OPINION: All we Scots love a true braveheart

The only time I've ever witnessed a crowd applaud during a film was in a cinema in Perth, Scotland. It was the last few seconds of Robin Hood, Prince of Thieves and the character of King Richard returns from battle.

Tara Hamilton-Miller
Tara Hamilton-Miller

The small packed cinema started cheering. Why? It was Sean Connery. Scottish people love this, a little bit of home-grown familiarity. 'Oh look, quick, look, one of us, he's Scottish, he was Bond, he still looks good, he was born in Edinburgh... '

All Scots love a paladin, preferably male; ideally he likes a drink and exists for Scotland. They rightfully went nuts for John Smeaton, the heroic Glasgow Airport baggage handler, and many seem enamoured by Scottish National Party leader Alec Salmond. This will help the forthcoming by-election in Glasgow.

Bumping into Salmond recently in London's Boisdale restaurant, he was perhaps a few glasses down and charming everyone. He had "the thing"; he was a bit sweaty and had pudding down his tie, but nobody seemed to mind. Salmond has had a re-invention and he is his own best PR. Some say Charles Kennedy survived so long because he possessed similar skills.

What is the point of all this deliberating about my fellow Scots? In Glasgow the SNP is going for it. Yes, it is using the Wendy Alexander/Gordon Brown meltdown to gather votes, but its main weapon is the personality of its leader Salmond. Labour holds a majority of more than 13,000 but the SNP believes it can win it.

On Scottish television news this week Salmond oozed confidence. He was slightly cocky but can afford to be when the Labour party (at the time of going to press) is struggling to find a candidate. Jaunty Salmond was followed by a few forgettable Labour faces who gave mundane reasons why they were not going to stand. The voters will smell the fear.

The beating heart of Gordon Brown is still ferociously Scottish. Whether Glaswegians vote Labour back in with a smaller majority, or hang it out to dry, there is something painful about being abandoned by your own people. This by-election will torment our Prime Minister until 24 July.

Tara Hamilton-Miller is a political adviser and formerly worked for the Conservative Party press team

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