Today’s recipient is Tom Peterkin of The Scotsman for his reporting on the Tories latest wheeze to convince you, though more particularly themselves, that the Tories are at long last going to achieve the revival in their electoral fortunes that they have been talking about for the last 20 years. The plan is to plant the following phrase, ‘Ruth Davidson for a strong oppositition’ in the ballot paper.
Leaving aside that Ruth Davidson is the first politician in history (to my knowledge at any rate) to campaign for leader of the distant losers, there are a few flaws in the strategy. Firstly Ms Davidson is only popular among Tories and the right wing press who desperately try to build her up. The fact is the Scottish Conservatives could be led by Muhatma Ghandi with Nelson Mandela as deputy and still get gubbed. Actually come to think of it the Tories considered these gentlemen to be dangerous terrorists so maybe not good examples.
The last time we were assured of a Tory revival in Scotland and that Ms Davidson was the greatest thing since sliced bread, was at last years UK general election. Votes aplenty were coming their way and they confidently predicted 3 to 5 seats. In the event their one MP held on by the skin of his teeth with a majority of only 700 votes and the Tories recorded their lowest share of the vote in Scotland since 1865.
The Tories plan is to ‘overtake’ the Labour party as Scotland’s, very distant, second party. The truth is if they manage to do this and the polls currently say they wont, it will have everything to to do with the continuing collapse of the Labour party rather than any revival of the Conservative & Unionist party.
Anyway back to the ballot paper ploy and Tom Peterkin’s choice as Moron of the Day. Now most of us know that politicians live in their own little bubble. They believe things the rest of us don’t. Delusions abound, some little some big. Remember Jim Murphy telling us last year that Labour wouldn’t lose a single seat in Scotland? Instead they ended up with a single seat, having started with 41. Remember Gordon Brown informing parliament that he had saved the world?
Now a lesser delusion, but a delusion never the less, is believing that changing the way you present yourself on a ballot paper makes a whit of difference to whether someone votes for you or not. Mr Peterkin believes it, ” The strategy has echoes of the one deployed by the SNP in the 2007 Holyrood election. Back then the SNP outfoxed the other political parties by describing itself as “Alex Salmond for First Minister” on the ballot paper. It was a tactic devised to maximise the former First Minister’s personal appeal. It appeared to work with the SNP managing to defeat Labour for the first time to form a minority government.” (my emphasis)
Now how many voters entered the polling booth unaware that Alex Salmond was the leader of the Scottish National Party and would indeed be First Minister if the SNP won the election? How many reading down the list spotted ” Alex Salmond for First Minister” and thought ‘I didn’t know that, excellent, I’ll vote for him”. Well tens of thousands, if you like Tom Peterkin, think the tactic worked. Do you really believe voters went into the polling booth ready to vote Labour, Lib Dem or whatever and as they picked up the pencil suddenly thought, bugger it I’m going to vote SNP instead, when they saw Alex’s name there?
To be fair there’s probably lots of journalists, a fair few of them on the Scotsman who actually do believe this, Peterkin was just stupid enough to say it.
While we are on the subject of delusion you will note the Scotsman’s logo at the top of this article which carries the legend ‘Scotland’s National Newspaper’. In reality the Scotsman’s falling circulation is less than all the other Scottish broadsheets, The Herald, The Press and Journal and the Courier not to mention nearly all of Scotlands tabloids.
I think a dose of reality is going to hit the delusioned come May.