As a full time working mother with a rampaging get; as a soul who has successfully combined youthful fecundity with a parliamentary career; as an MSP living with my family (as opposed, I suppose, to an MP living with someone else's family. David Blunkett, perhaps...); as a balding, sexually jaded lamp fetishist...
All right, I admit, I made that last one up. All the rest, give or take, were the little touches of identity politics in the SNP's most recent party political broadcast on Channel 4. I'm no great admirer of sentences that begin "As a ...", but I'm a curmudgeon. This is a case of ask, and ye shall receive. Regular readers will know that I've been going on (and on) about women and the SNP. The piece seized the neat opportunity of International Women's Day (8th of March) to shoot an explicitly just lassies bit of pro-Nationalist politics, starring four female SNP MSPs - Nicola Sturgeon, Shirley-Anne Somerville, Fiona Hyslop Aileen Campbell and Angela Constance - who I admit, has always struck me as a slightly spacy, out of body tribune. In the associated blurb, Sturgeon is quoted thus:
"This film, featuring only women MSPs, is a first for a Scottish party. As Deputy First Minister and the SNP's Depute Leader I believe we must always ensure that the voice of women in politics is heard equally and clearly. The SNP has a long track record of strong women speaking up for a successful and fairer Scotland and the MSPs who join me in this film are part of that tradition."
Quite right too. This is a welcome development. I know of nobody whose mind was actually changed by a party political broadcast, but they can contribute to the atmosphere of a campaign, its tone - and can, at the very least estimation of their efficacy, contribute and contribute helpfully to the smoothing out of old snags and sustain compelling secondary melodies. What's more, there are doubtlessly voters whose shell-likes are particularly sensitively attuned to what parties have to say on particular issues or who are seeking more than a few low-octave rumbles, but are looking for a clear-throated incontrovertible expression of a position. Over the last weeks and months, there have already been signs, I suggest, that the SNP are alive to the issue and are trying to make the most of opportunities to sound more positive notes, explicitly to woo the serried ranks of Caledonian Bellas. Of course, all of this rests to a great extent on things we might reasonably disagree about. In particular, what do the SNP take to be the root cause of the party's diminished appeal on the distaff side of the electorate? Premised on this, what alternative values are they attempting to project? What, if anything, might this particular reel of footage tell us on that score?
Remember what Ipsos-MORI polling has told us about the gendered differences in emphasis, when it comes to which issues folk thought were of vital import. For example, on the NHS, while only 16% of men identified it as the most important or as an "other important issue" facing Scotland today, 26% of women did so. Similarly education, with the gendered division being 25% of men avowing more acute concerns, compared to 35% of women. The broadcast is not, I fancy, very subtle on this score. Much wean-wielding. Fiona Hyslop standing amid a bubblegum scenery of baby clothes, including a rack of rather gender normative looking pink swaddling suits. I'm struck by the fact that it is hard to imagine the party producing a broadcast that would have seen John Swinney, himself a new father, clutching his son while talking about law and order. But then I'm a cynical villain. If you haven't seen it yet, take a peek. I'd welcome your thoughts.