Do you like my window display? It should give something for the neighbours to talk about, if nothing else. Since I live alone and do not suffer from schizophrenia, it just means that since we all have two votes for the Scottish parliament, I plan to cast my constituency vote for Ben Macpherson as my Edinburgh Northern and Leith MSP, and then my list vote will go to Labour.
Great Junction Street, Leith, now has two shops that have been taken over by Labour and the SNP to use as their respective campaign headquarters. Funnily enough they are almost opposite each other, which made my job of collecting the posters all the easier.
I went in the Labour shop first, to find it staffed by two women, but getting a list poster was not the easiest thing in the world, since they tried to give me a constituency one instead. Eventually I made it plain that I was only voting Labour for the list, with the SNP getting my other vote and I was given the poster that I wanted.
I noticed that there was also a distinct chill in the air as I folded up my solitary poster and put it in my pocket...
Crossing the street, I went to the far more welcoming SNP shop. Both premises are obviously on a short let for the campaign, but the SNP version has not covered its door with posters to make it impossible to see inside from the street. It is also better lit, and much better staffed as I found out when I went inside.
The SNP group numbered about half a dozen activists, along with Ben Macpherson himself, who came over as an engaging young cove. I reflected to myself that I probably had socks in my drawer that are older then him, and then consoled myself with the thought that it really is time for old farts like me to just let go and leave the next generation to take over.
To avoid any problems I made it plain from the start that the SNP was only going to get one vote from me, so it was a constituency poster that I was after, and they were only too happy to oblige. In fact, they thanked me for giving one vote to them, and showed no ill-feeling at all to my expressed desire to also vote Labour. I made a comment about how sad it was that Malcolm Chisholm, the sitting Labour MSP, has decided to retire, and everyone agreed that he was a good man who will be much missed.
There was an air of optimism in the SNP shop that was sadly lacking across the street. More importantly, the SNP gang seemed to be genuinely pleased that someone had offered to stick a poster up for them in his window, and fully accepted that such a person is under no obligation to support them across the board. With Labour, and I don't want to read too much into the two-minutes I spent with them, but I thought I detected what amounted to almost a resentment that I was denying them what they saw as being rightfully theirs.
It is possible that I misread everything about the attitude in the Labour shop. That said, quite why Labour has made it worse for itself by taking a shop that is right next door to derelict premises is anyone's guess. I might also add that someone needs to get that "To Let" sign down from above the door as it creates a down at heel air about the whole deal that needs to be avoided.
However, the main problem that Labour has is summed up in that massive poster of their candidate, Lesley Hinds, that covers the window. To have any hope of winning this seat - and it is a very slim hope indeed - Labour needs to pray that people forget exactly who their candidate is, and hope that the punters turn out on the day to vote for the party label. Forgetting, in other words, that this is the woman who messed up Edinburgh transport and helped turn Leith into a building site for no reason other than political vanity.
Mother Hinds also has the number five slot on the Labour list, something which made at least one of my friends choke on his beer last night in The Foot of the Walk when I told him that news. Luckily, a couple of old Labour men were in the pub, and being suitably lubricated, they assured me that Labour has no chance of getting four people elected on the list, let alone five.
I hope they are right, that's all I can say.