SPECULATION was rife last week that Alex Salmond was so confident of victory in the referendum that he would book Edinburgh’s Prestonfield House Hotel for one of his presidential-style press conferences.
After the SNP won in 2007 and 2011, the First Minister was helicoptered into the grounds of the hotel to address the nation. The speculation grew when his chopper was spotted at the hotel on Wednesday afternoon.
Eck had popped in before heading north for his eve-of-poll rally in Perth, but as he prepared his speech in the lavish surroundings of the hotel an east-coast haar set in and the helicopter became fog-bound. The First Minister had to be driven to Perth and, as we now all know, there was no need for Salmond to come back to Prestonfield. So late on Friday afternoon, Salmond was not in residence at Prestonfield, but his helicopter still was.
Nicola OK with Britishness
ON the campaign trail with Nicola Sturgeon, the First Minister-in-waiting, was asked if she felt an attachment to Britain despite her strong belief in Scottish independence.
“I have got no hang-ups about having an attachment to certain aspects of what people would describe as Britishness,” she said. “I am the grand-daughter of an English woman. I identify of a lot of these characteristics of Britishness.”
The reporter pressed on by asking if there were any examples of what those British characteristics might be? What about the music of the Beatles? “I’m too young for the Beatles,” came the rather curt reply.
Meanwhile in the wake of defeat, there were some wry reflections on Scottish democracy. One disappointed but defiantly cheerful senior SNP figure was heard to remark: “The people have spoken – the bastards!”
Bute House fiddles with art
Art lovers amongst the Scottish press corps (Yes, there are one or two) were interested to note a new picture in Bute House as Alex Salmond gave his dramatic resignation statement.
The famous Sir Henry Raeburn painting of Neil Gow, the virtuoso fiddler from Perthshire, graced the wall to the First Minister’s right.
It appeared to have taken the place of a portrait of John Stuart, the 3rd Earl of Bute – a Scot who had a brief spell as British prime minister in 1762-1763.
Perhaps Salmond felt Gow was a less divisive figure than Stuart, who was not liked by many in England, who distrusted the Scots after the Jacobite Rising of 1745. During his period in office, Stuart was the subject of written, verbal and even physical attacks.
Brown’s repetition no joke
The political redemption of Gordon Brown (below) has been a big feature of the referendum campaign, as have been his collection of anecdotes and jokes which are trotted out almost every time he speaks in public.
To be fair to Brown, the jokes and stories about Scottish football and Raith Rovers are pretty good. But journalists who have sat through many Brown events were beginning to find them slightly repetitive by the end.
Indeed, one journalist saw a colleague put pen to notebook while Brown was regaling his audience.
The journalist turned to his colleague and asked: “Why on earth are you writing that down, you must have heard it a million times?”
“I’m not writing it down,” came the reply. “I’m ticking it off.”