1. No Tolls: On my drive there and back I whizzed past the Forth Road Bridge with no tolls – better for traffic and my pocket. Motorists (including one driving G Brown) do this 12 million times a year, and many will be thinking “Thank-you Alex Salmond.” It is a fairly powerful propaganda tool. A unionist administration in Edinburgh would not have done this, as the idea had been to be discreet about the English subsidy. Those days are gone, supplanted by the new era of stirring things up.
2. Plenty petrol: When I heard No10 saying there was no need for anyone in Scotland to “panic buy” petrol, I went to fill up immediately. My local station turned out to be the Shell nearest Gordon Brown’s house in North Queensferry. No queue, no quota and 108p a litre – the national average. Shame the Dear Leader doesn’t drive.
3. Resurgent SNP: The SNP are on their uppers. I was handed a leaflet saying “vision” and almost threw it away thinking it was a flyer from a firm of opticians. Instead it was an SNP freesheet (pdf). “The money in your pocket edition” it said. It’s focusing on the credit crunch, and how it claims the SNP is making people better-off – “to put more money in their pockets” says its advert. English money, that is (25p in every pound Salmond spends is English subsidy). Freezing council tax, abolishing university tuition fees, increasing money for care for the elderly, boasting about how prescription charges now cost more in England. This is good old fashioned tax-and-spend – but framed in a credit crunch way. A clever device. “While fuel and food prices rise… the SNP is working for Scots to ease the burden where it can,” runs the advert. This is precisely what Brown should be saying. But to do that, he’d have to admit there is a problem – and that inflation is not at a record low as he says. He’s still on the “you ungrateful lot, don’t you know you’ve never had it so good” approach.
4. Independence: A Sunday Herald poll recently had support for independence at 41% v 40% against. Salmond is motoring quickly towards his goal and his standing in the Westminster polls is rising ever-higher (though still behind Labour). There is a de facto Tory-SNP alliance here – united against a common enemy and in trying to loosen the unionist voting system in Westminster. Above all, Salmond wants a Tory government in May2010 so that he can say “vote yes in my independence referendum to get rid of the Tories forever”.
5. Final thought: The most terrifying words in the English language are no longer “I’m from the government and I’m here to help.” They are a British Airways employee saying “sorry, sir, you can’t take that as hand-luggage.” I wangled it, though (at the expense of some shampoo), and found Terminal Five not so bad if you cling onto your bags for dear life.