To get ahead in modern-day elections it seems that one must come from behind.

I am too wet behind the ears to know when and where this phenomena originated but I would start with Bill Clinton, the ‘Comeback Kid’. Seemingly down and out in New Hampshire in 1992, Clinton turned it around with calculated risks and used that momentum-gathering moniker to great effect from then on in. The same strategy has been used by Barack Obama against Hillary, Ed Miliband in the Labour leadership contest and Gordon Brown (well, Peter Mandelson) in the recent UK elections, with mixed degree of success.

As Scotland’s political parties shape up for May 2011, there appears to be a similar jostling for the coveted perceived second place going on. While Lib Dems, Tories and Greens quite understandably talk themselves up, there is a certain talking down going on from Labour.

This thought emanated from Iain Gray’s talk of an ‘elite’ (which he seemingly wants no part of) and refrain of being a humble teacher and it crystallised upon reading John Park MSP’s guest post over at A Burdz Eye View, seemingly a follow up from Labour’s election and campaigns co-ordinator on themes from Iain Gray’s leader’s speech at the Scottish Conference. John makes an imaginative comparison between Labour’s coming election campaign and the Spartan battles that were fought against preposterous odds by an outnumbered few. This is the same story of the recent film ‘300’ but don’t take that thought much further as surely noone wants to imagine the Shadow Front Bench in tight leather pants.

Any objective assessment of the May campaign would at least have the SNP and Labour on an equal footing, many would say that a press favourable to Labour, often slavishly fawning in its analysis, a UK-wide party machine that is used to winning and an electorate pre-disposed to voting Labour does not equate to facing ‘numerous arrows that blocked out the sun’, as the Persians did.

I should say that I may have misunderstood the metaphor, (though I don’t believe I have). Labour’s ‘fighting in the shade’ line may relate merely to knocking doors in the evening darkness over the coming Winter months, imagery that suggests a confidence and optimism for the battle ahead, but at odds with the ‘fighting against the odds’ overtures.

The question is, if Labour is adopting a strategy similar to SNP’s underdog ‘Rage against the Machine’ theme from earlier this year, then is it correct to do so?

Although I can understand the fuzzy satisfaction gained from supporting the little guy, I prefer to save that for sporting events or Hollywood moves. I certainly do not understand a politician wilfully painting oneself as that little guy before the eyes of the nation, particularly when your tagline is ‘Scotland deserves better’. We are, theoretically at least, voting for the best of the best into the First Minister role here and the person for the job should be adamant that they were right before, they are right now and will be right until kingdom come.

I personally am impatiently waiting to be inspired, waiting to be swept off my feet by a leader or party that is head and shoulders above the rest, that can deliver a Scottish confidence and can-do attitude, either on the crest of a devolved Scotland wave or surfing an independence alternative. I do not particularly want someone who shuns the elite, just wants to be one of the guys (or girls) and thinks they are on the outside looking in when, in reality, they are already a significant part of the establishment.

This surge in insurgent campaigns coupled with delusions of modesty seem to involve a mentality of taking one step backwards in order to take one giant leap into office, trading on an inferiority complex amongst the electorate where some prefer the plucky outsider to the current establishment, all other criteria being equal.

It shouldn’t be good enough. Confidence and personality should fill the First Minister’s office and it is perhaps ironic that the incumbent who holds both in overflowing abundance is being challenged by a man who, purposefully or otherwise, appears to have neither.