Nicola Sturgeon's 'nation in waiting' adverts could be touting her for a job with international agency – John McLellan

Readers may have noticed the magisterial adverts showing stunning Highland scenery, overlaid with a soft-focus, Vogue-style picture of First Minister Nicola Sturgeon and her message: “A nation in waiting welcomes the nations of the world.”

The adverts have been criticised as a vainglorious attempt to communicate with the visiting potentates while domestic priorities need her full attention, and although it’s unclear how many global leaders and their retinues will be picking up an Evening News, or any other paper in which the ads appeared, at least I’ve done my bit in helping to spread the message for locals who might not have seen them.

Placed by the SNP, not the Scottish government, as far as we know no foreign prime minister or president has a role to play in the Scottish independence movement ─ with the possible exception of Vladimir Putin ─ and amidst greenhouse gases, deforestation, rising sea levels and all the rest of it, domestic political difficulties are not top of their agendas.

Maybe this mini-campaign is indeed aimed at the visitors, but it looks more like an attempt to put the First Minister in an international context for local consumption to reaffirm her assumed place as the nation’s mammy, and further recognition within the SNP that Nicola Sturgeon the brand is their best asset.

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It would be stretching it a bit to argue it’s the starting gun for next year’s council elections, but maybe it’s the opening push to build support for independence and a second referendum, which the SNP promised would start this year.

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COP26: SNP under attack for advert linking independence to summit

If so, there is a long way to go. With yet another poll at the weekend showing support for independence and another vote still stuck below 50 per cent, and after all the upheaval of the past five years there are very few people, only around seven per cent of the population, whose minds are not made up.

Maybe that seven per cent is the target, but on the back of a wistful and expensively illustrated interview the First Minister gave to, yes indeed, Vogue magazine in which she once again explored her thoughts about life after her current position, perhaps the real beneficiary of these adverts is not the SNP but Ms Sturgeon herself.

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Nicola Sturgeon meets Canadian Prime Minister Justin Trudeau on day two of the COP26 climate change summit (Picture: Jeff J Mitchell/pool/AFP via Getty Images)

If anyone in the United Nations entourage does notice the ads, and they may well form part of background lobbying, then is it the messenger rather than the message they see? Together with the pictures of elbow-bumping with Greta Thunberg, the impression is not so much of a nation in waiting, but a leader waiting for a nation.

That nation seems reluctant to budge, especially as more than half of us already regard ourselves as a nation within a nation (and one which has just been given a £4.6bn shot in the arm).

Maybe there is another explanation. If these ads are about selling the brand and we accept the target is international, if the product is Nicola Sturgeon, is it she who is for sale and the host of international agencies in Scotland just now the market?

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I’m personally delighted the SNP is spending its members’ subscriptions on press advertising, but what would nationalists say if they knew their cash was going on one very big job seekers’ ad to help their prized asset move on?

John McLellan is a Conservative councillor for Craigentinny/Duddingston

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