With a referendum hill to climb, some SNP members are talking about a new sort of independence, but what does that really mean?
Eddie Barnes: Never mind the Kinnocks – it's time to establish the face of a New Scottish Labour Party
IT looks like it's going to be a long, hot summer for Scottish Labour. While the rest of the country enjoys some time off, the battered party is preparing for a "root and branch review".
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THE SNP is in Spinal Tap mode. The spoof film of the imaginary rock group memorably showed them displaying a speaker with an 11 on the volume control.
Eddie Barnes: A constitutional dilemma awaits David Cameron should the SNP win a second term in office next week
NEARLY a year ago, David Cameron woke up on the morning of Friday 7 May and did something that none of his opponents expected. Having failed to win the largest number of seats in the General Election the day before, he walked into his office, called the press, and handed a "big, open offer" to the Liberal Democrats.
Eddie Barnes: concerns of leaking support in once-solid constituencies is a measure of the task facing Iain Gray
'It's an in-born thing," the old man says of the area's support for Labour. "It's very hard to get away from it. I don't think the SNP will do it.
ANGUS Robertson, the SNP's election chief and MP for Moray, has been in bullish form this week. According to people within the campaign, he has an answer to candidates in need of reassurance or positive news. "Well," he says, "We do have the Big Mo." Today, this paper's YouGov poll sends this intriguing slow-burner of campaign in a new direction.
Eddie Barnes: Election results are seldom a surprise, but this time the parties still have everything to play for
"WHAT'S really working for us is the whole anti-Tory message," says the Labour candidate in Glasgow.
HE'S a company chief for a successful firm in Scotland, with offices in Glasgow and Aberdeen. The parent company is based in Germany. So every few months, his bosses come over to see how things are doing.
MARGARET Thatcher in 1983 knew it. "Safe in our hands," she said. David Cameron in 2006 knew it. "I can (explain my priorities] in three letters: N.H.S." Alex Salmond launched his election campaign last month with a pledge to protect the NHS from cuts.
This foretells the real possibility of a council of war...
Eddie Barnes: Law and order will be a key battlefield in May, polarising the parties, police and public
NIGHT-TIME in a middle-class neighbourhood near Glasgow and four criminals are stealing a flat-screen TV from a suburban house. The men are all picked up on CCTV. A patrol car then gets a visual on the gang. Unfortunately, the officer is on his own. He can't do anything - it's four against one. He radios for support but it takes too long to come. By the time it does, the gang has got away.
Eddie Barnes: As the Lib Dems at Westminster have found to their cost, honesty really is the best policy
NICK Clegg can still do The Speech. Addressing the Scottish Lib Dem conference in Perth at the weekend, the reaching-out-of-the-telly charisma and the pleading sincerity was as passionately crafted as always.
With Holyrood elections looming and savage cuts poised to change public services forever, none of the political parties has presented a clear vision for Scotland's future
Eddie Barnes: The great stampede for the Big New Idea has begun. But what will be left when the dust settles
AS WITH herds of buffalo, so in politics. From nowhere, the pack occasionally decides to stampede en masse. It starts without warning, the herd suddenly enveloped in a dust cloud of its own making. Where is it going? Who cares. All that matters is that you're all heading in the same direction.
Eddie Barnes: It may sound a little far-fetched, but what if the losers end up the winners in the Holyrood election?
HAVING an early morning coffee the other day with a fellow member of Her Majesty's political press, our conversation turned to what comes to us easily: wild speculation.
JOHN Swinney resembled a man who puts on an old pair of jeans and discovers to his delight a crumpled £20 note in the back pocket.
AS JENNY Dawe, Edinburgh's city council leader, sits in her office on the Royal Mile talking about government cutbacks, the win- dows of the council's historic headquarters are rattling.
SINCE Andy Coulson announced his resignation as David Cameron's communications director two weeks ago, Westminster had been consumed by the big question: who would replace him? To the political media bubble of Westminster, the candidates were deemed likely to emerge from within its own confines, and naturally the man would have a high profile.
Eddie Barnes: Austerity is having an impact on the campaign tack chosen by the Scottish parties – with mixed results
IT'S been said there are only three types of election campaign: "Time for a Change"; "We're on the right track, don't turn back" and "Better the devil you know". Time for a Change, say the experts, is the best.
IN PREVIOUS years, we have seen Alex Salmond sending scribbled notes of entreaty to opposition MSPs seated at the back of the parliamentary chamber. There was the Green MSP Patrick Harvie storming through Holyrood's precincts, angrily complaining about bad ministerial manners. Or Tavish Scott sorting out Lib Dem backing for the 2009 budget while parked in his car in Edinburgh. We have had deals, gambles and betrayals.