:: Monday, July 19, 2004 ::

Big Fish

SNP Leadership Watch

Predictably Alex (note to self: spelt with an X not a C) Salmond is the clear leader in the battle for the SNP leadership.

The BBC reports:

"Sampling of party support shows that Mr Salmond, who led the party for 10 years up to 2000, has now snatched the mantle of favourite from Ms Cunningham.

The Scotland on Sunday newspaper said it contacted 67 of the SNP's 200 branch conveners, of whom 21 said they had not yet decided who to support.

But of the remaining 46, 39 voiced a preference for Mr Salmond.

The Sunday Times said that out of 46 party branches it contacted, 29 backed Mr Salmond and only five said their members would back Ms Cunningham."

Meanwhile an excellent article appeared in the Sunday Herald (by Douglas Fraser) illuminating the background to the 'return of the king'. And, as suspected, it was Cunningham's disastrous Question Time appearance that proved her downfall.

“Salmond reckons at least 250 people contacted him by letter, e-mail and text message, not including the phone calls. One prominent party member flew to London to plead with him to return, on the strength of Cunningham’s Question Time performance. Although Nicola Sturgeon’s leadership campaign had the most momentum and Salmond’s backing, few believed she could muster enough support in the party to defeat her older pal Cunningham.

The weekend after Question Time, the pressure began to pile up. Salmond cites party die-hards who pointed out how much they had done for the party through thick and thin, calling on him to return and do his bit as well. “I changed my mind several times, even the day before,” said Salmond. “I didn’t determine what I was going to do until I arrived in Edinburgh.” That was last Saturday, when Swinney handed Salmond responsibility for running the next Westminster campaign. The former leader then spoke to the outgoing leader about his plans.”

It's all positively Shakespearian in SNP land. A fascinating mix of Julius Caesar and Macbeth.

As ever, his pitch is clearly coded. When he says he intends to be not only party leader but to replace Jack McConnell as First Minister, this can be translated as “do you seriously think Roseanna is a credible government leader?”. He rejects the notion that the party has become “difficult, truculent and even impossible to lead”, by which he really means he is possibly the only one capable of holding it together.

Also in the Herald both Mike Russell and Alex Salmond put forward their manifesto for leadership. Mike is his usual sleekit right-wing self. Since he was cast from the Scottish parliamentary paradise and was instead cursed to walk the earth with mortals he has learned that people don't like paying taxes and like enterprise to be encouraged etc etc ad nauseam. Alex meanwhile is more skilful, coming up with a 'big idea' of a citizen’s pension.

But they all must know that the competition is over. Russell is just setting out his stall to boost his wing of the party for the future in the remote off chance that Alex doesn't lead them to the promised land.

The deputy leadership competition is the only one with any interest in it for the uncommitted outsider.

:: Alister | 3:59 pm | save this page to del.icio.us Save This Page | permalink⊕ | |


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