freedom from the greed of westminster.

  27. jack pirie says:

    At last someone from the media being totally non biased, just reporting it as it was, very refreshing Alex.

  28. Chris Bridgeford says:

    Thank goodness for Channel 4 News. Reporting where others fear to tread.

  29. colin swain says:

    No mention of the Irish republican band?

  30. Donna Barnstaple_Stuart says:

    Excellent take on the present situation in Scotland.

  31. Isabelle Caskie says:

    Alex Thomson gets it. things have changed in Scotland. people are engaged and want change. I am glad C4 was there today to witness the wave of optimism that is sweeping Scotland. Nicola Sturgeon is a true statesman and trustworthy leader. I didn’t see any other media cameras there which typifies the establishments attitude towards this movement. Ignore it at your pearl.

  32. Kay Cameron says:

    Cannot thank you Alex and Channel 4 enough for your extensive and unbiased reporting of all the Scottish election and in another time the Referendum campaign. Would that our mainstream media in Scotland were the same .

  33. Robert says:

    Great article, well written and 100% accurate. BTW we renamed George Square, FREEDOM SQUARE ;-) #votesnp #hopeoverfear #GE2015

  34. Bill Fraser says:

    When you next speak to your meejah chums in NW1 you might want to mention how those Scotch chaps have progressed beyond knuckle dragging to widespread political discourse. Remarkable!

  35. Jim Allan says:

    Westminster be afraid be very very afraid. The Sturgeongaters are coming.!!!

  36. Papa Zappa says:

    Brilliant, unbiased report, thank you.

  37. Jane McLenacha says:

    Well done Channell 4, the only national broadcaster to cover tens of thousands of people from all backgrounds gathering in Glasgow to support a vote against the Westminster establishment, austerity and weapons of mass destruction.

  38. Bruce Thomson says:

    Let me explain banter to the uninitiated or inept. Banter is a 2-way dialogue that does not overstep the boundaries of racism or sectarianism in any way that might cause offence to the very person or people that have supported & helped you when you have felt victimised or alone. People that use banter for certain topics such as politics would be best advised to only do so if they have a clear & completely unbiased understanding of the political landscape, not only that which supports their own beliefs, otherwise they only succeed in showing themselves to be the fools that they intend to portray others as. As for Scots living outside of Scotland who regularly go beyond the boundaries of banter to the realms of constantly belittling their own countrymen or women please have a wee think as to how this actually makes you appear, not only to us in our native land, but also to others who see you as deserters or mutineers of your own country. I do my best to support my friends & I’ve learned some hard lessons along the way, especially in the last few years, but instead of regularly demonising me or my fellow Scots or joining in with the latest taboid propaganda vendetta against my nation as a whole please just remove me as a friend on Facebook. That way I can cling onto the memory of you as the decent person that you once were & don’t need to listen to YOU the person that I once had total respect for becoming the kind of person that we used to laugh & joke about in our younger years & said that we’d never become

  39. stevie lydon says:

    alextomo on the money again. politics alive in scotland – people engaged – a tue awakening and re-evaluation of democracy

  40. Aileen bell says:

    if only the general public could see this kind of reporting on m s m but the establishment would never allow it Freedom of speech ? Nope not in this country Report it all show it all show what is happening in our country let everyone see the whole picture pleeeeeaaaaaasssseeee

  41. John says:

    That voter in a wood outside Crieff is me. I don’t do selfies.

  42. Cyril Matvech says:

    *George Square* wrongly and dreadfully inconveniently named after George III, who lost the Americas from British empirical control could also (ironically) be heavily involved in losing Scotland from the same rule. The public plaza just has to be renamed Freedom Square, as that is the name now given by most of those present. Much to the consternation of the Labour controlled City Fathers who in an act of petty & mishchevious spite, switched off the public WebCams hoping to somehow lessen the events unfolding before their Headquarters.

  43. Juergen Graesing says:

    Thank you for your honest reporting of the event ,Channel 4

  44. diane says:

    Great to see someone reporting the truth about Scotland. Thank you

  45. Margo says:

    Am absolutely delighted to see some genuine reporting of what is going on for me and many others in my country. Politics has never been so real, so tangible, so penetrable – long may it continue!

    Well done and big thanks to all for a fabulously organised, stimulating and entertaining Hope Over Fear rally. Great performances from the Trongate Rum Riots and Gerry Cinammon :D

    Our signers made the day for me though – what energy!

  46. Linda says:

    Come on Scotland vote SNP

  47. Kay Watson says:

    Huge thanks and respect to Alex Thompson for saying it like it is. This shall be shared far and wide my friend

  48. chris says:

    excellent piece Alex. Incredible (but not surprising) that local TV did not report on either if these events. police estimate 7000 at the rally-yet the BBC all week have given Jim Murphys daily ‘rallies’ in Glasgow and Edinburgh full coverage-‘rallies’ that have comprised about 15 young paid activists in t-shirts, compliant media crews, and… no one else (umless you count members of the public who just happened to be in the area and couldn’t get out quick enough)

  49. Sylvia Rosie says:

    its refreshing to see a reporter printing honesty and the I credibility of a situ, Nicola is an amazing woman and scots are gutsy to their cause and beleifs

  50. patricia grant says:

    SNP have lots of women supporting them. I wonder if they will support the policy of their children being interviewed on their family life until they are 16 years of age. At the referendum 16 year olds were given the vote. I hope parents refuse to let their youngsters to be interviewed unless they are present.Even the police need someone there when interviewing children.

  51. Carol says:

    I have came across your blogs in the last couple of days, and would like to congratulate you on your ‘real’ journalism ( a couple of your previous blogs highlighting trident and the synthetic politics hit home). I was in Glasgow on Saturday morning, and decided to go along to some of the Hope Over Fear rally with my family. I agree with their sentiments, and enjoyed the time I was there, particularly the motorbikes going around the square and Robin McAlpine, a man more people should take the time to listen to.
    I was brought up in Glasgow (in Donald Dewars constituency in fact). For years I voted and felt there was never any point (I did anyway). Labour was always voted in, with massive majorities, nothing ever changed for decades. I have always been interested in politics, both Westminster and more recently, Holyrood. I never allowed myself to become stuck with one political party. In fact, I’ve voted for all the main parties depending on the type of election and the policies. A true floating voter you might say.
    The referendum was achieved more by luck than anything else when the SNP got a majority in Holyrood. A Parliament which had been designed in order to stop that ever happening. Our one real chance to change the system.
    There was a true debate to be had about the constitutional future of Scotland and in fact all the nations of the UK. I happen to believe, and always have, that it would be better for the people in Scotland to control everything in Scotland. The population differences between England and Scotland are too great to have a proper democracy. With 530 MPs versus 59 MPs, how much of a voice do we really have in Westminster. I think the fact that we have Trident and the warheads stored here, tells you the answer to that.
    Why not have each nation with their own parliaments, preferably with Proportional Representation, collecting their own taxes (rather this than ‘subsidy junkie’), dealing with their economies, energy supplies etc. What was so wrong with this? Countries acting like normal countries. Why couldn’t the nations then work together when necessary ?
    Instead, what took place, was a complete shut down of any true debate. For two years, I watched contempt, hatred, manipulation of facts, the twisting of words and name calling on the main TV channels and the Newspapers. As you now note, Government ministers jetted in, to places of perceived safety, Faslane, Oil rigs where they told us their ‘Better Together’ lines, jutifully spread by the media over and over again. All of it propaganda, and once you spotted it, there was no going back. It was all done to get a No vote at any cost. Well congratulations to the British State, they won, but what was the real cost? It was this. An ordinary, law abiding person (her husband and family) now feel betrayed, frustrated and angry. We will vote SNP at the general election, as will many others, and for once we might have MPs that will stand up for their constituents and country.
    Thankyou. I apologise for being long winded.

  52. retlaw says:

    Thank you Alex for your honest unbiased and objective reporting of facts. Scotland will send a resounding message to Westminster and to Labour for their betrayal of the working class during the referendum. Labour are finished in Scotland not because the people turned away from them but rather they turned away from the people.

  53. scottishmatters says:

    Alex, you walk in the footsteps of journalists like Pilger who are bold enough to report what they see, in the face of increasingly compromised msm. And there will be times when what you write is uncomfortable, but you are building up an earned trust here and for progressives the UK over.

  54. Dennis Mathieson says:

    It shall all end up in tears again …….Rule Britannia

    1. David Innes says:

      Doomed, doomed, we’re a’ doomed ah tell ye……….saor alba!

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