Each week we take a look at a campaign that’s caught our eye.
The Conservatives’ new campaign video, entitled ‘Alex Salmond: ready to ‘call the tune’, captures the Labour’s dilemma and the SNP’s paradox in a brief, catchy cartoon. The video serves an obvious purpose: to scare English voters with the Nationalist bogeyman (cleverly alluding to his proposal for HS2 to start in Scotland) so they don’t vote Labour and to encourage the idea that Ed Miliband is too weak to be an effective Prime Minister. But it serves another purpose – to offer to Scottish voters the prospect that they don’t need to vote Labour to have influence at Westminster. David Cameron knows Scottish voters won’t vote Tory, so he would rather they vote SNP. With the referendum won, he doesn’t feel an SNP landslide would risk the Union, and thinks it could make the difference, morally and practically, in claiming the right to govern after 7 May.
Should we add a third dimension? How does Nicola Sturgeon feel about Alex Salmond commanding the attack ads, the press, and the airwaves? After all, she is SNP leader and First Minister, not he. Could the Tories also be trying to sow some division in the Nationalist ranks?
It’s a subtle, multi-layered attack, in which case the producers can be forgiven for mixing their folk references. Alex Salmond appears here in the guise of the Pied Piper (wonderfully named in German der Rattenfanger), beguiling the child-like Labour leader with his enchanting tune. But the title suggests the old saying ‘He who pays the piper calls the tune’. Many English voters probably have a view on whether Scotland pays the piper enough to call the tune. Perhaps the Conservatives want them to remember that.