Sturgeon’s personality cult campaign an unavoidable decoy duck

Nicola Sturgeon, SNP party Leader and First Minister now and after 5th May 2016, put herself at the centre of her party’s campaign today – 20th April, asking for a personal mandate in the coming election – for what she termed her ‘job application’ to end in her reappointment.

This herding of an electoral process into a personality cult is a dangerous road to take – but in Ms Sturgeon’s case, is an all but unavoidable one.

Personalising a political campaign under the brand of a single dominant individual seems immodest on one hand and on the other an invitation to  endorse a form of dictatorship.

The risks not only to democracy but to the individual upon whose public attractiveness this all rests are not hard to see.

In short, people get bored with a one note samba – and when they do, the brand cannot be refreshed.

However, Ms Sturgeon has had no choice but to frontline her claim to her own pre-eminent trustworthiness, capability and reliability.

In different circumstances, a party leader would be in a position to put forward a successful team – than which nothing on this earth is more attractive or more reassuring.

But the SNP has nothing remotely resembling a capable team and so Ms Sturgeon’s making her campaign a request for a personal mandate is a smart and necessary political decoy – keeping the focus on herself and moving attention away from the dearth of ability beyond her.

Until the last six months or so, her Deputy, Finance Secretary, John Swinney, seemed the second and only other area of competence in the Sturgeon cabinet. But Swinney’s currency has been significantly devalued:

  • in his scrapping of the Forth Bridge tolls – and simultaneously decimating the government funding for the bridge authority – making the known need for specific maintenance work on the truss-end links unaffordable – with the most serious economic consequences for local businesses and for the haulage industry;
  • in his serial underspending, starving education and health in particular of the funding allocated in respect of them in the Scottish block grant;
  • in his first outing at tax making  – the failing Land and Buildings Transaction Tax which seems unlikely to deliver on revenue expectations;
  • in the £15Bn deficit he has run up  the Scottish budget;
  • in his undeclared borrowing, independently estimated to reach £50Bn by 2019.

Then look at the rest of the cabinet landscape from the FM’s position?

Can she point to the success of:

  • Education Secretary, Angela Constance, whose track record demonstrates  nothing but substantial failure on all fronts, from falling standards in literacy and numeracy, to an unmoving attainment gap between pupils from a well off and poorer background, to massive cuts in college places, to cuts in University funding and unnecessary rows with the University sector from a minister whose weakness in basic grammar has been serially noted.
  • Health Secretary, Shona Robison, under whose hapless aegis Scotland’s health service is failing while you watch; who has to be tightly scripted on the rare occasion she is let out to say anything and, in the face of serial serious failures in the health service – from recruitment to the crisis in A&E, to waiting times, to ambulances going out one-up to emergency calls, to the incompetence of the early operation of the new Queen Elizabeth hospital  – takes on the look of a rabbit caught in the headlights;
  • Rural Affairs Secretary, Richard Lochhead, who has presided casually over a real crisis in the important farming sector, with, even today, a substantial number of farmers not having received their EU farm payments which were due by December 2015 at the latest;
  • Environment Minister, Aileen McLeod, who hid during the floods crisis;
  • Justice Secretary, Michael Matheson, who has gone completely to ground in the aftermath of the car crash [literally] of the cost cutting unification of the police forces of Scotland – and who still intends to remove corroborating evidence as a prerequisite for conviction;
  • Children and Young People’s Minister, Aileen Campbell, who must theoretically be responsible for the utterly discredited and unworkable madness that is the state guardianship scheme to allocate a Named Person to every young person in Scotland from birth to legal maturity – and who has said not one public word on the subject;
  • Minister for Everything Else, Alex Neil, who does nothing but is wheeled out as a human placebo in times of trouble – and plays a neat hand in setting up feasibility studies as the shortest route to the long grass – and announcing more spending;
  • Culture Secretary, Fiona Hyslop, who generously chucks unnecessary public money at a profit making private sector music festival company after sustained lobbying by a very well connected party insider…

If you were Ms Sturgeon, how would you make an election campaign out of a clutch of no hopers like this?

You’d do what she has done – focus on yourself, your own publicity, your image, your own stellar credit rating with the public – make no mention of the vegetables [as Spitting Image memorably called Margaret Thatcher’s background mumblers] – and ask for a personal mandate.

There’s no one else even a halfwit would give a mandate to in this bunch – and Nicola Sturgeon is well aware of that, even though she has personally promoted most of them to positions manifestly beyond their capability.

So – on 5th May, Scotland will effectively vote – and in numbers – for a one woman government, which is what it has had since the Autumn of 2014.

Ms Sturgeon’s hope will be that her party’s expected sweep of the constituency seats in the election will throw up some more substantial talent for her to work with than the superannuated crop she has at her disposal just now.

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  • Jeez – That’s like a Daily Mail rant. I think most people reckon the SNP have done a pretty good job overall.

    Hot debate. What do you think? Thumb up 7 Thumb down 22

    DB1 April 21, 2016 1:56 am Reply
    • SOme would agree. Others may suggest that when you get down to a constituency level, the SNP have delivered next to nothing. Pulpit Rock – the most bizarre attempt to deal with a problem that didn’t exist, ignoring the bigger picture. The Rest and Be Thankful – expensive sticking plasters – action yes, but embarassing that’s the best that can be done. Kilcreggan Ferry – left to rot, let’s just wait and see how SPT screw it up again. Dunoon Ferry – pandering to the rich and spending millions every year on it. West Coast Ferries – rather than make it work better and for less, the SNP have simply thrown cash at it – problem solved apparantly.

      What have the SNP done over the last 9 years to bring employment and business into Argyll? Very little is the answer. Sure, some temporary jobs were created when wind turbines were sponsored all over the place, but once they are built, very few jobs there.
      Free prescriptions? Lovely – even the wealthy get them – they don’t get asked to pay a penny. Progressive? Hardly.

      So yes, they may be popular, but why is beyond me. And when people really think about it, ignore the spin, they might start to question that unfailing loyalty.

      Hot debate. What do you think? Thumb up 21 Thumb down 7

      JB April 21, 2016 7:26 am Reply
      • Pulpit Rock – ‘…a problem that didn’t exist’ – really?

        Like or Dislike: Thumb up 5 Thumb down 1

        Robert Wakeham April 21, 2016 7:48 am Reply
        • The traffic light system at Pulpit Rock worked perfectly well until the road got really busy on what was really only a few days of the year. Inconvenient it was, dangerous it was not. What we have now is a potentially lethal series of S bends with a chicane at each end. All this at huge expense, I dont think the final cost was ever revealed, but there were serious over runs, with the contractors on time and lime rates.
          I realise that with the railway so close above the road, very deep water in the Loch adjacent and attendant geological problems, the project offered many engineering challenges.
          I know also that Derek Mackay didn’t draw the plans, but having met him in ministerial meetings on more than one occasion, I get the impression that he is putty in the hands of Transport Scotland, and wouldn’t spot a bum steer at ten paces.
          Interestingly also, the main contractor was from ROI, they brought all their own plant, and all their own men across from their own beknighted country to do the job.
          Oh well, at least they weren’t English!!!

          Like or Dislike: Thumb up 8 Thumb down 4

          Proudest Scot in the UK April 21, 2016 9:40 am Reply
          • Several options were considered for the road improvement, one being a tunnel through Pulpit Rock; this seemed by far the best solution, providing a good road alignment with no tight bends, but – as I understand it – it was thrown out not on cost grounds but because it would’ve caused far greater disruption to the A82, with a lengthy closure of the road while the south portal was excavated.

            Like or Dislike: Thumb up 4 Thumb down 0

            Robert Wakeham April 21, 2016 2:15 pm
        • That’s right Robert – the real issue is a crumbling road so narrow in many places that two buses or HGVs cannot pass. The gateway to the Highlands and it’s worse than many roads I travelled across in Albania and Kosovo a few years ago.

          Waiting at the lights was sometimes a godsend as it allowed temporary respite from drivers who felt only able to do 25mph from Tarbert onwards.

          Like or Dislike: Thumb up 7 Thumb down 1

          JB April 21, 2016 9:47 am Reply
          • Keep going agent JB the more you post the better it gets.
            You doing a great job for my chosen party with your wonderful posts.
            I thank you.
            Remember SNP X BOTH VOTES 1 and 2
            Come 6th May agent JB you may stand down from your allotted duties.
            You of course are invite to the party, please come in disguise.
            If you are recognised it may hamper future missions.

            Like or Dislike: Thumb up 3 Thumb down 10

            Keitho April 21, 2016 2:59 pm
  • A one note Samba, with a clutch of no hopers, making no mention of the vegetables, chucking unneccsary money,with no one that not even a half wit would mandate – are we readers to conclude that Newsroom is not an SNP supporter. With a recomendation like that it’ll be SNP 1 and 2.

    Hot debate. What do you think? Thumb up 6 Thumb down 17

    Willie April 21, 2016 6:19 am Reply
  • And yes Newsroom. Where’s the the wee man Reith hiding these days. Not heard a dickie about yesterday’s man. Has he chucked it completely and given up the ghost.

    Hot debate. What do you think? Thumb up 4 Thumb down 13

    Willie April 21, 2016 6:23 am Reply
  • What a sad life newsie leads. Wakes up shouts cult and then scurries off looking for some trash.

    The life of the yooniists cult is one of fury and sadness. They are odious.

    Hot debate. What do you think? Thumb up 2 Thumb down 18

    No Cheese Here April 21, 2016 8:43 am Reply
  • She had to slay the ghost of Alex S. Hence the personality-cult presentation, and her plea for a personal mandate.

    She makes NO commitment to IndyRef(2) . She make no reference to Independence in her VISION statement .You have to wait to page 25 of a 76 page document to find the most oblique reference to a referendum. It is couched in the catch-all of politicians “I believe” Any lawyer will tell any SNP zealot ‘belief’ commits a politician, and a political party to diddly squat.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 10 Thumb down 1

    Scotnat April 21, 2016 9:32 am Reply
  • #BothVotesSNP
    Or you risk getting Drivel.

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 2 Thumb down 12

    Hugh Jazz April 21, 2016 2:44 pm Reply
  • Thank you for your totally un-biased critique….

    I believe I’ll stick with my original voting intentions..

    SNP 1 & 2

    Like or Dislike: Thumb up 1 Thumb down 9

    Ian Sanderson April 22, 2016 6:57 am Reply

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