Scottish Election 2021: SNP campaign ad invokes spirit of Braveheart, Princess Merida and North Korea – John McLellan

All it needed was grainy images of stormtroopers goose-stepping in the background but in a grim party election broadcast, the message from the SNP on Tuesday was clear: jackbooted or not, Scotland is being ground into the dirt by English Conservative oppressors.

Thursday, 8th April 2021, 7:00 am
Some English knights from Braveheart would have not looked out of place in a new SNP campaign ad, suggests John McLellan (Picture: Andrew Cooper/Icon/Ladd Co/Paramount/Kobal/Shutterstock)

Maybe the wannabe Alan Parker director realised that would be going too far but, presented by an actor resembling free-spirited Princess Merida from the cartoon movie Brave, they might as well have gone the whole hog and got a job lot from Mel Gibson to include evil English knights from Braveheart or a few tricorned redcoats from The Patriot for good measure.

But I suspect thoughtful SNP supporters would have winced at a sequence with multiple television screens showing blurry images of First Minister Nicola Sturgeon which was more like North Korean TV or something from the 1954 dramatisation of 1984 with Peter Cushing. For Alex Salmond-supporting Alba-nonis, telescreens from the Big Sister House will have confirmed everything they have been saying about the personality cult now gripping the party.

The tone was like that of the 1986 Aids public information film, except the message was “Don’t die of ignorance, vote SNP”. It’s all a far cry from the “joyous and inclusive” independence campaign of 2013-14.

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It’s not so inclusive if you’re in the half of the population which doesn’t want another referendum anytime soon, and definitely not if you are in the 29 per cent of Edinburgh people who voted Conservative in 2017.

Those not pledged to the Dear Leader see a Scotland which benefits from Union, in which every £100 raised in tax is matched by £137 of public spending, with precisely £1633 more per head spent here than the UK average. Sixteen per cent of all jobs in Edinburgh are supported by the UK furlough scheme.

According to the Financial Times, an independent Scotland would face tax rises or spending cuts equivalent to £1765 per person to hit the three per cent deficit target needed to qualify for EU membership. Maybe the EU would ease the rules to, say, five per cent, but that would still mean having to find around £1,000 a person, and at the same time set up a central bank in which international lenders had instant faith in the government’s control of spending.

Jessica Chastain poses for acclaimed photographer Annie Leibovitz as Merida, the adventurous princess from the film Brave (Picture: Scott Brinegar/Disney Parks via Getty Images)

But according to Princess Merida, only sunshine and happiness lies ahead for the wee toddler projected behind her, a tot who actually faces a future in which the continued decline of school standards means the education they will receive will not be good as their parents received and significantly worse than their grandparents. Still, they got a baby box.

We now know from the Alba campaign launch that if last weekend’s polls are borne out then on day one of the new parliament the arguments will start in earnest between a majority SNP and Alex Salmond’s new ultras demanding instant delivery of a referendum process against Ms Sturgeon’s more cautious approach. The scene is being set for years of nationalist bickering about how independence should be delivered, not how services can be improved.

There is no majority for independence, there is no majority for another referendum, and the vote duplication between the SNP and Alba proves only that if anything is broken in Scotland it’s the electoral system.

John McLellan is a Conservative councillor for Craigentinny/Duddingston

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