I received my first Labour campaign leaflet today - always a thrilling moment. I must admit I didn't actually come out in a rash reading it, which is perhaps an indication that it isn't quite as stupidly offensive as so many Labour efforts in the past. However, as is often the case in this campaign, what isn't in it tells you much more than what is. Two obvious things leapt out straight away -
No sign of Gordon Brown. Not only is there no photo of him, large or small, there isn't even the slightest passing reference to him. Perhaps an indication that, even in Scotland, he isn't regarded as an asset by his own party.
Lots of mentions of the Tories, but none of the SNP. This is significant because the SNP are the challengers in this constituency, with the Tories in a dismal fourth place last time round. In fact, I think from memory there was one election where this was one of only two mainland British constituencies in which the Tories lost their deposit, so I think we can safely assume there's no great danger of a surprise Cameron breakthrough here. Thus, once again, the picking of a false fight with the Tories can be taken as a pretty sure indication that Labour are worried about how their pitch for votes would fare against the SNP's if they invited a straight comparison.
The other peculiar thing about the leaflet took a little while to sink in. The general theme is "your local Labour candidate is a local man who is the choice for local people", etc, etc. But in elaborating his local credentials, there are a number of distinctly odd choices of words - this is where he "made a start in life", where he "grew up", where he "went to school" and where he "belongs". Wouldn't it be simpler just to say "I live here"?
Unless, of course, he doesn't. Sure enough, further research reveals (I feel like Kezia 'Nancy Drew' Dugdale sleuthing out the location of Glasgow maternity hospitals in 1973) that my local Labour candidate in fact lives approximately 300 miles away. If a man who lives in the south of England has to rely on 'localism' for his USP, I dread to think what his other qualities might be.