Confidence without Complacency: A Lesson from the SNP in Electoral Art

(Photo: Telegraph)

By Rachael Ward – Contributor

Optimistic yet cautionary. Self-confident yet self-aware. A simple yet successful undercurrent to the SNP’s electioneering. 

With the 6th May edging closer, Sturgeon gets her campaign in order. To pin a prediction on politics is nothing less than a gamble. Howbeit, the SNP need not be consumed with worry as judgement day nears. Breathing life into the party’s election campaign, Nicola Sturgeon pilots her party platform with a solid standing in the polls. 

She is the rarity of a partisan politician praised across the political spectrum. Controversial in her standpoint but commonly credited for the way she stands for it.

Let us first explore the fittingness of the term, optimism, to define Sturgeon’s stance. In such a passionate longing for independence, it appears Sturgeon is now trying to speak Scottish powers into existence. Beckoning for more devolution, the SNP has been mooting the prospect of a four-day working week. Another plan without a promise is securing a universal minimum income guarantee. Such powers exceed the capacity of the Scottish Parliament but, are nonetheless being discussed by the top team of the Nationalist movement. 

By kicking off preparations for the powers Sturgeon longs to grasp, she hints at what Scotland is missing under the reign of Westminster. 

However, the SNP refrain from getting whisked away by wishful optimism. The cautionary tone at the heart of the campaign is unmissable. Despite Sturgeon’s towering height in the polls, she remains acutely aware of the prospect of her lead being toppled. 

Sturgeon warns that the election is on a ‘knife-edge’, reinforced by a rhetorical projection that ‘every vote really does matter’. Irrefutably, her eye is firmly fixed on the ball.  

Back to the optimistic side of the campaign, the Party have revealed their intention to hold a second independence referendum in the first half of the next parliamentary term. In other words, provided the SNP maintain their majority, the party will push for a referendum by 2023. All resting upon the unmoving resistance grounded in Westminster of course…

But the self-proclaimed ‘safe, steady and experienced’ leader has more up her sleeves than pitches for political freedom. An election Manifesto would be incomplete within the day and age of COVID without a salute to the frontline workers. Not to undermine the sincerity behind the topical political support for frontline workers. Although, equally not ignoring the sanctimonious status this secures politicians and their parties. 

Strategically squeezed in before the advent of the campaigning season, the SNP announced their intention to bump up NHS pay by 4%. A cleverly calculated move amid the glooming backdrop of Rishi’s 1% rise. 

On top of the salary surge, Sturgeon pledges a spending soar of £20 million for the NHS. A National care service has also been proposed, not to mention a 25% uptick in social care investment. 

The electoral art cannot be mastered without a couple of textbook tips. Careful observation of a familiar female lead seems to have provided inspiration for Sturgeon’s policy script. Tracing the legislative labour of the Prime Minister of New Zealand, Jacinda Arden, the SNP’s manifesto pledges the introduction of paid holiday for bereaved parents suffering from a stillbirth or miscarriage. This is a policy just swept in by Arden’s team. A necessary dose of the compassion Sturgeon is credited for. 

But no political path is smooth sailing. And Sturgeon’s has certainly been anything but. There have been more obstacles in sight than visible road as Sturgeon has driven along this lengthy highway in reach for victory. 

What about the media mania surrounding Sturgeon’s potential breach of the ministerial code? 

Or the problems posed by the newly born independence party headed by her former friend, turned bitter foe? 

Alex Salmond has heralded an influx of challenges and stumbling blocks to Sturgeon’s political stamina. But that stamina has prevailed without a waver. Just the sort of leadership Sturgeon hopes to embody. After a hefty trial and scolding under the spotlight, Sturgeon was finally cleared of the accusations of mismanagement and misconduct hurled at her by her fellow pro-independence advocate. 

Independence appears to the only glue sticking the big figures together, as all other commonality or unity between the pair has worn away. 

 So, somehow the political posture of this seemingly unbreakable politician appears to be prevailing.

The SNP put on a prodigious performance at the polls in 2019. 48 out of a possible 59 Scottish seats in Westminster is a pretty promising score. In the Scottish Parliament, the SNP also currently cling to 61 seats out of the 129 up for grabs. It is seldom deemed risky to suggest with relative certainty that the curtain is yet to close on SNP dominance. 

Of course, electoral victory is not everything, and a monstrous bump stubbornly sits in the road with regard to the UK Government’s refusal to grant Scotland another independence referendum. Not to mention actually winning the referendum if it were to be approved. 

However, to narrow our focus upon the party’s approach to the polls, it may be said that they have mastered the art of elections. 

A generous dose of confidence without slipping into complacency seems to be the hallmark of the SNP’s election campaign. 

It is certainly very ambitious to drive the party platform ahead with promises for round two of the independence vote. But that’s hardly going to stop Sturgeon from trying. 

Withal, let us reflect upon the 16th-century Machiavellian insight that should not be swept away by the shifting of time. Political virtue is an integral component of political dominance. But If Sturgeon hopes to break through with victory for her party, she must learn to manage fortuna. In essence, we must not forget the role of luck in political fate.

References:

https://www.theguardian.com/politics/2021/apr/15/scotland-elections-2021-visual-guide-what-to-expect

https://www.theguardian.com/politics/2021/apr/15/snp-manifesto-nicola-sturgeon-plans-nhs-boost-and-income-tax-freeze

https://www.telegraph.co.uk/politics/2021/03/25/nicola-sturgeon-will-have-unchecked-power-push-independence/

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