Unless one is deeply involved in campaigning the most joe voter can expect in terms of face time with the parties is a shaken hand, an automated phone call or a kissed baby. I happened to be seated at the adjacent table to Alex Salmond on a train from Aberdeen to Edinburgh this afternoon. He was looking not too interested in reading a print out of Hansard. I was even less interested in deciphering lecture notes on International Law by way of revision for Wednesday's exam. After a few minutes, considering whether he really wanted some peace and quiet, I tentatively ventured, "Mr. Salmond, may I ask you a question...?"
See, the TV shows are fine and all but the questions are just so facile and don't properly explore the implications of policy. My chosen topic was corporation tax. And the answer was for the most part satisfactory. I wanted to know what he forsees the reaction from Westminster would be to a Independent Scotland's bargain corporation tax. I was treated to diagrams and explanations which sought to explain, plausibly, why cutting corporation tax was feasible for a small economy (Scotland) but not for a big one (England, Wales & NI). I'm still not persuaded that there should be corporation taxes at all, but if we have them I do believe they should be low. I'm going to do more research on this, the other parties claim that cutting corp tax does not necessarily lead to more revenue from this source. Again though it seems plausible in theory.
Being a budding politics student though we strayed into general taxation, public spending, economics and more. And yeah, he talked about bullet trains and duelling the A9 too but I'd heard that on TV ad nauseum, though good ideas both. It struck me he wasn't aloof, guarded or disinterested; he was engaging and willing to listen. He was also not travelling by helicopter or plane but was accessible to anyone who happened to be sitting there on the train. Perhaps that is one of the key selling points of government nearer to home.
So, at Dundee Nicola Sturgeon joined our party. By coincidence apparently. Though A.S. said she had joined to persuade me on SNP Holyrood's Health & Education policy ;) And she was terribly nice too.
Suddenly I feel engaged in the election again.