February 17, 2012
As a political anorak and resident of Edinburgh I dutifully plodded out to St Andrew’s House yesterday afternoon to stand in the cold and catch a glimpse of my Prime Minister greeting my First Minister. Though unaccredited, I was able to wander freely into the press pit and take my post amongst the telescopic lenses and cameras of Scotland’s media. Indeed, security was remarkably lax. Despite NUJ members having been informed that they would have to register their presence in some fashion, this was not enforced. The police presence was remarkable by its scarcity and, though a pair of suited men with prominent earpieces were to be seen presumably discussing security arrangements with a man conspicuously without a tie, the tone of the event was intensely relaxed.
Then, minutes before Mr Cameron was scheduled to arrive, the calm was pierced by a meagre gaggle of protesters who, by their garb and enthusiastic chanting of slogans from the 80s, I suspect represented the best and brightest of Edinburgh’s youth wing of the Socialist Workers Party. They were led by four ageing soldiers of the war against the Tories and the remaining three dozen or so represented their ideological progeny. The quiet afternoon air solidified into a greatest hits of three decade old resentment and anger as faint noises of traffic and the grumblings of bored and cold photographers was replaced by young voices raised in cries of “Tory scum” and “when you say cutback we say fight back.”