Earlier today I decided to go out for a drive. Perhaps inspired by this photo the silver Hyundai headed out on the A90, over the Bridge and into deepest Fife. Yes, I was on my way to Glenrothes.
The first thing I noticed was the compete absence of posters on lampposts. Here in Edinburgh elections mean party posters on virtually every lamppost to be seen. I noticed the same phenomenon in Glasgow during the recent by-election over there. Turning off the main road I drove through the village of Cardenden, home place of Ian Rankin and, inevitably, Inspector Rebus. I saw one window poster - for the Labour candidate Lindsay Roy. That was your lot.
When I got to Glenrothes proper I had a wee drive round the town and then parked by the main shopping centre. I paid my £1 for all day parking and went into the overheated mall. You could have been anywhere in the UK judging by the shops. At the far end I did see a TV cameraman talking to a couple of press photographers but there was no sign of any action. Back nearer the car I spotted some yellow balloons outside. I was handed a leaflet, which contained an attack on "greedy bankers who bet everything on black and want bailed out when it comes up red." Aha! Some libertarians? Sadly no: they were from the Scottish Socialist Party, and also called for "free" school meals, "free" public transport and "free" prescriptions. "Free" at the point of consumption I presume. Where's Adam Smith when you need him?
Then I spoke to a lady at the SNP stand.
"How's it going," I asked.
"Fine, and you are?"
"David Farrer, I blog at Freedom and Whisky."
"And I'm one of your readers, she replied"!
It turned out that I was speaking with Tricia Marwick
, the local MSP.
I was told that the lamppost laws are different in Fife. We chatted about the campaign and also about the American election. Obama reminded Tricia of Tony Blair. That wasn't a compliment. I defended Sarah Palin on the gun question and was reminded that politicians here haven't yet realised that crime goes down when law-abiding folk are armed...
Ms Marwick pointed me in the direction of Markinch, which is a pleasant little village on the edge of Glenrothes itself. There I found the SNP headquarters. I parked the car and just walked right in. It occurred to me that I'd have been shot by now had I been at the Obama or McCain campaign offices without an appointment. After explaining that I was a blogger, a media lady was called to speak to me. We had a nice chat and I heard that there was no sign of any "Brown Bounce" in Glenrothes following his recent career move to become saviour of the world's finances. Quite the opposite, if anything.
I was told that there was to be a "photo opportunity" in the nearby Carlton Cafe and that I was free to go along. I sat down and ordered a coffee. A few minutes later in walked Peter Grant, the SNP candidate, together with the First Minister himself. They sat down at the next table where they had a televised and photographed chat with two "switching" voters. A small group of protesters were also in the Carlton and they were objecting to the SNP's lack of funding for their group. Salmond offered to talk to them later. After taking a few photos, I left.
Afterwards it occurred to me how lucky we are that an unknown member of the public can walk right into an election campaign office, without producing any ID, and then sit in a public cafe at the table next to the country's First Minister with no vetting whatsoever.
Of course, the young mother and father with the two children at the table to my right were probably from the SAS...