Stirling left speechless

ARCHIE Stirling, the maverick founder of Scottish Voice, is understood to have called in Canadian shock-troops in an attempt to lift his campaign.

A platoon of sharp-suited and sunglasses-wearing electioneers, strategists and pollsters from North America has been lined up to co-ordinate Mr Stirling's campaign, but they may have underestimated both the task facing them and the nature of Scottish politics.

Among their early requests were batteries of phone banks, focus groups, polls and all the expenses-no-object accessories of big-time American elections. It is understood that Mr Stirling, the nephew of SAS founder David Stirling, has had to water down their expectations and demands.

But it has not stopped Scottish Voice making its first real mistake of the campaign. It "put a poll in the field" to ask people if they would be willing to use their "second vote" to back Mr Stirling's party. Unfortunately, Scottish Voice is not standing on the second vote, it is standing candidates just on the regional list - now the first vote.

Dundee's invisible voters

JACK McConnell kicked off his campaign by taking to the streets in Dundee, well to Mathieson's Food Court in the Overgate shopping centre to be precise. It was not the best of starts. Dundee contains two must-win seats for Labour, but the First Minister had difficulty finding any voters from the city.

He chatted with shoppers at every table in the cafe but, of the first dozen people he spoke to, not one was from Dundee.

It didn't help that Mr McConnell did not have the traditional red rosette to identify him as a Labour politician.

Party managers strenuously denied it was a new strategy of avoiding any overt reference to the Labour Party for fear that it might lose them even more votes than they have lost already.

Purring along after early hiccup

THE SNP campaign didn't get off to the best start either. Journalists were given the wrong address on Govan Road for Nicola Sturgeon's first campaign appointment last Friday.

But what was worse was a mix up in timings, with invitations to the press to arrive at 11pm, not 11am. Most journalists guessed they were due in the morning.

However, Ms Sturgeon soon recovered herself by donning the first silly outfit of the campaign: a hard hat and luminous jacket and tottering on to a building site in her kitten heels.

Following in ancestral footsteps

THE ancestor of a former prime minister will be on the election trail today.

David Campbell Bannerman's great-great-great-grand-uncle was Sir Henry Campbell Bannerman, the Liberal prime minister between 1905 and 1908.

Mr Campbell Bannerman junior is deputy leader of UKIP and lead candidate for the Highlands and Islands.

He is launching UKIP's manifesto for the Scottish elections today. Unfortunately, it is due to coincide with the launch of the Conservative manifesto and a flying visit by the Prime Minister.

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