20 Apr 2015

SNP manifesto launch: you can take the mountain metaphors too far

Hm… You can take the metaphors too far, too easily. So the SNP launches its manifesto in the International Climbing Centre outside Edinburgh today and half of me is all Julie Andrews and “Climb Every Mountain” …. Party in ascendency… Scaling the heights ….You can continue this.

Then again there is Jimmy Cliff and “the harder they come, the harder they fall”. And many more along those lines. Tricky stuff. And in any case the symbolism of this place is tarnished by Wikipedia telling us it has had a rather troubled financial history. Over-inflated ideas about its prospects.

But the effect is undeniably impressive. I write this stuck in traffic as the large crowd tries to leave the launch. Nicola Sturgeon isn’t the greatest orator for all that she is thought by many to be the most effective politician in the UK right now.

Not a lot of passion, variation, life, in her delivery. She wasn’t speaking, she was reading. No autocue . But she came alive in the tightly-controlled Q&A with the media prefaced by her curious warning for the tribal faithful to be nice to the media who have a job to do. Should that really be needed?

Her speech, shorter than those of Labour or Tories, her Q&A with the media, longer.  The SNP’s implacable conviction that the BBC is politically biased evident from the off but the isolated boos didn’t last.

At least a two-minute standing ovation for a lacklustre speech, compensated by the life, passion and humour she showed when off-the-cuff with the media.

Like Labour, the SNP actually trusts the media to hold the microphone, unlike the Tories, and after some time this did achieve genuine press conference status with Sturgeon finding questions from people she did not have the names of.

So an ease with the presentation that neither Labour nor the Tories demonstrated and that is unarguable. What they have to guard against is Acquired Sheffield Syndrome and one N Kinnock’s disastrous triumphalism.

No personal danger of this from Sturgeon herself, at pains to take nothing for granted. But was all this just a shade too big? Too loud? Too cheery? I’m unsure.

As we left an activist came up to chat: “You want to know where the Labour party have gone in Scotland, pal?” He asked. “Look on that platform today – that’s where.”

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